It was the bombing of the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on a quiet Sunday December morning in 1941 which compelled President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to push the United States into World War II. He thought it his duty and right to come alongside France and the United Kingdom, to stamp out fascism, murder of innocent people and to show that America is aware, and is concerned with the affairs of the world. From the refusal of immigrants from Europe while Hitler was establishing and asserting power, post World War II, the borders opened to welcome those seeking asylum from the four corners of the now free world.
Now, eighty years and three to four more wars later, we are here. A nation of immigrants, of people whom never spoke a dominant language until it was voted on, then enforced in written form, now are telling people who need, or require that same asylum, that same chance to start over to achieve greater, “No.”
This nation touts itself to be built on Judeo-Christian principles, even to the point of chaplins being in an elected fixture of the House of Representatives. Which makes this current slurry involving the intersection of immigration and human rights all the more outrageous. Let me make this clear: Jefferson Beauregard Sessions wants to die as Attorney General of the United States. He will do all in his power to deny the policies he has stamped approval on are steeped in racism, hatred, and bigotry. He will say it is for the ‘protection of the country’, ‘we can’t take all of the world’s problems,’ and blaming those desperate for the promise of better for having their own children taken from them. For Marco Antonio Munoz, it is a Pyrrhic victory.
We have seen the embodiment of Jeff Sessions in his forebears, on home soil as well as abroad. Mussolini. Mao. The entire Third Reich. They were just ‘following orders,’ just as he claims to be under this current nuclear fallout of this administration. They were protecting the country from xenophobic threats. It was the higher leadership their followers and their subordinates believed so much in, that their own consciousness was supplanted and erased by the goal of ‘protection.’ We have seen this from the buy and sale of African people who were considered a little weightier than cattle; the Trail of Tears in which lands were stolen from Native Americans because whiteness demanded space under the ideal of Manifest Destiny; to US Japanese internment camps, due to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Now, we have the ever-spinning Travel (Muslim) Ban and the incarceration of Latinx people, by the newest form of quasi-nationalism enforced by ICE, masked as immigration reform.
In order for this to be believed, humanity and personhood must be stripped from those deemed a problem or undesirable. In their lessened value, they must be housed as you would house those seen as less human. Ergo, if they are caged as animals, they can be seen as animals, and dealt with in the same swiftness you would a rabid dog. The fact the Bible, in a Christian nation, is being used to fudge humanity, strip care this same text demands we show to legislate racism and bigotry is the highest form of blasphemy! In being oblivious as this silent slaughter is happening is to be complicit in its process and outcome.
This is the same reasoning, the same logic, which provoked President Roosevelt to act. However, the United States of America added its might to the Allied Powers once something that happened to us as a nation. When something happens to us as a nation, which we had to react to–this nation does nothing preventative, we live for the reaction! However, what is our reaction? What will be the legacy to this for us as a nation? Will this be it?
It is to the benefit of language that ideas can be organized, recorded and conveyed in succinct or elaborative fashion. It is to the determent of language which can justify what can be seen as unjust to those whom will experience immediate fallout of its enforcement. At this moment, in this moment, we have a chance those two generations before, perhaps centuries before, had in times of social upheaval and challenge. From slavery, to the systematic murder and removal of Native American people, and the kidnap and subjection of Japanese-American people and further oppression of other minority people in short order after!
We have a decision as individuals. It starts with one question, which I offer you to consider: “Are the lives of these Latinx people being housed in cages and these new internment camps less than the non-Latinix people liberated from Nazi internment camps?” Depending on how you answer, you have allied yourself with the answer or will continue to ignore the problem–because you know it’ll never happen to you. Meaning, you are complicit.