Breaking up families is bad, but it’s even worse than you think

By now, at least half the country is outraged over the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy of “baby snatching” and “state-sponsored child abuse.”  As well it should be.  The president’s efforts to blame Democrats for the public relations imbroglio is ludicrous, as is first lady Melania’s lame exhortation for “both sides” to join in resolving the problem of family separation in the context of illegal immigration.  (Note to the First Lady: You don’t have to be an angel to know better than to bed down with the devil.)

But make no mistake – As callous as separating young children from their mothers may be, matters are even worse than we might imagine.   Yes, Trump is willing to use traumatized children as a way to extort money from Congress for his precious Wall, and for this he is rightly condemned.  But the bill of condemnable particulars is oh-so-much longer:  Trump has proved willing to threaten nuclear war to bring Kim Jong-un to the bargaining table; to impose disease and starvation on millions of people in Yemen for billions of dollars in arms sales to the Saudis; to deny the palpable reality of climate destabilization and poisonous pollution in order to permit free rein to the suicidal deregulatory agenda of the corporatocracy; to ignore the human right to a dignified life (food, shelter, education, health care) for 99% of “legal” American citizens in order to pander to the insatiable greed of the uber-elite 1%.

Separating families is cruel and callous indeed.  So, yes, please: Rage. Resist. Replace recalcitrant politicians at the polls where possible.  But remember that this is not a single issue, not a straightforward “crackdown” on the intractable problem of illegal immigration, not one thing to be repaired while leaving the rest of the Trumpian juggernaut intact.  The attack on foreign families is of a piece with the whole cloth of inhumanity and disregard for human and civil rights, part of a unrelenting slide into rightist authoritarianism; it is the leading edge of a vicious assault on livable life itself by a mad and despotic minority.

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