This is Monstrous

by John Holbo on October 11, 2018

New Yorker link.

According to a long-standing legal precedent known as the Flores settlement, which established guidelines for keeping children in immigration detention, Helen had a right to a bond hearing before a judge; that hearing would have likely hastened her release from government custody and her return to her family. At the time of her apprehension, in fact, Helen checked a box on a line that read, “I do request an immigration judge,” asserting her legal right to have her custody reviewed. But, in early August, an unknown official handed Helen a legal document, a “Request for a Flores Bond Hearing,” which described a set of legal proceedings and rights that would have been difficult for Helen to comprehend. (“In a Flores bond hearing, an immigration judge reviews your case to determine whether you pose a danger to the community,” the document began.) On Helen’s form, which was filled out with assistance from officials, there is a checked box next to a line that says, “I withdraw my previous request for a Flores bond hearing.” Beneath that line, the five-year-old signed her name in wobbly letters.

{ 67 comments }

1

Alan White 10.11.18 at 11:12 pm

Would someone in the legal know comment on how such documents involving not just a minor but a small child could even be considered legally binding? I understand presumed rights and such, but documents “signed” by a child? This is all truly monstrous.

2

KLG 10.12.18 at 12:02 am

There is not a Circle of Hell deep enough for the adult who helped Helen with this form.

3

Dr. Hilarius 10.12.18 at 1:52 am

Immigration courts aren’t real courts and immigration judges aren’t real judges. In any regular civil forum a court would be required to appoint a guardian ad litem for any minor.

Anyone with a law degree and a speck of decency would refuse to serve as a judge and preside over these despicable hearings.

4

Rich 10.12.18 at 2:15 am

The New Yorker writer who wrote this “which described a set of legal proceedings and rights that would have been difficult for Helen to comprehend” is an evil sonofabitch along with the goddam judge who “judged” this case, the case of a 5 year old.
Difficult? Really? Difficult for a 5year old to comprehend?

5

Jerry Vinokurov 10.12.18 at 2:19 am

6

JT 10.12.18 at 2:27 am

I hope these fucks all get cancer.

7

Sebastian H 10.12.18 at 4:16 am

Um. Five year olds don’t have the power to form contracts or sign away their rights.

8

John Holbo 10.12.18 at 9:43 am

“Five year olds don’t have the power to form contracts or sign away their rights.”

Part of me thinks this makes it not so bad, and part of me thinks it makes it even worse.

9

Left Outside 10.12.18 at 10:32 am

10

MPAVictoria 10.12.18 at 1:40 pm

“But, at a packed processing hub, Christian was taken from Noehmi and placed in a cage with toddlers. “

I am in tears at my desk reading this. How can people treat children this way?

11

c u n d gulag 10.12.18 at 2:14 pm

JT,
Imo – Not cancer.

I hope they get ALS.

PS: I’ve never before wished for something this horrible.
But FSM knows they deserve it.

12

JRLRC 10.12.18 at 4:26 pm

But Jerry Coyne “thinks” that “the students” (certain kinds of students…) are a greater evil than Trump and his fascist henchmen! Oh, I remember when he tried to minimize what ICE was doing to children…

13

James Wimberley 10.12.18 at 5:43 pm

One of the mistakes that Britain and the USA made in dealing with the flood of reports of Nazi mass murder in the Bloodlands (as early as 1941) was not to announce at the time the policy they actually followed later, of putting major perpetrators on trial for crimes against humanity. This would not have changed things much, but it would have laid down a marker of solidarity, and weakened the charge of “victors’ justice.” The Democrats should make it clear now that the people doing this will be not only fired but investigated, and if possible charged, for serious criminal offences.

14

LFC 10.12.18 at 5:59 pm

Rich @4

I don’t see why you’re attacking the New Yorker writer. The phrase to which you object reads as deliberate understatement. In the context, there’s nothing wrong with it, imo. The New Yorker’s house style, to the extent it has one, tends in this direction, I think, rather than in the opposite direction (though no doubt one could find exceptions). And I thought the part about having the five-year-old, while in detention, color a sketch of the Statue of Liberty was striking and left no doubt at all about where the reporter stood.

15

Glen Tomkins 10.12.18 at 6:27 pm

I am willing to let let whatever divine or cosmic justice you may care to believe in deal with the morality of these atrocities. I want to know what consequences the laws of man will impose on the guilty.

Of course this is a fraught question, which is presumably why we tend to naturally veer off into speaking on behalf of cosmic or divine justice. That’s risk free. Punishing the perpetrators here as criminals involves criminalizing politics, and if you don’t think our side has one hell of a whole lot more to fear from that than the other side, you haven’t been paying attention.

The perpetrators can only be punished safely and successfully (no point if we send the guilty to prison only to have them pardoned by the next R to win the WH) here on Earth if our side does this in conjunction with such a reform of our govt, that the other side has no chance of getting back in power for a generation. We don’t need to do anything even unfair, much less unjust, to throw the bums out that definitively. We just need to be very thorough in making sure everyone who is and should be a full voting citizen (residents of DC and Puerto Rico, the 11 million undocumented, felons, people without ID, etc.) not only can vote, but does vote, and the Rs are done until and unless they become completely different than what they are today.

16

Cranky Observer 10.12.18 at 7:34 pm

From the Kavanaugh thread:
“Well of course not. Trump is fulfilling (in their eyes) the will of the lord – Obama and Clinton thwarted it. They’re [US christianist evangelicals] hardly being inconsistent here.”

As a non-religious person it is good for me to have examples of what God’s work consists of.

17

TM 10.12.18 at 8:25 pm

Let’s not forget that Trump is doing “God’s work”, in the eyes of a majority of the Evangelical movement. They are fascists.

