Tag Archives: Nazi

Who Will Punish Trump Administration Crimes Against Humanity?

The Nazis did this. Now it’s us. The great and glorious United States of America. Separating families and, in violation of court orders, failing to properly keep track of them or take adequate steps to reunite them. When will it end? What effects will it have on the lives of those directly affected? How will they think of the United States when they grow up and are fully aware as adults of what was done to them?

I wrote about the issue of climate change and its relation to crimes against humanity in March 2017. See https://bit.ly/32a122e

The troublesome history of humanity’s efforts to come to grips with the worst conduct of which we are thus far capable is set out reasonably well and at length in Wikipedia at https://bit.ly/2T2wGdD The summary there states that crimes against humanity can occur in wartime or peacetime:

They are not isolated or sporadic events, but are part either of a government policy (although the perpetrators need not identify themselves with this policy) or of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government or a de facto authority. War crimes, murder, massacres, dehumanization, genocide, ethnic cleansing, deportations,  unethical human experimentation, extrajudicial punishments, including summary executions, use of weapons of mass destruction, state terrorism or state sponsoring of terrorism, death squads, kidnappings and forced disappearances, use of child soldiers, unjust imprisonment, enslavement, torture, rape, political repression, racial discrimination, religious persecution and other human rights abuses may reach the threshold of crimes against humanity if they are part of a widespread or systematic practice. [Emphasis added]

I will not engage in legalistic analysis of all those terms. You can decide for yourself whether a reasonable person could think that separating children from parents at the U.S. border because the parents were illegally entering the United States fairly falls within the bolded terms above.

The inescapable facts are that punishments, in the form of loss of freedom, among others, are being meted out without meaningful judicial process in the name of the United States against children and that those children are being punished for the conduct of their parents. The parents are, of course, also being punished and because they are not U.S. citizens, their entitlement to many forms of legal protection is, in practice, limited or non-existent.

Your patriotic conservative Republican will argue that this situation is the fault of the parents who decided to bring their children into the United States knowing that doing so was illegal and might be met with severe consequences. Thus, their argument goes, the sins of the parents are rightfully visited upon the children; it’s their fault, not ours so who the hell cares what happens to them? If the parents obeyed the law, none of this would have happened. The point of the punitive action against the children is to deter future parents from seeking to enter the United States illegally (or any other way as it later turned out under increasingly stringent anti-immigration policies of the Trump administration). End of story.

Except it’s not the end of the story. It’s the beginning. If the government is going to forcibly separate children from their parents because the parents broke the immigration laws, a morally just society would, while engaging in self-praise for upholding the law, be certain that sufficient resources were committed to keep track of the separated children and to assure that, as soon as humanly possible, they were reunited with their parents. This, however, has not happened.

The Trump administration knows this and is indifferent to the problem it has created. Or, if you insist, indifferent to the problem that the illegal immigrant parents have created. In the end, it doesn’t matter who “created” the situation. The U.S. government took actions that separated the children, locked many of them in cages, failed to provide adequately for their physical and mental well-being, and then failed, and continues to fail, to re-connect many of the children with their parents. Trump, his chief immigration advisor Stephen Miller and all the rest of Trump’s “nothing but the best people” don’t give a damn about the harm they have caused.

This, I suggest, is the functional equivalent of a crime against humanity for which the individuals responsible for the execution of the policy should be held accountable. They should be arrested, tried, convicted and imprisoned for what they have done.

Let’s look closer. First, you should be aware that one of the earliest (July 2017) of the separated children has yet to be reunited with her mother some two and a half years later. This Washington Post article tells the story. https://wapo.st/2SHHiQh

The child is now nine years old and hasn’t seen her mother since the mother was deported to Guatemala. As reported,

The children have now spent enough time in the United States to narrate their stories of separation in fluent English. Their parents are back in Central America, watching sons and daughters grow up over grainy video calls….

Some days, Adelaida gets angry. When other kids in class talk about their mothers. When her aunt kisses her cousin Angel good night, but not her. María can see her daughter’s eyes getting big and glassy, her face turning red.

“I need you by my side,” Adelaida exclaims.

“I’m trying,” María responds. She hangs up and cries.

The government of the United States, led by Donald J. Trump, did this. No one else.

 The administration put out false information in 2018 about the number of separated children, claiming almost 3,000 when the real number was over 4,500, many of whom remain separated to this day.

Lawyers traversed Central America with only scraps of information: misspelled names and phone numbers no longer in use. Some parents have disappeared. Others have gone into hiding to avoid the threats they once tried to escape. The lawyers found Maria [Adelaida’s mother] in December.

Other separated parents — the ones initially recognized by the administration — have joined a class-action lawsuit filed by the ACLU. Some asked to be reunited with their children in the United States. A federal judge ruled in favor of 11 of them. Nine of them landed in Los Angeles last month. Twenty-nine others, aided by American lawyers, crossed the border last year. But María wasn’t a part of the ACLU lawsuit, or any other petition, because her case hadn’t been recorded.

This is a group who the government kept hidden from us, the court, Congress and the public,” said Lee Gelernt, an ACLU attorney. “And these children were even younger than the original group, hundreds just babies and toddlers.” ….

Once María was in custody, she said, an immigration agent approached. “He said, ‘I’m taking your daughter with me,’ and he took her arm. I started screaming. He wouldn’t say where she was going or for how long.” Adelaida started wailing. “I didn’t want to leave my mom,” she said. “When I was almost going to say goodbye, they took me, so I couldn’t.”

Patricia Reynoso, Adelaida’s aunt, tried to reason with the agent. She wasn’t sure why María was separated from Adelaida, but she was allowed to stay with her daughter.

“The agent looked at me and said, ‘I’m a father. I don’t want to be doing this, but it’s my job,’ ” Patricia said. [emphasis mine]

Just following orders. Where have we heard that before?

You can read the rest of the story in the Washington Post article cited above, if you have the stomach for it. Here is an example:

Officials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which facilitated the family separation policy, gave Patricia a pamphlet in Spanish on how to support Adelaida. It was called “How to Help My Child.”

“Spend time together as a family,” it suggested. “Make time for your family to eat together and play and take trips.”

The Trump-led government at work.

The American Bar Association reports that the Trump administration zero tolerance separation policy began in April 2018, subjecting illegal entrants to criminal prosecution. https://bit.ly/39MaFqq That time frame cannot be reconciled with what is reported in the above story from the Washington Post and elsewhere. See the Wikipedia report cited below in which it is reported that the child separation policy actually began a year before then-Attorney General Sessions announced it. And while Trump, by Executive Order, allegedly ended the separation policy, there is no procedure currently in place to reunite the thousands of families already separated.” It appears that no procedure to reunite the families was ever in place or perhaps even seriously considered by the administration. In 2018 statements, the ABA described the Trump administration policy as “inhumane and untenable” and “unnecessarily cruel action [that] violates basic standards of human decency.” [emphasis mine]

In June 2018, the then-Republican-controlled House of Representatives rejected passage of legislation that would have ended the separation-of families-policy.  A lawsuit against the policy was filed by the ACLU, resulting in a nationwide injunction temporarily stopping the separation of children from their parents at the border and ordered that all families already separated be reunited within 30 days, an order the Trump administration appears to have ignored. Other suits have been lodged by a coalition of 17 states, the American Immigration Council, and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. There may be others pending and no doubt others will be filed.

