A few years ago, my wife, children, and I went to see an “internment camp”, a concentration camp, in Wyoming used to hold Japanese -Americans after Pearl Harbor. I take out the “Heart Mountain WWII Japanese American Confinement Site” mug to write when I need to be reminded why I write. An idea has to make my blood boil in order for me to write about political things. Heart Mountain’s existence makes my blood boil.
The idea of an American concentration camp is so anathema to my vision of America that I originally refused to believe it. The first time I heard it mentioned was on the old Linda Carter Wonder Woman TV show, and only in passing. I had a great history teacher in High School and I don’t believe she even mentioned it in class. This says to me that Japanese internment camps were something we knew were wrong, and thus hid in shame for years. Until a play recently by George Takei, it wasn’t really discussed much and it still isn’t. I swore, from the day I saw the place, that it would never happen again.
The point of blogging originally for me was because I wanted to hear my own voice in the world, as the news and opinions got weirder and weirder. At Heart Mountain, you could feel the sadness in the air — the loneliness, the confusion, the anger, and the sense of defeat by forces people had no power to stop.That situation describes more people I know than most can imagine. At Heart Mountain, I realized… ENOUGH OF THAT!
Every once in a while, I’ll let the blog feature someone else’s thoughts because … well, I have this thing, and they should get to use it. They have to be unique voices like Todd Farnsworth or Rob Horne, because I am convinced that good, compassionate thoughts should be heard. If I can help, I should. When I write a birthday blog or a concert review or movie review, it is simply an extension of that same idea. Stories of good people doing good things that you never would hear of if I didn’t write it . More often than not, these people don’t even think of themselves as worthy but they are and I want them to know it.
Jesus gave voice to the voiceless, an announcement of the oppressed’s existence, and a radical vision of people’s equal worth to God. America normally knows this is the right thing to do. Heart Mountain is proof that we don’t always do what we know is right. In a country that promotes the ideas of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”, concentration camps promote none of those. When the government can take away everything you own, lock you up and cause loneliness and despair like this, it is not American. I don’t care what flag you put over the place, I will not salute it.
All of this leads me to a subject in today’s America which does the same thing, and which I have never thought much about until recently: immigration. Immigration, quotas, separating the good guys from the bad, protecting ourselves from criminals, are — as a package — very complicated. I can understand saying there are limited resources, or wanting a head count simply to plan budgets and such. I don’t want MS-13 or the Russian, Italian, or Irish mafia here. I don’t know how you prevent it and still believe “give me your tired, your poor”, etc…. Better minds than mine have been flummoxed by the topic, so I stayed away from it… until now.
Let me talk about something I do know about: kids and families, and development of a healthy psyche. Among other things, there’s a theorist named John Bowlby who believes that attachment of a child to it’s parents is one of the primary needs if a child is going to have compassion when they grow up. If we want good, compassionate kids, we have to let them attach to their parents and we have to help parents attach to them. You can wreck a kid’s mental health by pretending they don’t exist or ignoring them. In short, if you want to make a child a criminal don’t let them get attached to their parents.
So, with that in mind, Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump have instituted a policy which separates supposedly undocumented immigrants (chosen at random sometimes by skin color or Spanish accent) as well as illegal immigrants and children. Some have sought asylum here, and are trying to get away from the very gangs and governments Trump/Sessions have a problem with. And yes, some are thugs — but I don’t see a crackdown on the Russian mafia, or Irish undocumented workers in America. You see, we’re not really cracking down on thugs, we’re cracking down on Hispanics and saying they’re thugs. That’s horrible and evil in its own right.
Depriving adults of their liberty if they are criminals makes some sense. Depriving children of their liberty is unconscionable. We don’t do that in America — or at least we’re not supposed to. Furthermore. if we deprive them of their parents, we are thretening their lives. They are dependent on their parents. That’s how children are. By detaching them from their parents, we deprive them of any pursuit of happiness as well.
In addition to that, there are reports that 1500 of these children are missing. That rabbit hole is so sickening to think about that I can’t bring myself to go down it.
As Christians, we’re supposed to be kind to the stranger in our midst. We’re supposed to care about the oppressed, justice, and so on. Jesus himself says that if you cause a child to stumble, “it would be better for you if you had a millstone around your neck”. There is a special place in hell for people who hurt children, and those who engage in separating children from their parents had better anticipate a long time there. Even if you don’t believe in an afterlife, you can expect hell on earth from this policy.
There is no rational support for this. There is no logic which makes this make sense. Sanctuary cities must do the right thing, despite the government’s plans. Sanctuary churches — which all churches should be on simple principle — need to say “no” to this abuse of children who have done nothing but exist with brown skin. Any defense of this is irrational. We know this down in the core of our beings.
This is the kind of thing Boko Haram does! No civilized group of people can abide by this and call themselves moral.
At that point, the only moral thing to do is resist. The only argument permissible if we are to claim any morality at all is “No, No, No, and No”.
Resisting angrily but peacefully,