Gary Horton | This Is Not the America I Remember


This is not America / Shala la la la

A little piece of you / The little peace in me

Will die 

For this is not America

Blossom fails to bloom this season / Promise not to stare

Too long

For this is not a miracle

“This Is Not America” – David Bowie

This is not the America I remember. These are not the values I was taught. These are not the aspirations we were encouraged to live. We’ve entered a different phase. A time of meanness. Of hard hearts and deaf ears.

Recently read in the Washington Post: “The Trump administration is canceling English classes, recreational programs and legal aid for unaccompanied minors staying in federal migrant shelters nationwide, saying the immigration influx at the southern border has created critical budget pressures.

“The Office of Refugee Resettlement has begun discontinuing the funding stream for activities — including soccer — that have been deemed ‘not directly necessary for the protection of life and safety, including education services, legal services, and recreation,’ said Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Mark Weber.”

While lack of transparency makes exact numbers difficult, up to 15,000 children are being held at detention centers, separated from their families. 

We have separated families, caged kids in cramped quarters, and now, withheld reasonable care for what anyone would previously had considered proper for children and teens, but today is aligned with Trump’s American “get tough” and “punch harder” policies.

That there is a crush of asylum seekers, border-crossers, illegal aliens – is not contested. Neither contested, is that we’re treating alien kids as subhuman. Not worth caring for. Beyond our capacity for kindness. 

This is not America.

Amidst a 10% military budget increase and unprecedented tax breaks — America cannot care for those most vulnerable. We cannot provide English training, physical education and welfare, and not even legal representation. Not even legal representation. Think of this, and then consider, “American ideals.” Kids, trapped in a system, with no visible way out, no education, no physical activity, confined indefinitely, without legal aid.

We’re “punching harder.” 

“Getting tougher.” 

On kids. My, we’re a great nation under this leadership. Red hats, guns, chanting rallies. And kids in cages and no exercise, no legal representation…

We calm ourselves, “They are here illegally. Their suffering is because their parents are border-crossing criminals.” And so, we dehumanize those most vulnerable – who came here out of bleak desperation. Terror, hunger, and grotesque poverty exists in our hemisphere. We used to care about these things. Now we have walls. Now we have private prisons and makeshift cages housing kids without legal care.

This is not America. If you think it is, you’ve lost the vision of what we were supposed to be.

We may not be able to absorb or keep all these people. But we need not inflict further suffering on them. On little kids and teens. All vulnerable and desperate. Why should we care? “They’re rapists, criminals.” We’re afraid of them. So why should we care?

The “Shining City on a Hill” has lost much of its glimmer. The Hope of the World is today seen as the bully. Wars, incursions everywhere. Never-ending war. War and conflicts as long as most can remember. We’re made to fear… almost everything. Military budgets more than the next 10 countries combined – warrior budgets far outstripping our dire and immediate inside-our-own-borders social and infrastructure needs.

Cuts to schools. Cuts to human services. Attacks on health care. Attacks on citizens’ rights. Presidential attacks on national heroes. And now, attacks on alien kids inside our borders.

We are not “great again.” This is not “great.”

We’re living for ourselves, now. Only ourselves. Only ourselves. 

We gave tax giveaways, starving our own children’s future. We’ve committed to One Trillion Dollar Annual Deficits – for as far out as we can see. We are intentionally, knowingly, bankrupting our country and no one cares. Today we have “no money for caring for the aliens.” The powerful prosper at our financial trough and we have little attention or money for these littlest of people.

“Our blossoms have failed to bloom this season. The miracle is fading” – unless we refresh it. 

We can only refresh America by living our values and best aspirations. 

We, our Christian Nation, read in Mathew 25: “What you did for the least of these, my brothers, you did for me.” God help us from His righteous indignation for our duplicity and hypocrisy on how we treat our vulnerable ones.

It’s time for us to stop and look around. Are we the people we wanted to be? Are we living our best values? From our actions against vulnerable kids, to our selfish deficits, to our mean, tough-guy talk – the evidence and answer is, “no.”

This is not America. A little piece of you – and me – is dying.

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006.

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