The world watches in horror as the U.S. enacts state-sanctioned cruelty toward children at the U.S. border.

No matter our stances on immigration, we should all agree that there are moral lines we won't cross. Cruelty to innocent children goes far over that line, and separating children from their parents with no reassurance or hope that they’ll see them again is cruel. A Washington Post op-ed by a professor of developmental psychology at UCLA likens the effect of such forced separation to torture.


How did we get to a place where the U.S. government decided separating kids from their parents at the border was morally sound?

Photo via John Moore/Getty Images.

That’s easy: anti-immigrant propaganda, lies, fear-mongering, and more lies — most of it coming straight from the highest levels of our government.

President Donald Trump's lie-laced tweets are a perfect example of the kind of propaganda that allows human cruelty to flourish.

Fear is a powerful human motivator. That’s why marketers — and con artists — make liberal use of it to influence people, truth be damned.

And that's what the Trump administration has done, and continues to do, with anti-immigration rhetoric. It's designed to convince Americans not just to condemn undocumented immigration, but to be afraid of it.

Take the president's tweets as Exhibit A:

"Crime in Germany is way up." No, it's not. That's a lie. Just last month, Germany's Interior Minister (who happens to be anti-immigration) released data showing that Germany's crime rate is at its lowest since 1992.

And despite persistent falsehoods about no-go zones (they don't exist, folks) and despite zeroing in on a few specific crimes committed by migrants in Europe (statistically, a group of hundreds of thousands of people will have some crime, but that does not make that group more likely to commit crime), Europe has not fallen into violent chaos. It just hasn't.

The president followed that tweet up with "We don't want what is happening in Europe with immigration to happen to us!" Fear-mongering at its best.

The problem with fear-based propaganda is that it works really, really well.

Since we have a primal instinct to protect ourselves and our loved ones, and our brains like to make generalizations, we're susceptible to rhetoric that fuels fear and prejudice.

Screenshot via Donald J. Trump/Twitter.

"Children are being used by some of the worst criminals on earth as a means to enter our country," Trump tweeted, before pointing to the danger these families are trying to escape. The president is using fear of children to justify cruelty to those same children. It's unreasonable. But fear and reason rarely go hand in hand.

Screenshot via Donald J. Trump/Twitter.

Even the erroneous capitalization of  "border security" (yes, I'm ignoring the misspelling) and "crime" in this tweet seem designed to drive home the lie. It's not just "crime," it's "Crime." Big Scary Stuff.  Be So Scared.

These tweets are just from one day, and they're just the tip of the iceberg.

Anti-immigration rhetoric has led directly to hurting children. What's next?

Saying that Mexico is sending us rapists. Setting up and promoting a hotline specifically for people to report crimes they think were committed by illegal aliens. Ranting about immigration increasing crime rates when it doesn't. Insinuating that undocumented immigrants are more likely to commit crimes when they're not. Highlighting specific crimes to make it look like immigrants commit more or worse crimes than native-born Americans. This anti-immigrant rhetoric makes it easier to swallow inhumane immigration policy.

The constant drip, drip, drip of fear-based propaganda has brought us to where we are now — a nation publicly and purposefully inflicting anguish upon innocent children.

Words matter. People with power have wielded words to foment fear and promote prejudice throughout history, leaving heinous atrocities in their wake. Ignoring or brushing off rhetoric as "just words" is dangerous, as we find ourselves flirting with atrocity right now, on our soil, in our name.

Photo by Picsea on Unsplash
True

It is said that once you've seen something, you can't unsee it. This is exactly what is happening in America right now. We have collectively watched the pot of racial tension boil over after years of looking the other way, insisting that hot water doesn't exist, pretending not to notice the smoke billowing out from every direction.

Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away—it prolongs resolution. There's a whole lot of harm to be remedied and damage to be repaired as a result of racial injustice, and it's up to all of us to figure out how to do that. Parents, in particular, are recognizing the importance of raising anti-racist children; if we are unable to completely eradicate racism, maybe the next generation will.

How can parents ensure that the next generation will actively refuse to perpetuate systems and behaviors embedded in racism? The most obvious answer is to model it. Take for example, professional tennis player Serena Williams and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

Keep Reading Show less

"There's only one thing more dangerous than a bad virus, and that's a bad vaccine," Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO's health emergencies programme, said in March. "We have to be very, very, very careful in developing any product that we're going to inject into potentially most of the world population."

Since the beginning of the pandemic, experts have said that developing a vaccine and getting it through the necessary safety and efficacy protocols would take, at minimum, 12 to 18 months. Yet here we are, 7 months in, and Vladimir Putin has just announced that Russia has already approved a vaccine for the coronavirus.

According to the BBC, there are more than 100 vaccines in various stages of development and testing. Six of those have reached phase 3 trials, involving more widespread testing in humans. Russia's vaccine is not among those six.

Meanwhile, hundreds of U.S. doctors have signed a letter urging the FDA not to rush or politicize vaccine trials.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Picsea on Unsplash
True

It is said that once you've seen something, you can't unsee it. This is exactly what is happening in America right now. We have collectively watched the pot of racial tension boil over after years of looking the other way, insisting that hot water doesn't exist, pretending not to notice the smoke billowing out from every direction.

Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away—it prolongs resolution. There's a whole lot of harm to be remedied and damage to be repaired as a result of racial injustice, and it's up to all of us to figure out how to do that. Parents, in particular, are recognizing the importance of raising anti-racist children; if we are unable to completely eradicate racism, maybe the next generation will.

How can parents ensure that the next generation will actively refuse to perpetuate systems and behaviors embedded in racism? The most obvious answer is to model it. Take for example, professional tennis player Serena Williams and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Mahir Uysal on Unsplash

Two years ago, I got off the phone after an interview and cried my eyes out. I'd just spent an hour talking to Tim Ballard, the founder of Operation Underground Railroad, an organization that helps fight child sex trafficking, and I just couldn't take it.

Ballard told me about how the training to go undercover as a child predator nearly broke him. He told me an eerie story of a trafficker who could totally compartmentalize, showing Ballard photos of kids he had for sale, then switching gears to proudly show him a photo of his own daughter on her bicycle, just as any parent would. He told me about how lucrative child trafficking is—how a child can bring in three or four times as much as a female prostitute—and how Americans are the industry's biggest consumers.

Keep Reading Show less
via c.wilkinson / Instagram

Harassment on public transportation in New York is a disturbing part of everyday reality for women in the city. A study published by Gothamist found that 75% had experienced harassment and/or theft on public transportation, versus 47% of male participants.

This type of harassment can put women in physical danger but it also leads them to take alternative forms of transportation that are more expensive, resulting in an annual "pink tax" that average $1,200 more than what a man pays for the same services.

A video posted by "Caitlin," an art student from New York City, showed the power of standing up to those who harass women on public transportation and she hopes that it will inspire others to do the same.

Keep Reading Show less