NOTE: The injustices being racketed up at the southern border are egregious—but they are by no means new. They embody, as I relate in this review of Greg Grandin’s marvelous history The End of the Myth, the death of America’s founding premise—the idea of the frontier. Responsible journalism, especially when undertaken on a global scale, requires understanding the coalescence of various broader historical phenomena and how they engender suffering, human and environmental. To understand why kids are being held in cages, why American paramilitaries are emerging, we have to understand their historical precedents. We must dive into the injustices of the past to if we ever wish call out, and ultimate stop, those taking place in the present.
The video depicts a huddled mass of migrants, quiet, exhausted, several hundred in number, their eyes squinting dimly in the bright light of the camera. They squat in the creosote, heads bowed in defeat, coughing and shivering in the cold. All around them, men in green fatigues bearing AR-15s and thigh-strapped pistols saunter the group’s perimeter, examining the migrants with cold glances of suspicion and shouting the occasional command in poorly pronounced Spanish.
“How bad will we let it get,” a concerned female voice muses, “before we actually build the wall?”
Midway through the video, the crowd is ushered downhill at gunpoint to a cluster of Border Patrol vehicles. After the video cuts off, they’ll be shuttled to detention centers, locked in cages, and detained interminably before being ejected back into the cartel-dominated no-man’s-land of northern Mexico. They’ll have little protection once they’re dropped there, with no means of getting home nor knowledge of the whereabouts of their parents or children.