I was on the tube yesterday afternoon, travelling home from an appointment in East London. The train pulled into West Ham station where a group of young men boarded. There were three hulking lads in their late teens, and a teacher who was about my age. One of them sat opposite me and picked up a newspaper from the seat next to him. The front page was splattered with images of Donald Trump and the children being separated from their parents at the American boarder. The young man looked up at his peers and said ‘Trump disgusts me. He literally makes me feel sick to my stomach. What they’re doing to these kids is evil.’ The others did not respond.
‘Don’t you think it’s evil?’ He asked one of the boys with more insistence. His colleague looked up from his phone, shrugged his shoulders and said;
‘Yeah, but it’s just Trump innit.’
‘I s’pose so.’ Said the first boy, who opened the paper and read more about the story. The third lad and the teacher looked hot and bothered and did not contribute to the conversation. They got off at the next stop. As I continued my journey home, I realised that the boys had articulated an inevitable, but horrifying reality. We have become accustomed to the evils of the Trump administration. The president recently said that he admires the way that Kim Jong Un is treated in North Korea.
‘He’s the head of a country, and he’s the strong head, don’t let anyone think anything different, he speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.’
The leader of the free world saying that he admires the way a vicious dictator is treated is not normal. America separating children from their parents is not only unconscionable cruelty, but it is an aberration. However, the teenager on the train is right, locking immigrant children in cages is the just one of many abhorrent, heartless things the Trump administration is responsible for. By ending DACA, cancelling the protected status for thousands who fled humanitarian disasters, initiating the Muslim ban and calling African nations and Haiti ‘shithole countries’, the President has nailed his racist colours to the mast.
Trump has now signed an executive order to end the ‘zero tolerance’ policy that advocates separating children from their parents as a deterrent for other immigrants entering the United States. He blamed the Democrats for the policy, which would be laughable if the circumstances were not so bleak. Of course the actions of America affect the whole world in a myriad of ways, but it is as important for those of us across the Atlantic to remember that this is not normal or acceptable. The influence of Cambridge Analytica on the Brexit and Trump victories shows that we are very much connected to what goes on in America, in a tangible way. It is vitally important that we continue to remind ourselves that this is not the way our world is supposed to work.
If you want to do more to help the families who have been torn apart at the American boarder, you can donate to The Refugee and Immigrant Centre for Education and Legal Services via their Facebook page.
Feature image via Twitter.