How Real, Literal Concentration Camps Came to America

Pregnant women in immigration detention under the Trump administration have been denied medical care, shackled around the stomach, and suffered miscarriages from the abuse. 

This policy is carried out by the same political party that claims that human life starts from the moment of conception. By their own logic, ICE are murdering babies in order to prevent them from becoming American citizens. We are rounding up other human beings based on their ethnicity and nationality, sending them to isolated government complexes, and murdering them legally and systematically.

The Nazis rounded up other human beings based on their ethnicity and nationality (among other things), sent them to isolated government complexes, and murdered them legally and systematically.

It’s popular thought to stop just short among even centrists and central-left leaning pundits to chide “extremists” for exaggerating the scope of Trump’s evil. That conceit has been proven without a doubt to be completely wrong. President Donald J Trump is a literal Nazi. ICE are the new SS – they’re the cronies currently implementing the earliest stages of our modern-day democratically elected Hitler’s end goal of racial genocide.

Modern day American fascism didn’t spring from Trump’s brain fully formed. Its discrimination was molded into a modern, sleek and marketable format by one of America’s most historically popular and highly rated presidents.

Let’s Make America Great Again (the first time) ~Ronald Reagan

What if I told you that Ronald Reagan, whom a 2011 Gallup poll determined Americans considered the greatest president of all time, (eat your heart out Lincoln/Washington!) is actually a terrible president.

morpheus
Woah

That’s not to suggest that Reagan invented modern discrimination or racism. He was merely the latest to repackage repugnant world views in a way that was socially acceptable to the new status quo established by previous decades of social progress. We tend to think of social progress as a straight line towards progress rather than one that jaggedly rises and falls but trends upwards over time.*

*I did not mean in the original publication of this piece to imply progress is always linear. There are plenty of historical examples of of social regressivism, the most common of this era of which is democratically elected governments around the world being overthrowed by U.S led coups to instill U.S friendly capitalist oligarchs for oil companies. That said, over the grand scale of human history, life for social minorities has usually gotten better the longer a civilization has continued. (Edit added June, 2019)

 

To think of this in incredibly broad historically terms, the civil war ended slavery. Viewing African Americans as non-human property became a socially unacceptable viewpoint in proper society. African Americans progressed as far as regularly voting even holding office during reconstruction. Jim Crow laws were a response to this. “Seperate but equal” became the umbrella under which racism was enforced legally via segregation in a way that was socially acceptable in the time period.

Nixon pretty much explicitly presented himself as a counter-response to the civil rights movements of the 50’s and 60’s. It was the “Southern Strategy.” It was incredibly effective in earning him the presidency, but not nearly as effective at “slipping racism past the goalie” so to speak. It was too obvious. Also, Watergate was a thing. Still, it proved that Republicans could get Southern white “Dixiecrat” to vote against their own economic self-interests if they were promised policies that would reinforce the racism status-quo.

Cue Reagan.

It’s not a coincidence that Trump explicitly stole Reagan’s “Let’s Make America Great Again” slogan. Reagan presented himself as a serious economics-first politician. It’s no coincidence that the Republican party has openly considered itself to be defined by Reaganomics since 1980. The implication that America has declined and that it needs to return to the post-world war 2 economic boom of the 1950’s. The implication made by Reagan that this economic period could be reproduced by policy was wrong and absurd. This period of economic growth was caused by America being the only first world country relatively undamaged by world war 2, leaving it as the sole country with the manufacturing infrastructure to produce and export the goods needed to rebuild war-torn Europe and Pacific-Asia.

The 1950s were presented not just as an economic paradise, but as a general golden age of American culture. The appeal to “simpler times” and “good ol’ christian values,” has since been a staple of the Republican political campaign playbook. It purposefully avoids explicitly mentioning the racism and sexism of those times, and for those who openly or secretly wish to return to the Jim Crow-era, it creates a direct correlation between economic prosperity and racism. Even those Reagan who weren’t explicitly racist but yearn for this economic prosperity then began to correlate the two. These non-racists who yearn for the 50’s know that racism is wrong, but they are willing to turn a blind-eye to it when they stand, in their view, to benefit from the end result.

Slipping racism under the umbrella of false promises of economic prosperity is Reagan’s most important contribution to the current situation as far as Trump is concerned, but it’s not the only one. Reagan also identified a new target to discriminate against that was not nearly as well represented or respected in polite society. Reagan actively and purposefully chose to ignore the AIDS Crisis by proposing, among other atrocities, deep cuts to AIDS research and treatment funding in 1986. One could easily argue Reagan bore a large chunk of responsibility for the crisis as a whole. It’s not coincidental that religious conservatives declared AIDS as a punishment from God for homosexuality. Reagan’s actions were essentially a silent approval of this belief.

It is also not coincidental that the War on Drugs, started by Nixon, was escalated by the Reagan administration with Nancy Reagan’s “Just say No,” Campaign among other things. To go on about how the war on drugs has been used as an excuse for law enforcement to disproportionately target and prosecute African American communities would practically require an entire blog post of its own to cover a fairly commonly accepted fact. Just be aware that “drug users/dealers” being a dehumanized blanket group and a code word for “black” is going to become very important in the Bush administration.

