Debunking the hysteria about kids in concentration camps

Another day, another moral panic in America. This time about the 2,300 illegal migrants under 18 held by the Feds who have been separated from their parents. Now it is fueled mostly by lies. Just as with previous moral panics, such as the epidemic of child abductions (800 thousand per year!) and Satanic Ritual Abuse. Journalists’ incentives encourage them to report lies to get clicks, feeding us the excitement we demand from them.

These carefully constructed media frenzies are often powerful tools to mobilize public opinion. They are an example of how our weaknesses make us easy to govern, a gift to our elites. Perhaps we will learn this time. Until then, here is an acerbic look at this episode by somebody boiling over with rage at what we have become.

“And soon, very soon – after the victory of our movement — we will defend all the migrants in the American continent and all the migrants in the world. {Mexicans should} leave their towns and find a life in the United States. … {That is} a human right we will defend.”
—  Andrés Manuel López Obrador, front-runner in the election to be President of Mexico. Source: English and Spanish original.

Migrants coming into Europe
Migrants walk to the Hungarian-Austrian border in September 2015. By Christopher Furlong/Getty Images.

Don’t Cry for Me, Rachel Maddow

By James Howard Kunstler at his website. Posted with his generous permission.

The latest artificial hysteria cranked up by the Offendedness Cartel – re: detention of juvenile illegal immigrants – is the most nakedly sentimental appeal yet by the party out-of-power, a.k.a. “the Resistance.” I have a solution: instead of holding these children in some sort of jail-like facility until their identity can be sorted out, just give each one of them an honorary masters degree in Diversity Studies from Harvard and let them, for God’s sake, go free in the world’s greatest job market. Before you know it, we’ll have the next generation of Diversity and Inclusion deans, and America will be safe from racism, sexism, and Hispanophobia.

I won’t waste more than this sentence in arguing that official policy for the treatment of juvenile illegal immigrants is exactly what it was under Mr. Obama, and Mr. Bush before him. I didn’t hear Paul Krugman of The New York Times hollering about the various federal agencies acting “like Nazis” back in 2014, or 2006.

You’d think that ICE officers were taking these kids out behind the dumpster and shooting them in the head. No, actually, the kids are watching Marvel Comics movies, playing video games, or soccer, and getting three square meals a day while the immigration officials try to figure out who their parents are, or how to repatriate them to their countries-of-origin if they came here without any parents – say, with the assistance of the Sinaloa Drug Cartel. By the way, these make up the majority of kids detained in the latest wave of mass border crossings.

Actual political leadership among “the Resistance” is AWOL this week. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer failed to offer up any alternative legislative plan for sorting out these children differently. One can infer in the political chatter emanating from the Offendedness Cartel that immigration law is ipso-facto cruel and inhuman and that the “solution” is an open border. In theory, this might play to the Democratic Party’s effort to win future elections by enlisting an ever-growing voter base of Mexican and Central American newcomers. But it assumes that somehow these newcomers get to become citizens, with the right to vote in US elections – normally an arduous process requiring an application and patience – but that, too, is apparently up for debate, especially in California, where lawmakers are eager to enfranchise anyone with a pulse who is actually there, citizen or not.

Krugman of The Times really hit the ball out of the park today with his diatribe comparing US Immigration enforcement to the Nazis treatment of the Jews. As a person of the Hebrew persuasion myself, I rather resent the reckless hijacking of this bit of history for the purpose of aggrandizing the sentimentally fake moral righteousness of the Resistance. It actually diminishes the enormity of the Nazi campaign against European Jews. I daresay that commentary like Krugman’s will only serve to amplify a growing resentment of Jewish intellectuals in this country – including myself, increasingly the target of anti-Jewish calumnies and objurgations.

You’d think that Mr. Trump had offered to blow up Ellis Island the way the Resistance is clamoring to pull down statues of Thomas Jefferson.

