U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is known as ICE. It is time to break it up.
I am not going to go into an open borders argument. I am, however, going to go from the assumption that all the readers here believe that ripping children from their parents, when we had in place more civil approaches, is and was wrong. It is wrong on the level of being a huge human rights violation. If this is considered acceptable behavior in any way today, what then could be considered acceptable behavior tomorrow? What I am going to focus on is the institutionalized support structure that makes this fiasco possible.
Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing. ~ John Stuart Mill 1867
The quote above or the more familiar one, “The Only Thing Necessary for the Triumph of Evil is that Good Men Do Nothing,” which has been attributed to the likes of John F. Kennedy, Edmund Burke, R. Murray Hyslop, Charles F. Aked, as well as John Stuart Mill, in essence say the same thing. Evil will triumph if good men don’t do anything to stop it. What this quote lead me to think about was, what do we do if we are not standing by? Opposing evil is too broad an idea. We all would want to do that. But how?
Three years ago I discovered that my family’s linage on my mother’s side went back to our family that had been kicked out of Spain in 1492 for the crime of being Jews. This discovery internalized my feelings about the most easily identifiable evil event in recent history, the Holocaust. I asked myself, how does one attack evil like that? I never thought in my life I would ever see an inkling of something like that. It was a lesson of history well learned by everyone. Still, I thought about it a lot. I remember asking myself, why didn’t the rest of Germany simply refuse to do Hitler’s bidding? If the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing, then surely it would also be true that the only thing necessary for the failure of evil would be that no one participate in the demands of the evil ones. I thought about myself. I am no one special. My death would be insignificant outside of my loving family, but if I could refuse to turn the valves to the gas chambers, at least for a moment my life would have inconvenienced the evil doers before it was ended by the Nazis. They would have to choose someone else to turn the valves or they would need to turn the valves themselves. Then I thought that it wouldn’t be enough for me to just refuse to turn the valves, because I would simply be replaced. In order to not “do nothing” I would have to “do something” to insure that no one assigned to the task after me could just continue the evil. For the valve tender to the gas chamber he or she would have to break the valves so that they would remain closed. To do something would require not just an act of civil disobedience by refusing, but actively take part in sabotaging the mechanism of the evil apparatus.
At the moment of hearing that the Trump administration was wrenching children and babies out of the arms of mothers at the Mexican and U.S. border, I knew that this administration had crossed that line from being really bad to being downright evil. The heartache that I immediately felt for the mothers, the terror being experienced by the children, reminded me that the willingness to work with evil often times lives in the souls of ordinary people. The people of Germany, unfortunately, helped in the Holocaust. I guess it would simply be too much to ask that those employed by ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and the Border Patrol to simply refuse to take children away from their mothers. The employees of these agencies probably run the full spectrum from evil racists, to people who are economically desperate, from people not aware of what they are being involved in, to the blinded followers of Donald Trump. What we do know is that ICE, the Border Patrol and other agencies involve with immigration are the mechanism that this administration has used to accomplish this evil task. ICE+ in this metaphor are the valves to the gas chambers in the Holocaust. To actively stop this particular evil and keep it from continuing on into the future we need to break the valve. We need to abolish ICE+.