A Note About Language and Protesting Nativism

[Content Note: Nativism; domestic violence; child abuse.]

I just want to make a brief observation about the popular hashtags being used on social media regarding the atrocities being committed along the United States' southern border.

"Families Belong Together" and "Keep Families Together" have emerged as the most frequently used hashes, and I just want to challenge folks to think hard about whether to use them.

Because there are a couple of problems I want to highlight here.

1. Many of the women and children arriving at the border are fleeing husbands/fathers. And, as in one case I highlighted earlier today, some children forcibly separated from their mothers — whose petitions for asylum because of domestic violence are now denied because Jeff Sessions is a fucking shitpile — are being "reunited" with their abusive fathers. Similarly, some of the asylum-seekers are young queer people escaping family violence. To suggest that these families "belong together" is to engage in a sickening erasure of the (primarily) women and children escaping their families.

2. The hashtags are not inclusive of people like Roxsana Hernandez, who died after being detained by Customs and Border Protection in one of their holding cells known as "iceboxes," because of how cold they are. Our concern must be communicated broadly enough to show concern and compassion for all of the people, with all of their particular circumstances, at the southern border — and it's not that difficult. Something like "Stop Abusing Immigrants" or "Nativism Is Obscene" would be as inclusive as it is deservedly blunt.

3. This:

Here, of course, is the end game: To "solve" the problem by creating camps for entire families.

Trump has repeatedly framed the problem as immigrants who keep coming back over and over. The so-called cycle of catch and release. Recall the times you've heard him say some variation on: "We throw them out; they come right back."

That's always been laying the groundwork for the argument that detaining people here is the only way to stop "the infestation."

The administration will also cite deterrence, which has been a big buzzword for two weeks, as justification.

And our compassion expressed for families will be exploited and misappropriated in defense of internment: Now it will be an act of compassion to "keep families together" in indefinite detention.

* * *

I'm obviously not saying don't have compassion for families being torn apart. I'm challenging us all to consider whether there might be a smarter approach to expressing that compassion.

Trump knows how to manipulate media, and he's always ten steps ahead. We need to be, too, if we have any hope of defeating this fucker.

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