You may view photos of the children detailed in cages resembling a dog kennel at https://bit.ly/39Z7Fa6

The Trump administration’s failure to speak truthfully about its policy, combined with its utter indifference to the suffering of the separated families, speaks volumes about this administration’s attachment to American values. The daily, sometimes hourly, lying about its conduct of the nation’s business has spilled over into immigration policy. This is beyond incompetence – it is evidently deliberate:

Since June 2018, despite the official end of the separation policy, hundreds of additional children have been separated from their parents. In March 2019, the government reported that since that time, 245 children had been removed from their families, in some cases without clear documentation undertaken to track them in order to reunite them with their parents. The House Committee on Oversight and Reform reported in July 2019 that over 700 children have been separated from their parents after the policy’s official end. In July, it was reported that as many as five children per day were being separated, and by October, the total had reached 1,090.

In January 2019, the administration acknowledged that thousands more children may have been separated from their families than the previously reported figure of 2,737, with officials uncertain of the exact number. Investigation showed that the child separation policy had actually begun in the summer of 2017, prior to the zero tolerance policy announced in April 2018.

Federal officials said there were no plans to attempt to reunite these children because “it would destabilize the permanency of their existing home environment, and could be traumatic to the children.” In May 2019, the administration acknowledged that at least an additional 1,712 migrant children may have been separated from their parents even before the “zero tolerance” policy was implemented.

In June 2019, a group of attorneys … visited a Border Patrol center in Clint, Texas. The children told the lawyers that meals consisted of instant oatmeal, a cookie and sweetened drink for breakfast, instant noodles for lunch, and a heated frozen burrito and a cookie for dinner. They said they had not had a clean change of clothing or a bath for weeks. There were no adult caretakers, ten- and fourteen-year-old girls were taking care of the younger ones. A 14-year-old girl from Guatemala who had been holding two little girls in her lap told them: “I need comfort, too. I am bigger than they are, but I am a child, too.” [extensive footnotes omitted]

The Trump administration tried to deflect responsibility for its treatment of children at the border by claiming it was just following the policy adopted by the Obama administration. That claim is a lie. The Obama policy did not mass-separate children from parents. This Trump claim flies in the face of Trump’s on-going obsession with undoing everything Obama did. It is unimaginable Trump would have knowingly adopted an Obama policy – this claim is just another attempt to deflect attention from the venality and criminality of the Trump leadership.

Administration officials repeatedly lied in interviews, in testimony to Congress and in court filings about the child separation policy and practice. The Trump policy reflects a calculated indifference to the suffering created by the child separation policy throughout the entire period of its implementation:

Speaking on NPR in May 2018, White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly described the policy as “a tough deterrent [and] a much faster turnaround on asylum seekers”. When questioned if it might be considered “cruel and heartless” to remove children from their mothers, Kelly replied, “I wouldn’t put it quite that way. The children will be taken care of—put into foster care or whatever.”

In June 2018, Attorney General Sessions said, “If people don’t want to be separated from their children, they should not bring them with them. We’ve got to get this message out. You’re not given immunity.” White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller said: “It was a simple decision by the administration to have a zero tolerance policy for illegal entry, period. The message is that no one is exempt from immigration law.” [footnotes omitted]

“Foster care or whatever.” Kelly’s words, but Donald Trump is ultimately responsible for this policy.

Children’s mental health has had a strong correlation with forced parent–child separation and parental loss which has led to potential traumatic events (PTEs). Research has found that “forced parent–child separation and parental loss are PTEs with adverse effects on child mental health and academic functioning” …. “emerging research has indicated that parental detention and deportation increase risk for mental health problems such as severe psychological distress, anxiety, and depression”.  Due to these mental stressors, many of these children have reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder from traumatic parent separations….

A 2018 study looked at the impact of parent-child separation and child detention on the mental health and development of children. The author interviewed parents and children who had experienced separation and reported that the separation of the children from their parents together with a background of chronic and acute adversity has created a “perfect storm for attachment damage, toxic stress and trauma”. The author noted that a child under prolonged stress “may develop complex patterns of protective responses that can include hyperarousal—hypervigilance, agitation, flashbacks and emotional reactivity, or hypoarousal—dissociative responses, emotional numbing (self-harm may be used as a tool to ‘feel alive’), passive compliance and poor access to cognitive functioning”. The study’s findings also suggested that enforcement of immigration laws poses “serious health challenges and risks for lifelong mental illness in children”. [footnotes omitted]

The litany goes on … and on. The record is irrefutable. By any reasonable standard, the child separation policy, whatever its intent may have been or is now, represents abuse of human rights on a scale not seen in this country in many decades.

The policy and its implementation differ in substance from, say, the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during the hysteria following the Pearl Harbor attack. While those practices were also unjustifiable, they occurred in the presence of an unprecedented perceived threat to the United States from an armed adversary, not remotely comparable to the situation at the southern U.S. border.

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) both reported that DHS and HHS were unprepared to take on the extra responsibilities required by the zero-tolerance policy. https://bit.ly/2V8AP2x

The Trump administration knew or should have known this was true but chose to ignore it.

The recently concluded farce of an impeachment trial in the Senate makes clear that Trump will not be held accountable while he holds office. Therefore, the only way to hold Trump accountable is by rejecting his re-election effort. It is now up to the people at large to decide what kind of country we’re going to have. If re-elected, you can expect Trump, who already fancies himself a kind of monarch, to run rampant over the rights and interests not only of children at the border but of everyone.

Additional information about this subject can be found in an articles entitled “The Ethics of Separating Families at the Border,” in the Lawfare blog, https://bit.ly/39UDCjS and “Legal Considerations for Separating Families at the Border,” https://bit.ly/32nAVoE  See also “U.S. Continues to Separate Migrant Families Despite Rollback of Policy,” in the New York Times, https://nyti.ms/2HGzLee and “Does a Specific Law Mandate Family Separation and Detention of Minors?,” in Snopes.com at https://bit.ly/3bVMaJa [the answer is ‘no.’] and ACLU’s “Family Separation By the Numbers,”  https://bit.ly/39ZYJ4B from which the following graphic is copied:

See also the AP story “More than 5,400 children split at border, according to new count,” dated October 25, 2019, at https://nbcnews.to/2VbQDla

No Führer in America

Donald Trump, the illegitimate president of the United States, hasn’t brought up the idea of a master race yet, but it seems likely that it’s only a matter of time. The concept is already implicit in his views on immigration and citizenship. How long will it be before it gives up that ridiculous thumbs up routine of his and demands some form of salute from everyone? Meanwhile, he continues his deflection strategy as the mid-term elections draw near.

