Word smatter.

Or words matter. The Prescedense:

We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country. When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came. Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order. Most children come without parents…

24 June 2018 8:02 AM. Tweet. @realDonaldTrump

From Brian Klaas, author of How to Rig an Election & The Despot’s Apprentice:Donald Trump’s Attack on Democracy:

“Infest.” “Breed” “Invade.” This dehumanizing language cannot stand. Nazis referred to Jews as “rats.” Hutu leaders called Tutsis in Rwanda “cockroaches.” Slaves were referred to as “stock.” Dehumanizing language lays the groundwork for mass atrocities. The words are no accident

24 June 2018 8:26 AM. Tweet. @brianklaas


Words are no accident and I’ll cast the net a little wider. The origin of ‘slave’ is Slavic. During the Middle Ages, Slavs were forced into … slavery.

The confidential book with the lyrics to the Milwaukee Residential Security Maps emphasized the actual color coding of the maps with verbiage like¹:

  • infiltration of a lower grade population”
  • detrimental influences
  • undesirable population or infiltration of it”
  • “Polish infiltration
  • infiltration of Mexican”
  • “besides the colored people, a large number of lower-type Jewish population”

My bold. “Infiltration,” detrimental influences,” “undesirable population,” “lower-type,” add all that to “infest,” “breed,” “invade.” At various points in US history, groups of people have been ostracized, cast in the role of “the other” and definitely not one of “us.”  Dehumanizing. The other. If not an enemy, definitely a threat. They must be stopped. They must be contained.

And if you’re the one stopped?  Separated from your children? Your family? Detained? Contained? Hmmm. Well. Then. You must not be human.


Words matter.

From Hassan Ahmad, Esq. (specialty immigration law, my bold) Twitter thread²:

“No, we must not only fight back, but create an alternative. So I have a few more concrete suggestions.

1. Scream it from the rooftops. Seeking asylum is a human right.

2. Stop criminalizing brown and black bodies, or the exercise of human rights by brown and black bodies.

3. Don’t be afraid to call out white nationalism. Learn to recognize it. Calling out bigotry never gets old: don’t let them tell you any different.

4. Associate the word “immigrant” with “future citizen,” or “aspiring American” whenever possible, and repeatedly.

5. Not they. Us.

6. Let’s start talking about citizenship law, not just immigration law. And let’s not conflate immigration law with deportation law.

7. Let’s raise the term prosperous border, not “border security.” Let’s not conflate border security with border militarization.

8. Let’s put some blame where it belongs: the government renders people “undocumented” by actively dedocumenting them. “Document” is a verb.

9. Immigration is the cure for cultural stagnation. America is not a pie that needs dividing. It’s a whole kitchen.

10. Our country is defined by its people, not its borders.
Don’t just resist.
Build.”
19 June 2018 9:12 PM. Tweet. @HMAesq
(Full text in footnote 2 below in event link above doesn’t work.)

And to “our country is defined by its people, not its borders,” I would add “and currently not its Prescedense.”


¹ Redlining, Reggie Jackson, head griot at America’s Black Holocaust Museum.

Bullet points were sourced from my furiously scribbled notes taken at the Redlining presentation given by Reggie Jackson at the Jewish Museum Milwaukee 13 February 2018. Redlining was the first in the series ‘Allied in the Fight: Jews, Blacks & the Struggle for Civil Rights.‘ Errors are all my own.

² 19 June 2018 9:12 PM. Tweet. @HMAesq – unrolled using the Threadreaderapp. Text is included here in the event above links don’t work. READ, it is important: 

On separating families: Between fielding inquiries, helping clients, and trying to contextualize this latest act in the ongoing clown show that is this administration, I’ve also felt the ongoing nauseating mix of despair and disgust.

But maybe not for the same reasons.

Sure, I feel despair at not being able to just end family separation. And disgust at the administration that first celebrated it, and now (like clockwork) tries to deny it.

But I despair for another reason: that there is no unified alternative narrative. I am disgusted at the hate movements that successfully created their narrative.

(I’m talking about, among others, the Federation for American Immigration Reform.)

I despair that we are once again pulling out our water pistols to put out yet another fire, instead of taking out their flamethrower. I am disgusted at the complacency of people who legitimize that narrative by trying to find a half-baked common ground with it.

And I despair at the enormity of the task at hand, disgusted that this is where we are.

Here are some unvarnished truths:

1. The laws permitting these atrocities have been on the books for years.

2. There is a lot of money in the business of human detention. I mean, incarceration.

3. At least on the immigration side, the haters have a 40 year headstart. (FAIR dates back to 1979)

4. If you think this is bad, wait and see what happens when the laws themselves are rewritten instead of just being interpreted as cruelly as possible.

Wait and see what Jeff Sessions & Co. have in store.

I’m matter-of-factly glad that there is attention being paid to the due process free zone known as our southern border. I’m glad there is so much outrage. But it’s as useless as a bunch of water pistols if not properly channeled.
The thing about fires is they have to be put out. But if we’re not working toward a common goal, we’ll never take out the flamethrower.

So to put out fires, I recommend donating to @RAICESTEXAS , @cliniclegal , @AlOtroLado_Org, the @immcouncil, and the Texas Civil Rights Project. These folks have been on the ground since before #FamiliesBelongTogether started trending.

But all this advocacy can be focused. We can no longer accept the prevailing framing of the issues. No, we must not only fight back, but create an alternative. So I have a few more concrete suggestions.

1. Scream it from the rooftops. Seeking asylum is a human right.

2. Stop criminalizing brown and black bodies, or the exercise of human rights by brown and black bodies.

3. Don’t be afraid to call out white nationalism. Learn to recognize it. Calling out bigotry never gets old: don’t let them tell you any different.

4. Associate the word “immigrant” with “future citizen,” or “aspiring American” whenever possible, and repeatedly.

5. Not they. Us.

6. Let’s start talking about citizenship law, not just immigration law. And let’s not conflate immigration law with deportation law.

7. Let’s raise the term prosperous border, not “border security.” Let’s not conflate border security with border militarization.

8. Let’s put some blame where it belongs: the government renders people “undocumented” by actively dedocumenting them. “Document” is a verb.

9. Immigration is the cure for cultural stagnation. America is not a pie that needs dividing. It’s a whole kitchen.

10. Our country is defined by its people, not its borders.

Don’t just resist.

Build.

One thought on “Word smatter.

  1. Pingback: Feet in the street: #KeepFamiliesTogether Milwaukee, June 30, 2018 | Viva Escritora

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