18

ph 10.12.18 at 10:46 pm

Monstrous –

https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/central-americas-violent-northern-triangle

Nothing much to do with American drug consumption, however, thank goodness!

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/qvnyzq/central-america-atrocities-caused-immigration-crisis

Except, well maybe…

https://www.insightcrime.org/honduras-organized-crime-news/honduras/

Old news?

https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Honduras-a-key-cocaine-transit-hub-2298289.php

“Honduras is the number one offload point for traffickers to take cocaine through Mexico to the U.S.,” said a U.S. law enforcement official who could not be quoted by name for security reasons. A U.S. State Department report released in March called Honduras “one of the primary landing points for South American cocaine.” Almost half of the cocaine that reaches the United States is now offloaded somewhere along the country’s coast and heavily forested interior – a total of 20 to 25 tons each month, according to U.S. and Honduran estimates.”

Relatively rich and blissfully ignorant US drug consumers happily help corrupt elites in Honduras destroy the lives of the poor and force children into drug gangs.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/proof/2018/february/honduras-gang-violence-migration-corruption-boys/

“Before arriving in Planeta, I assumed the district was going to be ruled with an iron fist by ruthless criminals. Instead I found locals living in a tenuous state of calm alongside gang enforcers who were their neighbors, sons, and cousins.

Most of the gang members I met were under the age of 16 and their lives had already had been marked by violence. They told stories of facing off against rivals to defend their turf. A recent gang incursion had left six teens dead, their bodies found in a stream, cut into pieces.”

Monstrous

19

Collin Street 10.12.18 at 11:32 pm

I am in tears at my desk reading this. How can people treat children this way?

Genuine neurological problems, like I keep saying. Usually I focus on the linguistic evidence because
+ it’s nice and politically neutral
+ the link between empathy impairment and pragmatic language impairment is well established in theory and empirically
+ it’s reasonably easy to train yourself to spot
+ it’s fucking all-pervasive, as ph just demonstrated

Bluntly, fascism is an autism-spectrum condition, or

[the question is, what do we do about it? The only treatments we have for the autism-spectrum conditions are basically counselling: this is what you’re bad at, these are some steps you can work around your limitations that should leave you only mildly impaired. But counselling relies on a recognition of impairment and a will to improvement… and these are often not there and we don’t know how to create them.

And in the case of other autism-spectrum manifestations we’re talking about people who like their comics or what-have-you a bit too much; there’s no problem if it’s left untreated. But here, we’re talking about people who’ll literally torture someone else to death on someone else’s say-so. And so leaving them free to walk around presents serious public health and safety issues, and I don’t have a solution I’m comfortable writing down.]

20

Cranky Observer 10.12.18 at 11:39 pm

I’m no a fan of the kids these days labeling every cross-cutting argument whataboutism, but in re ph/kidneystones it seems to me that if some US citizens have caused this problem – and I agree both the drug users and Prohibitionists/law&order fetishists are guilty of that – then it is the responsibility of rational adult US Citizens to help make that situation better rather than worse. Such as by taking in more refugees rather than fewer, and not putting refugee children in cages. Therefore ph’s #18 is rightfully classified as whataboutism.

Then again it was patriots of ph’a ilk who refused to accept Iraqi refugees after the US war of aggression in that region, so not surprising.

21

Matt 10.12.18 at 11:43 pm

PH, even by your standards, that’s pathetic and stupid. Please, just stop.

22

John Holbo 10.13.18 at 12:02 am

PH, please clarify: are you really making the excuses you seem to be hinting at? If so, say so. If not, what’s the point?

23

Chip Daniels 10.13.18 at 12:25 am

I happened to be listening to Judi Collin’s version of Amazing Grace, and in E.G Marshall’s introduction, this leapt out at me:

“John Newton wrote ” I hope it will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me that I was once an active instrument in a business at which my heart now shudders.”

I have to believe that one day the people engaged in this monstrosity will likewise feel the sort of shame reserved for slavers and wartime collaborators.

24

Collin Street 10.13.18 at 12:25 am

If not, what’s the point?

There is no point. “Contributions to a conversation are relevant to the purposes of that conversation” is an element of normal linguistic pragmatics, and impairment to same is one of the linguistic-pragmatic impairments that are diagnostic of autism-spectrum conditions.

The connection between “having pragmatic language impairment” and “being a fascist” is something I’ve worked out inductively, though. Once it’s established, though, and with the other distinctive personal behaviours that fascists generally display [and even posture!], the conclusion I’ve been pushing for years is pretty much unavoidable. It is fundamentally dishonest and dangerous to try to pretend that right-wing leaders and followers are neurologically normal.

25

ph 10.13.18 at 1:41 am

Hi John, I’m not excusing anything. I’m situating your valid observation within the actual context.

I support welcoming refugees fleeing war and destruction, especially the victims are fleeing because we in the west make choices here that affect the lives of the poor outside our borders. The problem of refugees from Honduras and other Central American nations is not new, just ‘timely.’

I’ve referred in the past to the blind eye we turn to the impact of drug use in western culture, where upmarket victims go to rehab and the rest go to jail, the street, or the grave; and the response has been denial, sneers, attacks, and indifference.

The families held in US jails are there because US drug consumers and their enablers appear to be quite content to make sure the few who manage to escape are treated with decency, and don’t seem at all interested in changing social behaviors which drove these poor souls from their homes and families in the first place, or the plight of the majority who lack the means to flee. I had a similar discussion with my own students this week.

That’s my point. These are the facts as I see them.

We both, I believe, live in nations where drug use is highly stigmatized, and criminalized. As a result, our children are much safer. Lucky us. Want to help the help the Honduran people back home? Wave a few photos of beheaded Mexican journalists in front of our coke-sniffing peers, and see if they can make the connection. Drug use is NOT a victimless crime. That, too, is my point.

