President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have no compassion to spare for children brought to the border by parents fleeing repression or simply seeking a better life. The Trump administration is unmoved by the sight of children being torn away from their parents — even if those parents are following the precise letter of the law in presenting themselves as refugees. (Thankfully, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, is considering legislation to end this horrific practice; let Republicans try to explain their support for child separation, if they dare.) In this administration’s view, it’s the parents’ fault; if the kids suffer, it is no concern of Trump’s.
Trump wanted to cut foreign aid across the board last year, devastating the poorest countries and threatening to reverse tremendous strides in combating child mortality and disease eradication. Bill and Melinda Gates implored Congress not to go along.
“Even modest cuts would represent the reversal of a long-term trend of increasing U.S. support for foreign aid, and a similar mood of retrenchment has taken hold elsewhere. ... Disease and poverty are the clearest examples we know of solvable human misery, and the moral case for wiping them out is clear on its face. The lives of millions and the livelihoods of billions depend on the programs that American foreign aid supports.”
Poor kids in Africa? Trump doesn’t care about “s---hole” countries (his words) or their people. Thankfully, Congress intervened to stop the massive cuts.
Refugees fleeing from the terror of chemical weapons in Syria or Haitians who have lived in the United States legally for years don’t earn Trump’s empathy either. The Haitians and hundreds of thousands of Nepali, Honduran, Salvadoran and other immigrants on temporary protected status are getting booted from the United States, even those with children who are U.S. citizens. (“All told, the administration has ordered more than 300,000 people from those countries to return to their homelands over the next two and a half years.”) Sending hard-working and law-abiding immigrants back to hellish conditions? Trump doesn’t lose sleep over that.
When it comes to the genocide in Syria, Trump has no interest in taking in traumatized men, women and children. Since last October, the Trump administration has admitted only 44 Syrian refugees, The Post reported. It “resettled only 3,024 in all of 2017, far below the 45,000 annual cap on Syrian refugees now set by the State Department. In 2016, the last year of the Obama presidency, 15,479 Syrian refugees were resettled in the United States — a figure that a whole swathe of activists and NGOs believed was insufficient. Now that seems like a golden age.”
It’s as if Trump took the teachings of Jesus and added “not” before the admonitions to help the poor, the sick, the persecuted, etc.
So whom does Trump feel sorry for?
Well, himself most often. Silent on the racism spouted by Roseanne Barr on Twitter, Trump tweeted: “Bob Iger of ABC called Valerie Jarrett to let her know that ‘ABC does not tolerate comments like those’ made by Roseanne Barr. Gee, he never called President Donald J. Trump to apologize for the HORRIBLE statements made and said about me on ABC. Maybe I just didn’t get the call?” Actually, the self-pitying president wasn’t owed an apology. He was not on the receiving end of racial slurs from ABC News. The (allegedly) billionaire president whines day after day about the media, about the Russia investigation, about Democrats, about anyone who has not praised and cheered him on. He’s the victim, you see. Always the victim.
Then there are his morally vacuous pardons. A three-strikes teen sentenced to decades in jail or excessive jail time for possession of a small amount of pot doesn’t concern him. Who is the “victim” of unfair treatment? Well, so far it has mostly been stars in the right-wing bubble who spout racist rhetoric, like Joe Arpaio (a birther who was found in criminal contempt of court) or Dinesh D’Souza, who pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws (and continues his racist conspiracy-mongering on his hair-raising Twitter feed). Of all the convicts, these are the people Trump chooses to take pity upon.
If we are looking out for more disgraced millionaire celebrities, Martha Stewart might get a pardon, too — for lying to the FBI investigating alleged insider trading. Oh, the poor dear — back to writing books, hosting TV shows, peddling her brand, making millions. Another “victim.” And don’t get me started on the commutation being floated for convicted former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, serving a 14-year sentence for trying to sell off the Senate seat previously held by Barack Obama. Another “victim.” So unfair.
In short, real victims and those actually in need don’t concern Trump. But if you are a racist, a washed-up celebrity, a corrupt pol, a right-wing idol or Trump (especially Trump!), you’ve certainly been done wrong. No proof of any miscarriage of justice is needed.
Trump is making America a meaner, stingier, more racist and more celebrity-obsessed country. In other words, America risks becoming more like him every day that he remains in office.
Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Washington Post, offering reported opinion from a center-right perspective.