Bill Clinton is the Democratic Ronald Reagan.

It’s the economy, stupid. 

Bill Clinton doesn’t represent slipping discrimination under the radar so much as he does the complete domination of Reagan-esque thinking has had on the last 30 years of U.S policy. Bill Clinton suggested a different (and better) prescription to the U.S’s latest bout of economic woes, but the same general principles of the U.S president having far less economic impact than American voters believe still applies.

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell as a policy really speaks for itself. It essentially tells gay people to be ashamed of who they are. This was a policy passed by a “liberal” president. On the whole, calling Bill Clinton even a “centrist” on social policy is probably generous. America’s complete apathy to Bill Clinton’s rape allegation in 1999 says even more. Whether Bill Clinton was actually a social conservative or Reagan simply made any other campaign approach completely nonviable in American politics is debatable. The end result is not.

Bush and the Othering of “Enemy Combatants”

There are two very important things that happened in the Bush administration. The first is that illegal immigration and specifically, illegal border-crossing from Mexico became part a significant part of the political dialogue. The fact that this issue, which has had very clear negotiating parameters from the beginning (Negotiate border security, allowed legal immigration, and path to citizenship) has not been passed is a testament to the broken culture of Washington D.C. How this relates to Trump is obvious enough not to warrant further discussion.

What is important to note the correlation of Reagan/Nixon’s War on Drugs and the Guantanamo Bay torture techniques used on “enemy combatants,” by the bush administration.  The War on Drugs was a more general. The Bush administration’s refusal to charge “enemy combatants” with war crimes and torture them for “information” specifically targets Muslims and allowed them to pluck Arab-americans from their homes without cause and essentially ruin their lives. It is essentially the prototype for Trump’s detention centers.

There are plenty of documented cases of people held in Guantanamo without trial for 10 years or more and tortured only to be proven innocent later on. It’s feasible, even probable, that most of Guantanamo’s immorally held and tortured prisoners were probably innocent.

Jon Stewart, liberal Folk-hero, argued on Rachel Maddow’s news show that calling Bush “technically a war criminal” was going to far and being argumentatively disingenuous. I myself even argued when Trump was first elected that “yeah, Bush was a shit president but probably an alright guy.” We were both wrong. Call an apple an apple. Trump is a nazi. Bush is a war criminal. Seeing now how Guantanamo Bay was a prototype to the detention centers used on Hispanic civilians (and U.S citizens) seeking a better life in hindsight proves that us “reasonable liberals” should have done more to at least try and stand up for the rights of those who couldn’t stand up for themselves.

A Brief Note on Obama

The Obama years don’t really have all that much to do with what’s going on outside of Trump being a reaction to our first black president much like Reagan/Nixon were a reaction to the Civil Rights movements before them. Obama sort of pushed us partly out of Reagan’s shadow. His eventual, gradual, tentative support of gay rights was a success of sorts. He certainly seemed to try his best to close Guantanamo Bay. He certainly helped reduce it by a massive margin.

In the end, whether Obama’s failure to completely drag us out of Reagan’s shadow was a result of personal belief, political in-feasibility, or literal legislative impossibility is irrelevant as far as the end result. I’d like to think he’s a great human being if nothing else.

The Trump Playbook

The Trump playbook is straight from the Reagan/Bush playbook. It is incredibly easy to see because Trump is, for lack of a better term, a complete dipshit.

  • Trump refers to MS-13 gang members and/or Mexicans as “animals.” Whether he is referring to an entire racial group or a gang that so happens to be composed primarily of one ethnic group is irrelevant. His goal is to draw a correlation between the two just like Reagan correlated economic prosperity with 1950’s racism and sexism.
  • To make one more point about the MS-13 “animals,” comment, while actions taken by MS-13 members are horrific and certainly qualify to have them permanently removed from polite/common society, the United States government is still obligated to treat and prosecute them humanely. Gunning them down in the streets or whatever other macho bullshit Trump’s substandard mind generates is not an acceptable form of prosecution or justice in a functioning modern society under any condition no matter how disgusting we as a society may find their crimes to be.
  • As mentioned with Reagan’s exploitation of the AIDS crisis to target homosexuals, Trump uses the immigration debate and MS-13 as an excuse to target Latinos. Men like Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump are cowards. They don’t want a fight African American community because they’ve had over a century to organize communities and infrastructure to fight for their civil rights. Trump is content to tweet #AllLivesMatter and try to avoid direct confrontation and instead target Hispanics. Not only is Hispanic culture far less represented in America (Rap is the most popular genre of American music. The only hit Latino song is Despacito), but many Hispanics that Trump specifically targets speak little or no English, making it harder for them to organize and fight for their rights.
  • MS-13, Drug Users, AIDS Carriers, etc. They are all umbrellas which are constantly widened as much as possible to hit as many socially disadvantaged groups as possible. This is how they maintain the status quo of discrimination.

 

Trump hasn’t written a new playbook. He’s not even unique – just stupid. He’s running a more obvious version of the same con used by the Republican presidents before him.

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