Trump has ordered more than 5,000 American troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to, presumably, confront the “caravan” of refugees and asylum seekers moving slowly through Mexico toward the United States. He has claimed, with the usual lack of evidence or truth, that the group has been seeded with Middle Eastern terrorists.

So, what do we expect to come of this?  Will the troops be ordered to fire on the refugees? Is this going to be another Kent State to a higher power with mass casualties? Will Trump’s racist base support a massacre of unarmed people fleeing oppression? Will the troops follow an order to fire on unarmed immigrants for trying to cross the border illegally? Or bayonet them? Beat them into submission? He will stop at nothing to get what he wants. What could possibly go wrong?

Maybe this incident, if it turns violent, will be the Trumpian equivalent of the Reichstag fire that gave Hitler the excuse he wanted (blaming the attack on the communists) to begin the final takeover of Germany by the Nazi Party. As reported by Wikipedia, “The term Reichstag fire has come to refer to false flag actions perpetrated or facilitated by an authority to promote their own interests through popular approval of retribution or retraction of civil rights.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reichstag_fire That’s close enough.

Trump no doubt loves the idea of ordering the Army around but he is not, and never will be, the American version of the Führer. One of those in history was one too many. But he is playing with fire, literally, in ordering troops to the border. Will the troops cross the border, entering under arms a foreign country’s territory? If so, Trump will, in keeping with his usual approach, blame the outcome on the members of the caravan. “If they hadn’t threatened to cross our border, we would not have had to invade Mexico and shoot them!”

In a related vein, and also connected to the imminent mid-term elections, Trump has announced that he has received advice that he can, by executive order, nullify the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Almost all authentic legal commentators believe that idea is ridiculous. Here is the relevant text:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. [emphasis added]

The idea that Trump can change the meaning of the 14th Amendment is indeed ridiculous. Even a few Republicans think so. That doesn’t mean he won’t try. He knows he’ll be challenged in the courts, which is fine with him. Being challenged in court will give Trump yet another pretext for accusing the court system of bias against him, giving his political base yet another reason to feel oppressed by the “system.”

Rick Santorum was on television last night, playing the role of the loyal Republican mouthpiece, blathering and blaming the divisiveness surrounding Trump’s Pittsburgh incursion on the local people in Pittsburgh rather than Trump’s typically insensitive decision to visit when he was told it was too soon and he was not welcome. Some of CNN’s pundits are falling all over themselves to justify Trump’s decision, arguing that Trump is actually trying to engage in healing actions rather than taking political advantage of the national focus on the Pittsburgh situation.

It is beyond remarkable that these same pundits who routinely question Trump’s divisive comments about race now wipe out that record in an effort to attribute sincerity to his visit. Trump is an insensitive, self-interested bully and nothing he does in one moment can wipe out his racism, misogyny and hate-filled agenda that he pursues at every other opportunity. It comes with ill grace every time the press says “oh, look, Trump is acting like a human being.” It’s not only rare but it’s utterly false.

Trump’s proposal to override the Constitution by executive order reflects a total lack of understanding of the Constitution but, more fundamentally, total indifference to its meaning. Trump will do whatever he thinks will win him political points with his hard-core base of supporters who apparently have also not been schooled in the fundamentals of the Constitution they claim to revere. Trump has violated his oath of office multiple times and this would be just another one. He’ll lose in court and use that to proclaim himself and his supporters as victims. And his base will buy it.

It’s time for Trump to go.  Time to say goodbye. But first there is an election. To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, “you’ll have a republic if you can keep it.” People of good will must vote for Democrats or we will lose the republic. History teaches that once democracy fails, it is nearly impossible to restore. Let’s not fail. Take your family and friends to the polls and vote.

 

The Republican Party in Plain Sight

[Apologies for the length of this post, but I did not invent these people, and, with the midterm election just around the corner, it is important that these Republicans get as much exposure among rational people as possible. Then, you’ll know what to do.]

Over the past few months I have been collecting stories about some of the candidates the Republican Party has nominated for various positions in local, state and federal elections. I am going to share some of those stories with you now. Taking a quote from the humorist Dave Barry, I am not making this up.

Let’s start with South Carolina. An article published August 31, 2018 in The Hill.com [https://bit.ly/2wARLRs] reports,

One candidate in the Hilton Head, S.C., mayoral race is a self-described “Holocaust revisionist” who has denied facts of the mass genocide of Jews at the hands of the Nazis. Another praised the leadership style of Adolf Hitler.

Michael Santomauro, a libertarian-leaning Republican, has made his career out of publishing and distributing Holocaust denial literature, The Post and Courier reported Thursday. The Island Packet noted earlier this month that he runs a website called RePortersNoteBook.com – offering rewards to people who can disprove the validity of Holocaust events like the number of those killed or the existence of Nazi gas chambers at extermination camps.

Santomauro told the Post and Courier that political correctness “has gotten out of hand” and that he voted for President Trump in the 2016 presidential election. “He has never run for public office before but said he felt that “with Trump being in the air, that maybe this is my moment.”

Trump “in the air.” I knew something smelled like rotten fish lately.

Santomauro is facing six competitors for mayor on the coastal island and has been denounced by some observers. But,

One of [Santomauro’s] competitors … Rochelle Williams said she admired Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s leadership. “He did what he had to do,” Williams said while being interviewed for her job at a free summer lunch program for children in need. “He got that many people to follow him. He must have been doing something right.” Williams said she liked Hitler’s ability to control his constituents. “I like the power part, I guess, the control part,” she said.

I told you I was not making this up. Not in my wildest imagination could I conceive of a person being that confused and still seeking public office. How do people like this get through a day? The paper reported that Williams’ political party is unknown, but it’s safe to believe she’s not a Democrat, soooo….

But that’s not all. Oh no, not even close to all. The same article reports that,

Arthur Jones, the former head of the American Nazi Party, was the only Republican candidate in Illinois’s 3rd congressional district outside of Chicago. [emphasis added]

Makes you wonder, doesn’t it, how you get to be the Republican nominee for anything? Just walk in and give the right salute?

But, wait, there is more.

In California, one John Fitzgerald finished second in a top-two primary with nearly 25 percent of the vote (more than 20,000 votes) and will challenge incumbent Democrat Mark DeSaulnier in November. https://bit.ly/2PsjdbU  After Fitzgerald was nominated, the California Republican Party stated they “do not support the Holocaust-denier” despite his running as a Republican. [emphasis added]

According to Newsweek,

the California Republican Party’s Board of Directors took swift and decisive action to eliminate any support for John Fitzgerald due to anti-Semitic comments he made recently—those views have no home in the Republican Party,” a statement said in May.

