We Need to Talk: North Korea, Immigration, and Civility

Hi, guys.

On P&P I’m always talking about politics and history through fictional characters, but rarely do I ever get to talk about politics as myself. That’s why I’m starting a new series called We Need to Talk, where I candidly share my views about the madness that is US politics and foreign relations.

To kick off the first post of the series, I want to talk about how Trump creates and abuses crisises so that he can play the hero.

One fleeting story idea I had starts with Germany and America talking together during the Cold War. The situation–as far as I can remember–between East Berlin and West Berlin was getting dire and America presses upon Germany that this isn’t something he can handle alone, that he needs America’s help. Germany knows this, but is begrudging; he accuses America of creating problems just so he can go in, fix them, and walk away a hero. That criticism still holds up today.

Fire and Fury

I’m sure you guys remember when Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un were trading threats of nuclear war. I’m sure you also remember that earlier this month the two met amicably in Singapore to talk about denuclearization and inadvertantly spark many a fanfiction. Or maybe just one fanfiction. Maybe just mine.

Donald Trump left that meeting celebrating himself as a hero for doing what no other president could (I guess that’s fair) and denuclearizing North Korea. Except, no, he didn’t denuclearizae North Korea. The “deal” he came up with was vague and flimsy and did not legally bind either party to committing to denuclearization. But I guess that’s what you get when you put even less effort into preparations than I put into my stories.

The problem with the Trump administration’s attitude is that they are congratulationing themselves for tossing water onto a fire that they started–then acting like they weren’t the arsonists. Trump has no right to erase the fact that he seemed more than okay with threatening to bomb North Korea and spark a war that would get millions of Koreans and Americans killed. That was the policy he was publically advocating, people. Start war if North Korea doesn’t capitulate, kill millions, win because nuclear armageddon is manly(?). It was heartless and disgusting, but now he can just go and pat himself on the back and say that he saved the day, all because he shook Kim’s hand. To be clear, Trump and his administration are lying about what happened in Singapore and presenting it to the American as a glorious fact. That’s really bad, and not out of character.

(You may be thinking, “But wasn’t it Trump’s dangerous rhetoric that brought North Korea to the table? Shouldn’t he be given credit for that?” To which I will say several things: 1) Until we see significant denuclearization happening on the Korean Peninsula I’m not really sure Trump deserves credit for not accomplishing his goal; 2) If you think threatening nuclear to force another country to bow to you diplomatically is fine, hello, are you okay?; 3) Trump got lucky. It wasn’t that his rhetoric scared North Korea–which has been living under threat of American nuclear weapons for 70+ years now, by the way–it was that North Korea completed its nuclear program and was finally willing/able to meet with the US as an equal.)

But while we’ve been messing around with Kim Jong un, something horrific has been happening domestically.

Family Separation and Immigration

The Trump admin’s flip-flopping on their family separation policy was quite a spectacle, if spectacle can be defined as “embarassing shitshow of pathetic incompetence and racism.” It wasn’t Trump’s fault because it wasn’t his policy, then it was his policy and suddenly it was very Biblical, then it wasn’t anyone’s intention to separate families, but wait, deterence was definitely the intention, then Trump hated it because of how bad and mean it was, and so it was the Dem’s faults because they were the only ones who could reverse this great injustice, oh, but then Trump could suddenly fix it–magic, I guess?–and now he’s a… hero? Policy and PR aside, this has been a horrifying development in American decline.

The real issue goes beyond this single moment of history and runs much, much deeper. This isn’t just about family separation, this is about white supremacy’s perverse grip on American discourse and policymaking. Under the Trump administration, that grip only gets tighter.

The idea that everyone, or most, crossing the border is a deranged criminal bent on destroying America and killing white people is pure nativist garbage. The fact that so many well-meaning people believe it evidences that bias and prejudice are deeply ingrained in American culture. And the rhetoric that Trump and his team are spouting to whip up hatred is so aggregiously heinous, glaringly racist, and shamelessly evil that it blows my mind. Trump is dehumanizing immigrants as a whole, goading Americans into fabricated hysteria and paranoia. He’s calling them animals, warning that they will “infest” American society, reiterating over and over again how bad, violent, and evil they are. Okay, but these aren’t cockroaches he’s talking about–they’re fucking human beings. They are children. They are asylum seekers who crossed the desert (would you cross a desert?) to find hope and freedom in a country that has since its inception claimed to be a land of equality and opportunity. Do we really want to treat these people like insects?

(And, hey, you don’t get to pretend that your immigration policies are about protecting Americans when you’ve done literally nothing to stop the white violence that is killing Americans on a regular basis. Makes you kind of sound like you’re full of shit.)

To be clear, I’m not arguing against having any kind of border control. But there’s a big difference between sane policy and this fascist, racist madness that Donald Trump is promoting. His words enable, empower, and embolden racists and entities like ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to abuse their power. See, this is bigger than immigration law. This is about oppression, and so I ask: where does it stop? The terrifying answer is that it probably doesn’t, not unless we do something about it.

Change usually starts with the people, so if you’re as disgusted with this as I am, you probably want to help. Here are some things you can do:

  • Call your reps (Tutorial)
  • Find marches and protests and mobalize with Move On
  • Get plugged into organizations, where you can learn more about getting involved: Rescue, Informed Immigrant, and any of these if you’re Texan and live near the border
  • Get involved in a local political group that you feel best represents your beliefs. From there, you can find out how to volunteer, donate to representatives, and get involved. 2018 is going to be big and if you hate the policies are country is enforcing, you need to help good people get into office.

Oh, and one more thing?

Fuck Sarah Sanders.

If the people who voted for the man whose heinous lies you peddle can deny a person a wedding cake based on personal conviction, you look like a real clown when you try to play the victim after politely getting asked out of a restaurant. People should be kicking you and your colleagues out of restaurants everywhere and hanging “NO FASCISTS ALLOWED” signs on their doors.

Look around at the people who are making the strongest public outcries for “civility.” Are they white, wealthy, powerful, or male? Civility is a luxury of the privileged and the unaffected. If you think incivility is a slippery slope, you have to realize that civility is as well, because civility is what tells you to shut up and play nice while the government kills and abuses people.

When the forces we’re fighting are more than willing to embrace hatred, I think it’s fair to say we’re well past the point where civility is an option.

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