By now you’ve perhaps already heard of the outrageously heartless example of human trafficking executed by one of the cruelest, most sadistic monsters in the Republican Party. In case you missed it, I’m referring to the recent inhuman stunt pulled off by the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis. DeSantis ordered his stormtroopers to take a gentle group of 50 trusting and hopeful immigrants, herded them onto a plane, promised them jobs, homes and hot food then dumped them unceremoniously and without telling anyone in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.
Not content to make his cruelty merely conventional, DeSantis also set some of the 50 immigrants with an impossible task. Each was told they had to report to different immigration centres in various cities around the United States (where they were not in fact expected to report). Some of these immigration centres were on the other side of the continent. One had an address in Seattle, Washington, about 3,500 miles from Martha’s Vineyard. These immigrants were then told they had to report to those immigration centres within three days or be faced with immediate deportation.
Fortunately the good people of Martha’s Vineyard had their backs. They provided the immigrants with hot food and shelter and reassurances. They untold the lies those poor people were told with honest and reassuring truth, as welcome and comforting as the hot bowls of soup they gave them. They showed those people what American compassion and humanity can sometimes look like. They showed them that not everyone in the United States is a bitter and heartless bastard like Ron DeSantis and his cabal.
The point that strikes me in all this is this is nothing new. We’ve actually seen this kind of behaviour before. DeSantis is many things, but one thing he is not is original. It turns out that the kind of cruelty he was imitating is at least 85 years old, if not older.
I’m reminded of people in a certain country of Europe who were herded onto freight cars with promises of a safe place to live, a place where they would be free of persecution, where hot food would be served and they could thrive unmolested with their families and friends. When they got to their destination they were taken to a place where they were told they would all receive hot showers against the bitter winter. There, finally, they were herded together, crammed into a large room and gassed to death.
I’m referring, of course, to what Germans told the Jews who were herded like cattle into overstuffed boxcars on their way to any of the six extermination camps of Chełmno, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Majdanek and Auschwitz-Birkenau. I’m referring to some of the cruelest, most despicable monsters in history. Well, those monsters are back. And they’re nothing new, nothing original.
Cruelty is a dish that has few ingredients. Those ingredients include humiliation, privation, pain, economic hardship, starvation and murder. In his pale and unfunny imitation of the Nazis DeSantis frequently uses their same methods and ingredients in unsurprisingly unoriginal ways. DeSantis is an example of yet another manifestation of the banality of evil. The words I have for him are far too rude for me to repeat here. But I trust the imagination of my reading audience to guess with pinpoint accuracy what those words might be.
What DeSantis did was also a cheap political stunt, calculated desperately to wrest the focus of the upcoming midterm election away from the repeal of Roe v. Wade, which is turning out to be poison for Republicans. DeSantis and other Republicans want to change the core message from Roe to immigration. Needless to say, the stunt blew up in DeSantis’ face. Like a stupid grade school bully, DeSantis doesn’t understand the difference between savagery and humor. He can’t make a point without giving away the game and exposing how utterly, despicably heartless he is.
Republicans who still manage to have a vestige of humanity but have become complacent from luxuriating in the comfortable bed of dogma could, perhaps, profit from a little self-examination here. Perhaps they and a few independents will finally wake up and recognise that we’re not dealing with mere ideological differences between Democrats and Republicans. Republicans have become the new Nazis, experimenting with the arch barbarity of the worst human beings who ever lived. It’s time to learn from history — or get ready to repeat it.
Maybe, just maybe it’s time for everybody to stop acting like Donald Trump. Maybe it’s time to get out of this race to the bottom, to stop imitating Nazis and start becoming human beings again. Cruelty can be habit forming, and the victims are almost always the gentlest and best among us. It’s now time for the people of the salvageable middle ground to get up and say NO! It’s time to vote these wicked people out of office. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.