In the wake of over 52,000 children fleeing violence and mayhem in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala and braving a dangerous trip to get to the United States border, the political class and its Amen corner have reacted fast and furious. Seeking to score political points white political commentators have leveled an unprecedented amount of racist vitriol on defenseless children who can't fight back.
The bloody cowards.
I've heard people say that they come with lice, resurrecting the old racist bogey of describing Black and Latinos as "lice laden" and obliquely suggesting to incredibly gullible Americans that "these others" are just nasty, unsanitary, unhealthy and unit to "live among us."
So the backlash in hick towns pregnant with unadulterated ignorance of "the others," has been swift and predictable -- don't send them here; we don't' want them. Cage them, pen them, corral them, but keep them away from us. So I got to wonder: if these children were a different color or nationality would this be the narrative?
I'm not a betting man but I would suggest that we'd be hearing statements from white politicians and their media flunkies like "those beautiful little angels," "they are so cute!" and "why we must protect these innocent babies from harm." Thing is that today in America racism has metastasized out of its remission since President Barack Obama trounced Republicans -- twice. You see the old Southern psyche, ingrained and DNA entrenched is so corrupted with its sense of superiority that its racist attitudes flare up uncontrollably at the slightest event.
Senator John McCain is belligerently shouting at the top of his aged lungs to send them back. This bastion of Republican faux pax who sees everything and anything through the lens of an opportunity bomb, draw guns, and enforce "our American values," wants the National Guard brought in. Hopefully, breaking a few children's skulls will stop the migration.
These migrant children have been called, besides lice-peddlers, bringers of TB and other contagious diseases -- although this has not happened and there is some evidence that about 2.7 million Americans suffer from "too much lice." Still others have blamed President Obama and floated the utterly false claim that "he encouraged them to come."
Let's put this in some perspective. Just after taking office in 2009, the President made a statement about immigration and so six years later, children who were about 2 years when he made that statement, by some miracle of delayed autosuggestion suddenly decided, in May 2014, to take him up on the "offer." Can somebody kick me so I get beck to reality?
Writing in the New York Daily News Charles Krauthammer, a darling of the Tea and Republican Parties, said that it was obligatory that the United States "send them back." He's also advocated that we start getting the buses ready to do the bye-de-bye border crashers caravan back to Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Curiously, from all sides of the aisle this debate come the sentiment that these are not children, just useless human garbage to be dumped back where they came from. Lawmakers, of all hue and stripes cannot muster a modicum of humanity for these desperate children but use their dire plight as political fodder against each other.
Is it because they are Black and Brown? Would the political class; the think tank pundits and narrow-minded media commentators behave this way if these children were Jewish, Polish or British? Would there be demonstrations and angry civilians blocking the entrance to a city and shouting: "get out, we don't what you?"
But America, especially white America, has a history of ostracizing and maligning "the others." Recall that President John F. Kennedy had to send in Federal troops to enforce Civil Rights laws that right wing, racist Southerners kept blocking. They have a way of murdering those that "don't look or behave like us." Circa 1930s and 40s and the lynching of Black people, of mob rule, and rabid racism based on the flawed belief that "I'm white, I'm right and you're Black, inferior and wrong."
And while in 2014 Back, Brown and Yellow skinned peoples are not hung from the nearest lamp pole or oak tree, racism still is alive and well. These days it's driven by white fears of the "browning of America," and what they see as the threat to and destruction of "our way of life." So the reaction is to hunker down and move to the ultra-conservative right.
Modern ultra-conservatism is patently nativist, closed and nostalgic for the days when white supremism ruled, well, supreme. Its most outward manifestation today is the Tea Party where people dress up in colonial-era garb, waive the American flag and shout "USA! USA! " at every turn. They spout an Old Testament Christian ideology -- rigid, backward, reactionary and unsuited for a 21st century world.
Its that kind of toxic brew -- right-wing politics and revenge religion - that drives the kind of off-the-barn statements by pandering politicians and their Bible-spewing minions who use the South American migrant crisis to bolster their Tea Party and ultra-conservative credentials. This gutless, heartless and opportunistic political dance is an eerie reminder that day-to-day politics is about scoring cheap shots, getting your face on the 6 o'clock news, and a pat on the back from a constituency more ideologically inline with the horse and buggy era.
But back to the border and 52,000 children that nobody speaks for. It would be nice for the news anchors and other commentators far removed from the situation to get down from their perches and speak to these scared and traumatized children. And maybe, a political leader or two would step up to the plate, stop grandstanding, and start speaking for 52,000 voiceless kids that have nobody articulating their position, telling their stories and pushing back at those who characterize them along racist lines.
Me? I would not hold my breadth on this. The reason being the legendary cowardice of American political leaders who are more comfortable spinning and yakking than doing something decent for a change. They can posture, a la John McCain, shout blood murder like Senator Lindsey Graham, and feign righteous hypocritical anger like Speaker John Boehner -- that's for their bases and news media consumption. But doing something that is right, principled, and humanistic".well that's not gong to fly. Instead what we get is the usual diatribes from the Left and the Right and elected officials acting out for the TV cameras. Peppered with lies, half-truths and racist rants its red meat for the base while ignoring the facts on the ground.