Just Words

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The Carlisle School. Wikipedia. Pennsylvania

You cannot avoid the news. About the American concentration camps housing children in filth, abject starkness, no basic necessities. Like soap. Or tooth paste or a toothbrush. Or diapers for babies and toddlers. Or food beyond enough not to outright starve people.

The GOP frame this as it’s the fault of the Democrats for not funding so and so. That those kids can leave any time. Just walk out. Past armed guards and…go off into the sunset, I guess. That Obama did it first so the GOP and Trump are helpless not to do that as well. The separation of families, the torturing of children, the secrecy and lies. Except it was Jeff Sessions, last year, who put this policy into place.

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From Zazzle

But what do facts matter when brown people can finally be treated as cockroaches again? Or more than usual.

We hear pundits and amateur alike point out how dangerous the language used is. That it hearkens back to Nazi Germany, to Rwanda, to Cambodia, to places where mass exterminations took place.

Dehumanizing others to make it okay to kill them in heart-stopping numbers. Thousands. Hundred thousands. Millions. Rats. Cockroaches. Scum. Rapists. Diseased. They all carry diseases. They’re all gang members and sex traffickers. So it’s good that we’re taking those kids away. Who are all trained to come here to infiltrate us anyway.

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from the Western Rifle Shooters Association

I did read where the Trump Concentration Camps are to be put under the auspices of the military. Which means no oversight. No monitoring. Nobody allowed in who is not authorized. Rather like Guantanamo Bay.

That those kids are being forcibly adopted out, even as parents seek to get reunited with them. Rather like America did with Native American children. Like the Australians did with Aboriginal children. Like Canada did with…There seems to be a pattern here.

The government of the US stepped in, on those reservations. They placed children into boarding schools, cut off their hair, forced them to speak English only, taught them to be farmers or some trade thought suitable to be useful to society. They were not allowed to visit their families. They were not allowed to go home, back to the place they had to call home instead of where their people had been for centuries. As those lands were now plowed under or buried beneath emerging cities. All of this right after the wrenching years of the American Civil War. Once again, the near success of stripping identity and pride away from people deemed less than or not quite human or not human at all.

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Actual poster from 1870’s-80’s

You hear that Christians built America. You look under that even a little, you see Chinese people laying the tracks for the railroads that would connect the East coast to the West coast. NYC to Frisco. Except you don’t call it Frisco. Those that live there have told me that. But the Chinese were brought over to build the paths for the steel horses, and to fill the brothels and to wash the clothes and cook the food. To be laborers of all kinds, in every way. Families back in China sold their children during that time period, or sold themselves or got on boats heading to the brash new country as there was a horrific drought at that time.

Rather like the Irish and the Great Potato Famine era.

Rather like the American-helped drug wars happening in other parts of the Americas in current time.

Droughts, famines, man-made horrors that seemingly have no end, can and do send people to escape them, outlive them. Refugees. Outcasts. Seekers. They all have individual names. They are all humans. Same as I am.

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This is from a slideshow. I did not put this together. Found it during a search.

There is a massacre of Chinese gold miners in my own back forty, so to speak. In Hells Canyon, the great rift in Northeast Oregon, very western Idaho. A group of about thirty people were slaughtered. They had set up a mining claim on the Snake River, the river that gouged the canyon out of the rocks same as the Colorado did the Grand Canyon. They had some success.

There’s gold yet in Eastern Oregon mountains, streams, lakes and rivers. You can stop and pan for gold alongside the freeway if you like. At least you used to. I haven’t driven up there for a while, it might be gone.

White men crept up on this peaceful group. Killed them, wounded them, took their gold. Some of the men were founders of Joseph, Oregon. Which is named for a Nez Perce leader who very nearly won against the US cavalry. If you don’t know that story, you should look it up. It will break whatever’s left of your heart. But he got a town named for him, set against the truly lovely Wallowa Lake. You can take a paddleboat out on it. You can walk around and look at the art and statues. You can attend Chief Joseph Days. In honor of a defeated cockroach.

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Memorial at Deep Creek honoring those who were murdered.  From the Oregon Encyclopedia

The men who killed the Chinese were not punished. There was a sort of trial. No convictions. Everyone knew they had done this but the Chinese were regarded as a necessary evil, a blight. They were not granted the right to seek citizenship. Their customs, language and way of life were considered disposable or laughable. Bodies of those that had died had to be buried in China or the spirits of the dead could not find rest.

The laws regarding those from Asia said that Asians were not welcome. They had been brought here as children or…what does it matter. I guess. It’s old history. It has no bearing on anything today.

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It seems all I have left is a ghostly wisp of sarcasm. A faint wraith with no power left to startle or actually haunt. I cannot even muster up a good sneer or that dry tone needed to deliver the deft blows of a well-placed absurdity into the squawkings about ‘illegals and gang bangers here to ruin ‘murica’.

I am not surprised that Christians justify what is going on now at the border and elsewhere with those whose skin marks them as targets. That seething hatred to dominate and oppress seems built into the foundations of that religion. It has never been about love. It’s been about domination, conquest and erasing all opponents as ruthlessly as possible. I might be exaggerating. I don’t think I am. 

It’s my religion as well. At least it was. Brought up a Missouri Synod Lutheran, a Protestant. Martin Luther started an actual holy war with the Catholic Church back in 1495 or so. I was baptized. I was confirmed as a member of the congregation. My grandparents were staunch Lutherans.

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I cannot see either of them going along with what’s going on now. Their two sons do. My dad. My uncle. They are both Fox junkies; they shoot up on Hannity and Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson instead of heroin. They cry fake news in echo of their lord and savior. They go off into that haze, that high, with a blissful smile.

But I cannot see my grandparents, who were alive for WWII, condoning this. I might be coloring them with rosy lights here but I honestly do not think my church-going grandparents who both spoke other languages and were one generation or so from being migrants themselves, would clap and cheer at children in concentration camps.

However, there were Japanese folks in America who were stripped of their rights and everything else, herded into interment camps. There’s even one nearby.

Whatever faith I might have had in God has leaked away like dirty water into the sand. Evaporated. I think today I am finally admitting I no longer believe. It’s been a long time coming, as the song goes. I look at my country. I listen to the people around me grumbling about illegals. About how Trump is trying to save us and the lefties won’t get in line to let that happen.

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1975, Camp Pendleton. Refugees known as the Vietnam Boat People. LA Times. 

My despair is profound, and awful.

There are children being kept in inhumane conditions in overcrowded cages. We are arguing over what to name such a thing. We are arguing that it’s just a matter of Democrats not willing to give ICE some funding or send funds toward the wall. That there’s a crisis at the border and the Democrats want a flood of…

Everything is broken. Another song title from Dylan. But it’s apt here. Never again. Just words after all.

Just words.

 

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