In response, Fitzgerald posted on his website: “I am not an anti-Semite by any means. I am strictly an honest and ethical person who has the temerity to state fact.” [emphasis added]

And there is more; according to Forward.com,

The California GOP also condemned white supremacist Senate candidate Patrick Little and banned him from their state convention. In Illinois, former American Nazi Party leader Arthur Jones won the Republican nomination for a House of Representatives race after no other candidates ran in a heavily-Democratic district. The state party later said it would back another candidate as a write-in. And in Wisconsin, businessman Paul Nehlen, who was banned from Twitter for anti-Semitism and racism, is the most prominent Republican candidate to replace retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan.

While local Republican Party organizations appear to be trying to avoid overtly supporting racist, Nazi-sympathizing anti-Semite holocaust deniers, they have failed to explain why these types of people are attracted to the Republican Party in the first place.

One explanation is that these people see the Republican Party as already populated by sympathizers to their rewriting of history. For a prominent example, Rep. Steve King of Iowa retweeted a British neo-Nazi in June. The original author of the tweet is reportedly “one of Britain’s most high-profile white supremacists. He has expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler and has called himself a “Nazi sympathizer.” https://bit.ly/2PpH5N8  Curiously, or maybe not,

King’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment … as to whether he condones the views of neo-Nazis, whether he’s concerned his views align with those of neo-Nazis or whether a U.S. congressman should be amplifying a neo-Nazi on Twitter. King’s office also did not respond when asked if the congressman considers himself a white nationalist. The tweet, posted early Tuesday morning, hasn’t been deleted [six days after posting].

….

HuffPost first asked King whether he considers himself a white nationalist back in December, after he tweeted “Diversity is not our strength,” a phrase used for years by prominent racists and anti-Semites like David Duke. He didn’t respond then either. [emphasis added]

According to the cited article, “King has said America should not apologize for slavery, has suggested that the country’s first black president was born in Kenya and has argued that most undocumented immigrants are “drug mules.””

He has also repeatedly expressed admiration for Geert Wilders, the far-right and virulently Islamophobic Dutch politician who has called for banning all mosques and Islamic symbols from the Netherlands. And in March 2017, King tweeted, “Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.

So, maybe it’s as simple as Nazi sympathizers and racists see people like King in Congress and conclude “I can be there as a Republican too.” And, while some local Republican Party groups have refused to actively support such candidates, the national Republican Party has remained almost entirely silent while its leader, Donald Trump, continues to pursue policies that tend to normalize the extreme views of people like King, Little, Nehlen, Fitzgerald, Jones and Santomauro.

The end result may be that for many Republicans of the more traditional, non-Trumpist kind, the continued acceptance of such people reinforces the tendency to accept even more of them. See What If the Trump Era Represents the New Normal? by Cass Sunstein in https://bloom.bg/2wAGv7z

Evidence for that idea also comes from the two-time refusal of the Republican-dominated Tennessee legislature to move resolutions condemning neo-Nazi activities. https://bit.ly/2PsNdEA The Republicans would not even second a motion so that debate could occur. The story authors wrote:

Condemning Nazis seems like it should be easy to do. But Republicans at the state level seem to be marching in lockstep with Trump, the national leader of the party. When he refuses to directly repudiate or condemn Nazis, despite their support of ethnic cleansing and mass murder, that message trickles down to the state level. The Republican embrace results in legislative impotence, where even a lopsided body cannot find a way to act against obvious hate.

When Tennessee Republicans give neo-Nazis a pass, they have learned it by watching Trump.

More evidence for the moral bankruptcy of the Republican Party across the country comes from Kansas, often referred to as the American heartland. The Kansas City Star Editorial Board observed that “it was no fluke that Steve “Hitler was right” West trounced his three rivals in his GOP Missouri House primary, receiving more than twice as many votes as his closest competitor.” https://bit.ly/2CcOf5S Noting that voters might somehow have missed West’s “race-baiting, anti-Semitic radio show” or his “extremist website or his alter egos, which include “Jack Justice” and “Hollywood Hymee,” as well as his “chronic failure to pay child support,” the paper noted that they couldn’t have missed his platform that was “unapologetically anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT.”

a year after the deadly white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, GOP primary voters in his Kansas City and Gladstone district had to have known who and what they were choosing. To believe otherwise is to believe that they randomly went overwhelmingly for the only one in the race who was campaigning on hate.

Then, there is the endorsement by the Miami Herald of a Republican candidate for the House seat being vacated by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, which candidate, Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera, says,

she was taken aboard a spaceship as a young girl by blond extraterrestrials who resembled the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. She says they told her that the “center of the world’s energy is Africa” and that thousands of non-human skulls were once discovered in a cave on the Mediterranean island of Malta. She has said she witnessed paranormal activity since then and saw a UFO at age 17. She also said she has been in touch with the aliens telepathically long after the abduction.

https://bit.ly/2oGmXLm Rodriguez Aguilera maintains that her story of kidnapping when she was 7 years old “does not define her.” I beg to differ but what do I know. I was never, to my knowledge, kidnapped by aliens. And, if I were running for public office, would I admit it?

The Herald explained its decision to endorse by noting that two of the candidates had not participated in the paper’s endorsement process and that the others were “unprepared or unqualified.” This, of course, raises the important question of what one must do to be “unqualified” for Congress in Florida? Only the Miami Herald knows.

Some clarity may be gained from another story that a candidate for the Florida House of Representatives admitted that she faked her education. https://bit.ly/2NOPj0O She insisted that in faking her diploma

It was not my intent to deceive or mislead anyone. I made a mistake in saying that I completed my degree. What I did was wrong and set a bad example for someone seeking public service. I am staying in the race and intend to win and lead by example from now on[emphasis added]

The next day, however, reason, or something, prevailed and she dropped out of the race. https://nyti.ms/2KSedKW

If she did not intend to “deceive or mislead,” one can only wonder what she did “intend” to do. By and large, everyone knows whether they graduated from college or not. The degree she claimed to have earned was not even offered by the school whose diploma she purported to display. The Republican concept of “intent” remains a complete mystery. Intent is, of course, also at the center of the obstruction of justice case against Donald Trump. The legal question is whether he had “corrupt intent.” According to the Republican understanding of language, it seems one can lie like a banshee but not “intend” to lie.

Final Reminder: I am not making this stuff up.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania a county GOP secretary, Carla Maloney, called black NFL players “baboons” in Facebook posts in 2017, in protest of black NFL players kneeling or staying the locker room during the playing of the National Anthem. https://bit.ly/2PoiKaH

Tired of these over paid ignorant blacks telling me what I should believe in. I will tell you what I believe in and that is our Flag the National Anthem and America period end of story.” …. “You don’t like it here go to Africa see how you like it there. We are all Americans not African American not Hispanic American. WE ARE ALL AMERICAN.

Missing the irony completely,

Maloney complained about “reverse racism” in America and said she was “sick of the name calling, rioting, shooting, and looting.” She predicted a civil war “soon than later.”

Further in the thread, Maloney turned her anger toward the Steelers and her racist language grew even harsher.

