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Kids In Cages, "Good People" and Our Collective Outrage
The outrage engine isn't stopping anytime soon, unless we stop it. 
By joepeacock Posted in Blog on June 21, 2018 2 Comments
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Tuesday morning, I broke with protocol and wrote some political shit. On Facebook.

I did it on my author Facebook page  but still. Two rules of mine I’ve followed kinda sorta mostly for the past three years, broken in one morning. It’s because we — The United States of America — have been putting children in cages, separated from their parents when the family tries to cross the border to seek asylum.

Let me reiterate: these are CHILDREN, isolated and alone, put into concentration camps and housed in cages. This is abhorrent. If you were playing one of the billion soldier-for-hire video games on the market and the Colonel radioed in that they just found out that the current government is tearing children from their parents and housing them in cages in a concentration camp, you’d run in gung-ho with grenades and shotguns and kill anyone wearing camo or a flag patch for that country with gusto. If this were a movie, you’d leap from your seat, dramatically flinging popcorn everywhere, the second the hero killed the Captain at this Kiddie Concentration Camp and uttered some catchy phrase (something like “Enough Child’s Play.” or “I’ve got a toy for you!” and then boom, shotgun to the faaaaaace).

But this is America. It’s been run by well-off privileged white people (most of whom worship a God who supposedly sent his son to die for sins, and that son demanded that we love our neighbor and show compassion and help those in need… But all that shit took place in the Middle East, not here. Plus Jesus was white, right?), and those kids are brown. So of course, who cares?

This is the post I wrote:

Seeing people — supposed good people, supposed people of faith — try to explain the difference between “enclosures made of chain link fence” and “cage” was a tipping point for me. I have written and deleted half a dozen reactions to this one thing. Mind you, it’s not the only thing that’s got my dander up, not by a long shot. But it’s definitely the one I just can’t let go of.

I can’t help but feel pity for anyone who would dare justify what’s happening to children at the border. Immigration reform Security? Bullshit. These are children. Not empathy — pity. I feel sorry for them, because they’re fundamentally broken inside. They lack even the most basic self awareness.

Hell, even if you stared me in the face and said “I am a racist who hates brown people” and that was your only reason for not wanting immigrants, I could respect that more than buttering up your narrative with these false claims, to help turn off whatever alarms ring in your head when you drift into becoming a monster. You’re still a piece of shit, but At least there’s self awareness there.

But no, we’ve entered an age where the very people who cough up “but the children!” justifications to playing morality police on abortion, porn, and video games, actively turn a blind eye to actual kidnapping and abuse of kids when it threatens their bullshit political agendas.

Kids are being slaughtered in schools by firearms? Too bad, second amendment. But violent video games? “What about our children?!?”

Kids are being locked in cages, and middle teens are teaching preteens how to change diapers on babies? Immigration reform. But abortion? “That cluster of cells that isn’t even yet a baby has a right to life!”

I don’t fucking get it. I don’t get any of it. How do we occupy the same space? The same life? The same reality? How can I sit here feeling anger well beyond simple empathy because some white evangelicals somehow think it’s ok to stuff kids in a cage when they’re not from this supposedly great country? How am I supposed to claim you as my kind? My fellow countryman? My fellow human?

For the first time in many, many years… I just can’t.

I have to accept that we aren’t all just different in that “uniquely you!” Happy meme sense. We are fundamentally different, at our core. Deep in my brain is a sense of right and wrong; of common human decency, which causes me to apologize when I’ve hurt someone and then try not to hurt anyone else. And here these people are, trying to semantically justify babies being torn from parents because “they’re not cages, they’re enclosures made of chain link fencing.”

To those people, I say: They’re cages. And you’re a monster.

This isn’t name calling. This is fact.

You won’t hear me. And if you do, you won’t believe me, not fully. You’ll find hundreds of Facebook and Twitter people willing to sing your chorus, or allow you to sing in theirs, and you’ll feel so much better when you’re with your kind. But I’m telling you, right here and right now, you are a monster. You are the very thing you couldn’t understand in high school when you saw And read about acts of barbarism. You can’t see what’s right in front of your nose, because it’s YOU, and you refuse to look in a mirror. You can’t allow for the idea that everyone deserves basic human dignity, even if it means you have to surrender a little of the excess you value to make sure someone who is without gets a little.

Somewhere deep inside you, at your next church service or outreach whatever, you will feel that tiny pang deep inside you. It’ll echo because it’s so hollow in there. And you’ll try to drown it out with singing and prayer, or laughter and memes… but that little hollow pang? That’s your confirmation that I am right, and that you are a monster.

