Saturday, June 16, 2018

A Shameful Father's Day

An appropriately dark song for this Father's Day

Tomorrow is Father's Day, which is falling at an eerily appropriate moment. The nation is abuzz with the news that thousands of children have been taken from their parents at the border. On this father's day there are thousands of fathers who are living a parent's worst nightmare: to have their children stolen from them.

As a father, I can't even bear to think about this happening to me. Knowing that in my country, that this is currently being done to thousands of other fathers, is a thought that weighs on me every moment of every day. On top of that there are fathers who have been in the country for years being ripped from their families and deported.

And what exactly is happening in response? I am trying to do my part, but I am losing heart. I went to a protest last weekend, I have been calling elected officials. That's clearly not enough, but what else is to be done by someone like me?

Those of us who care are trying to fight, but the whole reason we are in this mess is that not enough people actually care. Just look at our pathetic excuse of a news media. In one of his ridiculous lies, Trump has tried to blame all this on Democrats. And the stenographers with Ivy League journalism degrees give themselves lobotomies and dutifully tell us "Trump says this, but this is what others say" as if they can't actually see the reality smacking them in the face. That kind of bothsidesism reduces the kidnapping of children to just another policy decision. I remember the run-up to the Iraq War, so this game is quite familiar to me. I am just shocked that it is still being played.

What about others? So few people have responded to the current crisis by changing their counterproductive ways. There are still the leftists sniping from the sidelines, saying "stupid liberals!" when said liberals use naive the rhetoric of "this isn't who we are" but don't bother to actually go out and do something productive. There are the nice liberals, their brains damaged by The West Wing and thinking that the system actually works and that Mueller will come on his white steed and save the day. Of course, there are the full-fledged Trump supporters who actually cheer this because they are just flat out bigoted. A less talked about group, however, are the Republicans and right-leaning independents who did not necessarily love Trump but voted for him, and who have refused to change their allegiance even after thousands of children have been kidnapped by our government. Politics has become like sports, and most people will never be able to root for the other team, even when their own is engaged in atrocities.

And the dirty little secret beneath all of this, of course, is that the vast majority of white people in this country simply do not care what happens to brown children, especially immigrant children. This goes for liberals and conservatives. Most white liberals do not approve of this policy, but neither are they willing to stick their neck out on it. Truth be told, it just doesn't matter that much to them.

As I have said many, many, times before, America is in its Brezhnev Years. Just as the Soviet Union limped on once belief in Marxism and Soviet ideology had faded before it collapsed, the United States still maintains the facade of democracy, even though a sizable number of Americans (perhaps a majority) do not really believe in it beyond lip-service. Our president certainly does not believe in it. He adores despots and attacks democratic rulers who dare to criticize him.

The only way forward that we have is to achieve what Lincoln proclaimed in the Gettysburg Address: a new birth of freedom. For this nation to survive as a democracy we need to make it truly democratic, and not simply aim to restore the status quo ante, since that's what got us here in the first place. The only way that is going to happen is that those of us who want it put our shoulders to the wheel.

If you are upset by the current situation but are not doing anything about it, I urge you, being the agnostic preacher that I am, to mend your ways and repent. On this Father's Day think of the families being ripped apart. Think of the children being jailed away from their parents. Think of the parents living with the anguish that they may never see their children ever again. Don't just tweet about it. Go out there and do something. Future generations will be judging you.

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