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Friday, October 21, 2016

It’s a revealing video.

Not in the sense of physical nakedness. No, what is naked in that clip is a kind of political opportunism that has become all too common.

Our scene is a roadside in Oracle, Arizona, where protesters have gathered. Word is, a busload of children from Central America is about to pass through, en route to a local shelter. People are there to shout at the bus.

Among them: Adam Kwasman, a Tea Party candidate for Congress. On the video, run by KPNX, a Phoenix TV station, Kwasman is seen inveighing against the flood of unaccompanied minors now showing up on the nation’s southern border when someone whispers to him and he abruptly cuts his spiel short. It seems the bus is coming.

Kwasman hustles out to the road to protest this incursion and, more importantly, to be seen protesting it. He tweets out a picture of a yellow school bus, telling a reporter afterward, “I was able to actually see some of the children in the buses and the fear on their faces.”

But these immigrant children are not frightened. They are also not immigrants. Rather, they turn out to be American kids bound for summer camp, giggling and using their cellphones to take pictures of the demonstrators and the media horde. A chagrined Kwasman is forced to apologize. The rumored bus full of migrant children never arrives.

It’s funny, yes. But that incident last week is also sad for what it says about the state of American politics.

Assume the bus had been the “right” one. You’re still left with the reality that a bunch of adults — one a candidate for Congress — thought it a good idea to interdict a bunch of children who had just survived a long and terrifying journey from Central America, arrived alone in a strange land and been taken into custody — and yell at them to go back “to Mexico.” In English.

What they wanted to happen hardly speaks better of those people than what actually did. But it is part and parcel of what now passes for political discourse in this country. And rather than elevate that discourse, our “leaders” routinely coarsen it.

Which is, I suppose, easier than actually confronting a problem.

How long has Congress been content to do nothing on immigration reform? President Bush pushed a reasonable plan in 2006, only to see it shot down by his own party out of a thinly veiled calculation that a measure offering even the slightest hope to Spanish-speaking peoples would not play well with the base. Despite declaring immigration reform a second-term priority, President Obama has been unable to get action out of a Congress more interested in kneecapping him than in doing any work.

You can only kick the can down the road for so long before you run out of road. Children are showing up at our border like foundlings left on a doorstep. Yet our putative leaders still cannot grapple seriously with the problem. Rather than getting to work on solutions that balance compassion with the need to protect our borders, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) claims this is happening because Obama “has been promising amnesty” (he hasn’t) while Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) says the kids are carrying the Ebola virus (they aren’t). Now, there goes candidate Kwasman, yelling at the wrong bus. If elected, he’ll fit right in.

No, the president is not blameless. Warned of a surge of unaccompanied minors showing up at the border two years ago by Texas governor Rick Perry, he apparently did nothing. Now we have a reported 57,000 children intercepted since October. That failure is troubling and if it exacts a political price, so be it.

But ultimately it’s these acts of political gamesmanship that are most galling. What kind of human being looks at a humanitarian crisis and thinks: photo op? So OK, if they won’t offer a solution, I will:

Let’s keep the kids. Deport Congress instead.

(Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, FL, 33132. Readers may contact him via email at [email protected])

AFP Photo

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  • Dominick Vila

    A few decades ago we condemned the acts being perpetrated by the Third Reich, by South Africans in the apartheid era, and accused the Soviet Union and Red China of taking children away from their parents and sending them to indoctrination camps. Today, we are the ones that yell and spit at those seeking a better life, under the protection of immigration laws that the protesters refuse to reform.

    • mike

      Hell Dom, secure the border first. Without securing the border we have no country. Last year the US spent $400 a day for each of these unaccompanied. HHS. June this year HHS announced a 350 million “funding opportunity” for residential care providers.
      These illegals have to know they will not be allowed to stay.

      • disqus_il6KG9d3VM

        The border is secured. Catch up on the news. These kids fleeing violence are not sneaking in, they are coming to the border patrol for safety. If we can’t give some help and solace to kids it’s is a sad day for American values. Cruelty is not the American way…I hope.

        • mike

          “the border is secured”, do you always give such imbecilic statements? Looks like you and Reid deserve each other.
          So there is not a crisis on the border? 150,000 illegals have not entered the US this year, right?
          The are fleeing poverty and violence but they are sneaking/crossing the border, breaking our laws.

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  • The lucky one

    I agree Dominick and yes there are far too many ignorant bigots like the group accompanying Kwasman but I think there numbers may be smaller than you think. They have the loudest mouths so they create a lot of noise. It’s true that far too many remain silent but I think if a bunch of dumb ass bigots showed up outside my hometown to harass some defenseless kids there would be more than a few being carted off to the hospital.

  • Jambi

    Another tea party buffoon. ..I think they’re all bozos chasing this (wrong) bus!!

    • jointerjohn

      It’s a great day, I have found another fan of the Firesign Theater! Just always remember Jambi, Abraham Lincoln didn’t die in vain, he died in Washington D.C.

      • jmprint

        Was he lost? I could use a fan, it’s hot in Texas!

