During the decades I’ve interviewed people who’ve survived what most everyone agrees are the worst things humans have done to each other in recent history, there’s always a consistent question: How could that happen?
How could anyone kidnap people from Africa and sell them like cattle? And who in the United States could not only participate in enslaving as many as 10 million children, women and men before 1865, but then go to war to fight for the right to continue?
How could so many Americans turn a blind eye to attempts to exterminate the indigenous people of the Americas after they were driven from their homes?
How could someone as repugnant as Adolph Hitler gain a single follower, let alone millions and be allowed to carry out the greatest horror ever, the Holocaust?
The answer from dozens of people who’ve survived or researched the worst that humans have inflicted on each other is almost always the same.
It didn’t happen fast.
It took months and sometimes years to systematically dehumanize Jews, Blacks and Native Americans.
But that’s just part of the “how.”
Political leaders push to designate people as “them” and “others.” They use terms like “infestation,” “illegals,” “criminals,” “invaders,” “groomers,” “animals” and ton of pejoratives over and over to distance people from being people.
In talking with numerous Holocaust survivors, they all agreed that Germany was able to move so steadily toward catastrophe because leaders there persuaded people they were victims of all kinds of things that have plagued civilizations for as long as there have been some. Economic woes. Health woes. Family woes. Weather woes. You name it. The trick, which hasn’t been that hard in the past, is then to connect the “victim” to the alleged perpetrator.
In Germany, it was Jews, gays and non-Christians. In the United States? It was, and is again, “angry” Black civil rights protesters. It’s immigrants.
Last week, it was an airplane full of Spanish-speaking refugee immigrants from Latin American nations, credentialed to stay in the United States as they await residency decisions by the Federal Government.
In an astonishing act of cruel dehumanization, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis paid a poser to lie to about 50 of these refugees and con them into getting on a plane they were told was bound for Boston, where homes and jobs awaited them.
They were dumped on the tiny island of Martha’s Vineyard in a vicious political ploy.
There’s no doubt that the stunt met the legal and moral definition of human trafficking.
A Texas sheriff official from where the refugees were essentially kidnapped by the gubernatorial equivalent of a creeper in a van, luring kids with candy, says they’re investigating criminal charges in the incident. Those charges may, and should, target DeSantis.
While DeSantis is guilty of spectacularly kidnapping these refugees, he joins Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey in this sick ploy to reduce refugees and immigrants to animal status, load them on buses like cattle and send them off to liberal communities in sordid acts of vengeful political theater.
But just as loathsome as this systematic denigration of human beings, is the casual American apathy about these horrors, and even more alarming, the stunning support.
“Hey media,” GOP Congressperson Lauren Boebert from Colorado said in a tweet over the weekend. “It’s not “migrant”. It’s not “asylum seeker”. It is ILLEGAL or ILLEGAL ALIEN! Stop sanitizing it.”
For anyone who’s been the victim of this dehumanization or been close to it, Boebert’s constant drumming is chilling.
Colorado Springs GOP Congressperson Doug Lamborn offered more: “50 illegal immigrants in Martha’s Vineyard is not a “humanitarian crisis.” 4.3 million illegal immigrants at our southern border is not only a humanitarian, but a national security crisis.”
First off, that’s just a lie. While some government agencies reported about 1.2 million “encounters” at the border with potential immigrants, multiple credible sources point out many of those encounters are the same people, turned back and attempting again.
There’s no argument from anyone on either side of the aisle that the lack of immigration law reform in the United States is disastrous. But the undocumented immigration problem persists because Congress has been unwilling — for decades — to enact workable immigration reform.
It’s not hard. Create worker permits, a path to citizenship and penalize the holy hell out of businesses caught hiring non-permitted workers. Try that to start, and almost all of the immigration problems here are solved.
U.S. businesses are desperate for employees and would marvel at the chance to hire willing immigrants right now.
But this isn’t just about immigrants. It’s mostly about non-white immigrants.
Despite there being about a half-million undocumented white immigrants in the country, there are no protests at the state Capitol to evict Australian, Canadian or French people who’ve overstayed their visas back to where they came.
While more Americans were glued the past several days to TV and mobile phone updates about the funeral dramatics for Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, than the alarming news that a U.S. governor had kidnapped 50 Latin Americans in a heartless and dehumanizing trafficking crime, one thing was obvious. If that plane-full of kidnapped refugees had been white English families rather than Venezuelans and El Salvadorans, Fox News and every other network would have interrupted its non-stop coverage of United Kingdom subjects standing in line for days for a fleeting glimpse of the Queen’s casket.
DeSantis, Sen. Ted Cruz, Lamborn, Abbott, Donald Trump, Boebert and too many other political leaders want to use tried and true dehumanization scams to camouflage the fact that 50 people were kidnapped as human props to be abused for the sake of this ruse.
DeSantis, speaking on FoxNews Sean Hannity’s program, called objections to his outed trafficking scheme, virtue signaling.
Who could do something like that?
There are compelling arguments in limiting and tightly controlling U.S. immigration, and both sides of the issue make those arguments regularly, but justifying the kidnapping and abuse of anyone, because they’re “immigrants” or undocumented or anything, is nothing more than a giant step further down the road to future generations of journalists asking witnesses, victims and experts, “how could that have happened?”