Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Psychological effects of separating kids from parents

On the psychological effect of separation from parents (ABC News on 18 June):

“Two of the most damaging childhood adversities are loss of the attachment bond with the parents and childhood physical and sexual abuse,” University of Texas psychiatry professor Luis Zayas told ABC News. “If you want to damage someone permanently, expose him or her to one or both of these traumas.”

* * *

After visiting a shelter in Texas, the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Colleen Kraft, in a television interview, likened what she saw to abuse.

"It is a form of child abuse," Kraft told CBS News. "This type of trauma can be long-lasting, and it's difficult to recover from this. We know very young children go on to not develop their speech, not develop their language, not develop their gross and fine motor skills and wind up with developmental delays."

Similarly, the Washington Post on 19 June:

This is what happens inside children when they are forcibly separated from their parents.

Their heart rate goes up. Their body releases a flood of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Those stress hormones can start killing off dendrites — the little branches in brain cells that transmit messages. In time, the stress can start killing off neurons and — especially in young children — wreaking dramatic and long-term damage, both psychologically and to the physical structure of the brain.

* * *

The American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Physicians and the American Psychiatric Association have all issued statements against it - representing more than 250,000 doctors in the United States. Nearly 7,700 mental-health professionals and 142 organizations have also signed a petition urging President Donald Trump to end the policy.

* * *

[In a study of children in Romanian orphanages:] Those separated from their parents at a young age had much less white matter, which is largely made up of fibers that transmit information throughout the brain, as well as much less gray matter, which contains the brain-cell bodies that process information and solve problems.

* * *

The [Romanian] children, who had been separated from their parents in their first two years of life, scored significantly lower on IQ tests later in life. Their fight-or-flight response system appeared permanently broken. Stressful situations that would usually prompt physiological responses in other people - increased heart rate, sweaty palms - would provoke nothing in the children.

* * *

Research on aboriginal children in Australia who were removed from their families also showed long-lasting effects. They were nearly twice as likely to be arrested or criminally charged as adults, 60 percent more likely to have alcohol-abuse problems and more than twice as likely to struggle with gambling.

In China — where 1 in 5 children live in villages without their parents, who migrate for work — studies have shown on those "left-behind" children have markedly higher rates of anxiety and depression later in life.

Michael H Fuchs, former deputy assistant secretary of state for east Asian and Pacific affairs, wrote in The Guardian on 20 June:

As George Takei — who was imprisoned by the US government in an internment camp as a child during the second world war — pointed out, not even those Japanese-Americans imprisoned during the war were separated from their parents. In America today, border agents reportedly told parents their children were getting bathed and then never came back, evoking Nazis taking away children in death camps and telling people being led to the gas chambers that they were going to take a shower.

The former Acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), John Sandweg, said that "permanent separation" has been known to happen. NBC News on 19 June paraphrased his observation "that migrant parents separated from their children at the border are sometimes unable to relocate their child and remain permanently separated...While a parent can quickly move from detention to deportation, a child's case for asylum or deportation may not be heard by a judge for several years because deporting a child is a lower priority for the courts..." On 20 June, the Detroit Free Press reported that 50 immigrant children had already arrived in Michigan to be put in foster care. "Trump administration officials," the Associated Press wrote the same day, "say they have no clear plan yet on how to reunite the thousands of children separated from their families at the border..."

"By all accounts, this has happened as early as October 2017. About 700 children were separated from their guardians and at least 100 were under 4 years old, according to The New York Times," Ricky Riley wrote for Blavity on 18 June. Riley shared actress Reagan Gomez's recommendation "to not compare our present to 'The Handmaid's Tale' but instead examine the past and think about what happened to Native American children and enslaved black children. Native children were taken from families and placed in schools where they were forced to assimilate."

A Boston Globe editorial on 20 June noted: "At least 2,300 children have been separated from their parents since early May." They added: "Contrary to the White House’s spin, family separation on the scale of the last few weeks is unprecedented. The shift can be traced to Miller, Trump’s anti-immigrant whisperer, a veteran of his presidential campaign. Miller is a longstanding supporter of restricting immigration, both legal and illegal; he also coauthored the administration’s ban on travelers from several predominantly Muslim countries. Turning twisted notions of white nationalism into policy is the role Miller seems to have prepared for his whole life."

Attorney General Jeff Sessions helped implement the new policy over the past few months and then publicly quoted a Biblical passage from Romans 13 to justify why it is important to follow the law. Ed Kilgore wrote for New York Magazine:

Those who are unacquainted with the Bible should be aware that the brief seven-verse portion of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans has been throughout the ages cited to oppose resistance to just about every unjust law or regime you can imagine. As the Atlantic’s Yoni Appelbaum quickly pointed out, it was especially popular among those opposing resistance to the Fugitive Slave Act in the run-up to the Civil War. It was reportedly Adolf Hitler’s favorite biblical passage. And it was used by defenders of South African Apartheid and of our own Jim Crow.

