America’s Birthday Suit

Birthdays are always a good time for a little self-reflection. So as America celebrates its 243rd, it seems appropriate to aim our (rockets’ red) glare at what’s taking place in the detention facilities on the border, how we’re treating those who seek to join our ranks, and how we interact with our fellow citizens in an era when it seems nothing can make us more upset than how upset we are with each other. And so it is this 4th of July when politicians and the media are fueling a debate over what to call the facilities where asylum seekers are being held (detention zones? concentration camps? internment centers?) instead of focusing on what we’re seeing inside those facilities. The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer: A Crime by Any Name. “When those in power are caught abusing that power in ways that are morally indefensible and politically unpopular, they will always seek to turn an argument about oppression into a dispute about manners. The conversation then shifts from the responsibility of the state for the human lives it is destroying to whether those who object to that destruction have exhibited proper etiquette.” (Whatever we call it, what we’re seeing on the border is, for us, the detainees, and the world, a reflection of America on her 243rd, a year when the nation’s values are blowing like a birthday candle in the wind…)

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