Iconic documentarian Michael Moore is upset as the rest of us about the separation and internment of innocent children after they are ripped from the arms of their asylum-seeking families. Don’t tell him, however, that the abominable practice is un-American.
Moore went on Facebook today with a post that explicates exactly how this loathsome episode currently taking place fits right into an arc of American history that most of us would rather ignore or forget:
“Ah, America! We’ve gone from separating Indian babies from their parents (and then exterminating them), to stealing babies from their slave parents (and then re-selling them into slavery), to building a country on child labor (working in factories as young as 8-yrs. old), to incarcerating Japanese-American toddlers in internment camps, to allowing priests to sexually abuse children for decades, to forcing buckets of high-fructose corn syrup down kids’ throats until half of them are part of a childhood obesity epidemic, to turning our schools into killing fields because we love our guns more than we love our kids — who the hell are we kidding?”, Moore begins his post.
While many may accuse Moore of ignoring all the positive progress that has been made in this country in favor of a litany of abuses that until the Trump-era seemed to be of the past, he rightly points out that our rose-colored self-image as a country is often in opposition with our actual history.
“Stop being shocked and surprised that Trump is kidnapping Hispanic children from their parents as if “this isn’t who we are!” Yes, it is. It has ALWAYS been who we are. Don’t say Trump is violating “our American values.” Abusing children IS an historic American value. Be proud, America — Trump is us,” the filmmaker continues.
That nausea-inducing thought is certainly not true of all Americans, but Moore’s point seems to be that, as a nation, we have tolerated behavior antithetical to our publicly stated values many times in the past and need to stop fooling ourselves into thinking that the behavior of the Trump administration is without precedent.
Moore continues his provocative statement with an exhortation and a suggested plan of action to end the current cycle of atrocities.
“(In order to stop this madness we need to stop telling each other fairy tales about the past and confront the present by putting our bodies on the line for these kids. Find out where in your area they have stashed the children Homeland Security has kidnapped (18 states have jails where they’ve put these kids — in my area, it’s a Betsy DeVos-funded joint called “Bethany Christian Services” in Grand Rapids, MI) — go there, surround the building and refuse to leave until the children are reunited with their parents. If these were your kids, that’s EXACTLY what you would do. They are your kids.)”
Direct action in the streets is also a long-standing American tradition.
From the original Boston Tea Party, to the striking coal miners and steelworkers who helped launch the union movement, to the marches for racial equality, to the anti-Vietnam war movement, to today’s pink pussy-hatted Women’s Marchers and the teens of the March For Our Lives, this is the American legacy that we want to be remembered for, not the shameful atrocities of our past that we can’t allow to be repeated in the present.
Thank you, Michael Moore, for the reminder of our less than admirable past — and for the kick in the pants to demand that better future now.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.