The indifference to the real suffering and damage caused by the drug culture in the west and abroad is revolting. I have nothing further to add. Really.

26

JT 10.13.18 at 3:05 am

People like ‘ph’ makes me welcome the coming dawn of the Chinese century. I can’t believe my parents were right.

27

John Holbo 10.13.18 at 3:57 am

“The families held in US jails are there because US drug consumers and their enablers appear to be quite content to make sure the few who manage to escape are treated with decency, and don’t seem at all interested in changing social behaviors which drove these poor souls from their homes and families in the first place, or the plight of the majority who lack the means to flee.”

“I’m situating your valid observation within the actual context.”

I’m failing to see how these statements are consistent. If you want to insist that I stare at US drug users, in particular, I can’t possibly look at the actual context. And if I look at the actual context, I can’t reasonably do what you say and start at US drug users, in particular. They are, like 20th in line for being stared at, as groups go. (But, yeah.)

Pick your target. Druggy-staring or being reasonable?

28

J-D 10.13.18 at 6:58 am

Collin Street offers an explanation of why there’s no point trying to engage with ph. Maybe that explanation is correct and maybe it isn’t; I don’t know one way or the other. What I have figured out for myself, and this far I agree with Collin Street, is that there’s no point for me in trying to engage with ph, because nothing worthwhile comes out of it. Since I figured that out, I’ve mostly skipped over ph’s comments. But I still read other people’s comments quoting or responding to ph, people who have as much experience of ph as I have, and I genuinely wonder why. Experience suggests that asking ph for clarification makes about as much sense as trying to milk a gerbil. What value do people find in trying to engage with ph? Collin Street, do you have an explanation of that behaviour?

29

ph 10.13.18 at 8:09 am

Hi John, I’ve read your reply. The folks in Central America and Mexico don’t have quite the same difficulty making the connection between US drug consumers’ demands for more and more drugs, and the destruction of all normal forms of life in their communities.

This piece may help you:
https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2017/05/30/hooked-mexicos-violence-and-u-s-demand-for-drugs/

Refugees like Helen and her family are driven from their homes in the Honduras by drug gangs slaughtering each other to meet American consumers’ demand for cocaine, BUT the lucky few to escape the carnage and survive the grueling journey to the US just MIGHT get to become Americans! Like a prize! Helen and her family must be so very grateful!

It’s not like Central America has been anything but a place for Europeans and Americans to screw over since the time of oh, say….Columbus. The excuse during the 20th century was the ‘commies,’ and now it’s ‘nothing can be done’ to stop US citizens from snorting and smoking cocaine and heroin. If that means six teens get slaughtered, cut into pieces, and left in a ditch – per week, per village, hell, that’s just the price those brown folks are going to have to pay so me and my louche pals can get “high.”

Course, they’ve got a choice. They can always FLEE for their f-ing lives!!! And, if they’re fortunate enough to make it, they can pray to god their kids don’t run into members of the same Honduran gangs who have established themselves in US cities and schools, where they’ll face similar pressures to join. That’s their reality.

Hey everyone, look! Wanna see my new ink?

30

John Holbo 10.13.18 at 10:22 am

ph, are you actually saying that the folks in Central America and Mexico would agree with you that US druggies are to blame, therefore inhumane US policies can’t be to blame? (Because nothing – however complicated – can have more than one cause?) I don’t know but I can’t help but suspect some of them are reasonable.

31

Nigel 10.13.18 at 11:13 am

‘I support welcoming refugees fleeing war and destruction, especially the victims are fleeing because we in the west make choices here that affect the lives of the poor outside our borders.’

No you don’t. You support Trump. The treatment of migrants, including refugees, as exemplified here is entirely in keeping with his campaign and the desires of his supporters.

32

Orange Watch 10.13.18 at 11:59 am

ph:

Hi John, I’m not excusing anything. I’m situating your valid observation within the actual context. […]That’s my point. These are the facts as I see them.

No, you’re not. The issues you raise actually are not relevant to how the US chooses to treat immigrant families that arrive at its borders. This is a distraction from that. Your argument in this thread has been that dealing with demand for drugs in the US (and the sociopolitical instability it causes in drug-exporting nations) MUST be considered – not just alongside discussion of how refugees are treated, but BEFORE discussing how refugees are treated. They are not, in fact, related issues. The US will need to have policies regarding its abidance of laws and treaties to which it is bound regardless of this. That’s the responsibility of the government of the US regardless of the cause of refugees arriving, and regardless of whether the government is making the conditions driving the refugees from their homes better or worse.

What you are doing is seeking to shift blame from the Trump administration for its family separation policies onto the US public at large. Even by your own feeble whataboutry, that is not a valid shift – the drug policies you attack are upheld and lauded by the administration you seek to shield from criticism, and there will be none of the social change within the US that you demand from the immoral, drug-loving public until and unless US policies WRT “the War on Drugs” radically change. Sessions’ upcoming ouster will not change that; Trump and co will still treat TWoD as good for business and thus good for America.

Try harder. Competent whataboutery should not focus even more blame back onto the party you’re trying to shield from responsibility for their choices and actions, but that’s what you’ve done here.

33

Cranky Observer 10.13.18 at 1:54 pm

“ph: We both, I believe, live in nations where drug use is highly stigmatized, and criminalized. As a result, our children are much safer. “

At a bare minimum this assertion is based on facts not in evidence; the are strong differing analyses and therefore it cannot be accepted without substantial support.

