Sunday, June 23, 2019

What YOU can do to END concentration camps in the United States

Enough talk! Let's do something!


UNDERSTAND THE BROADER SIGNIFICANCE OF WHAT'S HAPPENING

Frame it. We've heard the talk. Let's make this quick. You already understand, and that's why you're here. At a glance:

Gregory Stanton, the president of Genocide Watch, wrote The Ten Stages of Genocide in 2016 to help people understand the danger.

Laurence Britt, an amateur historian, suggested these "early warning signs of fascism" in an article in Free Inquiry magazine in 2003.

Masha Gessen published these "rules for survival" just after the election in 2016.


KNOW THE RIGHTS OF IMMIGRANTS IN THE UNITED STATES

Information from the ACLU: English | Spanish


KNOW WHERE THE DETENTION CENTERS ARE

Freedom for Immigrants: Map

Wikipedia: List of detention sites in the United States


ATTEND A PROTEST OR VIGIL

On Tuesday, July 2, 2019, attend a MoveOn "Close the Camps" event.

On Friday, July 12, 2019, Lights for Liberty will hold vigils near El Paso, TX; Miami, FL; San Diego, CA; New York, NY; Washington, DC; and a rapidly increasing number of other places.

If you can encourage a lot of people to travel, charter a bus. (Use the word "charter" in your search; it means renting a bus with a driver.) This can be a great activity for an existing organization.

Can't fill a whole bus? Sign up with Rally to create trips or find rides.

Don't need a bus, because you live near a rally site? Can you offer a bed for a fellow protester to crash overnight?


SPEAK UP WITHIN YOUR RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY

Tell your spiritual leader what you believe. Will they give a sermon against concentration camps?

If your worship or study is self-directed, direct it. Bring the readings. Make the phone calls. You know what to do.


SPEAK UP AT SCHOOL

If you're a teacher or professor, incorporate appropriate materials into your lesson.

If you're a student, make your next paper or presentation on this topic.

If you participate in "adult ed," tell your community center that this topic matters to you and that you'd like to see a course on it. This gets people talking behind the scenes on an institutional level.


LEGISLATE CONCENTRATION CAMPS OUT OF EXISTENCE

Shut Down Child Prison Camps Act (H.R. 1069) GovTrack

Families Not Facilities Act (S. 388) GovTrack

If you're an American Jew, sign this e-petition by T'ruah (rabbis for human rights)

Contact your leaders in Congress and tell them about these bills. You can use GovTrack to find out what bills your leaders have sponsored.

Tell other advocacy organizations that you'd like them to endorse and educate about these bills.

BE VISIBLE ABOUT YOUR POSITION

When a Trump rally came to town, this restaurant didn't just pocket the windfall profit. They put a sign in the window saying they'd donate their profits for the day to an organization that defends immigrants. This strategy not only actually raises money for a good cause; it also informs and discourages people who come to town for racist rallies.


DONATE FOR A CHILD TO HAVE A LAWYER

Over 13,000 kids in detention need lawyers. TogetherRising.org/give

VOLUNTEER AS A CHILD ADVOCATE


VOLUNTEER TO VISIT SOMEONE IN DETENTION, SPEAK ON A HOTLINE, HOST ASYLUM SEEKERS, OR OFFER TRANSPORTATION

Freedom for Immigrants: Join Us

SUPPORT ORGANIZATIONS

Sanctuary Not Deportation
New Sanctuary Coalition
Immigrant Defense Project
CHIRLA
RAICES
Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project
Al Otro Lado
Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
Kids in Need of Defense has a Target gift registry.
Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley has an Amazon wish list.
For more, see the grassroots members of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM).

Think, too, about "unlikely allies." What organizations do you know that typically work on issues aside from immigration yet might have something to contribute to this cause right now?


MODERATE YOUR ORGANIZATIONS

If you run an organization (online or offline), develop and enforce policies for acceptable speech within the community. For example, on 23 June 2019, the knitting website Ravelry banned its members from supporting the current U.S. presidential administration whether through MAGA knitting patterns or other forms of speech.


