Our human frailties are like soft spots which oppressive systems manipulate to gain our compliance “consent”. They use propaganda, consumerism, and spectacle because it is enslavement to our own desires which causes us to accept as real, the illusions they have crafted to control us. When consent can no longer be manufactured in this way it must be coerced out of the populace using fear and division tactics until finally, that fails, and compliance can only be achieved through violence and physical oppression.
To humanity at large, the bond between parents and children is sacrosanct. However, to the systems which govern our lives, it is the greatest frailty they can exploit. Nothing will break a parent’s spirit like the loss of their children, more so when they are torn from their arms. And, nothing will break a child’s spirit like the loss of a parent, even more so when forcibly removed from their custody. The breaking of our spirits is how oppressors coerce compliance to injustice; it is how they control people without ever laying a hand upon them. Click To Tweet Emotional enslavement is the tool of capitalist elites just as resource enslavement was the tool of feudal lords and bodily enslavement was the tool of the chattel slave master.
If you understand this country’s history you would not be as shocked Chris Hayes was on his broadcast; Chris Hayes on ‘Despicable’ New Donald President Trump Policy, when he said; “For what appears to be the first time ever, this country is now systematically taking children from their parents at the border.” This practice of the state forcefully separating children from their parents then allowing them to be lost, abused, trafficked, or killed, is not new at all. It is as old as this country’s founding documents, and it has been used systematically by the U.S. government on more than one occasion.
The viewers of the Chris Hayes report were undoubtedly left with the sense that this the first occurrence. As though our government has never done such horrific acts before… as if, this practice is unique to Trump. What bothers me about this framing is it obfuscates the true depth of the issue and deprives the audience of historical context, which if known, might engender compassion for the current victims of this U.S. divide and conquer strategy. Instead of enlightening and empower his audience Chris Hayes chooses to engage in political theater and propaganda in pursuit of an anti-Trump narrative.
History flatly disproves his assertion of originality, this is by no means the first time the U.S. government has separated parents from children, and it certainly isn’t the first time a state or federal agency placed stolen children in the custody of others without oversight. Countless children were lost to the Indian Boarding school initiative whose policy was to “kill the Indian, save the man.”
“After decades of Indian wars, government authorities in the late nineteenth century turned to assimilation as the solution to the so-called “Indian problem.” The idea of assimilating Indians by removing children from their communities originated in 1875 with an experiment conducted upon Kiowa, Comanche, and Cheyenne prisoners of war incarcerated under the command of Captain Richard Henry Pratt at Fort Marion near St. Augustine, Florida. Pratt proposed to “rehabilitate” the prisoners by cutting their hair, replacing their native dress with military uniforms, and introducing them to military discipline, Christianity, and American education. In 1879, Pratt received federal funds to open Carlisle Institute, a boarding school for Indian children, at Carlisle, Pennsylvania.”
– Margaret D. Jacobs, A Battle for the Children pg. 32-33
These indigenous children were inconsistently tracked, they were not allowed to see their families, and they were stripped of their culture, traditions, language, and taught to feel shame for who they were. Many of these children were sexually abused, physically abused, trafficked, or simply killed and buried in mass graves on school grounds. This process was seen by its administrators as a service to the children, a benefit they should be grateful for.
“I do not believe that Indians- people who for the most part, speak no English, live in squalor and degradation, make little progress from year to year, who are a perpetual source of expense to the government and a constant menace to thousands of white neighbors, a hindrance to civilization and a clog on our progress have any right to forcibly keep their children out of school to grow up like themselves, a race of barbarians and semi-savages.”
–T. J. Morgan, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1889-1893
The policy of removing children from indigenous communities never stopped. It continues today just under a new name, Child Protective Services.
“…many similar hearings in which Indian children are removed from their homes for no reasons given to the parents occur at least 100 times a year in Rapid City, South Dakota, alone. Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in 1978 in an effort to stop American Indian families from having their children removed by state and local officials for invalid and sometimes even racist reasons. Yet 36 years later, Indian children in South Dakota are 11 times more likely to be removed from their families and placed in foster care than non-Indian children.”
But, make no mistake Indigenous communities are not the only victims of this agency or American policy. Poor whites and other people of color disproportionately suffer the same shattering of their family units by unaccountable state employees who claim to have the welfare of children at heart. And yet, the laws which gave birth to the practice of governments claiming authority over our children reveals a more sinister incentive structure.
