It took 500 days and two thousand children in cages for America to see Donald Trump for what he truly is.
In campaign rally after campaign rally, tweet upon tweet, Trump let it be known in no uncertain terms: I am the president of all the people who look at those kids in the cages, and like what they see.
Trump had found the dog whistle of all dog whistles. On his order, not only were brown kids who have no English, stopped at the border, stripped from their parents and even their favorite toys, and warehoused in a repurposed Walmart.
Forget, for the moment, the debate over whether the separation policy was reminiscent of the Holocaust. One thing is for sure – abusing those kids was a master stroke of unambiguous cruelty, red meat for the American Nazis of today, true Nazis, admirers of Hitler, the “very fine people” who marched in Charlottesville, Virginia under the banners of the Confederacy and the Klan and the swastika, and who hail Trump for his evident sadism in deriding the handicapped, women, Hispanics, Muslims, and all migrants of color.
You could see it all in a Tuesday Fox News appearance by Trump’s violent, contemptuous, contemptible former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. When a fellow guest analyst began sympathetically telling the story of one of the children – a 10-year-old girl with Down Syndrome, taken away from her mother – Lewandowski took evident joy in mocking the girl’s plight. He interrupted the story by making a “Womp Womp” sound – an expression that trivializes sadness, or makes fun of failure. He scored further points by refusing to apologize.
What has Trump done? For starters, he has scarred two thousand kids for life. And even though the president made an extravagant show Wednesday of appearing to re-unite the separated families, within hours it emerged that the executive order would not apply to families already separated by the policy. There is no plan in place to re-unite these families.
The children won’t forget this. We know because of the reactions of others who were separated by their parents by the edicts of authoritarian regimes.
In a shattering account, retired teacher and psychotherapist who worked extensively with victims of childhood trauma, Yoka Verdoner, a child survivor of the Holocaust, wrote of her reactions to the Trump border policy in an article titled “Nazis separated me from my parents as a child. The trauma lasts a lifetime.”