Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Womp, Womp

The title of this post consists of two words uttered by Trump's former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski:

Corey Lewandowski dismissed the story of a 10-year-old girl with Down syndrome who was reportedly separated from her mother after crossing the border illegally.
While appearing Tuesday on Fox News, former senior Democratic National Committee adviser Zac Petkanas shared an anecdote he had read about "a 10-year-old girl with Down syndrome" who had been "taken from her mother and put in a cage."
"Womp womp," the former Trump campaign manager responded.

Who knows what Lewandowski may have meant by that deep utterance.

What it means to me is an excellent synopsis for the slow death of all ethics and even pretend-ethics in the Trump Reich: 

Trump praising the strength of the North Korean dictator who has murdered many and keeps his people like some farmers keep cattle?  The pictures of Trump with the French president Emmanuel Macron in the White House replaced with pictures of Trump with Kim Jong Un, the North Korean dictator?

Womp, womp.

Trump boasting about his unlimited access to pussy-grabbing in the tapes released during his campaign?

Womp, womp.

Trump mocking a disabled journalist during his campaign?

Womp, womp.

 Jacob Soboroff reporting on what he said he saw in one of the Children's Camps:

I was inside the building and there are babies sitting by themselves in a cage with other babies. Where are those babies going to go? Where are they going to put those babies when their parents are picked up and sent into a federal prison or a local jail and then deported and then they never come back?

Womp, womp.

Now I hear that womp, womp as the sound of drums, soon to be followed by the sound of goose-stepping paramilitary forces, then military forces, but it can also be heard as what the architects of Trumpism hear when others express outrage at the mistreatment of those who have less power.  Because they appear not to have that inner human sense which might be called the ethics of respect and the ethics of care.

And it can be interpreted as one of the stages in the objectification of the Others, the way Trump attacked Mexicans coming to the US as rapists and criminals.  If we all get used to public ridicule aimed at the frailest, the poorest and the most powerless among us, then it will be much easier to do them harm or at least to ignore their pain.  They become dehumanized.

And so do we.  Womp, womp.


The heart and the head*.  The heart and the head must both work in politics.  The heart sets the goals and the ethical constraints, the head plans the logistics.  Those who have contempt for either the heart or the head are wrong.  We cannot have good politics without both of them.

But what happens when we are led by someone who appears to use neither?

Or what happens when the Rasputin sitting at the right shoulder of this someone might be a heartless man?  What are the goals of such a man and what are the ethical constraints that might limit him?

Stephen Miller is supposed to be the architect of Trump's family separation policy, and based on this article he is happy with how things are going:

But for Miller, it seems, all is going according to plan—another “constructive controversy” unfolding with great potential for enlightenment. His bet appears to be that voters will witness this showdown between Trump and his angry antagonists, and ultimately side with the president. It’s a theory that will be put to the test in November. In the meantime, the heartrending orchestra on the border will play on.
Miller loves battle, loves the pain of others, loves controversy and loves winning.  But what is victory for him?  The largest numbers of his political opponents on anti-depressants?  Will that make him feel less empty, more fulfilled?

This post has focused on what I call "the heart," though ethics are not really about the heart alone,  but created by the heart's cooperation with the mind.  

The use of the head is also important**:  The US immigration system is not working well and some of the problems are very real.

They are not, however, problems that Trump or his administration appears to have even attempted to begin solving:

No administration would want to see America flooded with would-be refugees, especially given the reality that most of these asylum applications are going to be denied. But a president who evinced actual concern about the issue would be trying to do something to address the underlying issues that are driving people north.
But Trump isn’t convening a summit with Central American governments to discuss a cooperate approach to improving public safety. He hasn’t even nominated an assistant secretary of state for the region after 500 days in office. Rather than try to collaborate with Mexico on improving the situation at the border, he’s used offensive rhetoric to make any kind of cooperation with Trump politically toxic there while filling the diplomatic pipeline with a pointless drive to renegotiate NAFTA, the counterproductive unraveling of the Iran nuclear deal, and stunt summits with Kim Jong Un.
It's so much easier to play the drums for Trump's base, even if the background orchestra is little children crying for their parents at the southern US border.

Womp, womp.


* This is my flawed shorthand for using our entire heart-minds in the solving of difficult problems.

** But not alone.  We see from Miller's example what that does.