“Forget the lady with the lamp in the harbor. Beware before you dare to come here.”
— Chris Cuomo
Stop saying this is not America. There are better and more accurate responses to the parade of inhumanity being carried out along this country’s southwestern border. Snatching away children for profit, to intimidate, or as an effective means of cultural genocide is a tattered seam in this nation’s fabric. This has been America since it was “discovered” out from under its indigenous peoples. And I know you know this so when you lament this is not America, what I hear is an admission that you are one of the privileged few for whom America stands at attention and raises its shield. The sight of Old Glory billowing from its perch on a flagpole mounted to the back of a pickup doesn’t fill you with a tinge of trepidation; the myth of meritocracy and bootstrapping a safe harbor. Saying this is not America is a direct act of erasure. It silences the cries of every child left without tribe, or soil, and forced, if they survived disease and unsafe passage, to assimilate into a Christian doctrine that normalized subjugation and provided little, if any, sanctuary. It silences the children sold away from their parents during the brutal generations of slavery; taken off reservations, by armed officials if their parents refused, and forced into government-sanctioned boarding schools with the intention to “kill the Indian in him and save the man“. It silences the children stolen from maternity wards, off neighborhood streets, and during welfare home visits by traffickers that also were nurses, physicians, social workers, and members of law enforcement working for the Tennessee black market adoption ring that supplied children from poor white families and unmarried women to wealthy couples including politicians and numerous Hollywood celebrities, from the 1920’s-1940’s. And these are only a few examples. An exhaustive list would include the passive methods that create barriers to education, healthcare, and food that work to separate children from their families through despair, poverty, and early death. It is right to be outraged, not because of a set of values, stamped on a statue, that were never really intended to govern our nation, but because these cruelties – this way America sorts out the worthy from the worthless- must exist in order to prop up and maintain your privilege.