REPORT ABUSE

A New York Times editorial on June 24, 2019 said:
"Report and document raids and arrests. The National Immigration Law Center has suggested reporting raids to local hotlines, such as United We Dream’s MigraWatch. Raices has urged that people verify any social media posts saying ICE has been spotted before sharing or retweeting them because false alarms could spread fear in immigrant communities."

KNOW WHAT COMPANIES PROFIT

Who's profiting off family separation and detention?

Southwest Key Programs
MVM
Comprehensive Health Services
Dynamic Service Solutions
Exodyne
- from a list by CBS News in June 2018

In June 2018, Green America recommended divesting from (i.e. not investing in) Geo Corp, CoreCivic (CXW: NYSE), Wells Fargo (WFC: NYSE), Bank of America (BAC: NYSE), JPMorgan Chase (JPM: NYSE), BNP Paribas (BNP: NYSE), SunTrust (STI: NYSE), and US Bancorp (USB: NYSE), Accenture, and General Dynamics. They also recommended complaining to Accenture, Comprehensive Health Services Inc., Dynamic Service Solutions, LLC, Dynamic Education Systems, a subsidiary of Exodyne, General Dynamics, MVM, Inc., Southwest Key Programs, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, and Delta Airlines.

They recommended thanking American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and United Airlines.

If you work for a company that's involved?

"Wayfair employees plan walkout to oppose furniture sales to migrant detention facilities," Boston Globe


USE DIRECT LANGUAGE

"Why don’t you use the lexicon of reality to describe what is happening before your eyes?" Umair Haque asks. "Did you really learn nothing from Orwell? Why did Orwell teach us that reality was so important, anyways?"

"We fight fascism with moral power, social power, the power of our humanity. Or else the fascists defeat us, with our very own denial and willful ignorance. Truth, therefore, is the idea fascism fears most."


VIEW ONLINE ARTICLES

If you're uncomfortable with the term "concentration camp," these articles may persuade you. If they don't succeed in persuading you, I am not mad. I have an opinion, but that's not a hill I choose to die on. People are literally dying inside these "facilities," whatever we choose to call them. The language matters, but the language is mostly instrumental to the goal. What ultimately matters is that each of us takes some action to end these camps and what's happening inside them.

(Notice that I didn't even mention the controversy over terminology until the middle of this article, because the more important point that good people agree on is that we end these policies and these facilities whatever they are called.)

Word choice aside, Adam Serwer writes, the real question is "whether the Trump administration's treatment of migrants amounts to a historic crime, whether future generations will wonder how those involved could possibly have gone along with it, whether there will one day be memorials erected to commemorate it, whether historians write solemn books about it, whether those looking back will vow never to repeat it."

"An Expert on Concentration Camps Says That's Exactly What the U.S. Is Running at the Border," Jack Holmes, Esquire, 13 June 2019
"Appropriate ways of describing what is happening at the border," Alexandra Petri, Washington Post, 19 June 2019
"‘Never again’ means nothing if Holocaust analogies are always off limits," Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, Washington Post, 19 June 2019
"With Trump’s Migrant Camps, the History We Should Fear Repeating Is Our Own," Eric Levitz, NY Mag Intelligencer, 20 June 2019
"George Takei was sent to US internment camps during WWII. He says we're operating 'concentration camps' again," Michelle Lou, CNN, 20 June 2019
"I’m A Latina Jew. My People Are In Concentration Camps Today — Just Like They Were During The Holocaust," Tae Phoenix, The Forward, 20 June 2019
"AOC’s Generation Doesn’t Presume America’s Innocence," Peter Beinart, The Atlantic, 21 June 2019
"A Jewish Mother’s Warning," Jennifer Rosen Heinz, Use Your Outside Voice, 23 June 2019
"American 'Concentration Camps,'" Karen Jensen and Matthew Abrahams, Tricycle, 21 June 2019

"A Crime by Any Name," Adam Serwer, The Atlantic, July 3, 2019.

Media companies track their online page views. They get payments from advertisers, so this matters to them. Read the article on the original website if you can.


BUY BOOKS

Authors and publishers should be compensated for their work. It allows them to keep writing so they can keep getting the word out. (I, too, get a small commission off these affiliate links. If someone makes fifty cents, it compensates them for the effort they've put in to create, host, and promote something online, like this blog post.) The aggregate number of book sales also tells bookstores which titles they should restock. Popular books may earn a place in the window of brick-and-mortar stores, a form of advertising that is free to the writer and publisher and a way of informing a community about the values held by its residents. Really popular books gain places on the New York Times Best Seller list, a mark of prestige that helps recognize and define what's culturally important to the nation. The publishing industry pays attention.