I find it harder and harder to live the lessons I learned the past few years, of allowing people to be themselves and love them all the same. I have lost that thing within me which is capable of loving my enemy. I have no compassion for the compassionless, and this is making me sick inside. To fight monsters, one must become a monster.

I just wonder how long I can hold out.

This country is fracturing, for real this time. We’ve always had our differences — red vs. blue, Pepsi vs. Coke, Nintendo vs. Sega… But now we’re straight up fighting with each other over right versus wrong.

I’ve reached a point where I feel angry all the time. Not just when I read the news, or when I get into a debate, but literally all. the. time. And that’s unhealthy, so I do things like write my novels and blogs and try to share jokes and cute pictures of my cats, which then feels horribly irresponsible, because how are we supposed to have fun or even breathe in a climate like this?

And yet, I can’t take to the streets and start shouting, not just yet — not because there isn’t a reason, but because I’ll be arrested as a madman, as tons of onlookers, who may or may not be as angry as I am, are too scared to join the fracas. And if they do, we likely will get no coverage, thus snuffing out whatever fire could have started there, and now we’re ALL going to jail for a day or more.

Or a blacksite, if you’re in DC or Chicago. And being blacksites, who knows how many and where else they are. But I digress.

So here we are, in a Catch 22 of pure frustration: If I spend my day angry, I end up frustrated that I can’t focus or do anything besides be angry, but if I do anything besides be angry, I get frustrated that I don’t care enough to stop what makes me angry.

Too bad for me, because this is how life is now, and how it’s going to be for a long, long time.

This is our new state of existence. Fox News and CNN and MSNBC have won: the fear and anger engines that keep viewers watching between advertisements all day, every day, have finally manifested into real life.

My only answer: Fight. Stay angry and frustrated. Keep taking breaks to keep yourself charged up.

Artists: Write your stories. Draw your art. Make your music. That’s part of the fight. Every effective movement in our country’s history had posters, slogans, fight songs, and people to tell the story in written and photographic form. We need you.

Protestors: Be smart. Confront the issue, not the cops themselves, because they’ve trained hard and have expensive military-grade equipment they’re itching to use on you — and make no mistake, their salary is earned learning to hate you.

Everyone: vote. Vote like a motherfucker. This is our country. We hire these people to make laws and enforce them. We don’t like the laws or the manner of enforcement, we hire new people. Don’t believe commercials and slogans. Research candidates. Look at donor records and compare them with voting and legislative records. Learn who their masters are. If they’re not us, fuck them.

We have all been raised to believe that comfort, advancement, and achievement are our right as Americans.

This is bullshit. It was our privilege, as long as it lasted. And it was not universal. There have been people who have done without even during nationwide times of plenty. Sure, comparison to the poorest nations on Earth will instantly have you playing a tiny violin for the average American, who can somehow afford at least a few items on the 99 Cent Menu and a television (or a smartphone). But the big lie is that any of that was guaranteed, so long as you worked hard enough.

We’re all working pretty hard right now, and it’s eroding. We’re all feeling it, from the middle class down. Every time there’s a financial upheaval in this country, we lose our jobs and scrape to survive while the rich, entrenched in wealth, buy up everything we lose and then repackage and resell (or worse, rent) it back to us. And now, all the frosting has been scraped from the top and they’re cutting into the cake itself. And we’re bleeding all over one another — half of us believing one lie, that it’s our right to have these things, especially if we’re white and “worked hard” for it. The other half believe the lie that they can’t do anything about the first half.

Right now, it’s kids in cages at the border.

Soon, it’ll be workers displaced by automation (Truck drivers, factory workers, warehouse stockers, cab drivers, and literally everyone else who is organic doing a job with a machine that a machine can now be taught to do by itself) who can no longer feed their families. And they’re going get desperate the hungrier they get. What then? What will the dyed-blonde anchors on Fox News have to say about these unworthy people? That they’re disrespecting the flag and our country and our glorious leader by daring to demand they have food?

After that, it’s anyone’s guess.

The outrage engine isn’t stopping anytime soon, unless we stop it. And my biggest fear is that it’s not going to stop before the violence starts. Before we divide ourselves along stupid lines based on color, whether those be Red versus Blue, or White vs. Non-White (and for the record, I’m 50% covered in tattoos, so I’ll be fighting on the non-white side. Fuck you.)

I have no witty conclusion.



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