One also can’t fail to notice that this latest hysteria was ginned up the very same week that the Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz and FBI Director Christopher Wray testified in congress about the gross and astounding misconduct in the executive suites of those sister agencies – literally a bastion of the Resistance (or Deep State bureaucracy). Some kind of giant worm is turning in that circle of the three-ring-circus US politics has become.

A lot of the characters who politicized the FBI – turned it into a chop-shop for election campaign shenanigans – will be headed for grand juries and some of them maybe even jail. It may be the sort of jail in the federal system that offers ping pong and bocce ball, but it won’t be the same as practicing law on K Street in a wainscoted office with coffered ceilings and lunch of poulet chasseur sent up from the brasserie downstairs. Those confined will have plenty of time to commiserate with the kids from south-of-the-border who were dragged into the USA one way or another by people who didn’t care what happened to them, or reckon on it if they did care.

————————- End of the article! ————————

Truth Will Make You Free

Accurate information is out there. If we want it.

Examples of the fake news driving the panic.

Moral panics produce an “anything goes” policy by journalists, encouraging people to exaggerate or lie. The stories go viral at light speed, while corrections move like snails.

The government has not “lost” 1500 migrant children.

Outrage on the Left about this photo. Until they learned it was from 2014, during the Obama years. Then came the explanations. See the story at Business Insider.

Two females in a holding cell
US Customs and Border Protection center in Nogales, Arizona. Taken 18 June 2014. AP/Ross D. Franklin.

Tweeted photo inaccurately indicates boy ‘caged’ by federal government” by W. Gardner Selby at Politifact — It was staged at a protest.

About the TIME cover of the young illegal migrant girl and Trump: “Was migrant girl on US border taken from mother? Unfounded” by AFP. By “unfounded” they mean “a lie.” Here is what a correct version of the cover would look like.

TIME fake news cover about migrant child

Obama began the policy

R. Andrew Free briefly discussed this with Obama in 2015. Separations were a deterrent: “I’ll tell you what we can’t have. It’s these parents sending their kids here on a dangerous journey and putting their lives at risk.”

See this description of US policy from a NGO report dated 10 January 2017 (before Trump’s inauguration), in the section: Separating Families as a Method of Deterrence.

“As a matter of procedure and policy, border agents routinely separate family members, including intentionally, as punishment – or “consequences” – through what DHS calls its Consequence Delivery System (CDS). These consequences are meant to deter future migration, often regardless of international protection or other humanitarian concerns. The CDS has been implemented systematically since 2005. Common examples of CDS include Reinstatement of Removal, criminal prosecution for an immigration offense such as reentry (including Operation Streamline), lateral repatriation, Alien Transfer Exit Program (ATEP), and Mexican Interior Repatriation Program (MIRP).”

Life in the detention centers

The flood of minors — 2/3 male, many in the 15-18 — caught the government by surprise. As usual, it was slow to respond. Many of the early facilities were inadequate, and some were placed with poor-vetted vendors. Now most live in conditions far superior to those at home, and better than those of many poor Americans.

Long Island News 12 looks at a facility housing migrant children separated from families.

“The Children’s Village is a federally funded foster care system that provides children with resources such as boarding and recreational and medical centers. News 12 is told 20 children, ages 9 to 17, were brought to the facility after federal agents separated them from their parents.

“The president of The Children’s Village says the children have been in contact with their families.

“Dr. Traci Gardner is the facility’s chief medical officer for immigration services. ‘When they come to me, they are nervous about getting a physical,” says Gardner. “Sometimes I am the first doctor they’ve ever seen or met.’ She says some children arrived on the 180-acre campus with minor health conditions, like colds and blisters and occasionally lice. Once they’re treated, Gardner says the biggest challenge is helping them cope with separation from their parents. …

“Trained staff guide the teens through a number of daily activities, including school and recreation, such as swimming and weightlifting.”

It’s not just Trump.

Fact-Checking 4 Claims About Detaining Children at the Border” by Fred Lucas at the Daily Signal. Well-documented (links!) rebuttals to four of the most popular lies.

The Automatic Earth shows articles that put this hysteria in a larger context.