Hundreds of clergy and laymembers of the United Methodist Church, of which Sessions is a longtime member, signed a letter raising formal church charges against him including his use of Romans 13 which they argued was a false doctrine.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Will Trump succeed in repealing the Johnson Amendment? (And why does he want to?)

A follow-up to the December 2017 discussion of Stephen Mansfield's book Choosing Trump.

Donald Trump campaigned on the promise to repeal the Johnson Amendment, a part of the IRS code that prohibits 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, including churches, from participating in partisan politics and endorsing candidates. Political religious organizations would benefit from repealing this rule. (As a matter of popular opinion, however, even most religious people do not want their churches to become arms of partisan politics.)

June 2018

In June 2018, while Trump was in Singapore speaking to Kim Jong-Un, Vice President Mike Pence revived the issue of the Johnson Amendment:

And why was Trump so interested in repealing the Johnson Amendment? Here's one theory:

Hemant Mehta wrote on June 16 that we invoke the Johnson Amendment in our popular understanding when "referring to the rule prohibiting religious leaders from endorsing candidates from the pulpit," but: "The Johnson Amendment isn’t really about churches. It’s about non-profits. The same rule that bars pastors from endorsing candidates also bars the ACLU and the NRA and AARP from doing the same thing." Thus, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood's recent lawsuit claims the Trump family engaged in “persistently illegal conduct” through its family foundation. This includes the donation of $25,000 in 2013 to the reelection campaign of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (R) and also paying expenses for Trump's own campaign in early 2016. Mehta quotes Rob Boston of Americans United for Separation of Church and State: "When Trump started talking about how he’d like to “destroy” the Johnson Amendment, I just assumed that Jerry Falwell Jr. or another one of his Religious Right lackeys fed him the line because, unlike most religious leaders in America, they are eager to politicize their pulpits and issue orders on how congregants ought to vote. But it turns out a move like that could be a huge benefit to Trump himself."

Friday, June 15, 2018

Twitter reactions to the North Korea/US meeting, Day 3 and 4 (14 and 15 June 2018)

Day 3

Day 4

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Twitter reactions to the North Korea/US meeting, Day 2 (13 June 2018)

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Twitter reactions to the North Korea/US meeting on 12 June 2018

The joint statement of Kim-Trump on 12 June 2018:
  • The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new US-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
  • The United States and DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
  • Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula
  • The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Barksdale: On psychological castration in modern black fiction

Richard K. Barksdale published an article in 1986 about psychological castration in modern black fiction. He taught at the University of Illinois until 1989 and died in 1993.

To give some background about older fiction, Barksdale mentions William Faulkner's Light in August in which the black character Joe Christmas is castrated by Percy Grimm. Barksdale says that Christmas “fits into the Southern gothic tradition” in the way he “puts aside his gun and submits, almost lovingly, to his castration and death.” (Peter Swiggart's book The Art of Faulkner's Novels gives more information about Joe Christmas: “His grandfather, Eupheus (Doc) Hines, kills Joe’s father, a dark-skinned circus man, and allows Joe’s unmarried mother to die in childbirth. Hines believes that Joe represents the very ‘teeth and fangs’ of Satan’s evil...”)

In more recent black fiction, however, such as in “Gayl Jones’s Eva’s Man and Corregidora, in Morrison’s Sula, in Walker’s The Color Purple, and in Paule Marshall’s Praise Song for the Widow" the characters experience some “severe psychological mutilation of the black male psyche.” In all these books, the castration is metaphorical, except for Eva’s Man (1976) in which Eva Medina Canada kills her lover Davis Carter by biting off his genitals and leaving him to bleed out. Barksdale comments that “where in Faulkner’s Light in August an act of sexual violence is rooted in an interracial social problem, in Gayl Jones’s Eva’s Man the act of sexual violence appears to be an interracial personal problem.” He concludes that

“some recent black American novelists have introduced male characters who, because of their penchant for sexual violence and because of their brutal insensitivity, deserve castration; and there are other male characters who, because of circumstances beyond their control, have been symbolically castrated and are hence the ‘wounded Adams’ of the black experience."


Richard K. Barksdale. "Castration symbolism in recent black American fiction." CLA Journal. Vol. 29, No. 4 (JUNE 1986), pp. 400-413.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

'The Magic Tavern' podcast has a eunuch character, Benedict Whisperbrew

Benedict Whisperbrew, Chief Eunuch of Belaroth, appears on: