Monday, 30 January 2017
Like most of you, I spend a good portion of this weekend watching the news in utter disbelief as the apparent leader of the free world dismantled 200 years of American tradition as compassionate humanitarians and ideologues of liberty, then in horror as he nonchalantly shrugged aside the authority of the judiciary system that is supposed to keep him in check, all while his Republican party colleagues and supporters smiled and clapped as if nothing at all out of the ordinary had happened.
I could give you the same speech that you’ve heard from every pundit and foreign leader on TV: that this is discriminatory, that it flies in the face of everything that America, and indeed western democracy stands for, that it’s callous and accomplishes nothing. But this is all obvious, and more to the point it has already been said throughout the election when Trump warned us that he was going to do this exact thing. But there’s a difference between opposing something because it goes against your principles or your ideology, and seeing it actually in practice. For me the turning point came late Sunday night.
I was watching the CNN coverage of the situation at America’s airports, JFK, Dallas, Logan. They were showing video footage of the various detainees from Trump’s “undesirable” countries being released from custody after hours of being held and questioned. At first my feeling was that the camera crew should leave them alone, after a long stressful ordeal I’m sure a camera in their face is the last thing they want. But once I saw these people I realized how important it is to see the faces of the people this affects, to see the human impact of this nightmare.
Then I saw something that broke me. A video of a young child being carried out of the airport by his mother. Young, five years old at most maybe younger. Not crying or anything, just staring blankly, shocked and despondent after hours of being held by armed men while his parents were taken away and kept separately, helpless to do anything. This kid had just been heading home. His mother was singing “happy birthday” as she carried him out. Is this what Trump meant when he said he wanted to make America great again?
And then I went on the social network Reddit to look at the discussion threads to see what people were saying about all this. I found comments like “Ha look at all these salty liberals shedding salty tears!” and “It’s just losers whining about losing. GET OVER IT.” (Actual quotes).
Imagine the juxtaposition; this young infant, innocent, detained for several hours for no reason aside from having parents born in a Muslim nation, traumatized and terrified, he and his parents treated like terrorists and criminals despite having committed no crime. On this young child’s birthday. Then the vile excuses for human excrement laughing their heads off at this video baying “haha take that, liberals!”
I mean fuck.
So sure, Republicans you go ahead and implement your insane white supremacist policies, and Democrats you keep fighting to restore American ideals. We’re used to that. But what kind of irredeemable sociopath takes such delight in the suffering of innocents, and innocent children no less? What unfathomable waste of oxygen is so hopelessly and remorselessly detached from human empathy that they gloat and gleefully cheer this five year old’s terror as if they had just won some game of football?
It is time to acknowledge the type of people that we are up against here. That a certain segment of this country have simply accepted the dehumanization of others. This is not simply politics anymore, this is hyper-partisanship taken to a frightening and dangerous extreme. It is no longer acceptable to simply laugh off comparisons to the humanitarian crises of the past.
It is also time to acknowledge the people who have brought us to this moment, enabled and encouraged the hatred. It is no longer acceptable for the Republican Party leadership, for the Speaker of the People’s House, and each of our duly elected representatives, to simply stand by and let this happen for the sake of party politics.
This is not normal. There must be consequences. It is the duty of every sane and compassionate human being, American or otherwise, to remember what is happening, to remember the baying thugs who supported this administration, to remember the politicians who let it happen out of cynical self-interest.
This Muslim ban was announced (incredibly) on holocaust memorial day, a day on which we tell each other that we must never forget. This ban will be thrown out in the courts, Trump’s vile regime will come to an end, and when all this insanity is consigned to the ash-heap of history we must ensure that we never forget those who were responsible. It is the duty of all good people to ensure that everyone who has supported this administration and its actions carries the shame of it with them. History is watching America, history is watching Theresa May, history is watching Republican Party. None of you will be remembered kindly.