Why ‘the other guy did it first‘ is not a reasonable defense for separating children from their families

Trump, liberals, and the ‘AGAIN’ problem in MAGA

In the last week, more than 2,000 children have been separated from their families due to the Trump administration’s new “zero tolerance” policy towards families crossing the border illegally. I did not want to write about this topic. I find it difficult do do so without crying. I find it difficult to do so without imagining my own beautiful two year-old ripped from my embrace, terrified and alone.

Despite this, I have tried to engage with people online about what we can do about this issue. I have been fortunate to find several practical ways to help, including places to donate and send aid. But I still remain helpless. How, I was thinking , could anyone not understand how horrifying this is?

Oh, wait, here comes someone online to tell me something I’ve never heard before!

1) But this is exactly what Obama did!

No. It’s not. Look, I’m not saying that Obama’s immigration policies were perfect. He was more moderate in that area and many progressives I know had some serious problems with his policies. But, his 2014 policy aimed to avoid separating families overall. The truth is, we did not know much about these detention centers at the time because the way in which we get information is changing rapidly year to year.

As liberals, I don’t think that it’s going to work in our favor to simply say: “No, Democrats are perfect and Republicans are monsters.” That’s bullshit, and we know it. As hard as it is to admit, our party has been responsible for one of the worst atrocities in our country’s history, Japanese Internment camps, and trying to gloss over that fact does nothing the help our case.

The fact is that these children are in danger NOW. This is something we should act on NOW. So, let me give you a little metaphor if you’re wavering on this fact: if someone was caught today with a bunch of human heads in their car, do you think it would be an appropriate derailment for them to claim to police: “Wait, but Jeffrey Dahmer did this first! He set this in motion, don’t blame me!”

Okay, okay. That’s a little extreme. And Obama is by no means a serial killer. In fact, most days I miss him so much it hurts. Not because he was perfect, but because he knew what it was to be the president. He held himself accountable and responded with grace instead of going on Twitter and claiming that half of his country would rather see nuclear holocaust than see him succeed. Whatever Obama’s faults, he knew the gravity of the office and that is sorely lacking today.

So, to those of you seeking to change the subject, I’ll say this: if you’re comparing this with Obama’s policy, a policy that was almost universally panned by conservatives as “too lenient” in 2014, then does that mean you are willing to fight for these children now? I don’t care what party you’re in. When it comes to this, it’s easy: do you give a shit about children?

Oh, I’m sorry. I should have specified: do you give a shit about children that aren’t white? If so, I’m glad to have you fighting this alongside me. If not, then — and I say this is all sincerity — get the fuck out of our way.

2) But they committed a misdemeanor! It’s their fault their child was taken away!

Oh, hey. Remember that time you really wanted a diet Coke, and the Jack in the Box across the street has the Coke experience, but the crosswalk is like a quarter mile away? And remember that time you just waited until the cars passed and darted across the street?

That’s a misdemeanor. Should we take your kids away to deter this behavior?

Remember that time you were late and clocked ninety on the freeway trying to make that meeting?

That’s a misdemeanor in most states depending on the limit. Should we put your child in a CAGE now? NO?!

3) This isn’t OUR America!

This one is from fellow liberals, but I’m not going to ignore it. I’m not sure what we’re trying to accomplish with this statement, but this is absolutely a pile of horse shit. Maybe we’re trying to play the “clutch our pearls” game to match with the other side, I’m not sure, but when we say stuff like this it does nothing for our cause. Yes, this IS “Our America.” That’s the problem. This has been going on for centuries in various forms. America has a long, ugly legacy of separating Black and Native children from their families, and forcing them to work. We have a CURRENT legacy of separating young Black men and women from their families/children by way of state-sponsored violence.

So, to those who respond with “This isn’t OUR America,” I’ll say this:

Terrence Crutcher

Philando Castille

Tamir Rice

Sandra Bland

Miriam Carey

Stephon Clark

Should I go on? THIS IS AMERICA.

4) Trump is just trying to make America great again. STFU, liberal cuck!

I’ve heard many times that I’m just too young and outraged, and that age and experience will find me agreeing with many of these conservative do-gooders who evidently think that taking the time to compare memes from Trump and Obama’s administration like a frikking “Who wore it best?” poll somehow absolves them of having to care about these kids.

So, I decided to ask someone from the “AGAIN” time period that Trump supporters refer to. When we talk about making America “great again” more often than not we are referring to the time after the second world war and before civil rights. So, I asked my 97-year-old grandmother what she thinks of all this. She. unlike me, lived through this mythical “AGAIN” time.

My grandma, who has said that Obama is probably the greatest president she’s seen in her lifetime, said “I’ve never seen anything like it,” about Trump. “In my 97 years,” she said. She told me that, with the possible exception of what she heard tell of in Nazi Germany, she has never seen a ruler this dangerous. “What about Nixon?” I asked her. “He’s worse than Nixon,” she said. “He’s worse than anyone I’ve ever seen in office.”

Now, for those of you about to hop in and tell me how un-American my grandma is, let me tell you something. She is the widow of a World War 2 navy veteran, teacher, mother of four and veritable poster child for the 1950s nuclear family. My grandfather went from being told by teachers that “words will never mean anything to him” to being a mayor and city councilman.

I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone as purely American as my grandparents. So, there’s that. My grandma, who was born when women were ONLY JUST getting the right to vote, and had to lie about being married to be a teacher because women weren’t allowed to be human beings until later, thinks this is the worst she’s ever seen.

So, I’m done defending myself for wanting to see children with their families. I’m done engaging in “who blamed it best.” I only care about these kids. And, if we want to be the kind of country that is great (not great AGAIN), then we’ll all band together to help them.