“Steelers are now just as bad as the rest of the over paid baboons. You respect your flag, country and our national anthem. How many men and women have lost limbs or died to protect this country and you baboons want respect,” she wrote. “If you want respect you need to earn it and so far you haven’t. Stop watching, or going to a game and paying for over priced food, water and tickets. Let’s see how the baboons get paid when white people stop paying their salaries.”

In a another curious phrasing, the head of the Republican Committee of Beaver County reportedly said, “Those comments do not reflect the opinions of the Republican Party as a whole.” [emphasis added] This phrasing certainly implies that the comments do reflect a portion of the opinions of the local Republican Party.

He also reportedly said Maloney “is certainly apologetic that she put that persona out there about herself.” That “apology,” not delivered by Maloney herself, appears to be merely a regret that she published a racist attitude, not that she regrets holding such views. In her resignation letter, she did say her comments were “distasteful, inappropriate and insensitive.” https://cbsn.ws/2Cg0pL4 One wonders why she did not recognize that before she posted. It wasn’t a close question. In any case, she’s out of office for now.

Moving from the theater of the absurd to the truly out-of-this-world, we have the case of a

Texas minister, Gloria Copeland, who sat on the Trump campaign’s evangelical executive advisory board, [and] denied the country is in the midst of a severe flu outbreak in a Facebook video that went viral because, “Jesus himself is our flu shot. He redeemed us from the curse of the flu.

We have a duck season, a deer season, but we don’t have a flu season and don’t receive it when someone threatens you with ‘everybody is getting the flu,'” Copeland added. “We’ve already had our shot: He bore our sicknesses and carried our diseases. That’s what we stand on. And by his stripes we are healed.”

https://politi.co/2Q5bGRe You may be reassured to know that

Public health experts immediately panned the remarks while some other members of the evangelical board distanced themselves from the comments. “We don’t agree with that statement,” said Johnnie Moore, the unofficial spokesman for the panel during the campaign who frequently meets with White House officials on policy and engagement with the evangelical community. “I don’t know a single person in the White House who would agree with that.”

I think I know one. But I’m not telling.

According to Politico, the White House declined to comment and referred the questions to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, which then failed to respond.

Every time I see something like this, I am reminded of the Republican article of faith that the states and localities are the true heart of the republic and that power should rest largely there rather than in the big, bad federal government.

The evangelical approach to preventing flu is perhaps not altogether surprising, given that a U.S. Senator who happens to be a doctor (Rand Paul) is on record saying that vaccines can lead to “mental disorders” and therefore there is an “issue of freedom” involved. https://nbcnews.to/2M0qUnq Aligning himself with that paragon of Republican virtue and deep thinking, Chris Christie, Sen. Paul’s position is that parents should be able to decide in an undefined set of circumstances whether their children are vaccinated. Public health authorities do not agree with these approaches, of course, because dangerous infectious diseases are easily spread if children are not vaccinated with potentially disastrous consequences for everyone. But, hey, what’s more local than letting parents decide not to protect their child and thereby expose everyone else’s child to preventable, dangerous illnesses?

 

Has the Police State Arrived?

Most everyone who has seen a World War II movie made before, say, 1980 (guessing) is familiar with the cliché-like scene in which a Nazi soldier demands, “show me your papers” or some variation. In the worst cases the soldier simply puts out his hand in a gesture well-understood that presentation of identification documents was demanded and not optional. That was the portrayal of Germany and conquered countries under the Nazis.

WWII ended in 1945. Now, 63 years later, we have arrived at a similar place. The video here ( https://bit.ly/2JUUFZZ) reported in HuffPost here (https://bit.ly/2t61NJh) shows an armed immigration officer asking passengers boarding a Concord Coach Lines bus whether they are U.S. citizens, followed by a Concord employee confirming (erroneously, per Concord’s tweet at https://bit.ly/2M0PtkK & Facebook post at https://bit.ly/2HWPVxG) that one must be a U.S. citizen to ride the bus. Concord Coach is an interstate passenger bus company.

What is going on here? Bangor is 130 miles from the nearest point in Canada. https://bit.ly/2JXI70o Fortunately, passengers in the video refused to answer, and no one was arrested. We can sympathize with the bus driver, who seemed to have been caught off guard by the patrolling Immigration & Customs Enforcement  officer looking over the boarding passengers. But, as the ACLU points out in the narrative with the video, this ICE interrogation practice is unacceptable.

It has no known demarcation. We are accustomed to answering questions about identity before boarding airplanes in what is a largely routine and orderly, if irritating, process. That process is in place because of the extraordinary threat posed by aircraft in the wrong hands.

Is the government now going to start hunting for aliens in our midst at bus stations and Amtrak stations? Car rental locations? How about bike rental kiosks? Subways? Local bus stops in Arkansas? Are we approaching the point at which the Trump-led government is going to require national identification papers on your person at all times and subject to inspection at any time by ICE or other officers? See https://bit.ly/2FmlvnY for some relevant history here and elsewhere if you think this is hysterical overstatement.

There is no plausible rationale for such government intrusion. No real-world demonstrable threat from illegal immigrants exists to justify this police-state tactic. Lengthy and thorough analyses of available data, which admittedly is not perfect (a problem that cuts both ways and so is really irrelevant), shows that the Trumpian claim that illegal immigrants bring crime to the United States is not supportable. https://wapo.st/2JUM4mT; https://nyti.ms/2GImBPa.

Of course, facts and truth have never had much sway in Trump’s world and his fan base accepts whatever he says simply because he says it. Nevertheless, it is vital to our democracy that we not allow false claims based on safety/security to undermine our basic freedoms. Trump and his advisors would do well to re-read the opening sections of the Declaration of Independence. So should everyone else. See https://bit.ly/2ldSeUj and the other materials cited there. Trump’s attempt to re-introduce Nazi-style measures to America will not be accepted quietly.

Donald Trump & Attorney General Sessions Committing Crimes Against Humanity

Attorney General Jeff Sessions graduated from law school 6 years after I did. While the schools were in different parts of the country, there is no reason to believe that, by virtue of geography or timing, the law taught to him was significantly different than the education I received. I can’t be sure of that, of course. But I am sure that going to law school does not, by itself, make you a better human being. I will explain why below.

Among the well-known graduates of the University of Alabama Law School are Harper Lee (wrote To Kill a Mockingbird); Hugo Black (Associate Justice of U.S. Supreme Court); and Howell Heflin (Democratic Senator who preceded Jeff Sessions and who voted against most progressive legislation but came to realize “we live in a nation that daily is trying to heal the scars that have occurred in the past. We’re trying to heal problems that still show negative and ugly aspects in our world that we live in today, and perhaps racism is one of the great scars and one of the most serious illnesses that we suffer from still today.”)

On the other hand, the notables list of UALS includes George Wallace (as Alabama’s governor, sworn to uphold the law, he defied the school integration ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court); Spencer Bachus (at the center of insider trading scandal under rules that exempt Congress from the prohibitions); and, not least, Roy Moore (defeated Senate candidate for Jeff Sessions’ vacated seat, multiply accused of sexual harassment of underage females and twice evicted from his job as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for refusing to comply with federal court decisions).

