By Sunday June 16th, the public consciousness, empathy, and outrage had built to a crescendo.
“Ripping children from their parents’ arms at the border is not in keeping with the spirit of the Gospel,” the priest at my Catholic mass said in his sermon. The clear truth many made gasp, made some start to sob, and made a couple angry — though perhaps not for the right reasons. I’m guessing It wasn’t the only place of worship where the weaponizing of child abuse by our United States government was addressed.
But it was Father’s Day in America, making the priest’s message all the more poignant. While grateful for my own kids, I couldn’t stop thinking about the kids being torn from their own fathers’ and mothers’ arms by our government. The images of toddlers screaming and our border agents lying to their parents that they are just being taken away to be given a bath — as if that doesn’t have chilling historical implications. This is what we’ve come to as a country. The whole world is watching and appalled. We are the nation that liberated concentration camps. Now we are putting refugee children into them.
For the first time since my World War II veteran father died, I’m glad he’s not alive to witness this.
But even now, in this lowest of trenches, there are glimmers of hope, glimmers of America’s goodness. Last Friday, when I spoke at the Nelson-Proxmire Democratic dinner in Waukesha, Wisconsin, by far the biggest response from the crowd came in response to the line, “The enduring symbol of our nation is not the barbed wire fence, or internment camps for refugee children — it is the Statue of Liberty.” The next day I campaigned for seven Wisconsin house and senate candidates who are fighting to Win Back Their State — you won’t find an immigrant-basher among them. Two different people at the canvass kick-off asked me how to do more to help the refugee kids being terrorized by this new and unprecedented policy of state-sanctioned abuse.
This one has finally tripped a wire. There is a new awakening in America. People are arousing themselves from the beat down of shouting heads, malignant narcissism, and 24/7 political scandal. Companies that are complicit in this travesty will face massive boycotts and actions. Decency and dignity will have the final word.
America doesn’t treat children like this.
Even Melania Trump couldn’t remain silent in the face of this cruelty and injustice toward refugee kids. Bath and shower indeed.
By Wednesday, the story had a glimmer of a happy ending: The American people rose up, and demanded an end to this governed orchestrate use of terror against refugee families and their children.
But we must remain vigilant. Trump’s policy reversal could be a cynical and temporary ploy — malicious obedience intended only to douse the fires of public outrage.
Luckily, one thing is not temporary: the innate sense of right and wrong that all Americans know when they see and hear so plainly in the cries of children.
Hold strong, America.