February 13, 2006

Easy to Hate, II: "It was like Nazis"

Several days ago, in a post entitled "Easy to Hate," I discussed a NYT story about fairly low-level immigration officials. The article described some notable horror stories involving officials endowed with growing discretionary power -- and what happens when such power is unleashed against people who pose no threat to us whatsoever. The victims included a young child, a university literature professor, and a group of Tibetan monks.

The story also noted one of the inevitable results of such incidents. Even though the propagandists for the Bush administration prefer to believe, against all the evidence and contrary to human experience, that no one would have known about the abuses and torture at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo, for example, if only the corrupt, anti-American media (in their view) hadn't reported them, such stories always become known. People talk; when friends or relatives suffer great indignities or much worse, their stories are repeated, often very widely. A regular perusal of blogs written by Iraqis reveals that a great number of Iraqis knew about what was happening at Abu Ghraib long before we learned about it in the United States. In the same way, the NYT story described how the incidents involving very serious immigration abuses have served to confirm what some people had feared about the United States, and that: "At the moment, America is easy to hate."

After reading that entry, a reader sent me the following email. I reprint it with his kind permission:
Another story to add, from friends of mine. He is a naturalized American. His wife still retains her German citizenship. They were my neighbors.

After 30 years here they moved back to Germany two years ago. Last month they returned for a visit. Her green card had expired, requiring a visit to ICE at DHS to arrange a tourist visa. They were horrified by the treatment they observed of (presumed) Mexicans (or other Central Americans). I am quoting here: "It was like Nazis."

They both lived through WWII as children.
The Nazi comparison is overused, and often employed inaccurately and lazily. However, certain people -- by virtue of their own life experience, and when their observations are confirmed by other information we possess -- are more than entitled to employ it when they conclude it is deserved.

And so it is here.

[P.S. And see my earlier post for more details about how a political climate of anger and resentment toward foreigners in general feeds into and encourages these abuses.]