Senator Jeff Flake’s last-minute demand for an F.B.I. investigation into Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh has single-handedly held up the confirmation vote for the Supreme Court nominee. Here’s the story behind that decision.
Franco was an unauthorized immigrant who had been working in this country for over a decade. His wife, Anne, is from a Pennsylvania Dutch family that has been in this country for generations. They were married in 2013 and have three American children, Max, Javier and Valentina.
In the spring of 2017, Franco got in a minor traffic accident near his Pennsylvania home. A few weeks later as he was leaving for work, agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement swarmed him, took him away and deported him to Guatemala.
.. This is an example of ICE going after a perfectly productive member of society. I got the anecdote from a series of reports that Deborah Sontag and Dale Russakoff did for ProPublica and The Philadelphia Inquirer. They found that 64 percent of the immigrants arrested by ICE in the agency’s Philadelphia region had no prior criminal conviction.
.. There are 11 million unauthorized immigrants in this country. Every past administration has used some discretion in targeting whom to deport. They targeted those who were destroying society, not building it. They tried to take account of particular contexts, and they tried to show some sense of basic humanity.
.. today, discretion and humanity are being stamped out. The Trump administration has embraced a “zero tolerance” policy. In practice that means that all complexity has to be reduced to uniformity. Compassion is replaced by a blind obedience to regulations. Context is irrelevant. Arrests are indiscriminate. All that matters is that the arrest numbers go up, so human beings in the system are reduced to numbers.
.. The Trump administration immigration officials have become exactly the kind of monsters that conservatism has always warned against.
For centuries, conservatives have repeated a specific critique against state power. Statism, conservatives have argued, has a tendency to become brutalist and inhumane because a bureaucracy can’t see or account for the complexity of reality.
.. Statist social engineering projects cause horrific suffering because in the mind of statists, the abstract rule is more important than the human being in front of them. The person must be crushed for the sake of the abstraction... People like Stephen Miller are not steeped in conservative thinking and do not operate with a conservative disposition. They were formed by their rebellion against the stifling conformity they found at liberal universities. Their primary orientation is not to conservative governance but to owning the libs. In power they take the worst excesses of statism and flip them for anti-liberal ends.. Here’s how you can detect the anti-liberal trolls in the immigration debate: Watch how they use the word “amnesty.”.. Any serious reform has to grapple with tangled realities, and any real conservative has an appreciation for that complexity. But if you try to account for that complexity before an anti-immigration troll, he or she will shout one word: Amnesty!.. This is what George Orwell noticed about the authoritarian brutalists: They don’t use words to illuminate the complexity of reality; they use words to eradicate the complexity of reality... Look at how the Republican candidates for the G.O.P. Senate nomination in Arizona answered questions about a provision to keep families together at the border. They responded with inhumane abstractions: “I try not to get swayed by what the emotions are or the pressure.. “Compromising on the rule of law to grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants is the wrong path to take,”.. “Amnesty” has become a club the trolls use in their attempt to stamp a rigid steel boot on the neck of the immigration debate. It’s the sign of a party slowly losing its humanity.
June 1963. Gadsden, Ala. Mary Hamilton, 28, stood in a courtroom before a judge.
She was a black civil rights activist, arrested for nonviolent protest. And the judge was losing his patience.
The atmosphere in Gadsden that summer “was truly frightening and terrifying,” says Colin Morris, a history professor at Manhattanville College. “The Klan was highly active. On more than one occasion there had been attacks in Gadsden.”
But Hamilton wasn’t frightened. She was furious. She refused to answer the prosecutor’s questions.
“I won’t respond,” she said, “until you call me Miss Hamilton.”
It wasn’t just about an honorific. It was about respect and racial equality. Her demand was an act of defiance that would eventually bring her name before the U.S. Supreme Court and set a precedent for how witnesses are addressed in courtrooms today — with equal courtesy.
.. Mary Hamilton was constantly confusing and infuriating men in authority by standing up to their disrespect.