Paperback from BookPeople, an independent bookstore

Kindle eBook from Amazon


BORROW BOOKS

Libraries, too, respond to demand. If this subject matter is popular, they may be able to allocate their budget for more copies. Use your library card so the library knows what you're reading.


REVIEW BOOKS

Amazon and Goodreads are two of the most popular sites on which you can leave a comment about the book you've read. This can trigger social media notifications and gain the book free online promotion, so your review helps other people to find the book.

If you've bought a book through Amazon, your Amazon review will have a "verified purchase" badge that makes it count more highly in Amazon's algorithm.


SUBSCRIBE TO A NEWSPAPER AND WRITE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

For example, to the Washington Post. Subscribe yourself. You already get the paper? Buy a gift subscription for someone else. Your subscription funds the news, in part from your subscription fee and in part because advertisers pay the newspaper based on their number of subscribers.

If a story feels important, then, whether your reaction is positive or negative, write a letter to the editor. Most newspapers prefer letters of about 150 words (about one paragraph). It's a chance to show the editor that you're engaging thoughtfully with the article. If the newspaper receives a large number of letters on a single topic, they're likely to publish one of the letters, so be part of the avalanche of correspondence that causes someone's letter to be published.


'SUBSCRIBE' TO, AND REVIEW, PODCASTS

It's free for you. Pressing the "subscribe" button means you'll get the newest episodes of the podcast automatically delivered to you. Remember to leave a positive review for the podcast. This helps other listeners find the podcast, and it can also eventually help the podcaster get corporate advertising dollars so that they can continue to produce episodes. Your free "subscription" and your positive review is helping the podcaster get paid for their work.

Positive feedback also buoys spirits.

Recommended podcasts could include "Mueller She Wrote," a Webby award-winning podcast about the Mueller investigation, as it is co-sponsoring the Lights for Liberty national protests of the concentration camps.


MAKE ART

Artists, poets: How about creating something on this political topic? Here's a list of literary journals to which you can submit.

Musicians: Write a song? Perform a song? Play it in the street? Upload a video?


CALL OUT FAKE NEWS

Learn to recognize real news sources. This 2017 Forbes article names credible sources: New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, BBC, Economist, New Yorker, wire services (Associated Press, Reuters, Bloomberg News), Foreign Affairs, Atlantic, Politico, National Public Radio (NPR), TIME magazine, Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC. Business reporting includes Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Fortune, Financial Times. Right-wing: National Review, Weekly Standard. Left-wing: New Republic, The Nation.

Learn to recognize fake news sources. Wikipedia has a list of such sources, including the frequently shared, intentionally "satirical" World News Daily Report.

Avoid sharing information that may be incorrect...or unsubstantiated...or even simply unactionable. Some stories only spread panic and do more harm than good.

If you think someone is sharing incorrect information, use Snopes (which fact-checks all kinds of things) or the Washington Post Fact Checker (devoted to POTUS #45) to see if it's already been debunked.


DONATE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS

Committee to Protect Journalists


SUPPORT IMMIGRANTS

Support immigrants (and people who are marginalized for other reasons). Just by existing in a society that tries to crush them, they may be performing "emotional labor" and they may implicitly or indirectly raise awareness in others. Just by existing, each of us contributes something to the world. It is everyone's job to respect everyone else's humanity. So please actively support immigrants in their lives; support them as friends, neighbors, coworkers, artists and authors. Listen, accept, and help if you can when they request it of you, in the specific ways that they want you to help (and not in the ways that they don't).

In this Elle article from 2017, "15 writers with immigrant backgrounds have selected a book by an immigrant that holds importance for them."

Remember that people have multiple identities. An immigrant may be Black, disabled, gay. A person needs to be able to live as all the things they are. We need to make that possible for each other. When everyone in a society survives and thrives, the society is stronger, and it strengthens the perceived importance of diversity and equality.