No doubt there are many other notable UALS graduates on both sides of the divide that separates the two groups I have singled out. The same is certainly true of my law school, which graduated Ted Cruz, Anthony Scaramucci and Mitt Romney, all on the wrong side of the humanity divide.

I use the phrase the “humanity divide” because law school should instill in its students not only a respect for the law and legal institutions operating under a complex federal-state system with a constitution as the overarching legal framework for the whole, but also some sense of what is right, what is fair, what is justice. I do not suggest that “justice” is always obvious; clearly, it is not and we have long strings of conflicting Supreme Court decisions to prove it. Justice is hard sometimes but if you search deeply enough, you can usually find it.

As a people, we have, imperfectly for sure, but generally over time. adopted certain norms of civilized conduct from which we do not permit deviations that deny basic human rights and individual dignity to humans. (We are far behind the curve when it comes to protecting animals, but set that aside for today).

For example, we don’t torture prisoners. It’s not that we’ve never done it. We have, but as a societal norm under most controllable circumstances we don’t accept torture as legitimate. A soldier in combat conditions might torture a prisoner in an effort to get information that could save the lives of his comrades in arms. As a society we don’t approve of that torture but perhaps we can at least understand it in the circumstances. But, we don’t accept that behavior when it occurs in circumstances where imminent threats to safety are not present. Those situations are hard to identify sometimes, but we keep trying.

We don’t summarily execute criminals as a lesson to others. To reverse paraphrase our Attorney General’s position on separating children at the border, we don’t say “if you didn’t want to be shot in the head, you shouldn’t have committed a crime.” We don’t say “if you didn’t want to be drawn and quartered, then disemboweled in front of your family, you shouldn’t have robbed that bank.”

In declaring our country’s independence, our founders declared that we hold as self-evident truths that all men (defined now as humans, not by gender) are created equal and are endowed with inalienable rights, among them Liberty. Over time, in our quest for a “more perfect union,” as you would expect, the standards of what “justice” entails will change, and they have, sometimes dramatically. Recall, for example, that until 1954, it was permissible for schools to segregate students by race on the false premise that they were “separate but equal.” The Supreme Court changed that and, as a country and as a people, it is indisputable, I believe, that we are better off because of it. Men once were permitted to own other people as property. We put an end to that too, at the cost of much blood and sacrifice.

Remember that the second opening clause of the U.S. Constitution says “establish Justice.” We don’t always get it right but we keep trying. We have humanity. We show humanity in our treatment of others, even those found to have committed serious crimes against society. It would be more efficient to eliminate court appeals and just take convicted criminals out back and hang them from a tree. Or burn them at the stake. We don’t do that anymore. We have humanity. We have learned. At least we thought we had.

The Trump administration has shown little humanity since coming to power in 2017. It has departed, deliberately and with malice aforethought, from the moral standards that have governed our progress as a people for more than 200 years in a multitude of situations, none more egregious than the policy and practice of separating children from their parents who bring them across the border without required documents.

The Trump/Sessions deportation policy may, I emphasize may, be legal in some technical sense (I am not an expert in that field), but it is certainly not just. It lacks humanity in any meaningful sense. The practice of separating children, some mere babies, from their parents when they have arrived in the United States, whether illegally or legally seeking asylum, and placing the children in cages with no contact with parents who are in some cases deported without process and without their children, is, by any reasonable standard, inhumane, an offense against decency and against higher values to which we aspire. It is a practice of which the German Nazi Party would have been proud.

Among the many things wrong with the policy is that it conflates what the child did with what the parent did and punishes the child for the parent’s transgressions against U.S. law. Self-evidently, a toddler has no control over the parental decision to attempt entry into the United States without proper documentation. Yet, the children are removed from their parents and sent to “camps,” often hundreds of miles away. There are reports that many are unaccounted for. Whatever the reason behind that, there is simply no excuse for creating or maintaining such a system on the theory that it will teach the parents a lesson.

I believe the Trump/Sessions policy, on its face and as practiced, violates the 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits “cruel and unusual punishments.” In 2016 the U.S. Supreme Court said, ““Protection against disproportionate punishment is the central substantive guarantee of the Eighth Amendment.” Montgomery v Louisiana, 577 U. S. __. Surely locking a child in a cage away from her parents is disproportionate to anything the child did.

The Supreme Court elaborated on the history of imposing mandatory life sentences without parole on person who were juveniles at the time of their capital offense, noting that

Miller v. Alabama, 567 U. S. 420 (2012 … held that mandatory life without parole for juvenile homicide offenders violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on “‘cruel and unusual punishments.’” [citations omitted]

My point is not that the children being wrenched away from their parents on the southern border are being given life sentences. They are, however, being punished for a crime that they, acting on their own, could not have committed in many, if not most, cases. Locking a child in a cage is punishment. Put Donald Trump or Jeff Sessions in a cage and see how fast they agree.

In addition to U.S. law, there are other resources that inform our understanding of what treatment is appropriate, is just, for children of illegal immigrants caught at the border. According to the United Nations,

The International Law Commission was established by the General Assembly, in 1947, to undertake the mandate of the Assembly, under article 13 (1) (a) of the Charter of the United Nations to “initiate studies and make recommendations for the purpose of … encouraging the progressive development of international law and its codification”.

http://legal.un.org/ilc/

Article 17 of the Draft Code of the International Law Commission states:

“A crime of genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such: … (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; … (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.” [emphasis added]

The Commentary on Article 17 includes this:

“(With regard to subparagraph (e), the phrase “forcibly transferring children of the group to another group”, was drawn from article II, subparagraph (e) of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The forcible transfer of children would have particularly serious consequences for the future viability of a group as such. Although the article does not extend to the transfer of adults, this type of conduct in certain circumstances could constitute a crime against humanity under article 18, subparagraph (g) or a war crime under article 20, subparagraph (a) (vii). Moreover, the forcible transfer of members of a group, particularly when it involves the separation of family members, could also constitute genocide under subparagraph (c). [emphasis added]

Article 18 of the Draft Code of International Law Commission states:

“Crimes against humanity A crime against humanity means any of the following acts, when committed in a systematic manner or on a large scale and instigated or directed by a Government or by any organization or group: … if) Institutionalized discrimination on racial, ethnic or religious grounds involving the violation of fundamental human rights and freedoms and resulting in seriously disadvantaging a part of the population; (g) Arbitrary deportation or forcible transfer of population; (h) Arbitrary imprisonment; (h) Forced disappearance of persons; (i) Rape, enforced prostitution and other forms of sexual abuse; (A) Other inhumane acts which severely damage physical or mental integrity, health or human dignity, such as mutilation and severe bodily harm.” [emphasis added]

I am aware that international lawyers can, as lawyers will, make all manner of arguments about what exactly each word or phrase means and will argue that this draft language is not binding on the United States, and more. Maybe, but I don’t believe they can overcome the fact that this language frames the concept of inhumane treatment, especially of very young children, as understood by civilized people of the world.