It also ignores the role of the prohibitionists and law-and-order fetishists in creating the problem, as well as in the US the role of systematic racism. But those are ph’s fellow travelers, so…

34

dax 10.13.18 at 1:56 pm

Hi John,

Inhumane US policies should be be blamed, but US druggies are sooner in the causal chain, so they have more blame. Without US druggies providing the money which corrupts Central American countries and supports the violence, there would be no need for US policies.

“I hope these fucks all get cancer.” Do you also hope any American who has used drugs which come from or via Central America also all get cancer? Or, since they are more to blame, do you want them to get drawn and quartered?

35

Chip Daniels 10.13.18 at 2:53 pm

Efforts to find the “root” cause of a specific action like the treatment of Helen, usually devolve into ax-grinding of esoteric philosophy.

As in, Helen’s treatment was the product of a US Immigration policy, which itself is addressing the results of a drug policy, which itself is the result of (a) liberal decadent drug use, or (b) conservative Puritan priggishness take your pick.

Which all conveniently lends itself to trolling and red herring distractions, as Helen recedes into a vaporous mist of abstraction.

Drug use, and our policies towards it, all preceded Helen by decades, and yet previous administrations weren’t compelled to behave in so callous a manner.

Because this specific incident wasn’t inevitable.

A specific few individual made deliberate choices, which could have been different.

This administration, unlike previous ones, has made deliberate unnecessary cruelty a policy and elevated and empowered individuals who make conscious choices to inflict suffering.

36

anon/portly 10.13.18 at 5:29 pm

31 No you don’t. You support Trump. The treatment of migrants, including refugees, as exemplified here is entirely in keeping with his campaign and the desires of his supporters.

Actually to the extent that Trump and his supporters want to see fewer migrants, it’s hard to tell whether this is true or not. Ultimately little Helen has made it in, hasn’t she? I would think a story where little Helen doesn’t make it here would better exemplify those desires. I don’t think Trump was saying he was going to build a bureaucratic maze that migrants would get lost in, and make Mexico pay for it.

For me the story is more “heart-warming” than “monstrous.” From reading it, I can’t tell how much of what happens – we discover very little about the bureaucratic procedures and people involved – is due to specific Trump administration policies, and how much is due to routine bureaucratic incompetence or malevolence. I can’t imagine that pre-Trump migrants from Latin America were free from bureaucratic nightmares, and also I don’t understand what the point of this particular bureaucratic nightmare was. What is the point of putting Helen into the shelter, instead of just giving her back to Grandma?

“Monstrous” would better fit a story about a little Helen who died somewhere between Honduras and Texas.

Oddly enough, the New Yorker has something that is truly monstrous. Scrolling past the bottom of the article, I ran into the following link:

I LISTENED TO ALL SIX TRUMP RALLIES IN OCTOBER. YOU SHOULD TOO

I think a better business strategy would be for the New Yorker not to push its readers to kill themselves.

Also monstrous is comment 19, but what would a CT comment thread be without one of those? I don’t have a solution I’m comfortable writing down.

37

Collin Street 10.13.18 at 9:26 pm

Collin Street, do you have an explanation of that behaviour?

Most people aren’t really aware quite how common and normal significant socialisation or cognitive impairment actually is.

People presume that the people they’re dealing with online are just like the people they deal with face to face… but there are for most people significant filter effects on their day-to-day lives that don’t apply on the internet. Your co-workers are at least employable, your friends able to present reasonably. Your family not so much… but you probably don’t have a huge amount to do with your more-disturbed relatives in their day-to-day lives. And the ones you do run into, you’ll probably think of them individually rather than as representatives of a category scattered uniformly through the population. And unless you categorise and count you’ll not see the rate, but without a trigger to start counting you’ll never see the pattern.

Unless you work retail or public-welfare you’re going to be underestimating impairment rates by call it a factor of three or more. And unless you categorise and count you’re going to be

[I had an experience when I was a uni student which let me realise that a member of a volunteer group was in fact severely impaired despite “normal” presentation. Most people aren’t so “lucky”]

38

Kiwanda 10.13.18 at 9:39 pm

“What value do people find in trying to engage with ph?”

If ph says something desperately wrong, but that even so a lot of people out there agree with, or that might persuade a lot of people, it’s worth developing arguments of opposition to it. If ph makes a good point you disagree with, that’s worth responding to. (The latter is at least possible; even for example faustusnotes could, in principle, eventually say something not stupid and hateful; the source doesn’t invalidate the statement.)

As for the political weaponization of psychiatric diagnoses, as Colin Street so often demands, it doesn’t have a great track record. A minor recent example: however egregious they were, the mistakes of Sarah Braasch do not demand a mental health evaluation.

39

bekabot 10.13.18 at 9:43 pm

There is not a Circle of Hell deep enough for the adult who helped Helen with this form.

“There is not a Circle of Hell deep enough for the adult who failed to help Helen with this form.”

There; fixed.

40

LFC 10.14.18 at 1:51 am

If ‘dax’ @34 is ‘ph’ — and ‘dax’ sounds rather like ‘ph’ — that’s not good, b/c on a given blog you have to choose one moniker and stick w it. Using different monikers on different blogs is ok, I think, but not on the same blog (and certainly not in the same thread).

(If ‘dax’ in fact is not ‘ph’, then my apologies and ignore this comment.)

41

J-D 10.14.18 at 1:57 am

Collin Street

People presume that the people they’re dealing with online are just like the people they deal with face to face… but there are for most people significant filter effects on their day-to-day lives that don’t apply on the internet. Your co-workers are at least employable, your friends able to present reasonably.

The first time I responded to kidneystones I was acting on the presumption that productive exchange was possible; and the second, and the third. But accumulated evidence rebuts presumptions. People who have the same experience of ph that I do are still trying to engage with ph, as if they still thought that might be productive. Why the evidence has not rebutted their presumptions is what I’m wondering about.