ACCEPT OTHERS' PREFERRED FORMS OF ACTIVISM

Since we're in this for the long haul, remember that we need people to organize for next week, next year, next decade. We need loud people and quiet people. We need every voice and a multitude of tactics.

And keep the pressure on and the intensity up. Do it in a way that's sustainable for you, but don't forget. This issue will cycle in and out of the headlines. Remember that this is important, and it's possible to care about multiple issues at the same time.


REMIND EVERYONE TO REGISTER TO VOTE

I'm sure you're a voter. (Though, if you've recently moved, have you updated your address? Updating your address with the U.S. Postal Service isn't enough; you have to update your voter registration separately.)

Who else do you know who needs to register to vote? Someone who moved recently? Someone who may never have registered at all? Remind them. Why not now?

And stay informed about candidates' positions.


ENCOURAGE PEOPLE WHO DON'T TYPICALLY SUPPORT 'LIBERAL' OR 'LEFT-WING' CAUSES

Many people who have historically voted Republican are appalled by Trumpism, racism, and concentration camps. No one should be complicit in the Trump administration. Ethically, everyone does need to withdraw their support from the Trump administration. At the same time, however, no one has to share all the Democrats' beliefs and policies.

How can conservatives resist Trump? Let people think creatively here. For example, did you know that Trump has a challenger in the Republican primary? Bill Weld is running. That may be a protest vote that you can tolerate (whether cast by you or someone else). It is up to each individual to find a political path they can walk. The election is still 500 days away. Let people find entry points to their political evolution and involvement. As long as someone hits the basic moral notes — e.g. no concentration camps — you may be able to accept, and maybe even provide some encouragement for, their words and actions that differ from your approach.


MORE IDEAS

Quoted from a 2 July 2019 email from the Catalyst Project:

Call your reps and tell them to close the camps: 202-224-3121
Use Hand-in-Hand’s toolkit to plan a Playdate Protest
Support Asylum Seekers
Use our Immigrant Justice Curriculum to support non-immigrants to take strategic, effective and accountable collective action in solidarity with immigrant communities toward the end of deportations, detentions, and discrimination.
Organizing tools from Detention Watch Network
Help pay bail by giving to community bail funds
More ways you can offer support

DON'T PICK ON PEOPLE WHO ARE ON YOUR SIDE

Twenty-five Democrats are running for president in 2020. When they're not talking about immigration and human rights, they should be talking about climate change, clean air and water, mass shootings, Neo-Nazis, police violence, reproductive rights, LGBT rights, foreign policy, science denialism, college loan debt, access to healthcare, separation of church and state, disenfranchisement and gerrymandering. There are a lot of big issues. There's a time and a place to spend a lot of time talking about each of them.

Don't spend an excessive amount of time highlighting minor issues that ultimately don't matter, like a candidate's exact choice of words or a tiny donation they accepted from someone you don't like. Don't get sucked into whatever petty barbs may be thrown by them or at them, such as the color of someone's suit. That drags down the quality and effectiveness of the conversation. Keep yourself and others on point.

This holds true for all your allies, too — I mean, the ones who aren't politicians. Hold each other accountable to talk about important matters. Don't waste time, and don't snipe over the small stuff.


DON'T FEED THE TROLLS

The nastiest comments on social media are by trolls (human or bot). If a comment clearly violates the platform's community standards (e.g. a direct slur against a marginalized group), report it, and it's likely to be removed. If you can't report it, block the human/bot user so you don't have to be distracted by their comments anymore. If you don't want to bother blocking them, then, at the very least, ignore them and move on. Don't engage. They are just looking for attention.


DON'T BOTHER SENDING 'DONATIONS' OF TOOTHBRUSHES AND SOAP TO THE US BORDER PATROL

Vice President Mike Pence claims in a June 23 TV interview that it's difficult to bring toothbrushes and soap into facilities because that has to go through a Congressional budget "appropriations process." This is a transparently weak excuse. The government can bring toothbrushes and soap today if they want. They don't want to and they choose not to.

If you send hygiene or comfort products to concentration camps, realize that you're staging a protest to continue exposing the government's agenda. The government already gleefully exposes its own agenda; you can continue helping it do so if that's important to you. Your protest may have some impact if you do it publicly, but the goods will never, ever arrive to actually help any immigrant, so don't expect them to.

