Winter Sunlight

Welcome to America 2017

Well, today sure has been a day that happened.

Politics talk under the cut - long.

There has been a whole stream of stupid, ill-advised, and worrisome things the government's done in the last week, but the refugee/immigration ban is ... it's been a long time since a single government act made me this white-hot furious. It's the sheer petty cruelty of it, the stupidity, the fact that thousands and thousands of people's lives are going to be brutally disrupted, are already being brutally disrupted (legal green-card-holding residents with U.S. families and jobs detained or stranded in foreign countries; people who have lost everything they ever had, lived in danger of their lives, and have worked for years to get into the U.S. being turned around to go back to countries where they have no future; thousands upon thousands of law-abiding legal immigrants with green cards who are now unable to travel for work, unable to visit their ailing parents, unable to carry on their lives) -- and all for NOTHING, for literally nothing, nothing more than political pandering to bigots.

The fact that it was literally signed on Holocaust Remembrance Day is the keystone on this tilting ziggurat of petty cruelties. If I wrote a villain doing something like this, it'd be too OTT to believe.

Everyone affected by this ban are either refugees who have already been through a draconian years-long vetting process that has a proven track record of eliminating nearly all applicants with terrorist ties or sympathies (not to mention suffering through absolute hell prior to that; people don't become refugees for fun), or green-card-holding residents who have jobs, homes, and families here, who pay taxes, who are effectively citizens in all but name.

It breaks my heart and it makes me so very angry. It would make me furious even if it hadn't been implemented in the stupidest and most ruinous way possible, but NO, it was rammed through without the consultation or approval of the state dept. and immigration, and therefore it instantly became a clusterfuck in which no one in authority knew what they were supposed to be doing and blindsided travelers had no opportunity to make alternate plans. (I mean, imagine flying out of the country to visit your parents and coming back a week later with no clue nothing's wrong until you aren't allowed on the plane, and are told you may be allowed back to your home, job, friends and family in 90 days or possibly never. That's LITERALLY AND ACTUALLY what is happening to people RIGHT NOW.)

Aside from having been smacked in the face with just exactly how heartless and ruthless the people currently commanding the top seats in the government hierarchy are, I think the thing that makes me the most terrified about all of this is that no one, all up and down the official chain of command, ever said "Hey wait, this is stupid, this is wrong, we need to stop." I am heartened and thrilled that thousands of people turned out spontaneously to protest. That's utterly wonderful and I'm so glad. But I haven't heard a single story of an airport security person refusing to execute their orders, even when their orders changed literally overnight, made no goddamn sense, and meant pulling families and old people out of line and shoving them into rooms to wait -- wait for WHAT, even most TSA/immigration people couldn't have known, since their orders were so contradictory and unclear. Here is a twitter thread that talks about what that experience is like, from the point of view of a white American guy who got singled out awhile back due to a passport mixup. It was scary and miserable even for him -- now imagine going through that as a non-citizen, especially if you don't speak the language well, especially if you originally come from a country where governments detain and disappear citizens all the time. WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK, AMERICA.

So the fact that no one seems to have said "no" when brand new, contradictory, possibly illegal orders came down scares the absolute shit out of me. The fact that Congress has now had a full day to respond and is doing nothing at all scares the shit out of me too.

If this was a test run for what we'd actually do if the government said "Line those people up against the wall and shoot them," you know what? We, as a nation, failed. SOME of us passed with flying colors -- the thousands of protesters who showed up at airports, the legal teams who donated time and expertise to advocate for people, the ACLU and judges who are taking the first steps toward blocking it.

But the people who really had the power to act to change it at its source (the people tasked with implementing it, and the people in charge of the branch of the government that theoretically makes the laws -- even the Vice-President, who may be a first-order asshole with theocratic tendencies but at least isn't one of the POTUS's hand-picked bunch of yes-men) did absolutely nothing. Sat by and watched it happen, or were actively complicit in it.

And you know what? If our country is currently (and I believe it is) in the hands of a power-mad kleptocrat who is filling up his cabinet and closest cadre of advisors with wealthy cronies and actual Neo-Nazis, then the fact that the people who could have stopped this are doing nothing is a warning sign so potent that it leaves me breathless.

Watching the protests lifted my heart because so many people are willing to speak out against this, but it was also a kick in the gut because literally the only thing a protest does, the only power it has, is to make the people in power listen. And if they still won't listen, you are powerless. Thousands of people are a mere raindrop compared to 318 million. Millions turned out for the women's march and it's STILL just a raindrop compared to the whole. Even the courts have only as much power as the government and its official apparatus are willing to give them. Americans like to remind ourselves that hey, we've always got armed revolution! ... but if you get to that point, your country is in total failure mode and you are probably going to die. And since most people don't want to die and have a vested psychological and practical interest in hanging onto the shredded vestiges of their country as long as there is still something recognizable of what it used to be, you probably won't ever get to that point.

So basically, that we turned up by the thousands in mere hours to protest the detention and targeting of people who, for the most part, are not in the demographic of the protesters gives me hope. (As per my favorite sign from the protests: First they came for the Muslims and we said not today, motherfucker!) But the fact that none of the people who were actually given enough power to stop this, from the majority leader of Congress to the most lowly TSA agent, did anything except go along with it leaves me so scared and disheartened I could cry.

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