As Trump’s campaign against illegal immigration continues and escalates, casualties are piling up across the nation. Say what you will against illegal immigration, the problem with Trump’s approach to the issue is not the old song about stopping it or securing the border, but the amount of lies and fears he’s appealing to in order to get it done (going as far as to declare, without justification, a national emergency). But words have consequences.
Take children, for example. A child’s mind is very impressionable, and any outside influence will easily become settled as prejudice in the early years of life. Especially when the message comes from parents and the government itself. Then, xenophobia, racism, sexism, and all manner of evils manage to gain an air of legitimacy it wouldn’t otherwise have. And a society which praises such mentality simply puts the final nail on the coffin.
The Stevens' case
Trump’s actions and the mindset of those who follow him are already costing us much in collateral damage, as future generations are being molded into the shape and image of racists and bigots. Consider the case of 7-year-old Benton Stevens, from Austin. Benton set up a chocolate stand in his neighborhood to raise money for Tump’s proposed border wall, with all the dark undertones that entails, while proudly wearing a MAGA hat. Benton’s parents, Shane and Jennifer, proclaim themselves as conservative Republicans, and suggest that the news they watch and their conversation at the dinner table must have rubbed off on the young boy.
"I think it's important that (our children) know what's going on in the world, where we stand, what we believe in," Jennifer told CBS News.
Benton claims that some people have called him ‘little Hitler’ over the stunt, which is certainly unhelpful and not the way to drive the point home. Still, his actions are certainly a sad symptom of a sickening society. Other people, he says, were really happy with his activism.
So, who’s to blame when things like these happen?
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Where the blame lies
There’s little doubt any sovereign nation has the right to manage its borders as it pleases. What’s wrong is to promote hateful speech while doing so. Trump keeps attacking immigrants in general, and his base is loving it. In his attempt to alienate the public from the democratic position of defending human rights above anything else, he uses a violent discourse that is harming millions of human beings for the sake of mere political agendas, and the more he does it, the more consequences there are.
The prejudiced mind doesn’t take the time to distinguish between illegal or legal aliens in practice, even if it claims to do so in theory. So, Americans are increasingly seeing non-whites with suspicion and discomfort at best. That’s the mark of racism and xenophobia.
So yeah, there are many culprits when it comes to this issue. A child raised in a xenophobic environment will likely become xenophobic themselves. That’s hardly surprising. The parents, the media, the community, Trump, and Trump’s supporters are all to blame for that.
Remember, it’s not about a wall or about wanting a secure border, but about promoting a speech which portrays immigrants in general as dangerous criminals and inexorable threats to national security, which is not only false, but truly harmful beyond words. You’re allowed the former, but not the latter. We can only hope these children grow out of today’s unfortunate xenophobic atmosphere. In the meantime, we should think about reframing the whole issue already.
(Cover credit: CBS Austin News)
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