mishegoss alert

Usually Yiddishisms don’t find their way into this blog since only the German element of the language is known to me at all (except ‘balabusta’). But I am not sure that any other word suffices for our present situation………. in the Democratic Party, I mean. The Republicans and the Administration (is that what it is?) have passed mishegoss and even meshugge long ago and is now a total disaster for themselves and everyone else.

The Young Democrats, I’ll call them because I sense a dividing line on this first item, are up in arms over Joe Biden saying anything at all about segregationist senators back in the day, people he had to work with to get anything done. I have heard all the outcry and I have heard what Biden said. His reference to the segregationists not calling him boy but son made no sense to me and is a red flag for an off-the-cuff Biden. Nevertheless, his message was what it has always been: you gotta work with the deplorables because they hold power. What does Cory Booker et al. think Biden should have done 50 to 55 years ago when he was trying to get the Civil Rights Bill passed and the Voting Rights Bill passed, pick up a picket sign and join the marchers? He was a U.S. senator with power of his own and knew that the segregationists could be dealt with as senators, not as enemies.

My own feelings towards Republicans in general are loathing and contempt, no question. And the sad truth is, since they want to pass laws that will hurt people I love, they are my enemies, not my opponents. The era Biden was talking about is the time when my wife and I got married in the face of skepticism and hostility because she is Black and I am White. I was glad someone with Biden’s take on civil rights was in there struggling with the very powerful Southern senators. Personally, I don’t think the White South has changed. But if I am dealing with some Republicans I am not going to scream in their faces that they are betraying the Constitution and the country, I’m going to ask them what they need for me to get what I want. That is what Biden did.

IMHO, Clyburn spoke well on the matter while the Young Guns were posturing. As Joe Scarborough has said often, Biden’s response should be, “You weren’t there, I was.” And further, “Do you like the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act? You’re welcome.”

Now Donny Deutsch, on his Saturday evening show, laid this out very well. Yea, Donny! I thought. Then he turned to AOC’s labeling of the “detention centers” as concentration camps. General Weyler, a Spanish soldier, set up concentration camps in Cuba to separate the civilians, possibly loyal to the rebels, from the rebels. The same thing was done by the British in South Africa to separate Boer families from their fighting men. In both cases, real abuse happened and rebel forces used that in propaganda against the ruling regime. But governments continued using concentration camps, including the U.S., in various places and times (recall only our “internment” of Japanese-Americans at the start of WW II). They are called concentration camps and the only question is whether the “detention centers” at the border qualify as such.

There are numerous good discussions of the parsing being done over ‘detention center’ versus ‘concentration camp’, and laws and policies in the U.S. set a limit on how long a person can be “detained” without some sort of adjudication. The people detained at the border have passed that limit, especially the children. So, back to our initial issue, are these concentration camps? Some think the inmates have to be harmed in some way (starved, tortured, whatever) but the history of concentration camps shows that at least that was not the intent of the incarceration. Another definition is that they have to be some sort of minority group; immigrant or asylum seeker can be described as a minority only by such a stretch that it does not work. But here we see the root of the confusion: the association of the term “concentration camp” with the Holocaust. Interestingly, some Jews like Donny Deutsch take umbrage over the use of the term while others say that if the German concentration camps under the Nazis had been called out earlier, the road to the death camps would not have been so well paved.

To me, a dictionary would solve this latter problem. Lots of words cause problems, in part because people do not agree on their meaning(s). It is called semantics, at least in popular usage. There is no doubt that in popular usage the term concentration camp evokes image of brutes with swastikas on their armbands. But for some people, “model” conjures up visions of prostitution. That is not what that word means, as the phrase “we have a good model for the path of the hurricane” shows. A concentration camp is where people who have not been adjudicated criminals, i.e. convicted, nor are they prisoners of war, but people who can be concentrated in one area under guard and not allowed to leave. The rationale for concentrating them is public safety, while it is recognized that this is generally a ruse and the real aim is to isolate these people who have committed no serious crime like murder or militarily attacking the country. Trump is marching against what he calls ‘catch and release’ where undocumented people are released into the general population and countryside. They present no danger, unlike quarantined persons.

Please correct me if I have missed something. How are these border facilities not concentration camps. And we have not yet dealt directly with the fact that we are most concerned about LITTLE KIDS trying to survive in the facilities without basic necessities, including adult supervision.

The deep monster problem here is everyone wants a higher soapbox. If I am running for office, I want everyone to hear me. If I run an agency, I want to be a standout so I get a promotion. If I have poor self-esteem, I want people to pay attention to me so I feel important. For whatever reason, we are arguing about the words “boy” and “concentration camp” instead of how our country is going to survive a possible Trump second term.

So these brouhaha (What’s the plural of brouhaha? And yes, I recalled another apt Yiddishism) convulse us while kids suffer at the border and Trump marches on. Recall, his followers do not care about these brown-skinned children.

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