“…in 1980 with passage of the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act (PL 96-272), which required states to pay people to adopt removed children with “special needs”. The “Special Needs” were defined as “Children who cannot be returned to the parents’ home…” with no reason specified. This created an industry where people could make a living by raising other people’s children. It also granted Child Protective Services almost unlimited power to remove children from the home, and removed the requirement for them to have to go through Due Process, meaning no Judicial Oversight. In 1997, Congress passed the Adoption and Safe Families Act (PL 105-89) , which allows the federal government to pay states for the number of children they have placed in adoption, allows the states to terminate parental rights for children in foster care, and circumvents all of the Bill of Rights as far as Searches and Seizures, the right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, the 5th Amendment, and much more. What this law does is create a Child-Trafficking System, with financial incentive for states to do whatever they want to remove children from their parents.”
Strategically there is no better way to attack the foundations of unity among our species than to break up the family unit. If you can tear asunder the family bond you cripple the ability of people to become self-determining in the first place, and nothing can sever a family’s ability to instill values and morality as completely as physical separation from each other.
I wonder what Chris Hayes thinks happened to the children of American slaves? Does he think these children were not ripped from their parent’s arms? Is he under the assumption that those children where tracked and protected by the U.S. government? Was the border of a slave state and a free state any different than the border we now share with Mexico, in that armed forces roam both to enforce the separation and degradation of families?
“I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of the land… I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels. Never was there a clearer case of ‘stealing the livery of the court of heaven to serve the devil in.’ I am filled with unutterable loathing when I contemplate the religious pomp and show, together with the horrible inconsistencies, which everywhere surround me. We have men-stealers for ministers, women-whippers for missionaries, and cradle-plunderers for church members.”
― Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
The strategy of undermining the black and brown family units in this country, like that for the indigenous populace, never left us. It has continued through time taking on many names, but today it is called the school to prison pipeline, mass incarceration, and targeted police violence.
“Parents and schoolteachers counsel black children that, if they ever hope to escape this system and avoid prison time, they must be on their best behavior, raise their arms and spread their legs for the police without complaint, stay in failing schools, pull up their pants, and refuse all forms of illegal work and moneymaking activity, even if jobs in the legal economy are impossible to find. Girls are told not to have children until they are married to a “good” black man who can help provide for a family with a legal job. They are told to wait and wait for Mr. Right even if that means, in a jobless ghetto, never having children at all.”
“Many offenders are tracked for prison at early ages, labeled as criminals in their teen years, and then shuttled from their decrepit, underfunded inner city schools to brand-new, high-tech prisons.”
― Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
As a society, we cannot address these archaic colonial strategies if we cannot see them for what they are, and how they have been reoccurring over time. We are doomed to perpetually chase our tails if we only deal with the current symptoms, we must instead confront the issues as the long-standing, wide-reaching American policies that that are.
Division among people is sown, not imposed. It must be cultivated in such a way that the individual thinks it is a self-generated conclusion. You cannot tell someone to take a passionate position on an issue; you can only propagandize them with specific information which incites them to act in defense of a perceived moral violation. Or, if you’re diabolical enough you can seek to undermine the process of accumulating morality, knowledge, and critical thinking in the early stages of development by undermining the family unit in a systemic way.
As you read the many stories on social media of children being ripped away from their parents at our southern border, and as you see images of innocent children alone in cages and tents, know that in a sick twisted way, this is the most proper introduction to what “being an American” is all about. The unity of these families must be threatened to gain their compliance, just as the unity of Indigenous, black, and poor Americans has been threatened to gain their compliance. The state must break their spirits immediately so they know who the master is and who the slave is, it must make them ready to consent willingly to their own oppression by showing them what the alternative is. Click To Tweet
Do not allow media pundits and politicians to rewrite history in your mind by framing this policy as strictly Trumpian. It must be viewed as the continuation of a long-standing strategy of the American government to undermine unity among people, for the purposes of manufacturing consent. If anything, Trump’s role in this is simply to confirm that he, like Obama and Bush before him are empty puppets whose strings are pulled by the same puppet master.
The victims of this policy are many, and they stretch back through the entire history of this nation. So, if we the thinking and feeling people of America cannot get our shit together enough to stand up and say No More, then we have forfeited the right to have ever called this nation the land of the free and the home of the brave.
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
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Feature photo credit: Clarice Barbato-Dunn