For example: Rep. Terry Canales (Democrat, TX-40) reports that Border Patrol will not accept these donations.

Again, this is not about a need to wait to approve hygiene products through Congressional budget appropriations. This is about government not allowing hygiene products. If you show up and say, "Here are hygiene products," they will not accept them.


CONTRIBUTE MORE IDEAS

Write comments below!


SHARE THIS ARTICLE

US backing off Iran strike (June 2019)

The US unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA (the "Iran nuclear deal") in 2018.

A year later, Iran announced that it would partially withdraw from the international agreement. Whereas, under the previous deal, Iran had agreed to sell its excess enriched uranium and heavy water to other countries, now it will keep those materials.

Then, bizarrely:

In June, Iran shot down a $200 million U.S. military drone. The U.S. President tweeted:

Once upon a time, war had to be authorized by Congress, but now everyone knows it's just the president's decision. Will America go to war? Americans will find out!

Ships and planes were in motion, and then:

Supposedly, it was a White House lawyer — not a military official — who provided the "150" casualty figure to Trump. The number represented a "worst case scenario."

First of all, ordering a disproportionate strike and then backing off upon realizing it's disproportionate isn't a great moral achievement.

Secondly, it isn't plausible that Trump would back off for moral concerns, given what we know about his character.

Thirdly, this story is not plausible given how the military functions. The military is always aware of potential casualties. They don't bring them up as a "by the way" ten minutes before they open fire.

"Something's wrong there," Shep Smith said during a Fox News segment on June 21. Chris Wallace said, "I talked to a former top national security official in an earlier Republican administration who says this just doesn't add up...The timeline for when he learned information and when he decided to act doesn't make a lot of sense....Maybe that's the biggest problem. You could argue: if you don't want to strike, don't strike. If you want to strike, do strike — but don't send mixed messages that confuse not only your enemies, but even your allies and people here in this country."

So how did he decide?

The New York Times reports that Trump sought out the advice of Fox personality Tucker Carlson. Later that night, Carlson said on-air that a strike would have been catastrophic.

Zachary B. Wolf wrote for CNN on June 23, 2019:

Recall that early in Trump's presidency he surrounded himself with former generals — James Mattis at the Pentagon, Michael Flynn and then H.R. McMaster as National Security Adviser, and John Kelly first as DHS Secretary and then as White House chief of staff.

All of them are gone now.

Flynn was dismissed for lying about Russia contacts. Kelly had his authority undermined and was then pushed out. McMaster quietly exited after not gelling with the President. Mattis resigned without a public word but in spectacular fashion, sending a letter describing his differences with the President.

In the place of generals, and despite his pledges to drain the swamp, Trump has sought out former defense contractors. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, before running for Congress, ran an aerospace company. Outgoing acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan spent a career at Boeing. New Defense nominee and current Secretary of the Army Mark Esper worked at Raytheon.

Only one week previously, the New York Times reported that the Pentagon is reluctant to share information with this president because they expect him to betray the country by leaking the information to foreign adversaries.

[See also MSN]

Friday, June 21, 2019

Why do conservative American Christians feel discriminated against? A 2019 debate

Last month, Sohrab Ahmari, a Catholic and the op-ed editor of the New York Post, published an alarming and revealing opinion, "Against David French-ism" (First Things, May 29, 2019).

Ahmari describes "what I call David French-ism, after the National Review writer and Never-Trump stalwart" as an expectation that Christian beliefs can be upheld politely and voluntarily on a cultural level rather than through legislative force. On this model, people would use their autonomy to live guided by Christian values rather than by some other kind of values. Ahmari derides it as "an idle wish that all men become moral." French-ism, he says, "is more a persuasion or a sensibility than a movement with clear tenets" that, beyond any individual, "pervade[s] a wider sphere of conservative Christian thinking and activism." It happens that French is Protestant.

When confronted with "the cultural civil war," Ahmari insists, "the only way is through," meaning that one must have "the aim of defeating the enemy and enjoying the spoils [my emphasis] in the form of a public square re-ordered to the common good and ultimately the Highest Good." The only other option is ceding the public square to "the libertine ways and paganized ideology of the other side." Social institutions aren't "neutral zones" that "accommodate" everyone. They are zero-sum: there is a winner and a loser.

