The Universal Notebook: Save the children

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The Trump-Sessions zero-tolerance policy on immigration appealed to his base, but it appalled the majority of Americans. Having created a humanitarian crisis all by himself, Trump caved in to public pressure last week and rescinded his order to separate refugee children from their parents. Now we just have to hope Trump and the corporate mercenaries he paid to be juvenile jailers can find the more than 2,000 kids they took from their parents.

Sixty-six percent of the American people and the CEOs of many major corporations opposed Trump’s policy of taking children away from their parents and putting them in cages in former big box stores. Even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce came out against it.

The 27 percent in the minority who supported Trump’s heartless policy included the bigots and bullies who form the deplorables wing of Trump’s base. The only thing that unites these virulent new Trump Republicans is their sheer meanness.

Former First Lady Laura Bush said it best over Father‘s Day weekend when she wrote, “I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.”

Those Fox News xenophobes who prattle on about lawbreakers should be informed that refugees are not criminals. Crossing the border illegally is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine similar to a traffic ticket. What is criminal is treating refugees as though they are criminals. The Trump zero-tolerance policy was nothing short of child abuse.

Anyone who had to think twice about how hateful and un-American the Trump-Sessions policy of ripping immigrant families apart in order to discourage people from seeking a better life in the United States is heartless.

The congenital liars of the Trump administration tried to stem the tidal wave of opposition to Trump’s “you have to take the children away” policy. Trump kept trying to blame Democrats and existing laws for the separation of children from their parents, but that was a total lie and nobody believed it.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen first said in May that she supported Trump’s take-the-children-away policy and then last week, when the howls of execration arose, she insisted there was no such policy. No one believed her lie either.

Attorney-General Jeff Sessions even attempted to mount a biblical defense of zero tolerance.

“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order,” Sessions said. “Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful.”

What utter, hateful hypocrisy. The United Methodist Church to which Sessions belongs quickly condemned his misreading of Romans 13, the same passages cited in the 19th century to justify slavery.

One thing Romans 13 does say quite clearly should give Sessions serious pause: “But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”

Trump, Sessions, Nielsen, border patrol and ICE agents and the profiteers who signed up to incarcerate the children did evil and they should fear for their mortal souls.

Even Franklin Graham, son of Billy and supporter of Trump, condemned the zero-tolerance policy, saying, “I think it’s disgraceful; it’s terrible to see families ripped apart and I don’t support that one bit.”

Article 9 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states, “States Parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will, except when competent authorities subject to judicial review determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures, that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child.”

The United States is in clear violation of this human rights provision, but I guess that’s OK because the United States is the only member of the United Nations that never ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

How many more reasons do Americans need to be ashamed of their country? We have a president who appeases his benighted followers by throwing innocent children into cages while at the same time singing the praises of murderous dictators.

“He speaks and his people sit up in attention,” Trump said approvingly of Kim Jung Un, a man who has ordered the murders of his own family members. “I want my people to do the same.”

Well, you got our attention this time, Mr. Trump, and with any luck, your cage-the-kids plan will cost you your presidency, which is a flesh-eating bacteria on the body politic of America.

Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Brunswick. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.

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