Eisenhower Trump

President Donald J. Trump’s frenzied, double-edged sword of spreading fear and currying favor by dramatically announcing, delaying, and then re-instituting Immigration and Customs (ICE) raids upon those he considers to be in the country illegally, reminds me of a similar operation in which I was personally involved many decades ago.:

President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered the – as the loose racism inherent in the title reflects – that is a part of the, “Great” America which the dog whistle-restrained bigots of today would like to restore.

Here is a start contrast in the President of that era with today’s POTUS: The slowly-come-to-racial-Jesus Eisenhower was a lifetime, gentleman soldier who conducted the greatest military campaign in history. As President, he sent troops to Little Rock, Arkansas to quell the snarling, crazed mass of humanity which vented its racist fury upon differently hued students seeking admission to a high school which their parents’ taxes helped to support. On the other hand, we have the bone spur-ravaged poltroon who cites his military school experience, and responds, “I’m good...” to Uncle Sam’s craggy, pointed finger. Instead of promoting harmony in the world, he belittles the heads of proven, friendly nations, while shamelessly cozying up to each and every bloody despot smart enough to pull his easy ego-chain. There is no way his walking, talking psycho-system could even contemplate how to deal with the international and local, earth-shaking decisions of that other era. And, BTW, Eisenhower did not bullshit-blather about infrastructure – he gave us the freak in’ Interstate!

Operation Wetback is the largest mass deportation in American history. It went on for several months in 1954, covering the Southwest States and parts of the Middle West. Since the number of return entries is unknown, estimates of those caught up in the net rage from 300,000 to 1,300,000 – many of them American citizens. Don’t say we didn’t learn anything from the Japanese round-up. For the Japanese, we had to build in-country pens. The Chinese Exclusion mainly required ocean-going ships. With the cooperation of the always self-deprecating Mexican Government, however, in Operation Wetback, all that was needed was to round ‘me up and get ‘me to the border. The Border Patrol, with the assistance of local law enforcement, used buses and other transportation to actually sweep people up off the streets and take them either directly to the border of to a holding facility for later deportation.

As It happens, I was working at one of those holding sites. It was the iconic Lincoln Heights Jail in East Los Angeles. Another civilian employee and I operated a specially set-up work station. It was our job to process the people who had been swept up in the Immigration net, right off the streets of Los Angeles. Most of them were farm workers who were huarache-shod, wore straws hats and field-identifiable clothing. None of them spoke English; as a matter of fact, many had trouble with formal Spanish During the intake interview, it was necessary to ask their weight and height. None of them had any idea, so we had to weigh and measure them. Just as well; I would have been befuddled by kilos and metros. After our interviews, they were herded into a crowded cell to await Immigration pick-up.

Donald trump was eight years old at that time, well on his way to his first million. Many of those gentle, field-bound, untutored souls surely would have worked themselves to death by now. The current generation of Latino immigrants have gathered our produce in the fields; slopped around in The Tyson chicken pens; tended American’ pampered children; cleaned our houses; worked as skilled, underpaid builders; paid their taxes and irretrievable Social Security. They are afforded no more dignity now than in 1954.

***** ***** *****

Dammit, America, wake up!
Yes, you do good – then you suck.
Why not try to last;
Let a century pass;
Strive to earn the America’s Cup...?

Curtis W. Long

Curtis W. Long

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