Kiwanda

If ph says something desperately wrong, but that even so a lot of people out there agree with, or that might persuade a lot of people, it’s worth developing arguments of opposition to it. If ph makes a good point you disagree with, that’s worth responding to.

People aren’t just discussing points raised by ph’s comments, they’re addressing themselves directly to ph. They’re asking ph to provide clarification as if they thought, in defiance of the evidence, that was a thing that might actually happen.

42

Peter T 10.14.18 at 2:27 am

All that JH’s responses to ph tell me is that JH is an excellent teacher – endlessly patient, willing to explain in detail again and again, tolerant of folly, committed to argument rather than authority. In this case, though, he’s trying to teach a pig to sing, wasting his time and annoying the pig.

43

John Holbo 10.14.18 at 2:34 am

dax and ph have different emails and IP addresses. For what it’s worth.,

44

William Berry 10.14.18 at 4:35 am

Also, too, “dax” commented on CT long before “kidneystones/ ph showed up.

It isn’t that much of a stretch that two different idiots would show up in the same thread.*

*Well, there is “anon/ portly” too, so three idiots, really.

45

Faustusnotes 10.14.18 at 5:22 am

Another thread ruined by pH. When will we be rid of his shit?

As an aside, the illicit drug industry didn’t ruin these countries, they became illicit drug producers because they were corrupt and chaotic. That happened in the 1970s and 1980s, when the us did its dirty political work there. You won’t fix the problems there by legalising drug use or effectively stopping drug use. Don’t put the cart before the horse.

46

J-D 10.14.18 at 9:09 am

anon/portly

What was done to this child doesn’t stop being monstrous just because the story could have been even worse (as it surely could have been). I would bet that worse things have been happening and still are happening in the US immigration system (not that I mean to imply they’re unique to the US).

Immigration is just one of many areas of law and policy which involves technical complexities that I know I don’t understand. My political evaluations, therefore, are based on a simplicity which I think anybody can understand; there’s a basic political choice available between making laws and policies, and their enforcement, stricter, and making them them more lenient. I don’t see how anybody can doubt that the Trump administration has moved in the direction of greater strictness. The President himself doesn’t dispute this; on the contrary, he boasts of it. I don’t know how serious he and his supporters ever were about the construction of a literal wall, but ‘Build A Wall!’ was an obvious metonym for much greater strictness. It’s true, too, that even without this change at the top there might have been stories like Helen’s: more likely than not, there were, and it’s conceivable that without this Administration’s changes this particular story would still have played out in exactly the same way. But it should be obvious that a general move toward much greater strictness is going to increase the frequency of happenings like this case, and the frequency of even worse ones, even if it’s not possible in an individual case to draw a direct connection between the specific events and a particular explicit instruction from the top. Nobody in the US immigration system can have missed the message that the people in charge want them to get much tougher, and it’s not sense to suppose that message doesn’t have an effect.

47

Lee A. Arnold 10.14.18 at 11:07 am

Maybe it’s paid trolldom. Such as from the Koch network. Ideas are the ultimate social power and we saw attempts at “discourse derailment” begin at the time of Climategate when denialists arose by the dozens on various science blogs — and then immigrated (unwelcomed) to here. By now, it’s a subdivision in the basement of a public relations firm on K Street: You purchase their trolls for infowarfare. Nowadays of course, you can just have them autobotted on Twitter, and save yourself some money for the trophy mistress on the second yacht… Yet, sadly, there are these occasional blogs still running that deal with ideas in depth, and that still attract eyeballs. What is it, with you people!! …So, ya still gotta hire somebuddy gaseous enough to crank it out lengthily and in realtime… But the credibility has a limited lifespan: Now, as in the Climategate of yore, nobody but nobody honestly concocts contrarian examples endlessly no matter what the topic, yet without also discussing the pro and cons, without connecting all the dots, without revealing a hint of personal acquaintance with self-criticism, and without trying to learn what other people know. Nobody honestly performs this way: putting roadblocks in your own brain. Even the talking head models on Fox Trumpaganda News visibly balk at their own blarney now and then.

48

Cranky Observer 10.14.18 at 1:47 pm

Another example of the thoughtfulness with which ph and anon’s preferred political party is handling the immigration situation:

https://fox13now.com/2018/10/11/ice-put-a-4-year-old-on-a-plane-to-guatemala-her-dad-found-out-30-minutes-before-she-landed/amp/

(Usually I add some pull quotes but this article is too chopped up to extract on the phone. I used this link though to show that even Fox News affiliates are having a hard time not reporting on the atrociousness of the Trump Government’s behavior)

49

Nigel 10.14.18 at 1:48 pm

‘it’s hard to tell whether this is true or not.’

If it wasn’t true before, it is now, because it will be pwning the libs.

50

Orange Watch 10.14.18 at 2:45 pm

J-D@41:

People who have the same experience of ph that I do are still trying to engage with ph, as if they still thought that might be productive. Why the evidence has not rebutted their presumptions is what I’m wondering about.

ph occasionally engages in good faith, and frequently does not. They are every now and again worth engaging with, and as others have noted, engaging with their ideas is sometimes worth doing even if they themself are not worth engaging with (as is the case in this thread).

As to “[w]hy the evidence has not rebutted their presumptions”, this is an area where YMMV is very much the case – to underscore just how much mileage may vary on the value of engaging with particular commenters, I tend to lump you into “generally not worth engaging with, but occasionally worthwhile”, albeit for reasons very different from why I think that about ph. Which is to say that looking primarily to your own experience to discern why others might not reach the same conclusion as you about something is always a fraught method of reasoning.