In addition, the ACLU has reported that it has

uncovered tens of thousands of pages of evidence documenting U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials physically, sexually, and verbally abusing children. The majority of these children are asylum seekers fleeing violence in Mexico and Central America. Some are teenage mothers. Some are escaping gang violence. Some are in need of medical attention. All of them have risked their lives to find safety – and tragically, CBP has shattered that dream for so many.

CBP’s abuses are not only unconscionably inhumane, but they also violate United States law and international human rights law, which give protections to migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers – no matter their country of origin.

The uncovered documents show CBP officials – including Border Patrol agents – committing the following abuses:

  • Threatening children with rape and death
  • Depriving children of food and water and holding them in freezing and unsanitary detention cells
  • Shooting children with Tasers and stun guns
  • Punching a child in the head repeatedly
  • Running over two 17-year-olds with patrol vehicles
  • Subjecting a 16-year-old girl to a search in which they forcefully spread her legs and touched her genitals

The violations are numerous. By law, CBP can’t hold unaccompanied children for longer than 72 hours. Children in CBP custody are entitled to safe facilities, adequate food and water, and proper medical care. And as federal officials, CBP officers are legally required to report all allegations of child abuse to law enforcement, child protective services, or the FBI.

All human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their immigration status – and children, in particular, deserve special protection. The misconduct demonstrated in these records is breathtaking, as is the government’s complete failure to hold officials who abuse their power.

https://action.aclu.org/petition/cbp-stop-abusing-children  [bolding in the original]

Also, read this if you have the stomach for it: https://www.aclu.org/blog/immigrants-rights/ice-and-border-patrol-abuses/ice-cruelty-knows-no-bounds

Who bears the burden of guilt here? Apologies for the length of this, but you really need to grasp the enormity of what is being done to these children and their parents:

In an interview on Tuesday morning with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Attorney General Jeff Sessions doubled down on his defense of the Trump administration’s practice of tearing apart families seeking refuge in the United States, including those seeking asylum. The interview revealed not only Sessions’ lack of basic empathy and compassion but also his willingness to deceive the public in defending this cruel policy.

During the conversation, Hewitt pushed Sessions to consider the implications of separating a child from his or her parent, even asking if Sessions could imagine his own grandchildren being taken from their parents. Yet Sessions would not be moved, opting instead to paint these devastated, vulnerable parents as criminals who are “just coming here because they’d like to make more money.”

Further questioned on the morality of detaining people seeking asylum, Sessions resorted to outright lies. The issue, Sessions explained, is that people are not pursuing asylum in the correct way, by arriving through a U.S. port of entry: “If you come to the country, you should come through … the port of entry and make a claim of asylum.”

Here’s what the Attorney General is not saying: Under its family separation policy, asylum seekers who have followed this exact protocol are still having their children ripped away. It happened to both Ms. L and Mirian G, two mothers who are a part of our class-action lawsuit. Fleeing the Congo, Ms. L, arrived at a port of entry near San Diego with her then 6-year-old daughter to seek asylum. Despite having committed no crime and having followed the correct protocol for seeking asylum, Ms. L and her daughter were detained. Four days later, her daughter was taken from her and sent to a government facility in Chicago. Ms. L was sent to an immigration detention center. The mother and daughter were kept apart by 2,000 miles for more than four months until the ACLU intervened on their behalf. Mirian G., an asylum seeker from Honduras, experienced similar cruelty: After presenting herself at port of entry, Border Patrol agents took away her 18-month-old son. She didn’t see him again for more than two months.

Sessions would have us believe that those who follow the rules will not be subjected to this kind of inhumane treatment, but that’s simply untrue. No one seeking asylum, even those not entering through ports of entry, should be treated like a criminal. But for Sessions to claim that the administration is only separating families who cross the border illegally is just wrong. Our clients did everything by the book and still had their children taken from them.

Sessions also spent much of the conversation attempting to portray the administration’s family separation policy as par for the course. “Every time somebody … gets prosecuted in America for a crime, American citizens, and they go to jail, they’re separated from their children,” Sessions argued. Parents seeking refuge in the United States who are prosecuted for crossing the border someplace other than a port of entry, Sessions’ line of reasoning goes, are simply being treated as any American citizen who is incarcerated.

But since when does the government refuse to reunite a parent and child after someone has served her time?

Crossing the border without proper documentation is a misdemeanor that typically carries the penalty of a few days in jail if you’re prosecuted. What the Attorney General failed to mention is that the government is refusing to give kids back to parents once they have served their time. Our client, Ms. C, experienced this firsthand. After Ms. C, an asylum seeker who was prosecuted for entering the country illegally, served her 25-day criminal misdemeanor sentence, she expected to be reunited with her 14-year-old son who had been cruelly taken from her. Instead, Ms. C was forced to wait more than eight months after serving her sentence before the two were reunited.

It is one thing to defend a morally reprehensible policy, but it is another thing entirely to spew lies in making that defense. On Tuesday Sessions crossed that line.

https://www.aclu.org/blog/immigrants-rights/immigrants-rights-and-detention/jeff-sessions-deceitful-spin-family

What, I ask, do these fools in the Trump administration think the long-term consequences of these practices are going to be? What impact will they have on the attitude of people whose rights are disrespected in this way? How are they likely to think about the United States when they mature? Through these practices, the United States is guaranteeing a new generation of enemies who will see the promise of America as a vast lie perpetrated knowingly by a government that resembles the Nazi regime that took over Germany and overran most of Europe.

I submit that the practices and policies of the Trump administration being enforced by the Attorney General as outlined above are crimes against humanity and may be a form of genocide under international standards. As has been the case elsewhere, in time there will be a reckoning about all of this. The callous indifference and blatant disregard for human rights that is evident in these practices and policies will be returned one day to those that are responsible for it. The maintenance of civilization requires nothing less.

To help bring that about, please support the ACLU. It is using our legal system, the one designed as a bulwark against authoritarianism and the critical pillar of the checks and balances of the Constitution, to help defenseless children against egregious violations of human rights. If the government can get away with doing this to these children, it can do it to anyone. We must #RESIST with every means at our disposal.

Visiting the Holocaust Museum

For years, I have resisted visiting this museum, in part because I had read many books detailing the history of the Nazi takeover of Germany and its aftermath and, in part, because I knew how jarring it would be. When my wife announced Sunday morning that she had acquired time-entry tickets for that afternoon, I relented.

The museum is indeed a jarring experience. The faces of the visitors, many quite young and many very old, tell the tale. Seeing the photographs and films while hearing the voices of the men and women who perpetrated the most monstrous genocide in world history is not for the light-of-heart. The cruelty of it cannot be described; it has to be seen. Even then, it sometimes does not register because it is so alien to how normal human beings see other human beings.

