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Donald Trump’s idea of a shrewd bargaining strategy is holding children hostage to secure funding for his fanciful and misguided idea of constructing a wall along our southern border to keep people out. The absurdity and heartlessness of this approach unfortunately has found safe harbor with leaders of a Republican Party whose only consideration is political self-preservation.

Struggle for Democracy

The indescribably inhuman treatment of immigrants along the Mexican border by Trumpian decree may very well test the bounds of cowardice being exercised by Republican Congressional leadership eventually, but the Grand Old Party is struggling with its own identity while the White House struggles with itself. America is losing its soul as Trump intensifies his hero worship of authoritarian dictators and feeds on his lust to be feared as a strong man.

I love my country and what it stands for but at this juncture am embarrassed to be an American. Under Trump’s leadership we have surrendered our morality to the transactional calculus of a film flam artist, and I use the term artist judiciously.

For those who supported this fool it would only be ironic justice if you collectively would pay the price for your foolishness. However, as we see on a nightly basis it is never the fools who suffer but rather those who have the least say in matters that affect them. In this case it is the children, the meek who shall inherit the Earth, since biblical justifications are willy nilly used to justify just about any atrocity perpetrated by the Ship of Fools who are running the government.

Well here’s another one for you, ”For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him." (Matthew 25:29). This verse is attributed to the inspiration for the Billie Holiday song "God Bless the Child" and seems appropriate for all the children who are suffering what will likely be long-term damage from the separation anxiety inflicted upon them by this government.

During the Nuremberg trials of Nazis following World War II a common justification for actions taken to perpetuate mass murder was that officers were only following orders. That justification was not strong enough to prevent most from the death penalty. To those who have pledged allegiance and loyalty to the Constitution, who wear the uniform of the Border Patrol and other law enforcement agencies, who bear arms in defense of the public, and yet carry out the silent genocide of a generation of hope, you do have a choice. You could refuse to participate in the actions that perpetuate “tender age incarceration," you could simply refuse to carry out unlawful orders, after all you are supposed to enforce the law.

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Where is the integrity, the honesty, the intestinal fortitude of individuals to simply refuse to do things they know are wrong? You will not be spared from the ridicule and disdain of your refusal as you face your own children. Shame on you.

St. Augustine is credited with developing the legal maxim “Lex iniusta non est lex” which translates roughly into an unjust law is no law at all over 1,500 years ago. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., invoked this maxim in his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” 50 years ago. Where is the integrity, the honesty, the intestinal fortitude of individuals to simply refuse to do things they know are wrong? You will not be spared from the ridicule and disdain of your refusal as you face your own children. Shame on you.

I attended a conference yesterday entitled “The Struggle for Democracy” in which scholars addressed the crisis of democracy worldwide. The keynote was delivered by German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and he emphatically implored the audience to focus on the importance of diversity brought forth by immigration for the advancement of democratic governments both in Germany and the United States.

Dr. Heinz Bude, Professor of Macrosociology at the University of Kassel talked about the deteriorating association of party affiliation and lack of confidence in governmental institutions and leaders that is prevalent in Germany and the United States. In a post-Party democracy, he asserted, the need for protection among groups within the electorate changes the dynamic from the promise of advancement to a fear of exclusion and leads many to identify with a charismatic leader who promises a return to the way things once were.

I have hesitated to use references to Hitler and Nazism for fear of sounding bombastic or hyperbolic, however the strains of isolationism (trade wars), nationalism (pledge of allegiance), and authoritarianism (Kim Jong Il, Putin, Duterte, Erdogan) bear eerie resemblance to another time when the world was cast into a deadly struggle for survival.

The “Struggle for Democracy” conference was sponsored by the Thomas Mann House, a fellowship program dedicated to cementing good relationships between Germany and the United States. Mann, a Nobel Prize laureate who was exiled from Germany in 1933 and moved to Los Angeles in 1938 was a leader of exiled German intellectuals during World War II against Hitler.

As the United States continues to squander its moral leadership among global nations, highlighted by Trump’s decision to withdraw from the UN Council on Human Rights, it becomes important to maintain good working relationships with our western democratic allies, an art that the President seems determined not to master.

Whether or not the administration comes to its senses and reverses this atrocious action almost is irrelevant at this point. An enormous amount of damage has been done and the fact that the President must be forced to reverse himself cuts to the very character of the individual in the first place. What a travesty!

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Lance Simmens