In Lebanon, Tenn., when a mayor visited her cell and referred to her as “Mary,” Hamilton corrected him. It was Miss Hamilton. Hamilton and Michaels recalled the moment in their oral history: “And if you don’t know how to speak to a lady,” Hamilton told the mayor, “then get out of my cell.”
At the time, throughout the ’60s, many white people — particularly in positions of authority — refused to use honorifics like “Miss,” “Mrs.” or “Mr.” to refer to black people.
.. Barbara McCaskill, an English professor at the University of Georgia, studied the narratives of black Americans and the civil rights movement. She said her own mother vividly remembered being denied the honorific “miss” as a young woman.
“Segregation was in the details as much as it was in the bold strokes,” McCaskill says. “Language is significant because language calls attention to whether or not we value the humanity of people that we are interacting with. And in segregation the idea was to remind African-Americans and people of color in general, in every possible way, that we were not equal, that we were inferior, that we were not capable. And language becomes a very powerful force to do that.”
.. Which brings us to Gadsden, Ala. In 1963, Hamilton was arrested for picketing and brought before the court for sentencing. Once again, officials refused to call her Miss Hamilton.
She refused to answer. The judge — muttering lewd comments about what he’d like to do to her if she were in his kitchen — ordered her to answer the prosecutor and apologize. But Hamilton was buoyed by rage at the judge’s dismissiveness, and by the support of the lawyer assisting her.
She refused. She was fined and sentenced to a few days in jail for contempt of court.
Her lawyers appealed the case, saying that the prosecutor and judge had denied Hamilton her constitutional rights by treating her differently from the way they treated white witnesses. Eventually her case landed before the Supreme Court in Hamilton v. Alabama.
The justices issued a summary reversal, overruling the Alabama courts without even calling for oral arguments. Their brief decision effectively said that a court could not address black witnesses differently than white ones.
Bush offered a blunt assessment of a political system corrupted by “conspiracy theories and outright fabrication” in which nationalism has been “distorted into nativism.”
.. “Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone and provides permission for cruelty and bigotry. The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them.”
.. Just hours after Bush completed his speech, Obama also made a veiled critique of the Trump era, calling on Democrats at a New Jersey campaign event to “send a message to the world that we are rejecting a politics of division, we are rejecting a politics of fear.”
.. That Trump’s two most recent predecessors felt liberated, or perhaps compelled, to reenter the political arena in a manner that offered an implicit criticism of him is virtually unprecedented in modern politics, historians said.
.. George W. Bush was taking aim at Trump’s “roiling of the traditional institutions of the country and, in particular, demeaning the office of the president by a kind of crude or vulgar bashing of opponents,”
.. “I think this is Bush throwing down the gauntlet and feeling that this is a man who has gone too far,” Dallek said. The discretion former presidents traditionally afforded their successors “is now sort of fading to the past because of the belligerence of Trump.”
.. McCain’s critique prompted Trump to warn him to “be careful” because he is prepared to “fight back.”
.. The common thread among Bush’s and McCain’s words was a defense of the post-World War II liberal order
- which supported strong security alliances,
- a defense of human rights and an
- open economic system of free trade
.. “The hallmark of McCain’s and Bush’s speeches was to try to re-center us on what have been, since 1945, these traditional ends,”
.. He cautioned at the time, however, that he would speak out if he saw “core values” at risk.
.. the unifying themes between Obama and Bush are “humanity and empathy towards the American public.”
.. Bush opened his remarks by speaking in both English and Spanish and noting that refugees from Afghanistan, China, North Korea and Venezuela were seated in the audience.
.. Bush also warned that “bigotry seems emboldened” in a passage that evoked the aftermath of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville
.. “Bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed,” Bush said in a line that drew the most applause.
.. “Politics are now about discrediting people by ad hominem attacks, not by argumentation,” Cohen said. Those who opposed Bush’s wars have a fair point of view, he said, but their constant “demonization does help make it easier for Trump.”