fresh voices from the front lines of change







Remember Elian Gonzales? He was the little Cuban boy found clinging to an inner tube of the coast of Florida, on Thanksgiving Day in 1999. He’d been rescued by fishermen after his mother and 11 others drowned in an attempt to reach the U.S. from Cuba. His fate sparked a seven-month long national debate, and caused Peggy Noonan to have a dissociative episode on the pages of the Wall Street Journal, before he was returned to his father in Cuba.

Bak then a child trying to enter the U.S. illegally was celebrated by conservatives, rather than vilified. Perhaps young Gonzales’ was simply fleeing the “right “ country, thus giving conservatives an opportunity to burnish their patriotic, anti-communist credentials, and another way to attack President Bill Clinton, all wrapped up in one telegenic child. What could evoke more sympathy than a helpless child, far from home, and without his parents?

That was then. This year, over 52,000 unaccompanied minors from Central America have been caught trying cross the U.S. Mexico border — twice as many as last year, and more than 150,000 are expected next year. The vast majority come from four countries — El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. Many risk their lives to reach the U.S.borderas they flee violence and grinding poverty that have roots in U.S. policies. They wait in cramped, unsanitary conditions, as they await official verdicts on their fates. There are reports that some minors have been mistreated in detention centers.

But this is not 1999. Now “Ugly Americans” run amok as right-wingers show off their patriotism by screaming at helpless children, and Republicans promised to block the president’s efforts to stem a border crisis that fires up the basest elements of the GOP’s wing nut base.

The president has asked congress for $3.7 billion dollars to deal with the border crisis, but Republicans aren’t likely to help solve a problem that keeps their base foaming at the mouth between now and November.

Here’s the rest of the best of the worst in Wingnuttia this week.

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