        • jointerjohn

          I need a gas station, did we pass one?
          No but the fox did, squeeze him right there and maybe he’ll pass other one.

          • Jambi

            sounds like your approaching….The Land of the Pharohs….

        • Jambi

          …it’s just this little chromium switch….

      • Jambi

        …so there, Mr. Monday morning quarterback….Mr. Wheel-chair General !….

  • charleo1

    When we reach the point where a want to be politician tweets, “I was able to actually see some of the children in the buses and the fear on their faces,” as a campaign statement! Because he believes that’s what his would be constituents want to hear… Then something is very wrong with the souls of this subset of the American populous. Shame on them.

    • Lynda Groom

      The man is not capable of shame and that is the problem.

      • disqus_il6KG9d3VM

        Right, he just wants to get elected so he will have a cushy job. He is another dumb bum who should not be in Congress.

  • Daniel Jones

    I have said this over and over and over again: The conservative movement doesn’t want to solve anything, ever, for anyone.

    • jointerjohn

      Why solve anything when they can convert each problem into a nice steaming pot of fear, hatred or superiority complex that serves their completely selfish ambitions. Selfish people don’t seek solutions to the difficulties of others, that would require compassion, and in today’s GOP compassion is for sissys.

      • disqus_il6KG9d3VM

        No work on our problems. All their time must be spent looking for faux scandals…hoping like hell that they will find something, anything that will stick, and destroy our President. Their goal.

    • charleo1

      It is political extortion. A deliberate obstruction of the public’s right of way, to conduct the Country’s business. An old fashioned sit in, or, a kind of political protest, if you will. An obstinate squat in the footpath of progress. A refusal to allow the normal course or function. And it’s also clearly punitive by design. And meant to send a strong message to the Country at large, who they know full well do not favor their politics, and positions. How could they? Why would they? But so what, they say. You may not like our politics, but pick your poison, America. We could go on like this for years. Or, you could put us back in charge. Now, that’s one a hell of a choice they’re offering.

  • Vincent Harriman

    The problems that face Congress are always difficult. Simple ones are solved at a lower level. Unfortunately, we have too many there that only see in black and white, and can only see and want simple solutions. There are no simple answers at the federal level.

    As an example, Emporer Chin thought the solution to foreigners was a fence and built the great wall of China. Ghengis Khan showed that that solution did not work. Roman emporer Hadrian had no luck with that idea either. And yet we have talk of another wall. Maybe the American wall builders got the idea from the Israelis, although they would claim first dibs.

    While the majority in Congress see only black and white, the minority see in gray, and only a few are capable of color, and out of this we are supposed to get a consensus. For too long we have only had knee jerk reactions. Way to few are willing to put in the time and effort required to even begin to solve the questions before them.

  • jmprint

    “Let’s keep the kids. Deport Congress instead.” Love it, let’s start with Ted Cruz, send him back to Canada, or Russia where he can hang out with his admired leader.

    • Dominick Vila

      His admiration of Putin is consistent with his Cuban Dad’s admiration of Fidel Castro immediately after the fall of Batista. A few years went by before Cruz senior decided that Fidel was not as great as he hoped, and migrated to Canada and the USA to amass a fortune.

  • ExRadioGuy15

    I’ve written many times, including in comment threads in articles about this situation on National Memo, the four defining characteristics (DCs) of Fascism to which the GOP are adhering in this border “security crisis”:
    Avid Nationalism
    Disdain for the Importance of Human Rights
    Identification of Enemies and Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
    Obsession with National Security
    But, in thinking about it yesterday, there’s a FIFTH “DC” of Fascism to which the GOP adhere in this situation: obsession with crime and punishment.
    Hear me out…the other four are obvious. This one needs a little explanation. The GOP think the refugees are “criminals”, guilty of “invading the USA” and their proposed punishment is to simply send them back without any due process, despite a bipartisan law written and passed in 2008 and SIGNED INTO LAW by one of their own, Bush 43.
    This simply extends the record set by the GOP. Five DCs of Fascism on one issue. Every GOP policy is based on at least one of the DCs of Fascism. But, to find one policy/situation to where they adhere to five is remarkable…

  • latebloomingrandma

    No matter how much this man humiliated himself, he will still get votes, and that’s pretty pathetic..

  • James Bowen

    All of these kids need to be deported immediately. We cannot afford to take in all of the world’s unfortunate. We don’t have the resources.

    • WhutHeSaid

      If we got rid of the bigoted European illegal immigrants and their equally bigoted (or more so) offspring, we’d have plenty of room (and resources) for innocent kids. Need a boat?

    • disqus_il6KG9d3VM

      You could leave and make room for one.

  • In fairness to Obama, Rick Perry also told Obama that Texas would secede following his election, that global warming was a hoax, and that the only way to combat the drought affecting the country was to gather ten thousand idiots into a stadium and have them pray all at once. You can’t blame Obama for not believing one of the few people on the planet who makes George W. Bush look smart by comparison.

    • disqus_il6KG9d3VM

      Too bad Rick Perry didn’t secede from Texas and/or the United States. Oops!

  • tom tremaine

    true fools for politicians?

    a sign of the times …