51

Lee A. Arnold 10.14.18 at 5:53 pm

Meanwhile to return to our story, in this week’s episode of “Make America Grate Your Teeth Again” our plucky protagonist Donald is screwing up all over the place and it might work best with the canned laughtrack:

1. Monstrosities are inflicted upon children on the ridiculous theory that the increased strictness will make their parents stop fleeing destitution and horror, stop making their way to the US in hope of a better life…
2. Slaughtering of innocents continues in the US-backed war against Yemen. Fifty-thousand children died of starvation and disease in 2017 alone…
3. Analysts are twittering that the US intel in advance of the Saudi plan to abduct Khashoggi was probably sent right into the White House in a standard “flash warning”, so the White House must have quashed any possible warning to Khashoggi himself — which, by the way, sends yet another message to freedom-loving dissidents and intelligence assets worldwide that Trump’s United States may rat you out and burn you…
4. On the back burner you can feel a murky subplot brewing about how current US policy on the Saudis was decided by the everlovin’ Trumpster against the advice of lots of people in the foreign policy and intelligence communities who see Prince MbS as rash, cruel and shortsighted — so now let’s watch the GOP Congress’ statements as (once again) they mince around Trump…
5. In another series subplot: Germany, France, Britain have broached the idea of new banking arrangements to circumvent Trump’s breakage of the Iran deal and thus to permanently circumvent the US dollar — to the delight of Russia and China. Wait until the average Trump voter figures this out: will it be after the next commercial?…
6. As if all that were not enough dramatic overload, it’s obvious to more people that Trump is irreversibly starting a useless and counterproductive Cold War with China (see front page headline of yesterday’s WallStJournal; and Fox News is already tut-tutting in return, “Well, but SOMETHING has got to be done about China!”) and it seems easy to predict that this will increasingly force the whole globe to choose up sides, and will force the US to defend this insanity at various hotwar flashpoints erupting in the future including in the western Pacific, and of course over the nuclear weapons which N. Korea is not getting rid of…
7. As we all know from previous episodes, the Trump tax cuts for the rich (including himself and Jared “the secret genius” Kushner, if they ever pay ANY taxes) increased the federal debt, and the money went into gambling-up the stock market and other high-end assets, but did not increase real GDP growth or jobs growth above the Obama trendline — and yet NOW, worse still: the Fed’s frail spectre of inflation is hiking interest rates to save the financiers from themselves (again) and to send the middleclass taxpayers an even bigger bill to repay the interest on the federal debt…
8. At the same time, Trump and the Republicans have done little-to-nothing to help schools, student loan debt, healthcare… which would have given US individuals more ability and opportunities to educate and innovate, thus to keep them ahead of the businesses in China, or even ahead of US debt…

Our Boy Trump is egotistically stumbling directly into the prerequisites of future disasters all over the place: humanitarian disasters, economic disasters, national security disasters, military disasters.

Climate disasters.

It’s hard to hope that harried voters have the time to understand the looming enormities. Nor do they want to believe that it might be this bad. There’s not much help anywhere: the tribal emotions have been like earplugs; the media is almost entirely out-to-lunch; the hard left will sniffily condescend that it’s all the heightened contradictions of neoliberalism; while the hard right has fooled itself into thinking that US military strength will prevail. But left, right, and the rest should unite: So, vote for the terribly flawed Democratic Party in this election, just to put some checks and balances on TV’s favorite chuckleheaded monster!

52

Collin Street 10.14.18 at 9:59 pm

ph occasionally engages in good faith, and frequently does not.

The thing is, all that “I don’t see any evidence that this statement was made in bad faith” doesn’t actually mean that the statement was made in good faith. For someone who appears to habitually act in good faith, that’s OK, but for someone who frequently acts in bad faith… you have to be open to the conclusion, “but maybe that’s because they’ve successfully deceived me about their intentions this time”.

“Fibber’s forecasts are worthless”. Liars can’t be trusted, because a supposedly-trustworthy statement could just be a good lie.

[as mentioned, I’m pretty damned sure that his behaviour is the result of medically-recognisable pathology and not of a deliberate plan of deception… but this doesn’t significantly affect the results.]

53

Alan White 10.14.18 at 11:33 pm

Lee A. Arnold @51

Bravo–you saved me tons of typing just to say that in praise. But your statement “the tribal emotions have been like earplugs” really cuts to the core of all this. Election day since 2008 (at least) has been mostly a litmus test of emotional attachment to the act of voting. I wish I could say that I feel confident that Dem outrage will trump Trump outrage. If the House goes Dem frankly I’ll be shocked. But thanks for a great comment.

54

anon/portly 10.15.18 at 5:03 am

46 What was done to this child doesn’t stop being monstrous just because the story could have been even worse (as it surely could have been). I would bet that worse things have been happening and still are happening in the US immigration system (not that I mean to imply they’re unique to the US).

I couldn’t agree more with that second sentence. But I guess I was under the impression that “monstrous” here implied that what is described in the article is particularly or spectacularly evil or harrowing, as things go for migrants to the US. Obviously this what many of the other commenters think. I’m unconvinced.

“People forget that family separation has been happening in our community for decades—it’s not a new thing,” Chavez told me, referencing the routine nature of deportations for mothers, fathers, and grandparents with deep Texas roots, and the children often left behind.

55

J-D 10.15.18 at 10:29 am

anon/portly

… I guess I was under the impression that “monstrous” here implied that what is described in the article is particularly or spectacularly evil or harrowing, as things go for migrants to the US. Obviously this what many of the other commenters think. …

I don’t know what you’re basing that on. I can’t find where any commenter here suggests that this particular story is exceptional. On the contrary, Chip Daniels appears to be suggesting that it is a typical product of current immigration policy, and Cranky Observer chooses to supplement the story with a second illustrative example, as if to make the same point.

