I Hope, I Dream
A world upside down: From putting kids in cages to throwing them out of hospital beds
Someone – or more likely, someones – in the Trump administration thinks it is a good idea to kill children.
Let that sink in for a moment before I explain.
Because there’s two parts to this – one is the stark, horrifying fact, and the other is a hopeful possibility.
But first, the dark before the light – the dismal fact:
It has come to light that the Trump administration has moved to expel sick and dying immigrant children under treatment in U.S. hospitals for life-threatening diseases.
Children affected and threatened by deportation are suffering from such life-threatening illnesses as cancer, HIV, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, and epilepsy. They were previously granted legal status – that is, permission to stay in the U.S. – on the basis of compassionate permission – under a program known as "medical deferred action.”
Their expulsion from the United States and hence their medical treatment is tantamount to a death sentence. For example,
- Serena Badia required treatment for a heart condition which, doctors told her, would cause her not to live past age 12. She came to the U.S. until the program where she’s undergone several surgeries. She is now 14 and responding to her treatment, without which she will probably die.
- 16-year-old son, Jonathan Sanchez, who has cystic fibrosis, is receiving care that is not available in his native Honduras. If he loses access to his treatment, he will probably die.
- Maria Isabel Bueso has a rare genetic disease for which she has been treated at a hospital in the U.S. Not only has she been treated, but her participation in the medical trials for her condition have enabled researchers to develop a treatment for her condition that will result in many other people being helped. Now 24, she has been in the U.S. since the age of 7. In the time she has been here, totally legally, it should be noted, she has finished grade school, graduated from high school, and earned a college degree. If she is forced to leave the U.S. and the care of her doctors, she will probably die within months.
And so nauseatingly on.
This is the letter received by the children and their families.
Just the latest inhumanity in a woeful, short history
What’s more, the usual rationale for expelling migrants and foreigners do not apply here. These children have received permission to enter and to stay. In other words, they are “legal.”
I don’t know all the cases, but in many of them, the children are either participating in medical trials (which are of value to the hospitals and research centers, themselves, and are thus subsidized by the researchers), or the families are paying for treatment either out of pocket or through insurance. In other words, lest anyone fear that compassion for grievously ill foreign children is costing American society precious dollars, it is not.
That this expulsion is by the abstracted medium of an official letter should not make the horror any less than if these children literally thrown out of their hospital beds and then dragged to the border. Except in the present instance, the action is sanitized, it’s distanced; a child dying in a hospital bed or in a home in a country far away is not as photogenically shocking as that child being dragged out of the hospital in the presence of pleading, crying parents, with distraught doctors and nurses looking on.
In either case – either by a legal mandate or physical force – the end result is the same.
Again: The children die.
Again: By direction of the Trump administration. And by further extension, by Donald Trump, himself.
Unfortunately, this seemingly total lack of compassion and humanity is just the latest in a woeful, albeit short history of the Trump administration.
Consider: There has not been a single action by the Trump administration that has not reeked of hatred and cruelty. Just when you think they have reached the bottom of the barrel of depravity and inhumanity, they find a door to a still lower basement to the barrel.
Which is to throw terminally ill children out of their hospital beds.
So, where is the silver lining? Where’s the good news?
I do have a theory, and it goes something like this: It was reported, or perhaps rumored is more accurate, that before Donald Trump decided to run for the Presidency, something he’d toyed with for some time, he had a conversation with Bill Clinton. In this alleged conversation, Clinton supposedly encouraged Trump to run.
How brilliant of Clinton, the political mastermind! some Democrats chortled: Everybody knows that Trump could never win the election. America would never elect such a bombastic, ego-maniacal, ruthless, vindictive, racist, xenophobic, semi-literate half-wit for President. Bill just guaranteed the election for Hillary!
Of course, we know now, that the joke was on you, Bubba – or I guess, more appropriately, on you, anti-Bubba.
It appeared in the aftermath of the 2016 election that Clinton’s master stroke of political genius was “too clever by half,” as the Brits like to say. He was “hoist by his own petard,” to be literary about it; or in other words, the bomb that Clinton allegedly planted in the Republican party blew up in his own face.
What if ... ?
But what if the game was not the 2016 election? What if the game was a much longer game than we imagined at the time? The luring of Trump to enter the election, enticing him to do what he had been hankering to do for so long, was not a tactical move – meant to win the election for the Democrats that one election cycle – that one turn around the block, after which, the parties would continue to see-saw back and forth in and out of power in a never-ending, nauseating up and down, back and forth, in and out roundelay of power politics?
What if the goal was to secure power for a generation or more? What if the intent were to so discredit the “conservative” brand, and its representative, the Republican party, by revealing it for what it was, revealing its poisonous, cruel heart so that a large number of Americans would be so revolted by what had been revealed that they would turn away from the party for generation, two generations, three generations?
Actually, the effect is the same whether what has happened is the result of brilliant political strategizing or just an unintended consequence of a massive tactical blunder.
Because consider: at one time -- not too long ago, actually -- conservative economic policy – the ideology of the free market – was touted as the best way to secure the maximum blessings for the greater mass of people. The boast was that America was rich because its people were rich. Look at America! people around the world would say; If you work hard, you can have what we could never even dream of here – a home! a car! a decent life! a future for our children! And the way that American dream was achieved, the conservative argument went, was through the free market, which would magically provide prosperity for all, not through socialist regulation but instead through the independent, rational choices of a free people, individuals seeking the best “deals” for themselves, and through the magical working of the invisible hand of completion, achieving the best result for society.