Ahmari complains that the "libertines" wish to require Christians to "positively affirm our sexual choices, our transgression, our power to disfigure our natural bodies and redefine what it means to be human, lest your [Christian] disapprobation make us feel less than fully autonomous." Ahmari agrees that "Individual experiments in living—say, taking your kids to a drag reading hour at the public library—cannot be sustained without some level of moral approval by the community." The 2016 presidential election reflected an increasing Christian desire to once again begin privileging "order, continuity, and social cohesion" above mere individual "autonomy" which in practice empowering the government ("and not just the church, family, and individual") to "help protect the citizen from transnational forces beyond his control." (He attributes this belief to Trump. I disbelieve that Trump himself has any political philosophy, but of course I understand that many of his followers have political philosophies and perhaps they project them onto Trump.)

He concluded:

"Progressives understand that culture war means discrediting their opponents and weakening or destroying their institutions. Conservatives should approach the culture war with a similar realism. Civility and decency are secondary values. They regulate compliance with an established order and orthodoxy. We should seek to use these values to enforce our order and our orthodoxy, not pretend that they could ever be neutral. To recognize that enmity is real is its own kind of moral duty."

Ramona V. Tausz responded in "About Drag Queen Story Hour" (First Things, June 4, 2019)

She raised concerns that "videos of past story hours reveal pornographic adult entertainment: provocative outfits, sexual dancing, and twerking," while two of the drag queens "were later exposed as convicted sex offenders and pedophiles." Beyond such reasonable objections to the performers and content at specific events, however, Tausz also objects more generally to drag, quoting Anna Bohach as calling such performances "a sexist minstrel show.” Bohach opposes, as Tausz explains, "the inherent misogyny of drag queen culture, which reduces femininity to crude stereotypes."

Calling drag queens "demonic," she says, is "certainly not all that is needed — but it is a good start. The effort to ban Drag Queen Story Hour starts when we have the courage to clarify the moral stakes."


A note: These two articles in First Things make a couple assertions that lean toward non-fact territory. Ahmari says, without providing a source, that the accusation of Trump's collusion with Russia is "discredited," which it most certainly is not. Tausz quotes a sentence from the American College of Pediatricians, a group founded 17 years ago as an anti-LGBT advocacy group that has only a few hundred members, not to be confused with the American Academy of Pediatrics founded 89 years ago as a real professional organization that today has tens of thousands of members. The value of a statement from the former group is dubious and question-begging, because if they had pro-LGBT facts, they'd hide them, and if they had pro-LGBT beliefs, they'd dissolve. Tausz also mentions a recent paper by Lisa Littman that "suggest that gender dysphoria in adolescents spreads through social contagion." In that August 2018 paper, Littman defines the term "social contagion" as "the spread of affect or behaviors through a population" especially to refer to the influence of peers and she emphasizes that she does not intend "in any way to characterize the developmental process, outcome, or behavior as a disease or disease-like state, or to convey any value judgement." Littman only interviewed parents of transgender children, not the children themselves, about their perceptions about how their children's gender identity was forming and expressing; following controversy, the journal issued a correction in March 2019 so that the paper would meet the journal's publication criteria.

The June 20, 2019 episode of The New York Times' "The Argument" podcast responded to Ahmari's article. The episode is called, “Are we headed for war with Iran? And have conservatives given up on liberal democracy?” The first question is dealt with in the first half of the episode, while the second segment, beginning at 20:25, deals with the second question about the debate between conservatism and liberal democracy as exemplified in Ahmari's article.

David Leonhardt led a discussion between Michelle Goldberg and Ross Douthat. “To me," Goldberg began, "the fight seems to be about whether or not conservatives can continue to tolerate a society in which they don’t rule." She continued by saying that "there really are situations...in which there is a conflict between liberal notions of equality and religious exercise. But this [drag queen story hour] isn't one of them. This is just a community event that Ahmari is angry that he can't ban, and to me it kind of reveals that what they're demanding, once again, is primacy in public life that they feel like they deserve and have been denied, and, having been denied it, they're sort of ready to give up on the whole 'experiment' of American liberal democracy."

