The problem of land mines is a global tragedy. In all probability, land mines kill more children than soldiers, and they keep killing after wars are over. — Bill Clinton
Lord knows, we on the rational left love to mock some racists. We’ve never lacked for targets on the right (and, in a few unfortunate cases, on our side of the aisle), and since the ascension of the Tyrant King Barack Hussein Soetoro YouBetcha Obummer, we’ve had to work overtime to ladle our our fair share of abuse and mockery onto the well-deserving heads of the Racist Right. Mayors thinking Photoshopped pics of the White House lawnbecoming a watermelon patch are funny? Check. Sending out emails depicting the Obama family as chimpanzees? Check. Promoting pics of Obama as a witch doctor with the label, “Funny Stuff”? Why not?
And their racism doesn’t end at the White House property line, or contain itself to African-Americans. They love to race-bait some Hispanic immigrants as well.
- Representative Steve King (R-Beulahland) thought it was just fine to call Hispanic immigrants drug runners with “calves the size of cantaloupes.”
- Ohio Tea Party leader Brian “Sonny” Thomas, already avoiding the cops for alleged child abuse, used racial slurs to describe Hispanics and Tweeted that he wanted to shoot them. He also displayed photos of himself wearing a White Pride shirt.
- Former Tea Party of America president Ken Crow said in a 2013 rally that he didn’t cotton to the idea of mixing white Americans’ thoroughbred DNA with the “donkey” DNA of Hispanics.
- In April 2014, right-wing toad Ann Coulter tried, and generally failed, to garner more headlines by saying that if Senator Ted Cruz (R-Psycho Ward) was nominated to run for president in 2016, Hispanics would take over the GOP and destroy it. (Run, Ted, run!)
- And in March 2013, Representative Don Young (R-Stormfront) called Hispanics “wetbacks” in a radio interview.
So yeah, spending your time mocking the socks off of hate-maddened bigots is time well spent.
On the evening of July 9, at a meeting in Vassar, Michigan, the local bigots brought their racism to a new low as they gathered to discuss the possibility that up to 120 Central American children might be temporarily housed at a youth facility in town. Why, we couldn’t have that, the fine upstanding jingoists in Vassar said. They might be terror babies or gang members or Who Knows What Deadly Threat. One fellow said:
I’m not here because I am some redneck rube from a small town in the Michigan Thumb. I’m not here because I’m a racist. I’m not here because I’m an old white guy. I’m here because I’m concerned about the federal government, and I’m concerned for my grandchildren and their future.
Yeah, buddy, you are exactly that redneck racist old white guy rube. Own it next time.
Naturally, some chowderhead — in this case, Republican state legislative candidate Tom Wassa (R-Chowderhead), had to ramp up the rhetoric by accusing Tyrant Obama of being “a domestic terrorist” and of “creating an atmosphere of fear and terror” by bringing in the kids. Another chowderhead said the kids had been deliberately infected with deadly diseases and sent over the border to pollute right-thinking Americans’ precious bodily fluids. (Presumably, Us Libs have already been vaccinated against whatever south-of-the-border diseases those little bioterrorists are carrying. I didn’t get the memo on that. Did you?) A third chowderhead was escorted out after screaming that the prospect of housing immigrant children in town meant that the US was under military attack, and refusing to shut his piehole to allow others to speak.
Bad enough, but just another day in the post-millennial Beulahland in which so many of our homegrown bigots live, right? Well, they had to take it further.
Ex-Marine Terry Mocny, who damn well ought to know better, said during the meeting,
I support a minefield along the border.
He also suggested sending them to a local jail which has been closed since 2009.
But let’s get back to the idea of creating minefields along the US’s southern border. The bigots at the meeting seemed to think that was a perfectly rational idea.
It was not.
Princess Diana devoted her public life to persuading governments to stop using land mines, but that’s just one factoid in the constellation of misery and death that land mines have created over the last half-century. Land mines aren’t designed to protect borders, or keep people in or out. They are designed to kill people. And they do it with?brutal efficiency. One variety, the “butterfly mine,” attracts the attention of young children who run to see what that oddly-shaped, brightly colored doo dad is lying on the ground. Thousands of children in Afghanistan have lost their lives or their limbs to these little toys. Others, such as the “Bouncing Betties,” are designed to mow down dozens of people at once. And those are just the smaller ones.
Every day, 70 people die from a land mine. That’s one every fifteen minutes. 15,000 to 20,000 children die each year from land mines. That number would increase if the American bigots have their way. As Care.org writes of areas salted with land mines:
Everyone is vulnerable. Women collecting water, children gathering firewood or playing, men working on the land or tending cattle. Anyone who goes about their normal day in a mined area is at risk. Most minefields are unmarked. So you may have no idea that you are in danger until it is too late.
Landmines cause gut-wrenching injuries: children may lose their sight or hearing; lose fingers, toes and limbs; suffer injuries to their genitals. They also suffer psychologically from the trauma of a landmine injury.
But the bigots think mining the US border is a fabulous idea.
Here’s why this is important. Some of you reading this have already dismissed it as the ravings of a single Michigan lunatic. That’s understandable. But these ideas tend to fester in the consciousness of the rabid right, and bear horrific fruit months or years later. The idea of torturing detainees at Guantanamo came, in part, from a couple of midlevel military officials who believed the Fox show 24 should be used as a template for the interrogation of prisoners. Yes, really. And that’s just one example. What sounds like random craziness in 2014 could, if the political pendulum swings further to the right, morph into American policy in 2017. It’s happened before. It can happen again. All it takes is one Congressional staffer saying to a powerful Tea Party crazy like King or Representative Louis Gohmert, “Hey, didn’t some guy suggest sowing land mines along the Mexican border?” and King or Gohmert responding, “Sure he did! I’ll tell President Cruz he ought to do that. Ted likes me, you know.”
In 2006, UNICEF official Ann Veneman said:
Wars are not truly over until children can play safely and walk to school without fear of landmines and other explosive remnants of war. We cannot afford to reverse the gains that have brought us closer to making the battle against landmines a success story.
However, it seems that the hate-maddened bigots of the American right are ready to declare a war instead of end one, and kill thousands of innocent children in the opening salvo.
Below is a video of the Vassar meeting, if you can stand to watch it.
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Michael has been writing about politics, history and Web development since 2001. His first book is in development.