The caging of human rights

The equivocation, the enabling, the rationalization, is inexcusable

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July 17, 2019 — At a hearing July 12 on the Trump administration’s immigration policies, Rep. Gerry Connolly, Democrat of Virginia, was appropriately livid:

“I never thought as a member of Congress — as an American — I would hear the testimony I heard today... as to the simple inhumanity that faces these children and families at the border.  I don’t really care what their motivation was — whether it was asylum or economic betterment — they’re not to be treated as subhumans.

“You can talk all you want about whether the poor border control is overwhelmed. That makes no excuse for how we are treating children! If there’s one basic value that ought to unite us as Democrats and Republicans — as Americans — it’s how we treat children. Their children, our children — it doesn’t matter.  ...  Children without soap, children in filth — conditions that none of us would ever countenance with our own children.

“The equivocation, the enabling, the rationalization, is inexcusable. Is there no limit to what you will justify in this administration when it comes to the mistreatment of our fellow human beings? And do you have no shame about the fact ... it’s all done in the shadow of the American flag?”

In answer to which, Donald Trump has said conditions in the detention facilities are “better than those faced by migrants in their home villages,” and Mike Pence, after visiting a detention cage housing 400 men last week, praised the “compassion and care” migrants are receiving. 

Pence agreed that in some cases conditions are unacceptable, but blamed the migrant population and Democrats. He reassured us that the ICE raids on U.S. cities over the weekend focused on people who have “committed crimes in this country and represent a threat to our communities.”

Meanwhile, Mike Pompeo has appointed a special panel on human rights to examine what it means “to say or claim that something is, in fact, a human right. How do we know or how do we determine whether that claim that this or that is a human right, is it true, and therefore, ought it to be honored?”

As if the answers hadn’t been provided by the United Nations, international legal scholars and the U.S. government itself over 70 years ago.

So long as Trump, Pence and the rest of this inhumane, tone-deaf administration are in office, U.S. officials will have no right to lecture any other government on how it treats people within its borders.

It would be more appropriate to put a shroud over the Statue of Liberty until such time as America’s leaders recover their compassion and respect for immigrants.


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