Crusading against evil since ...
1257 stories
1 follower

We Are What We Question

1 Comment

This Effort To Resist Learning Is Seen as a Political Plus

There’s a reason that democratic nations resist negotiating with terrorists even for the return of hostages: Paying the demanded ransom only promises more of the same.

That’s the context of this week’s apparent cave-in by the College Board to winnow its Advanced Placement Curriculum for African American Studies after focused criticism by Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his budding presidential platform based on a broad attack on all policies, programs, and attitudes that he sees as reflecting a “woke” outlook in education and business.

Protestations from the College Board notwithstanding, the announcement that the education professionals would remove Black authors who promote apparently controversial, critical thinking subjects came across as a blatantly political surrender to right-wing complaints about perceived “indoctrination” of our best high school students — students who are adjudged as able to meet challenging interdisciplinary courses laden with hefty questions that question the status quo.

Indeed, a course on the African American experience redesigned by a conservative political camel in pursuit of whitewashing controversy raises questions about why there is an Advanced Placement course at all.

In any event, the College Board surrender came just as DeSantis – who is seen as “building his brand” by remaking higher education to denude it of multiculturalism – was already busy pushing beyond the AP course skirmish to demand state public college curricula that stress Western Civilization history, the elimination of any programs mentioning diversity and inclusion, and generally attacking the idea of academic tenure. He is out to eliminate what he calls “ideological conformity,” even as he increasingly cites conservative resumes as a qualifying element for appointment to state college education jobs. He sees “indoctrination” in examining questions, that this course and others even remotely related are not historically accurate and they violate a state law he created to insist that no course could be taught that might make a student feel shame.

Further, DeSantis sees himself a leader among two-dozen states whose Republican-majority legislatures share the goal of protecting a dwindling national White, Christian-identifying population intent on resisting the natural course of demographic change. Somehow, in a world that I clearly do no inhabit, this effort to resist learning is seen as a political plus.

Curtailing the Course

In its announcement, the College Board eliminated from its nationally recommended AP class many Black writers and scholars associated with critical race theory, the queer experience, Black feminism, and mentions of Black Lives Matter. It added an idea to research “Black conservatism.”

Stretching credulity, David Coleman, head of the College Board, told The New York Times that the changes were all made for pedagogical reasons, not to bow to political pressure. “At the College Board, we can’t look to statements of political leaders,” he said. The changes, he said, came from “the input of professors” and “longstanding AP principles.”

Maybe we should have an Advanced Placement course about the selling of bridges in Brooklyn and the discerning of meaning and language. Naturally, it would have nothing at all to do with American politics.

Let’s just acknowledge that we find ourselves in a huge insurrection about what it means to be an American, about how we look at race and identity in all phases of our society.  The messy part of rights and democracy revolves around the central question of how to extend these rights to parts of society who have been pushed aside.

It is simply astounding to have an announcement about cutting out critical questions about race in education in the same week in which we are witnessing the public anguish over how to think about community policing that results in the death of another Black man stopped over an alleged traffic stop in Memphis and the firing and arrest of at least five police officer for the killing.

It is one thing for the DeSantis crowd to question age-appropriate mentions of race and identity in schools and quite another to ban diversity programs for colleges and private businesses. It is unwise to tell students who volunteer to undertake a challenging college-level high school course that crosses academic disciplines that they are wrong to have questions about the teachings of American history, sociology, and other social sciences.

Why the College Board would give in here likely has a lot more to do with the business aspects of the education panel and acceptance by conservative state officials than its views of academic rigor. AP courses are a major source of revenue, said The Times, which checked its nonprofit income forms. Two dozen states have adopted some sort of measure against mentions of critical race theory, which is not taught in public schools outside of this AP class meant for advanced placement in college.

Cutting Contemporary Issues

Obviously, the dispute over the advanced placement course is about attitudes towards race and gender issues altogether, themes reflected in our steady march of state legislations and court cases aimed at trimming affirmative action, housing, immigration, education, and other areas of dispute.

If we all were to accept the findings of this course, we would not have need of it. But race has been this nation’s Achilles’ heel through three centuries.

The revised 234-page curriculum includes content on Africa, slavery, reconstruction, and the civil rights movement. It is the discussion of more contemporary topics from affirmative action, queer life, the possibility of reparations programs, that have prompted protest. Those subjects have been eliminated from course exams or options for a required research paper.

Now banned writers and scholars include Kimberlé W. Crenshaw, a law professor at Columbia, who addresses critical race theory; Roderick Ferguson, a Yale professor who has written about queer social movements, and Ta-Nehisi Coates, who has argued for reparations.

Colleges and universities in America always have taught about Western Civilization. Over decades, it has been the attempt to bring similar academic interest to non-Western societies, indigenous peoples and to those suffering in a striation of American society that has been a continuing focus. Look no further than the news of the week, where confrontations over race in America and our long-term rivalry with China and Asians nations fill the airwaves.

Do you think understanding what America is up against might be more appropriate than not?


