Intentional Cruelty: A Tale of Two Meetings

by | Jan 23, 2021 | Politics

In early May 2018, eleven senior advisers of the Trump administration were called to the White House Situation Room. A month earlier, the Trump administration had launched the “zero tolerance” immigration policy, effecting parents with small children.

On January 20th, 1942, senior government officials of Nazi Germany met in Wannsee, a suburb of Germany, to work out the final logistics of the ‘Final Solution,’ the extermination of every Jew within German-controlled real estate.

They were tasked with a simple directive: the execution of the Final Solution. Various blueprints emerged, including mass sterilization or deportation to the island of Madagascar. Heydrich proposed transporting all Jews to concentration camps in Poland and simply working them to death, but that draft was squashed as simply being too time-consuming.

There was an urgency to the ‘Final Solution,’ and time-consuming logistical plans were quickly eliminated.

They finally settled on the gas-chambers as the most efficient mechanism that could execute the mission. When implemented, a thousand Jews a day were executed, which met with Hitler’s expectations.

Absent from the conference were any qualms of conscience, or moral misgivings. It was a cold, calculated strategy conference, like a PTA meeting where they discuss the logistics of a fund-raising bake sale.

Morality played no part in the discussions.

In early May 2018, eleven senior advisers of the Trump administration were called to the White House Situation Room. A month earlier, the Trump administration had launched the “zero tolerance” immigration policy, affecting parents with small children. Thus far, U.S. Border agents had failed to separate parents from children and Stephen Miller wanted to know why. He was especially angry at Kirstien Nielsen, the Homeland Security Secretary, who seemed reluctant to embrace children being separated from their parents, including infants.

When a Federal Judge eventually ordered kids to be returned to their parents, it was revealed that the administration had no mechanism established that would reunite kids with their mothers and fathers, which by that time had over 2800 separated children. (It was revealed afterward that the administration had phone numbers for the parents but hid that fact from the authorities at the border.)

But just think about that for a second…the Trump administration actually had meetings on the logistics of child separations…and it was debated and voted on, with Kristen Neilson, Secretary of DHS, being the lone dissenter. Anyone not voting for child separation, warehousing kids in cages, was denounced by Stephen Miller as “being a lawbreaker, an un-American”. He also stated: “If we don’t enforce this, it is the end of our country as we know it.”

A bit of an overreaction on the power of five-year-olds, but that wasn’t all: the administration actually went to court to prevent children from having toothbrushes and soap. Yes, Trump lawyers, using taxpayer’s money, actually wrote legal briefs to deny innocent children soap and toothbrushes. This level of cruelty makes me ashamed for our country.

In both meetings: any ethical or moral considerations were deemed nuisances, betrayals of some higher purpose. The proposed logistics for each meeting were different, but what linked the conferences was the inhumanity, the absence of compassion, and empathy. This level of cruelty, evil unshackled, enabled them to implement their Holocausts by deleting the humanity of their victims, Jews and children.

I am often criticized for pointing out these Hitler, Trump comparisons. I don’t seek these stories, but they become impossible to ignore, and they keep emerging without any dedicated research. They are staring at us; we just have to look. Evil, if not confronted, becomes contagious, and spreads like cancer.

A country can never heal unless it confronts its complicity for its sins. After Mandela became President of South Africa, they had Truth and Reconciliation hearings where citizens were able to confess their sins, an unburdening that inaugurated the process of healing for both the individual and the nation. After World War II, they had the Nuremberg Trials, making people accountable for crimes against humanity.

A nation is as healthy to the degree they have no secrets. Confronting its secrets and sins enables a nation to flourish. Our nation, our democratic institutions, have been poisoned by the Trump administration. He has emboldened white supremacists while fanning the flame of racial discord, culminating with the assault on our Capital on the 6th. The cruelty dealt to children at the border was the tip of the iceberg of the cruelty that Trump and his enablers exacted upon citizens of the United States, especially the poor and people of color.

As a nation, we need a reckoning, an accounting of the level of cruelty and criminality that ran amok these last four years. We need a cleansing, our own Trump, Nuremberg trials.



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