In this conflict between defenders of America’s liberal democratic order and Trumpism, those of opposition and resistance have wisely steeled themselves for stories of cruelty as state policy. Trumpism’s aim is a herrenvolk, where his demographically homogeneous base receives permanent preference over others, and in which that same base delights in deprivations and depravities inflicted on anyone outside their own horde.
One should not be surprised, then, when Meagan Flynn reports Detained migrant children got no toothbrush, no soap, no sleep. It’s no problem, government argues:
The government went to federal court this week to argue that it shouldn’t be required to give detained migrant children toothbrushes, soap, towels, showers or even half a night’s sleep inside Border Patrol detention facilities.
The position bewildered a panel of three judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on Tuesday, who questioned whether government lawyers sincerely believed they could describe the temporary detention facilities as “safe and sanitary” if children weren’t provided adequate toiletries and sleeping conditions. One circuit judge said it struck him as “inconceivable.”
“To me it’s more like it’s within everybody’s common understanding: If you don’t have a toothbrush, if you don’t have soap, if you don’t have a blanket, it’s not safe and sanitary,” Senior U.S. Circuit Judge A. Wallace Tashima told Justice Department lawyer Sarah Fabian. “Wouldn’t everybody agree to that? Would you agree to that?”
Fabian said she thought it was fair to say “those things may be” part of the definition of safe and sanitary.
“What are you saying, ‘may be?’” Tashima shot back. “You mean, there’s circumstances when a person doesn’t need to have a toothbrush, toothpaste and soap? For days?”
The Trump Administration doesn’t need to win these legal conflicts; it simply has to show Trump’s base that it will inflict misery on outsiders, even children, as a sign of commitment to those most fanatical followers.
This ilk often assumes that, if it should go far enough, a tender-hearted opposition and resistance will dissolve into a pool of tears at news of others’ mistreatment.
In this they are mistaken. One is reminded of the expression that it is foolish to mistake kindness for weakness.
The liberal democratic order, resting as it does on individual rights and dignity, does tend toward kindness. It does not, however, tend toward weakness, as countless failed autocracies have come to see only too late.
No matter – this die is cast, and the conflict between a traditional democratic order and Trumpism will end with only one of them prevailing.