From the Obama years: ACLU Obtains Documents Showing Widespread Abuse Of Child Immigrants In US Custody.

Theresa May’s brutal family separations would make Trump blush” by Satbir Singh at The Guardian.

About Australia’s holding facility: “Australia is wilfully damaging the health of children on Nauru to make a point – and it is appalling” at the Sydney Morning Herald.

Precedents from our past that have been put down the memory hole: FDR’s Mexican Repatriation. Perhaps a million or more were expelled across the border.

How these panics are used to manipulate us.

Pedophrasty, Bigoteering, and Other Modern Scams” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb — “Clearing the discourse of abuses and abusers.”

“Pedophrasty: Argument involving children to prop up a rationalization and make the opponent look like an asshole, as people are defenseless and suspend all skepticism in front of suffering children: nobody has the heart to question the authenticity or source of the reporting. Often done with the aid of pictures.”

James Howard Kunstler
Photo by Charlie Samuels.

About Kunstler

James Howard Kunstler (Wikipedia) worked as a reporter and feature writer for a number of newspapers, before working as a staff writer for Rolling Stone Magazine. In 1975, he began writing books on a full-time basis. Kunstler is the author of 12 novels and has been a regular contributor to many major media, writing about environmental and economic issues. He is a leading supporter of the movement known as “New Urbanism.”

He has lectured at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Princeton, Dartmouth, Cornell, MIT, and many other colleges. He has written five non-fiction books.

For More Information

Ideas! For shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon.

If you found this post of use, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Also see these posts about immigrants, about fake news, and especially these…

  1. Essential reading about hidden history: The history of immigration and America, lost amidst the more useful myths.
  2. Migration from the south into America: new people, new foods, new political systems.
  3. Immigration as a reverse election: our leaders get a new people.
  4. Look at immigration policy to see our government respond to its masters.
  5. The numbers about immigration that fuel Trump’s campaign.
  6. Immigration to the US surges. It’s good news for Trump.
  7. Trump wants to defend our borders. Democrats protest.
  8. The lies about immigration keeping the borders open.

10 thoughts on “Debunking the hysteria about kids in concentration camps”

  1. Excellent post. Kunstler was on the mark.

    Noticed all the protests across the nation funded by Soros. They sure have been stirred up. Where are the counterprotesters? Oh, at Trump Rallies.

    Soros and ACLU are behind this. Moveon, Occupy, all the “Anti Separation” movements are mostly funded by Soros. They seem well organized and networked. I believe they are a noisy minority.

    November will be interesting, when those nonexistent counterprotesters vote.

    1. Not just a noisey minority, but an insurgency. More and more I despise these people because they lie to get what they want. If you have a set of beliefs – fine, but lying to the public is disgusting. The democrats and media are well coordinated in this endeavor. Hmmm. Oh, and George Will can go suck a dong.

      1. Larry Kummer, Editor


        Lies are the primary currency in US politics – because they work. Americans have become tribal, believing pleasing tribal truths over evidence and logic. Our ruling elites have seen this an adapted.

        “The democrats and media are well coordinated in this endeavor.”

        The tragedy is that each side clearly sees this in their foes, but not in themselves. But corrections can come only from within each side, since neither listens to the other. Since the docile flocks of sheep on each side care nothing for truth, we’re on the Highway to Hell.

        I’ve written a lot about this, but have not discovered how to do so in a way that wakes people up.

        1. A nation lit only by propaganda.
        2. The secret, simple tool that persuades Americans. That molds our opinions.
        3. We cannot agree on simple facts and so cannot reform America.
        4. American politics is a fun parade of lies, for which we pay dearly.
        5. Our minds are addled, the result of skillful and expensive propaganda.
        6. Important adviceLearning skepticism, an essential skill for citizenship in 21st century America. About “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof”.
        7. We live in an age of ignorance, but can decide to fix this – today.
        8. Remembering is the first step to learning. Living in the now is ignorance.
        9. Swear allegiance to the truth as a step to reforming America.
        10. Ways to deal with those guilty of causing the fake news epidemic.
        11. A new year’s gift: two tools to help discover truth in the news.
        12. The secret source of fake news. Its discovery will change America.
        13. Important: A picture of America, showing a path to political reform.
    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      Thanks for catching that! Fixed.