But now – with Trump unleashed! as the proponents of this theory like to put it -- that ideology has been revealed as a subterfuge. The promise of the compassionate conservative vision has been revealed as a lie. What, with unbridled conservatism, have we seen?
- The elimination of taxes for the ultra-wealthy; a system of taxation that allows the mega-rich and international corporations to reap massive benefits from the American system but contribute nothing towards the common good (meaning, they pay no taxes). We now see the reality of trickle-down economics is the system of all the rest of us crouching under the banquet table of the 1% while they gorge themselves, while we hope in vain that a few crumbs will trickle down to us.
- The strip mining our natural heritage – the environment -- making it easier for industries to dump poisons into our rivers and lakes, burn our forests, strip mine our land, so they may make a profit.
- Unregulated employment practices, including the decimating of what remains of union protection for the individual worker, and the suppression of the rights of workers through so-called “right-to-work” laws, which are in reality the right to be broken on the wheel of corporate greed.
- Rampant racism – the endorsement of the far-right, anti-democratic policies, including voter suppression of minority votes.
- Inflaming of hatred for their own political ends, the pitting of one group of Americans against others, which has resulted in an unceasing attack on the most vulnerable – imprisoning kids in cages, throwing dying kids out of hospital beds, inciting an upsurge of hate crimes against minorities.
One would not have thought that Jeffrey Epstein was an exemplum of anything, but he is, actually. He is the face of our age’s conservatism -- what it means, what it truly is: Somebody who ruthlessly applies his great wealth, his unimaginable power, in the victimization of whoever is most vulnerable: desperate children from poor, often broken, families. All to gratify his lust – in Epstein’s case, it was lust for sex, but in other cases, it is lust for power, or greed for money, or to satisfy an insatiable need for attention.
The St. Louis
The emperor of the free market stripped naked
It has long been held to be America’s shame that in 1939, we turned away a ship loaded with Jewish refugees and sent them back to die in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany.
For the likes of Stephen Miller and others in the Trump administration, that’s not a shame, that’s an example to emulate. (Leave aside the sad, twisted irony that his own grandparents could have been on that ship – in fact, his family arrived fleeing another holocaust, that of the Russian pogroms in the early 1900s.)
That same kind of thinking -- the refusal to see the shared humanity of others, especially others in need -- has been revealed in the Trumpian worldview, for now the body of conservative ideology has been stripped naked. We see now the “emperor” of the free market in all its naked gluttony:
A theory, a hope, a dream
To stretch the metaphor – the emperor of conservatism has no clothes.
This is what has been revealed in the age of Trump. A vision of society that is policy that is ruthless, vindictive, full of hate and contempt of the other, which means anyone who is other than me. A vision of a society that is lacking in any semblance of compassion or consideration. A society which declares, “Enough with all this pearl-clutching and hand-wringing and palaver about compassion. We really do want to poison our natural environment and pollute the waters if it means oil companies can reap greater profits. Stop the restrictions of logging in old growth forests. What’s a tree ever done for me? As for foreigners? There’s too many of them in the world; we have to build walls to keep on the evil immigrants out, and if that means throwing kids in cages, dragging sick kids out of their hospital beds, then that’s all to the good. And democracy? That’s only for us. Everybody else has to be kept down, starved, and stripped of the means to protest. If some people Americans die because they don’t have healthcare or are so desperate that they are driven to work sweat-shop hours for wages that cannot feed their families, much less keep roofs over their heads, then that’s the free-market that we love. Bad day for you if you can’t survive and prosper, because that’s exactly how I want America to be.”
So, how can I claim any degree of positivity out of this? What is the half-full glass out of this? Where is the silver lining? The rainbow?
Well, just here: Here’s the hope, or at least the hope of the possibility: Now that we have seen this naked emperor of conservatism, Americans will be so revolted that they will turn away.
Maybe we’ll decide we don’t like that vision of America, that that is not who we are. And we will affirm that we’re better than that.
That’s the theory, anyway.
That’s my hope.
That’s my dream.
“Administration Ends Migrant Medical Care Protection.” WEBMD. 27 August 2019. https://www.webmd.com/health-insurance/news/20190827/administration-ends-migrant-medical-care-protection
Engel, Robyn Alana Engel, and Steve Ferchaud. The Trumpeter’s New Clothes. Amazon Digital Services. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. 2018.
Jordan, Miriam and Caitlin Dickerson. Sick Migrants Undergoing Lifesaving Care Can Now Be Deported. New York Times. 29 August 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/29/us/immigrant-medical-treatment-deferred-action.html
Owen, Quinn and Serena Marshall. “Trump administration ends relief program for immigrants with medical issues. ABCNews. 29 August 2019. https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/trump-administration-ends-relief-program-immigrants-medical-issues/story?id=65252446
Marcelov, Philip. “Trump Administration Ends Protection That Lets Migrants Avoid Deportation While Receiving Medical Care.” 27 August 2019. Time, https://time.com/5662256/trump-immigration-deportation-medical-care/
© 2019 Dr W J Michael McIntyre