By Anthony M. Graziano
How do you take the measure of a man or a country? You watch what they do and hear what they say. When I saw and heard candidate Donald Trump in November 2015, standing before a cheering crowd, openly mocking a man with physical disabilities, laughing at him, making fun of him with spastic gestures, facial contortions, stuttering and guttural grunts, I knew immediately what manner of man was seeking our presidency and I wondered how anyone could possibly support this bullying lout.
He continues to show us what he is and what the world's image of our country has so quickly become. And now the bully is aiming at children, the most vulnerable among us, launching his Trumpian-Republican plan to tear asylum-seeking children from their parents. Would you like to psychologically destroy a large number of children and do so efficiently? That's easy; just have your brown-uniformed men tear children from their mothers, traumatizing them all. Do it right and the damage should last each child's lifetime. This is brutality honed to precision and it bears the mark of pure evil.
Republicans in the White House thought up this monstrous plan while other Republicans shouted, "Right on!" But a Republican spokesmen tells us not to worry about those children because "we'll put them in foster homes – or whatever." Or whatever? Did you hear that? What manner of human being can come up with plans like that? What manner of person can support them or even remain silent?
One need not be a psychologist to know how damaging that will be. Will any parent, upon hearing about this plan, not feel a quivering of fear or at least a twinge of compassion? All you parents out there, where is your outrage, where are your protests? Are you really going to let this obscenity happen without any objection? Are you really going to remain silent while children are being traumatized?
Is this to be our country's new identity? Here's the well-known formula, embraced by dictators and other autocratic authoritarians throughout history: select an easily visible group; launch a public campaign to vilify and dehumanize them, call them names, paint them as criminals, drunks, drug addicts, murderers and animals; blame them for our country's problems like crime and unemployment and stir up fear and hatred of them. When you have sufficiently aroused your followers then you can start rounding up the targeted group, transport them to camps, tear the children from their parents and, finally, send them all away, somewhere far from our sight and hearing. And then all the good people will rest easily. Or will they?
Shall we continue ignoring history? Have we forgotten that defining question, "Who will they come for next?"
"Ridiculous!" you say. "Impossible! That can't happen here!"
Wake up, folks; it's already happening.
Anthony M. Graziano is professor emeritus, psychology, at the University at Buffalo, where he specialized in child clinical psychology and published extensively.