I don’t know the frequency of cases like this one, but the harrowing nature of the case is independent of the frequency. It wouldn’t make this case any less grievous to establish that there were happenings as bad and worse in the context of, for example, Operation Wetback.

56

politicalfootball 10.15.18 at 1:24 pm

ph occasionally engages in good faith, and frequently does not.

I don’t think this is exactly right. Ph always does the thing that he does — sometimes that thing is minimally applicable to the topic at hand; usually it is not.

One of ph’s gimmicks, as we see here, is the assertion that the topic under discussion isn’t the right topic. When the topic is acceptable to ph, the commenters are, for one reason or another, not qualified to speak on this topic.

You might be interested in the correctness of a point of view. Ph is interested in who controls the agenda.

Once you have control of the agenda, you can always be right about everything without ever meaningfully defending a point of view.

Suppose ICE were randomly shooting immigrants fleeing drug-related terror. Ph shows us that that the ICE doesn’t have any important role in this — but he shows this without ever actually saying it, because to say it straight out would be too transparently ridiculous.

It’s a powerful approach. You don’t need facts or logic if you control the agenda. Answering a troll’s arguments as if they were made in good faith isn’t useful. With ph, if you’re going to get anything out of the exchange, you have to go meta — you have to try to understand what he’s doing and why it works.

Trollology was once a rather esoteric hobby, but I think nowadays, at least in the US, it is an essential discipline if you want to understand politics.

57

Orange Watch 10.15.18 at 4:36 pm

CS@52:
The thing is, all that “I don’t see any evidence that this statement was made in bad faith” doesn’t actually mean that the statement was made in good faith.

It’s more about individual topics than individual statements, and the rhetorical devices they choose to deploy. Sometimes they’re willing to do some give-and-take, but more frequently it’s all-take-no-give. Sometimes it feels like they think they can have a productive conversation on the margins, and a lot of the time it feels like they’re just trying to disrupt conversation by (depending on their mood that day) virtue-signaling, concern-trolling, or owning teh libtards. Admittedly, it’s been a while since they’ve seemed willing to do anything but disrupt, which suggests they may have definitively decided this is just a place to blow off steam and engage in intellectual onanism – or at best, to take the temperature of a particular demographic of The Enemy for convenience’s sake.

I remain entirely unimpressed by long-distance impersonal mass-diagnosis of psychological disorders. As far as fraught thinking goes, that particular rabbithole is bottomless.

58

anon/portly 10.15.18 at 5:06 pm

48 Another example of the thoughtfulness with which ph and anon’s preferred political party is handling the immigration situation

ph/k loathes Clinton and Obama, claims to like Sanders, and is constantly making insipid arguments in support of Trump. I dislike Sanders, hate Trump, and strongly preferred (thus voted for) Clinton and Obama to the alternatives in 2004, 2008 and 2012. But other than that, we’re two peas in a pod, politically.

That ph/k and I happen to have inverse preferences is not important, obviously, but I’d like to make the point that while I don’t think the New Yorker article effectively demonstrates that any spectacular or at least unusual “evil” is going on with respect to decisions or practices made by lower-level immigration bureaucrats, it should go without saying that there’s every reason to believe that at higher levels – in DC, maybe – there’s every reason to believe that spectacular or unusual “evil” is going on.

Of course Trump’s laziness and ignorance doesn’t always translate into policies that are “evil,” often we get something closer to “weird” (like, for example, chastising the Fed for being too hawkish while nominating an inflation hawk for the Fed). But obviously “policies founded in ignorance” + “lazy, disinterested chief executive” + “hacks appointed by lazy, disinterested chief executive” + “large, complex bureaucracy” is certainly an equation that can add up to a lot of unnecessary or gratuitous suffering.

At the same I don’t understand why ph/k’s comments, in this instance, are so obviously objectionable. If tweaking Drug Policy will ultimately reduce suffering in a more effective fashion than tweaking Immigration Policy, that’s an important point. You can certainly argue that our Drug Policy, overall, is a much bigger disaster than our Immigration Policy, and maybe in the end the one that will be easier to steer in a better direction. Or maybe not….

59

alfredlordbleep 10.15.18 at 10:58 pm

We must be grateful JH rides his threads out of town—almost abducted by them posses in these parts. Also at this time I too applaud L A Arnold (@52) for welcome raillery. (There is a point I would pick with him but another time for high seriousness).

As it is, weighing on us is T’s contention that so-in-so strongly, very strongly denies— (again). On the other hand the FBI proved the innocence of Brett K (not to be compared to Josef K).

And lately T’s challenge to E Warren may remind you of Bill Maher’s challenge (a while ago) to T to prove his parentage (isn’t orangutan). A $million bet in both cases (if memory serves). Now that she has come forward with DNA results it appears he has changed conditions on the bet. Kind of a cousin to an Indian-giver, no?

60

J-D 10.16.18 at 12:41 am

anon/portly

… I don’t think the New Yorker article effectively demonstrates that any spectacular or at least unusual “evil” is going on with respect to decisions or practices made by lower-level immigration bureaucrats, it should go without saying that there’s every reason to believe that at higher levels – in DC, maybe – there’s every reason to believe that spectacular or unusual “evil” is going on.

As I mentioned before, I can’t find anything in the New Yorker article, or in comments here, suggesting that people think this story is unusual. John Holbo wrote ‘This is monstrous’, not ‘This is unusual’. The article doesn’t demonstrate that it’s unusual because it’s not trying to demonstrate that it’s unusual.

