Look, it’s not like we were using the place for anything.
Yes, I’m talking about Fort Sill, a 150-year-old military base in Oklahoma that was once the site of an internment camp for Japanese-Americans during World War II.
It’s also where the Apaches were brought at the end of the war against the Indians, and where Geronimo is buried.
Think about that prestigious history. Throwing people into hellish camps to rot, in direct violation of their civil and human rights, based on nothing more than blatant racism and xenophobic terror — yeah, there’s a serious contender for America’s finest hour.
Well, the good news is that Fort Sill has another shot at glory. Because the Trump Administration will now detain 1,400 migrant children there, to be held indefinitely.
No, I don’t believe that the Trump Administration is trying to be darkly comedic or the slightest bit ironic. For starters, those traits are far beyond the capacity of sociopaths. But also, they are doing this because our beleaguered bureaucrats are running out of room for migrant children at government shelters.
You see, “apprehensions of children at the border are already nearing record numbers.” U.S. Customs and Border Protection released data that showed a 74 percent increase over last year. Several children have died while in U.S. custody. But that wasn’t quite horrific enough for our president, so recently, the administration “cut funding for classes, recreation and legal aid at detention centers holding minors,” and for an extra dash of horror, “37 children were locked in vans for up to 39 hours in the parking lot of a detention center in Texas.”
Progressives say that all this is “snowballing proof of a racist, lawless administration.” But conservative defenders say… well… they really have no defense other than to shout that the “illegals” brought this on themselves and that Obama’s policies were a thousand billion times worse, so nah-nah-nah.
One would think that undocumented immigration, near record lows just a few years ago, would not be straining the U.S. government so much. But of course, the president’s heartless and incoherent policies have not only failed to curtail undocumented immigration. His bumbling threats and bizarre proclamations have actually backfired and made the problem much worse.
Among the most terrifying aspects of this fiasco — and really, there are myriad terrifying aspects to choose from — is that there is no endgame to this catastrophic maelstrom of incompetence and hatred.
That’s because “Trump has made it clear that he wants to stifle all non-white immigration, period.” As such, it is a never-ending project, and the “mass arrests, iceboxes and dog cages are part of an explicitly nationalist project to put the country under the control of the right kind of white people.”
So let’s go ahead and be honest about this project, which is nothing less than a “growing system of American concentration camps.”
In fact, our good friend Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has said as much, pointing out that the Trump administration’s detention facilities at the U.S.-Mexico border are “exactly like concentration camps.” The GOP, predictably, has come for her head.
But as many historians have pointed out, “things can be concentration camps without being Dachau or Auschwitz.” The detention centers that have sprung up are the natural results of “the rhetoric that Trump deploys to justify the system and his unconstitutional power grabs.” Eventually, the rise of these camps creates “a self-fulfilling prophecy or a positive feedback loop that just keeps radicalizing the treatment as the policy itself becomes radicalizing.”
No, it’s not genocide. But the drive to dehumanize is the same.
And if you don’t believe me, perhaps you should ask some of those aforementioned Japanese Americans who got locked up decades ago. Recently, many “former World War II detainees, now in their 70s, 80s and 90s, along with their friends, families and descendants, [joined] the protesters calling attention to all immigrants being subjected to mass incarceration today.”
The use of Fort Sill in particular has angered many who believe that “our country is once again incarcerating children in facilities used previously to incarcerate Japanese Americans,” and that this tactic “is like a gut punch to the Japanese American community, many of whom continue to feel the effects of the inter-generational trauma inflicted from their families’ incarceration experiences.”
Furthermore, the Japanese American Citizens League has stated that “the damage being done to these children is immoral.”
But hey, who are you going to believe on this subject: the people who went through the hellish camps and their descendants, or a pampered billionaire with a history of racist statements and his xenophobic friends?
It’s a stumper.
By the way, Fort Sill did serve another function during World War II. The base was also used to hold German prisoners of war (or as the Trump Administration might refer to them, some of the “good people on both sides”).
Of course, we no longer put Nazis into camps. Now we let them run immigration policy.
Am I exaggerating? Well, in Trump’s America, I’m not sure that’s possible anymore.
Featured image: A hot windstorm brings dust from the surrounding desert at Manzanar on July 3, 1942. The site is one of ten American concentration camps where over 120,000 Japanese Americans were held during World War II from 1942 to 1946.