Untitled, Woodcut, Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy of Van Wagoner Family Trust**

There ought not be all that much to debate. Should the United States, or should it not, engage in fundamental human rights violations? Hmmmm. Trump and a large percentage of what once was the Republican Party appear to say yes unless, of course, it does not pay or play well politically.

Had these human rights abuses occurred under Democratic administrations, Republicans would have gone nuts. They would have used them in every conceivable way to politicize Democrats’ moral bankruptcy and inhumanity. Imagine Fox’s faux moral outrage, the self-righteous and -serving indignation. Even now they are searching for morally equivalent “whatabouts.”

Yes, anyone can go back in time, locate and single out one-offs, but with Trump and his base this is no outlier. It is the fundamental right and opportunity they have waited for, finally to unleash what those liberal elites have forced them collectively to bottle up: a torrent of racism necessarily preceded by a flash-flood of dehumanization.

The imperative to disobey immoral laws ought to inform the discussion. As we all know, tyrants decide what is legal and those who challenge them are criminals. Legal and moral often address different concepts and behavior. They frequently overlap, but not always. “Legal” can be and often is arbitrary social convention as opposed to “moral,” in this case preserving and protecting fundamental human rights and dignity.

Proportionality ought to be a guiding principle. The acts of fleeing horrific violence, abuse, poverty, oppression and other atrocities and seeking asylum here or otherwise stepping across an arbitrary boundary make them no more than a minor misdemeanant with no implicit or underlying moral infraction. This all pales in comparison to fundamental liberty interests in maintaining and preserving family, parent/child relationships, concepts Republicans once championed. The consequence, however, is incarceration and indeterminate separation of parents from children who are detained in internment camps. The consequence for seeking an improved life is disparate to the point of despotic.

Racism and white nationalism are at the core of who Trump and his minions are. They must be afraid decisions in the future will be based on merit rather than their accidents of birth as Caucasian and eventual white elitists. If these people were from “Normay,” we wouldn’t be having this discussion. This is a political stunt being used to ransom a f*cking wall, to fix a problem that does not exist so Trump appears less impotent to a voracious, carnivorous and morally violent base.

As I said in another recent post:


It would seem that many people set on Making American Great Again are lining up behind the current regime as loyal soldiers in the mold of La Croix, including following illegal orders. Kelly. Sessions. Sanders. ICE. Border Patrol.

In 2010 Squad Leader Lawrence La Croix held fast to his code: “A lot of people . . . say, ‘you can’t follow an illegal order.’ Trust me. There is no such thing. Not in the military. If I go into a combat situation and I tell them, ‘No, I’m not going. I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to follow that order,’ well, they’d put me up against the wall and shoot me.” Assigning responsibility to his platoon leader who had issued the order, La Croix was, of course, explaining why he was legally obliged to commit mass murder. U.S. Army soldiers from the Company C of the 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade of the 23rd (American) Infantry Division massacred between 347 and 504 unarmed civilians in South Vietnam on March 16, 1968. Victims included women, children, and infants. Some of the women were gang-raped and their bodies mutilated. Twenty-six soldiers were charged with criminal offenses, but only Lieutenant William Calley Jr., a platoon leader in C Company, was convicted. Found guilty of killing 22 villagers, he was originally given a life sentence, but served only three and a half years under house arrest.

By definition the manifestations of malignant narcissism are incapable of allowing themselves to be masked. Pathology is the most transparent quality of the current regime. One of Trump’s impulsive counter-punches glibly invoked Nazism on a thin-skinned whim because . . . well . . . it popped into his amazing brilliant beautiful mind. “Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public,” he tweeted January 11, 2017. “One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?” This last reference was more projection of his own disheveled spontaneous propaganda machine and protestation of his vulnerability to Russian extortion than accurate description of anything external to himself, such as the intelligence community. Trump’s Liddean ethical construct starkly, and unapologetically, equates morality and power. That’s when the focus of applied power turns away from serving its constituents to amassing, consolidating, protecting and preserving itself. That works for only those with power and, as a result, for only so long.

“We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was ‘legal’ and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was ‘illegal.’ It was ‘illegal’ to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers.” Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963.

*My brother the very talented fiction writer and novelist, Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner, deserves considerable credit for offering both substantive and technical suggestions to and

**My daughter Angela Moore, a professional photographer, photographed more than 500 pieces of my father’s work. On behalf of the Van Wagoner Family Trust, she is in the process of compiling a collection of his art work. The photographs of my father’s art reproduced in are hers.



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