There are many lessons to be taken away from the experience of the Nazis in Germany. I won’t pretend to be competent to state them all. Others have done so in words more memorable than anything I can offer. But I can, I think, draw one observation that, for me, was the dominant idea and the dominant sensation that impressed itself on me as I passed through the origins, the implementation and the end results of the Nazi worldview. This sensation does not diminish the horror and the outrage of the Holocaust in any way, but aside from profound revulsion at what was done in the name of racial purity, there is a practical lesson that has immediate relevance to the United States and indeed the entire world.

I am speaking of complicity. Understated somewhat in the museum displays is the historical reality that much of the world, and in particular and notably the United States, turned its back on the Jewish refugees who were trying to escape the Holocaust spreading across Europe in the 1930s. And there is the historical reality of appeasement, the belief that by giving Hitler some of what he wanted, he would stop the ruthless expansion toward world domination that he so clearly stated was his ultimate desire. Intelligent people concluded that another war with Germany was to be avoided no matter what, that Hitler could be sated with a few more pieces of territory, a few more subjugated populations. The world largely stood by and watched Germany roll over much of Europe. Citizens of some of the victim countries actually welcomed the Nazi invasion. By the time the United States actively intervened, it was almost too late. Millions died, millions, while governments around the world failed to act.

Now let us turn to the present. I have written about this before. See http://bit.ly/2qoDaYE. Visiting the museum brings the message into sharp focus. Many of the same tactics used by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party are routinely employed by the President Trump, his acolytes in the White House and his appointees in the major Executive Department agencies. Trump’s attempts to delegitimize the independent media, calling them the “enemies of the people” are right out of Hitler’s playbook. That may seem harsh or over-wrought but the history is there to be seen. Holocaust-deniers are just like climate science-deniers in their capacity to block the truth in favor of more satisfying mythologies.

I won’t belabor this. I don’t know that Trump plans to replace the Constitution, but then again, we have seen him refer to it as “archaic” and “really bad for the country.” He has railed at the courts for decisions he opposed and generally appears to see the Constitution as an unjustified obstacle to his political agenda. He has many apologists who are quick to respond that “he really didn’t mean that” or “he is just frustrated; pay attention to his actions, not his words.”

But his words are his actions. Many people said the same things about Adolf Hitler’s words. Then they saw his actions and remained silent or joined the Nazi bandwagon.

The real point is that people of good will who value their freedom must not be complicit in Trump’s undermining of American institutions such as the free press. Silence is complicity as much as active cooperation. Both silence and active cooperation made Hitler’s rise to power possible. They have the same effect in our time. It is the moral responsibility of every person who believes in the ideals of the American way of life as enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the invitation inscribed on the Statue of Liberty to actively resist the Trump administration’s cynical effort to undermine those ideals.

You can do this by subscribing to the information sources at MoveOn.org, ACLU.org, Indivisible.US, PeoplePower.org, Dailykos.com, TakeCareBlog.com or any of the other major authenticated sources of real information about what the Trump administration is doing to undermine the quality of the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the freedoms you enjoy as an American. Sign the petitions, participate in the marches, stand up and fight back! If you know someone who voted for Trump, reach out to them and politely, without judgment or acrimony, try to reason with them using the facts and truths that are readily available. And then VOTE in 2018. There is no other way. Do not be complicit by your silence and your inaction.

As you leave the Holocaust Museum, you pass a wall inscribed with these words of Martin Niemöller, a Protestant pastor who openly opposed Hitler and spent seven years in Nazi concentration camps:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Nothing more to say.

I Am an Immigrant – And So Are You

I attended a rally a few days ago at the White House in response to Not-My-President Trump’s Travel/Muslim Ban 2.0. There were a few hundred people there; not bad considering the last-minute callout from MoveOn.org. I have a few observations about this experience.

The rally group was forced by uniformed officers to move from the side of Lafayette Park closest to the White House to a spot furthest removed from the White House even though we were separated from the WH fence by two sidewalks and the wide pedestrian-only stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue between them. I say “forced” because the threat was “move away or be arrested.” The organizers asked the crowd to comply and it did.

I later asked a DC police officer who was “guarding” us on the opposite side of the Park about the reason for the forced move. He politely explained that he didn’t know the answer because the order came from the Secret Service and Park Police citing “unspecified security issues.” No one apparently had explained the “security issues” to the DC Police who were also on the scene. I believe this was the work of the Trump White House. Congress should investigate.

The impetus for the rally was the signing of Travel/Muslim Ban 2.0. The language of the Executive Order comprising 2.0 reflects the same hateful and unfounded animus against immigrants that was the essence of Travel Ban 1.0 found constitutionally and otherwise deficient by, among others, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Each EO manifests a desire to keep Muslims out of the United States, as Trump repeatedly promised during his campaign. There is no reason to doubt now that these Executive Orders are the direct implementation of those promises, no matter how dressed up the language in 2.0.

I am an immigrant in every relevant sense. My maternal grandparents came to the United States from Russia in 1906. My father’s parents, it is believed, hailed from the Netherlands. I am therefore only a second generation American. In point of fact, almost everyone in the United States is a descendant of immigrants. According to Quora.com, “The White American average genetic makeup is 98.6% European, 0.19% African, and 0.18% Native American.” http://bit.ly/2mpHEvh. According to the U.S. Census, American Indians and Alaska Natives comprised about 2 percent of the total population in 2014. http://bit.ly/2mjNoEy.

Thus, every anti-immigrant action taken by the xenophobic Trump administration is, at least indirectly, an attack on virtually everyone. It is but a short step from where Trump is now to “show me your bloodlines.” This is truly a situation where if anyone is unsafe, all are unsafe.

One feature of Travel Ban 2.0 not focused on elsewhere to my knowledge is that the time periods for suspension of entry under the two EOs are the same, even though 2.0 was announced more than a month after 1.0 and will not be effective until March 16. The changes made in 2.0 could, it would seem, have been made by one or two competent attorneys in a week’s time or less, even allowing for inter-agency consultation and coordination. That they were not must reflect that 2.0 is a political timing event and that the Trump administration has been sitting on its hands about the “emergency” of “uncontrolled entry” and “unvetted immigrants” while it dawdled with the language and Trump gave his speech to Congress. Thus, 2.0 reflects that no significant progress appears to have been made in the actual review of immigration procedures that are the centerpiece of the supposed rationale for the emergency “temporary” entry restrictions. The administration has certainly not announced any such progress. The procedures and the results of them are surely well known within the government. How can periods of 90 and 120 days be justified for “reviewing procedures?”

Consider also that in the interim between 1.0 and 2.0, Trump proposed to Congress the creation of a new government body inside Homeland Security: Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement, or VOICE. It is, as usual, unclear what this entity will do, or how much it will cost taxpayers, but the President has shown no similar solicitude for the victims of “non-immigrant crime” who vastly outnumber those affected by criminal behavior of immigrants. Perhaps Trump will eventually demand that immigrants mark themselves with an “I” so everyone can identify them on sight. Sound familiar? Right out of the Nazi playbook.