A black mark on America'smoral history

 

History is going to remember these days as a dark time in America.

Like the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, Americans will one day look back on the forced separation of migrant children from their families — and their subsequent detention in squalid conditions — with disbelief and shame.

Some of us are looking at it that way right now.

The Trump Regime is not very forthcoming about conditions in what U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez properly called “concentration camps,” but information is getting out, anyway.

For those who object to that term, and who think it minimizes the treatment of Jews in Europe during World War II, I share the words of actor George Takei who, as a child, was imprisoned in one of the aforementioned Japanese-American internment camps:

“I know what concentration camps are. I was inside two of them, in America. And yes, we are operating such camps again.”

At least Takei was imprisoned with his parents.

A lawyer who visited a facility in Clint, Texas, near El Paso, told the BBC that children were “locked up in horrific cells where there’s an open toilet in the middle of the room” where they ate and slept.

“There was nobody taking care of these children ... they were not being bathed on a regular basis,” Professor Warren Binford of Williamette University in Oregon said. “Several hundred of the children had been kept in a warehouse that was recently erected on the facility grounds.”

Binford described overcrowded cells, a lice infestation and an influenza outbreak. “Children are being locked up in isolation with no adult supervision, who are very, very ill and they’re just lying on the ground on mats,” he said.

Elora Mukherjee, another lawyer who visited the facility, told CBS News: “They were wearing the same dirty clothing they crossed the border with.

“It is degrading and inhumane and shouldn’t be happening in America.”

What is Trump’s response to the inhumane treatment of children? He sent Sarah Fabian, a Justice Department lawyer, to federal court to argue the government has no obligation to supply soap, toothpaste or bedding to the children it has torn from their families and locked in cages.

Really.

A Trump surrogate, Brian Kilmeade, the odious lie merchant on the Fox and Friends television show, summed up the feelings of that camp:

“It’s not like (Trump) is doing this to the people of Idaho or Texas,” he said. “These people are from another country.”

Despicable.

It’s obvious Trump and some of the more evil voices in his ear — White House adviser Stephen Miller comes to mind — want the word to get out through Central America that the treatment awaiting those seeking asylum in the United States will rival what they get from the drug cartels they are fleeing at home. They’re probably not as happy word is getting out here, and there’s a backlash.

An example of outrage, not tied to a political faction, came from Highlights magazine, the publication we all read in elementary school and still occasionally encounter in a doctor’s or dentist’s office. Its CEO came out this week in defense of children, its target audience.

“Our company’s core belief, stated each month in Highlights magazine, is that ‘Children are the world’s most important people.’ This is a belief about ALL children,” Kent Johnson said in a statement Tuesday. “With this core belief in our minds and hearts, we denounce the practice of separating immigrant children from their families and urge our government to cease this activity, which is unconscionable and causes irreparable damage to young lives.”

How anyone can see the pictures and read the accounts of what’s going on at our border without revulsion and outrage is beyond me. As a parent, the thought of young children caring for sick toddlers without any supplies to do it, all of them wondering what happened to their parents, actually upsets my stomach.

Not much upsets my stomach.

Thinking, feeling people who see what’s being done in our name as Americans are ashamed. When our grandchildren ask us how this happened in a nation that was supposed to be a beacon of right and justice to the world, we will not have an answer.

Robert Cairns is the managing editor of The Daily Star. Contact him at rcairns@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7217. You can follow him at @DS_BobC on Twitter, but he doesn’t tweet, much.