      Eventually the AI descendents of today’s spell & grammar checkers will catch such errors. The next gen after that will be doing all the writing. I’m not sure what comes after that.

  2. The Man Who Laughs

    Congress is faced here with an interesting problem. Powerful factions in both parties want open borders, mass amnesty, and unlimited migration. (Why they want this and whether it’s a good idea are outside the scope of this comment.) But the voters are more skeptical, and this helped to elect Trump. So the problem is to get amnesty without being seen voting for it in an election year.

    Congress could, if it wished, change the laws that Trump is being blamed for enforcing, but then they’d have to take responsibility for doing so. To quote a line from Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie “Responsibility is a heavy responsibility”. So the demand is that Trump stop enforcing the tangle of laws that Congress passed.

    Obama was a lot easier to work with because he only made a pretense of enforcing the immigration law and would resort to the occasional executive order of dubious legality (DACA).

    I have no idea what Trump would do if the Ryan Amnesty Act landed on his desk, and Trump may not know himself. But the bill hasn’t passed because Trump has failed to campaign for it in a way that would give Congress sufficient political cover. (Whether Trump even has to the power to give Congress sufficient political cover for the Ryan bill is another matter.) There’s the discharge petition plan that would allow them to pass amnesty and I guess tell the voters that it just sort of happened, but they haven’t managed that yet either.

    The point is, i guess, that they can’t admit what they’re doing and they won’t take responsibility for what they’ve done, or what they want to do, so they tell us that we have to do it for the children, and shriek about the children, and the concentration camps, and the Nazis, and Trump.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor

      The Man,

      That’s a great summary. Politics these days is like life on Dune (in the novel). We see the tracks of giant sandworms moving invisibly below the surface. We can only guess at their intentions and motives.

      My guess (guess!) is that the immigration crisis is moving towards some kind of inflection point. I have no idea what lies beyond.

      More and better posts coming in the next two weeks about this.

  3. Moral panics to move the public sentiment are a time-honored way of doing business in America. Go back a few decades and we encounter —

    • Daisy Douglas Barr, the nice Quaker Women’s Christian Temperance Union member – and Imperial Empress of the Indiana KKK.
    • David Curtiss Stephenson applied the lessons he learned as a salesman, a printer’s apprentice and military officers’ training to create one of the most efficient recruitment schemes ever {for the IN KKK}, based on moral panic.
    • The Louis Comfort Tiffany interiors and windows at the Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church notwithstanding, the church stays in jeopardy because of its active participation in a moral panic that is now part of a history no one much wants to remember {it was a recruitment center for the IN KKK}.

    It all depends on whose bread is being buttered, doesn’t it, as to how these moral panics are judged. College professors teaching the Silent Generation helped give their students a critical eye regarding mass movements in general: reading assignments included books like Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer. They included Katherine Kressman Taylor’s Address Unknown (1938) and Lawrence William’s A Man of Peace in our curriculum. When my 8th grade class was assigned Diaries of Anne Frank, the teachers were well aware that most of us had a relative or two that were in Poland or Germany during that time.

    Do not confuse the illusion of movement that appears on one of the several boob tubes offered to us currently with actual movement. Those with an actual dog in the fight have to move carefully, as they suffer losses more painful than the rear-burns suffered by online posters.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      Thank you for the important reminder about stories of American history that have been put down the memory hole! I added supporting links to your comment and formated it for easier reading.

      An explanation of your last paragraph would be helpful. I don’t understand what it mean.

      “It all depends on whose bread is being buttered, doesn’t it, as to how these moral panics are judged.”

      I hadn’t thought of that. What moral panics of the past are now presented in mainstream history as beneficial?

  4. I am reading a Silent Invasion By Clive Hamilton.

    It is a real eye opener as to the Chinese immigration, where I now live in Australia.

