Monday, June 18, 2018

Outrage Overload

Scrolling through news stories and clips about the immigration disaster can be overwhelming.  How many times can you read stories about children being taken away from their parents, many of whom committed no crime except to show up at the border to ask for asylum, and even that is not a crime?

It’s obvious that the people promulgating and executing the policy had no idea that it would create any kind of backlash; after all, when Trump announced he would do this at his campaign rallies, he got thunderous applause.

And then we have those who are defending the policy by 1) blaming it on the Democrats, 2) using the bible, including quotes from parts of it that were used to defend both slavery and loyalty to the British crown, to justify their cruelty, and 3) saying they are merely following the law and falsely claiming there is nothing they can do but enforce it.  To top it off, defenders of the horror are telling us the kids have it easy; they are in nice places with game rooms, which reminds us of how certain facilities were touted when they were being prepped for a visit from the Danish Red Cross.

Of course that’s all bullshit, and blasphemy if you care about the religious invocation, and if these refugees were coming from countries where the skin tones are a whiter shade of pale, we wouldn’t be having this conversation because they’d be welcomed with open arms.

So at what point do you just shake your head and say it’s all too much and let’s see what’s being rerun on TV Land?  At what point do you say there’s nothing you can do about it and no one on the other side you can convince because it’s like trying to explain gravity to a chicken?

It’s a trick question.  You don’t.  You do something.

First, though, there are some things you don’t do.  Don’t yell at the TV; it can’t hear you (unless you have one of those smart TV’s that can hear you and who knows who’s listening on the other end).  Don’t get in endless Facebook arguments with Trump supporters; you can never get in the last word, and they usually devolve to schoolyard-level name-calling, so there, nyah.

What you do is get in touch with the people that can actually do something about it.  There’s a mid-term election coming up in November and your local congressperson is up for re-election, and in about 24 states, so is at least one senator.  Contact them via e-mail, snail mail, or phone.  Be polite but firm, the same way you would be if you’re calling customer service at a retail establishment.  Make sure you tell them you’re a constituent (and be sure you are) by giving them your ZIP code.  State your position concisely and clearly and stay on topic.  Leave out ad hominem attacks; that’s the quickest way to get a dial tone.  Be nice to the person who answers the phone; they’re probably an intern or a low-wage staffer.  Do your homework and know where the representative stands on the bill(s) you support or oppose.  Find out if they’re going to have a town hall or be in the district at an event and go.  You don’t have to carry a sign; just show up and make your position known, again being polite but firm.

If you join a rally or a march — and there are some being organized — follow these simple rules outlined by Adam L. Silverman at Balloon Juice.  Or if you can’t go or feel more comfortable making a financial donation, Slate has compiled a list of organizations that are working to fight this horror.

Finally, keep calm and carry on.  Outrage channeled in constructive ways can end wars, abolish bad laws, and change Congress.