Friday, July 5, 2019

Whose America is This?

This will likely be unpopular, but I'm going to come right out and say it--I am appalled at the conditions in the concentration camps being run by the U.S. government along the southern border. 

Image from The Atlantic Monthly article
I chose my words carefully. The camps where the immigrants are begin held are nothing short of concentration camps and that insensitive statement that the conditions there are better than where they came from not only is untrue but also attempts to rationalize that we have deprived them of their freedoms and are not providing them with the basic necessities of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that is the bedrock of our America!

After spending time in these camps, how can we expect these people to have a positive image of the United States? 

An article in The Atlantic Monthly: A Crime by Any Name, spells out the conditions and make a poignant reference. From the article:

Detainees described overcrowding so severe that “it was difficult to move in any direction without jostling and being jostled.” The water provided them was foul, “of a dark color, and an ordinary glass would collect a thick sediment.” The “authorities never removed any filth.” A detainee wrote that the “only shelter from the sun and rain and night dews, was what we could make by stretching over us our coats or scraps of blanket.” As for the food, “Our ration was in quality a starving one, it being either too foul to be touched or too raw to be digested.”
Such were the conditions of the Confederate prisoner-of-war camp at Andersonville, Georgia, where, as the historian James McPherson wrote, 13,000 of the 45,000 men imprisoned “died of disease, exposure, or malnutrition.” The images of the captive, emaciated Union troops are shocking, evoking a form of suffering 21st-century viewers will likely associate with the Holocaust. The images so traumatized the Northern public that after the war, the warden of the prison, Henry Wirz, became one of the only people tried for war crimes. The Swiss-born Wirz was an easy scapegoat for Northern anger, which spared most of the former Confederacy’s military and political leadership.

We can try to turn our backs on the situation and we can try to call the detainees criminals--but convicted felons in U.S. prisons do not live in these conditions.

There is a crisis on the border--it is a crisis of our own doing and now we have to deal with it. But calling it a crisis strips the humanity out of the equation. This is not My America! My America does not have concentration camps where people are caged like so many animals and where children are stripped away from their parents. 

It is time to stop the abuse and fix the problem--and a border wall is not the answer.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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