Whereas, Douthat's opening: "I think fundamentally what's going on are two things. One, you have a bunch of religious conservatives who made a lot of compromises in supporting Donald Trump or who didn't make those compromises and are now trying to decide whether to support him for reelection...and so they're thinking through justifications for essentially supporting a very unpleasant figure, and one of those justifications is this sense that political liberalism has become so hostile to conservative Christianity that you have to make deals with Donald Trump...that's a big part of the Ahmari vs. David French fight...so Trump looms over this." The second issue Douthat describes is "almost a power play" between libertarian "political conservatives" and Christian "social conservatives," in which Christians chafe at the observation that they are delivering votes to the Republican Party yet aren't seeing their social values reflected in the party's primarily fiscal agenda and successes.

Goldberg sought clarification about the suggestion that conservatives are not in charge. What haven't they gotten? What do they still want? Douthat responded: "Marco Rubio and Mike Lee and a few other people wanted the tax bill to be more pro-family and the rest of the Republican coalition wanted it to be more pro-business, and for the most part the pro-business side won." Goldberg challenged him by pointing out that Ahmari wasn't talking about anti-trust laws or taxes, but about a "culture war." Douthat suggested that Ahmari's language was just "chest-thumping" and that Ahmari would likely back off when questioned. He believes that Ahmari is "reacting to the sense that, in the new liberal culture, you get drag queen story hours, and if you're an evangelical florist who doesn't want to do flowers for a same-sex wedding, you get fined and driven out of business." Liberals, too, are unbending in their pursuit of the highest good; they "a corporate-sponsored Pride Week as the liturgy of our society."

Many Christians are still persuaded by the ideal of pluralism in which some people can live as openly gay and others can live out their own religious values. But, Douthat said, other Christians are alarmed at what they see as creeping restrictions on Catholic hospitals and adoption agencies that would compel these institutions to perform abortions or place children with same-sex couples. "A neutral public square," he said, "is a hard thing to sustain." That civic effort goes beyond "you don't have to marry a guy if you don't like gay marriage."

Goldberg reminded Douthat that her impression is that Christians are upset because they have less power than they used to have, and that Douthat seems to be providing alternative "reasons that they feel disenfranchised and victimized." But isn't that the same, she pushed him, as saying that they are upset "because they no longer rule?" She asked Douthat: "Is Catholicism or is orthodox Christianity oppressed if they are not allowed to discriminate?" Yes, Douthat said. Political pressure, even if "gentle," affects internal Christian tradition (as with the phase-out of Mormon polygamy). Goldberg challenged this, saying that she doesn't know any liberals who want to use the political sphere to influence what happens internally in churches. What happens in adoption agencies and whether they can discriminate against gays, Jews, and Muslims, is different. For some reason, Christians interpret those anti-discrimination efforts as discrimination against them.

Speaking from the Catholic perspective, Douthat said:

"The promise of American life in the 20th century was that, if Catholics made their peace with exactly this liberal pluralism that we're talking about and abandoned some of the 19th-century Catholic critiques of liberal democracy, then America would make a place for them and Catholicism would continue to thrive in the US...I think, since then, the turn that liberalism has taken, secular liberalism, around a whole range of issues starting with abortion and sort of moving through the debates around the sexual revolution, have essentially rewritten the bargain that Catholics made to become full Americans."

While this is not grounds for "tearing up the deal," it is unsurprising that "it provokes anxiety, uncertainty, and a lot of weird debates and experiments."


Thursday, June 13, 2019

Dispatches from the US/Mexico border (June 2019)

In early June 2019, it was announced that the federal government would add three thousand new beds for migrant children. About half this number would be housed at a new facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas in a building that was previously used to house oil field workers. The rest would likely be housed at Army and Air Force bases in Georgia, Montana and Oklahoma. Per an Associated Press article:

"All the new facilities will be considered temporary emergency shelters, so they won’t be subject to state child welfare licensing requirements, [Office of Refugee Resettlement spokesman Mark] Weber said. In January, the government shut down an unlicensed detention camp in the Texas desert under political pressure, and another unlicensed facility called Homestead remains in operation in the Miami suburbs."