To me, the article is a worthwhile contribution to clarifying what ‘getting tough on immigration’ means in less abstract terms. ‘Getting tough on immigration’ is something being driven from a very high level, so the people at high levels can’t be automatically absolved of all culpability for what happens at lower levels, but the people at lower levels also can’t be automatically absolved of all culpability. In any case, I am less concerned with the allocation of culpability than with the confirmation that the policy is, in execution, monstrous, and should be changed.

If tweaking Drug Policy will ultimately reduce suffering in a more effective fashion than tweaking Immigration Policy, that’s an important point.

Why? It’s not as if those two strategies are in competition for some scarce resource. ‘Getting tough on immigration’ and ‘getting tough on drugs’ are both bad choices and both should be reversed.

61

mds 10.16.18 at 1:19 pm

Chip Daniels @ 23:

I have to believe that one day the people engaged in this monstrosity will likewise feel the sort of shame reserved for slavers and wartime collaborators.

Nah, they’ll be too busy singing “Amazing Grace” while patting themselves on the back for their righteousness.

62

TM 10.16.18 at 4:43 pm

“It’s a powerful approach. You don’t need facts or logic if you control the agenda. Answering a troll’s arguments as if they were made in good faith isn’t useful.”

Yeah! Never mind that this has been known for a long time and still commenters on CT choose to ignore it.

“Trollology was once a rather esoteric hobby, but I think nowadays, at least in the US, it is an essential discipline if you want to understand politics.”

Amen to that. Not just in the US.

63

Jerry Vinokurov 10.16.18 at 5:29 pm

At the same I don’t understand why ph/k’s comments, in this instance, are so obviously objectionable.

As politicalfootball notes above, the reason why they’re objectionable is because they add nothing of substance and serve only to derail the conversation. ph is uninterested in anything other than singing the praises of Trump and the perfidy of Democrats and will direct any discussion that isn’t following this script in that direction by e.g. posting links to irrelevant articles about this or that misdeed by a Democratic politician. It’s a tedious trolling tactic and responding to it serves no purpose.

If tweaking Drug Policy will ultimately reduce suffering in a more effective fashion than tweaking Immigration Policy, that’s an important point.

It should be obvious that both our drug policy and our immigration policy are monstrous. But since there exist precisely zero prominent conservatives who favor revising either (except in the direction of greater cruelty), bringing this up cannot possibly serve any purpose except, again, derailing the conversation.

64

Collin Street 10.16.18 at 8:52 pm

I remain entirely unimpressed by long-distance impersonal mass-diagnosis of psychological disorders. As far as fraught thinking goes, that particular rabbithole is bottomless.

I thought so to. But I had to follow the evidence: have you, or are you just running on your priors, here?

65

arcseconds 10.17.18 at 2:15 am

anon/portly @ 58:

At the same I don’t understand why ph/k’s comments, in this instance, are so obviously objectionable

ph’s initial comment is almost, but not quite, a non sequitur, talking about a different topic, without any real acknowledgement of the content of the OP — which (by way of a reminder) is talking about a five-year-old being locked in a cage, and farcically made to sign legal documents which are then treated seriously, and deliberately and callously separated from her family for months, an experience which has (predictably) traumatized her.

When this isn’t acknowledged at all by ph initially (and only rather obliquely and perfunctorily in a later post), and when they seem so determined to talk about something else, this does raise an interpretative question as to what the point actually is.

The strongest connection with the OP is the constant repetition of the word ‘monstrous’, indicating that this is indeed intended to be a reply to the OP, and not just a complete change of topic, but this word is not applied to the situation described in the OP, but rather to other things. Again, what does this mean? It seems pretty sarcastic to begin with, and can be plausibly interpreted as indicating that the original situation isn’t monstrous (so non-monstrous it isn’t even worth mentioning, apparently), but these other ones are.

This has been variously explained as making excuses (for the current immigration policy and its implementation, presumably), a whataboutist misdirect, a (subtextual) assertion that talking about maltreating 5 year olds is the wrong topic to be discussing at all, and as a symptom of cognitive impairment. There are other more general statements being made about ph’s conversational strategies, it may be that one or more of them apply, too.

One must also take into account history; in this case ph’s history doesn’t aid in any kind of presumption of good-faith.

If ph’s point had been “yes, this situation is monstrous, and we should of course desist from treating 5-year-olds like this immediately, but we also need to address the root causes, which as I seem are…” then this could have been made clearly in the first place, and if not then, then when they were asked to clarify.

Of course, even then, I can’t help but feeling that drug-related violence doesn’t actually cause immigration officials to treat five-year-olds like hardened criminals. The best that line of reasoning can do is address why there was a five-year-old refugee in the first place, not why she was maltreated in this reprehensible way. At the very least, there seems to be a weird lack of concern about Helen’s plight and the deliberate actions taken by US officials that led to that, and a willfulness to change the topic…

66

nastywoman 10.17.18 at 4:11 am

It is still ”monstrous” and always will be monstrous and never ever will be excusable in any way even if the monsters are ”pivoting” to the utmost degree – to ”drugdealing” or ”the democrats” or ”Hillary” or even ”ph” and there never ever will be an excuse for them to have voted for ”the monsters” and they can try and try and change the subject an come up with all kind of ”not proven until guilty” THEIR guilt was/is so obvious – right from the start when they supported a moronic birther and terrible – terrible monster that even somebody like a master in chaining the subject – Mr. Greenwald who wrote the other day that we should not make fun of ”the crazies” can’t excuse them anymore –

They – ”the monsters” and ”morons” and ”racists” and ”racists” – and ”terrible, terrible people” are outed – and their monstrosities are here for everybody to see.

There never ever was a reason to vote for THEM and there never ever will be.

67

Faustusnotes 10.18.18 at 2:54 am

Perhaps CT should just welcome pH as a blogger, close comments, and we can all go home?

Comments on this entry are closed.