Today my mind has not strayed far from the awful crimes being committed against asylum-seeking families arriving at the southern border of the United States. Yes, my outrage is selective. Yes, the previous administration had a tremendous deportation machinery of its own. Yes, this preying on brown and black people by a white supremacist political structure in the US has deep historical roots. Yes, this policy-mandated behavior by immigration officials is entirely American and cruel at the same time.
The hard truths about this situation rest snugly embedded in a larger political context which features steady the erosion of democratic norms; rampant corruption and profiteering off the backs of the most vulnerable; a depressing exposure of historical illiteracy of the American populace, all wrapped up in a climate of fear, exhaustion and despair. These hard truths are not the enemy. Bitter realities, such as they are, show us the monsters of our own making – either through our silence, complacency or even active encouragement.
One of the hardest reads of my day centered around asking the question how was it possible for people to practice the cruelty necessary to carry out genocide on their neighbors and fellow citizens then (in WWII) and now. From the subReddit stream of AskHistorians:
The descent into cruelty and abhorrent deeds is one that in almost all historical situations is not caused by one individual’s personal cruelty but by a socially and political accepted mindset of necessity and acceptance of cruelty.
The reality we must face is recognizing our real and potential complicity with the cruelty proposed, enacted and denied by authorities, politicians, and everyone else who determines it better and safer to ‘get along by going along’. We are or will be regularly confronted with choices which uphold or further the cruelty rather than confronting and demanding its end. Hearing the audio of screaming children, seeing footage of caged children and teens, reading first-hand accounts of those directly involved either in the processing or being processed – these all provide ample evidence of awful realities – in snapshot form.
Feeling both hobbled and blessed by my geographical distance to the unfolding crisis, I tweet my desperation through the day. I try to refer others to meaningful threads. I comment on my own inclinations in posting widely on this topic. I throw stick after stick onto Twitter’s outrage bonfire and I question my own integrity in doing so. There can be no self-satisfied way to confront human rights abuse from afar. Discovering and applying my best resources to offering assistance require time and thought. (Truth without comfort: This is one battle among many, I can and should plan for the long haul.)
Perhaps by tossing my twigs on the outrage fire I seek to add my voice to the masses who resist a mindset prepared to normalize long-term detention of children and families seeking asylum in the United States (or in other wealth Western countries – see Australia). To resist a mindset that consciously and deliberately turns its back on upholding human rights. To resist a mindset that says my voice – my living-outside-the-country, black woman of substance voice – doesn’t count.
I am learning resistance. I am embracing resistance. I am struggling in my resistance. But I will persist. I must persist. We must persist.
image via Pixabay CC0