Elizabeth C. McLaughlin reported on Twitter that people who are detained at the border are first sent to a place called the "Dog Pound," where people are kept in outdoor cages with "no running water, no covers, no tarp, no care, no safety from the elements. It is freezing at night, and deathly hot during the day." They do not receive adequate nutrition, especially for small children. Then they are sent to "The Freezer," which is maintained at 55 degrees F (13 C) and has no beds, where they are kept for weeks. The government is supposed to send them to residential facilities, but those residential facilities are empty and ICE plans to close them. Instead, they are being sent to concentration camps run by the military, including the former Japanese-American internment camp Fort Sill, where lawyers, journalists, and human rights monitors will not be permitted. "The Trump administration will be able to conduct itself in whatever way it wants to without anyone knowing what's going on inside. Think about what that means. Think about why they would want that. This is happening RIGHT NOW," McLaughlin wrote.

Similarly, Bradford Pearson:

Pearson points us to the organization Densho, which has more information about Fort Sill.

Jonathan M. Katz's article "Call immigrant detention centers what they really are: concentration camps" in the LA Times (9 June 2019) made these points:

"Certainly it helps that the news media covers these horrors intermittently rather than as snowballing proof of a racist, lawless administration.

* * *

A year ago, Americans accidentally became aware that the Trump administration had adopted (and lied about) a policy of ripping families apart at the border. The flurry of attention was thanks to the viral conflation of two separate but related stories: the family-separation order and bureaucrats’ admission that they’d been unable to locate thousands of migrant children who’d been placed with sponsors after crossing the border alone.

* * *

It is important to note that Trump’s aides have built this system of racist terror on something that has existed for a long time. Several camps opened under Obama, and as president he deported millions of people.

But Trump’s game is different. It certainly isn’t about negotiating immigration reform with Congress. Trump has made it clear that he wants to stifle all non-white immigration, period. His mass arrests, iceboxes and dog cages are part of an explicitly nationalist project to put the country under the control of the right kind of white people.

After an emergency Caesarean section in Mexico, a 17-year-old Guatemalan girl crossed the border into the US on June 4, 2019 with her premature baby. Immigration legal advocates found her a week later at the McAllen facility, in pain and in a wheelchair, with the baby—its head smaller than an adult's fist—in poor health condition with only the onesie it was wearing. After attention on social media, it was announced that mother and daughter were to be transferred to a more appropriate facility for minors.

Others have died. However:

(And the list would anyway not have included deaths that occurred shortly after an injured or sick person was released from custody.)

Rabbi Ruttenberg wrote in the Washington Post:

But it is important to note that Nazi concentration camps — which, in Germany, began in 1933 — and the Holocaust’s death (or “extermination”) camps, which began in 1941, are not the same thing, though they’re often conflated in American discourse. And what we now know of the CBP camps does not include many of the hallmarks often associated with Nazi camps — forced labor, for example, or the detention of U.S. citizens. But it’s also true that the earliest camps — known as “wild camps” — were makeshift centers that did not have the infrastructure of later state camps. Concentration camps have a history beyond just the Nazis, too. Pitzer’s definition also puts CBP centers in the context of other such camps in France, South Africa, Cuba, the Soviet Union and, of course, here in the United States during World War II, targeting Japanese Americans. (Those who quibble that “internment camps” are not “concentration camps” might note that both President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harold Ickes, his secretary of the interior, referred to U.S. camps as the latter.)

A photo taken illegally in federal court shows 37 immigrants in orange prison jumpsuits being processed simultaneously. Such processes have been in place for a decade but are more frequent under Trump.

It's happening for reasons including this:

Since the resignation of Kirstjen Nielsen in April 2019, there has only been an acting Secretary of Homeland Security, not a permanent one. Might that not reduce stability and accountability?

Some have contact information for relatives and no one is bothering to make the phone calls.

Not that it should matter, but human rights abuses are expensive.

Some companies are turning a profit.

Some people are determined not to care. "Quit trying to make us feel teary-eyed for the children. Yes, I love children a great deal, but to me, it's up to the parents to do things rightfully and legally," a Trump supporter says at a diner in Mesa, Arizona.

In early July, the Trump administration denied reports of inadequate hygiene.

A look inside a detention center (8 June 2019, New York Times and El Paso Times)

Never Again Action, a Jewish activist group, is protesting at ICE centers. (13 July 2019, Times of Israel)