Maribel Hastings y David Torres
Upon seeing Donald Trump congratulate himself for the operation that resulted in the elimination of the Islamic State (ISIS) leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and referring to the horrors perpetrated by this extremist and his followers, it is inevitable to realize that terror also manifests itself in other forms motivated by cruelty and political calculations. Above all, this occurs when actions are taken without any consideration for the most vulnerable, even if one asks for help from those who claim, in theory to be the defender of the helpless (but in practice close the door on these vulnerable people and, with it, their hope).
Terror which, in the stereotypical form, Trump, his Republican Congress, and one sector of this country see as personified by citizens of the Middle East, usually Muslims. But the terror inflicted by the dictators that Trump admires, such as Vladimir Putin or the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom he congratulated for their “collaboration” in the operation, is minimized because there is no reference point to relate to it, like for example, the terrorist attacks of 9-11. Therefore, leaving the Kurdish Syrians to their own luck is also not seen as an act of terror, even if the consequence is the same: death and destruction.
And then the country and society ask why the international animosity toward everything the United States touches is in constant motion, from the invention of a conflict to sustain a regime, to the selling of arms to destabilize an entire region. It’s a formula that, so overused, has become a theatre of the absurd that also has a devastating result for thousands of innocent people who at some point find themselves forced to migrate wherever they can go.
In that way, the terror that this administration has made official, through its migration policies at the border with México and its systematic dismantling of asylum laws that sheltered people fleeing another type of terror — drug trafficking, human trafficking, gangs and the corruption that undermines Central American countries and so many other nations — is also minimized.
Washing our hands of this situation that mercilessly afflicts and affects other parts of the world in which former U.S. administrations had a flagrant influence is, at the same time, an act of historic negligence and political irresponsibility. When the children and the children’s children of those who found themselves with nothing due to the civil wars orchestrated from Washington return, it seems, they are left with nothing more than their right to emigrate, but even this is being denied them today.
In that way, the circle is complete: thousands of intact families, unaccompanied children and other migrants have to abandon their countries, fleeing terror. This is another manifestation of terrorism minimized by the White House, the Republicans in Congress, and a group within the country that supports them, and it is not difficult to conclude that there are racial motivations involved. Maybe if these refugees and children had Anglo Saxon features, there would be more empathy.
This is precisely the other inflection point in which the terrorism, emanating from today’s White House toward immigrants they do not like, has been officialized with each order, court decisions, or proposals that has to do with immigration, which presidential advisor Stephen Miller and his minions seem to have locked up in an ever-more inhumane torture chamber.
And as soon as these families arrive at the southern border, they are once again terrorized in other ways: family separation; the ‘misplacement’ of children; the ‘secret incarceration of adolescents whose whereabouts remain unknown; being locked up in subhuman conditions; not receiving adequate medical attention; or facing many hurdles when soliciting asylum. This last has resulted in many ending up going back or, in the worst of cases, killing themselves, as a Cuban migrant did after months of detention, according to press reports.
But they don’t call this terrorism even though they are policies that evoke terror and, as the recent report of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights concluded, widely inflict “irreversible physical, mental and emotional trauma.”
And this is not only being seen now, at this stage in the regional history of migration, with hundreds of thousands of lives destroyed, but it will also be reflected with even more intensity in one or two generations, when the rejected people have become an army of downtrodden people searching for new horizons, still desperate.
Without minimizing the horrors and savagery of ISIS, terrorism is not only accomplished through bombs and suicide bombers. There are also public policies that kill.
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