    The immigration into the US and EU (including previous member, the UK), has been mainly an economic migration, of young men who often already speaking quite good English and therefore are less likely to include the really poor.

    I taught in College in London in the 1990’s, coming from an English as a Foreign Language background, although I did Economics at degree and Masters, I got many Migrant classes.

    My previous students were business executives in Spain where I lived and worked in the last 1980’s to 1991, being from a business education, I got a lot more work with executives than the Arts background teachers, who generally disliked business and didn’t understand articles form the FT or Washington Post business and political sections, that were preferred reading by the students for there often one on one lessons in the workplace. These executives were richer, better educated and more demanding, some just arrogant and spoilt.

    I explain the above as after splitting up with my Spanish ex-wife I returned home to London and got a College job, mainly teaching Business and some English Language with refugees. Many were war affected and from Africa, but not all, over half were clearly educated, wealthy and had illegal jobs such as taxi driving. They drove older Mercedes or BMWs, at the time I could not afford such a vehicle, on a full time college wage, I like them had no savings (divorce took all I had!), so how did they afford these initial vehicles.

    I remember a situation were I failed three young men from Kosovo, they came down to Head Office and asked to speak with the Head of School and my self about the grades, they were banging the tables and shouting; I explained they only had to do a few corrections and re-submit no fails really, just NYC (not yet competent) .
    They only had to re-do an assignment about 8 to 10 hours work. They explained they were poor farmers and needed to be passed straight away, one cried and the Head of School gave me a look that said “forget a career here”. I watched her give them them an institutional pass and a move to another class. In the staff room, a fellow teacher said to me, they are poor farmers, just pass them; I was angry and not guarded to the leftie staff room. I said” look at my hands, I started at 17 as a builder with my Dad and went to University at 24, in just seven years and even after 10 year of no more real manual work you can see the cuts and scars. Look at their hands perfectly clear, not even a trace of a callous on the palms, they have never worked a day manually in their lives”. That College career was over, but it was true.

    Later a student from Africa said to me, they were not even Muslims (we only gave Muslims refugee status out of Kosovo), he was a Christian and persecuted in Somalia, he had seen them at Church, he knew they had money from home, they bought lunch each day, which would have costs more that their days benefits. After they got asylum and a British Passport they bought a restaurant, I ate there once and when they saw me they said “my money was no good and refused payment”, by then I had moved College.

    The Muslim and I imagine Mexican/South American migration is more economic and the local people are getting fed up, if Trump doesn’t stop it, then it will get ugly.

    In Australia, I had a rental house and had Uyger people of refugee Status one time, the recycling was full of empty alcohol bottles every week, not just the alcohol, but the cost, bottles and bottles of spirits When they left, they left the place a pig sty and my wife and I cleaned it up, I found the old Visa Card statements, remember they are on full social welfare higher than the local as they are refugees, every three months the card was charged with $10,000 Aus. I then asked a student I knew well about this, he said that it is the way to get money and benefits, as you legally say you have no money and your parents charge the card the other end, one of the refugees was actually the son of an Army Officer loyal to the Party and involved in putting down the revolt. I learnt that this would be the end of this job if I spoke up and I am afraid to say I did not. A dissident Chinese student too afraid to speak openly told me after class once. He wanted to know why we didn’t throw the CCP out, I knew the answer, but said it is difficult in a democracy and the politics of race, but mostly it is money, the revenue of international students keeps us going in the world of self funding Universities and Colleges.

    I live in regional Australia and there is only one College, just being a conservative is enough of a bad mark.

    I hear what is going on in the UK with rape gangs, knife violence, it is getting very heated. The experiment of putting a frog in boiling water and slowly heating the water, and stays there until it dies, is a feeling many UK people have black and white.

    Yes, there will be migration, but how much 20 million a year until the UK, EU and US are no longer richer and unpleasant to live in. I have no answer, I have no answer, but I fear the next 25 years could get very ugly, when interest rates rise and food gets dear, even without water and resource shortages.

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