The post We Are What We Question appeared first on

Read the whole story
16 hours ago
The Tsar of Desantistan specifies how Florida students shall be indoctrinated
Central Pennsyltucky
Share this story

Biologics and Biosimilars: A Test for Intellectual Property

1 Comment

The fundamental tradeoff of intellectual property rights–like patents and copyrights–is that the inventor gets a government-protected monopoly for a period of time, as an incentive for innovation, but then the innovation passes into the public domain. For example, this is the moment when generic equivalents of pharmaceuticals can start competing with brand-name drugs.

The period when a lucrative invention shifts into the public domain is primed for politics and strategy, as the incumbent firm tries to hold on to its leading competitive position. In one famous example, the US Congress passed in 1998 what became known as the “Mickey Mouse Protection Act,” which extended copyright protection for Mickey and many lesser-known creations to last for 95 years–an extension of 21 years from the previous rule. A few decades ago, when generic drugs started to take over from previously patented drugs, there was a storm of litigation and antitrust action around questions like whether generics had to go through similar testing for safely and efficacy by the Food and Drug Administration, and how to judge whether a generic drug was the same–or perhaps just a little different–than the previously patented drug.

Now, 91% of US prescriptions are for generic drugs. By one estimate, this saves over $370 billion per year for US health care consumers. But almost all of those generic drugs are “small molecule” drugs, which essentially means that they are created by chemistry. Starting a couple of decades ago, a new wave of “biologic” drugs arrived. These are begin by isolating certain components from humans, animals, or microorganisms, and then growing them through biotechnology or related techniques. They include “vaccines, blood and blood components, allergenics, somatic cells, gene therapy, tissues, and recombinant therapeutic proteins.” As one example, the COVID vaccines are biologics. The highest-revenue prescription drug of all time, AbbVie’s Humira–an injectable treatment for autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis–is a biologic. It can cost some patients $70,000 per year.

A number of biosimilars are remarkable advances in health care, and bring substantial benefits to patients. Many of them also have very high prices. Indeed, the rough estimates seem to be that biologics account for 2% of US prescriptions for drugs, but 40% of total spending on prescription drugs. Of the top 10 prescription drugs in the US in 2021 by revenue, seven are biologics–including two versions of the COVID vaccine. Industry projections are that in a few years, annual revenues from biologics will exceed those for small-molecule drugs by $100 per year or more. Again, part of the reason is that so many small-molecule drugs are now available in generic form, while many leading biologics are still on patent. Humira is just about to go off patent this year.

The generic equivalents for biologic drugs are called “biosimilars,” because the chemistry of these (“large molecule”) biologics often isn’t easy to define. They are often hard to manufacture, and susceptible to heat or contamination. As a result, the producers of the original biologics often obtain patents not just on a therapeutic molecule, but on a variety of manufacturing techniques, each of which produced slightly different chemical outcomes that can be patented as well.

For example, the AbbVie patent on adalimumab, the key ingredient in Humira, actually expired back in 2016. But given new manufacturing techniques and variations on the original formulation, AbbVie has actually obtained more than 100 patents related to Humira. In the antitrust biz, this is sometimes called a “patent thicket”–a term which refers to an ever-evolving body of patents, with old ones expiring and new ones coming into play, thus blocking new competition on an ongoing basis.

Back in 2010, the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act became law, with the goal of defining a path for biosimilar drugs to replace the original brand-name biologics, as patents expire, in the same say that generics have replaced so many small-molecule drugs in the last couple of decades. The law is based on language about whether the biosimilar is “highly similar” to the original, with no “clinically meaningful differences.” But of course, terms like “highly similar” and “meaningful differences” are basically catnip for lawyers, especially when billions of dollars of sales are at stake.

I don’t have any deep insights into how to write the rules governing when rules governing when biosimilars can replace the original biologics. I readily acknowledge that there are some hard questions here, because we aren’t dealing with precise chemistry and small molecule drugs in this situation. There are legitimate questions about biosimilars being produced in safe ways.

But the overall goal here seems fairly clear: when patent protection expires, reasonably easy entry should be possible. If the rules for new biosimilars require extensive re-testing and long-term tests on patients, it will be much harder for biosimilars to gain a foothold. In some cases, makers of the original brand-name biologics also managed to sign exclusive deals with health care providers, where the providers agreed to use only the original biologic and to shun biosimilars. There are now 22 biosimilars approved for patients, with another seven scheduled to launch this year. But there have been essays in medical journals for several years now lamenting the slow pace at which biosimilars have been approved.

At present, Humira is the biggest test. At least eight other drug companies have plans to launch biosimilars. But along with the patent thicket that AbbVie has constructed around Humira, AbbVie is introducing two new biologics with similar effects, different active ingredients–and patent protection. Under current rules, a pharmacist can swap in a generic drug for a brand-name without needing a new prescription, but for biologics, a new prescription naming the biosimilar drug is needed. In some ways, the question of whether biosimilar competitors for Humira can become established in the market is a test case for the biosimilar industry as a whole, in the sense that it will affect whether firms see the biosimilar market as worth pursuing. But one big health care system is apparently ready to switch: “David Chen, who directs specialty drug use for Kaiser Permanente, said the insurer plans to stop covering Humira by the end of 2023. He expects at least 90 percent of patients to switch to the biosimilar alternative, and said Kaiser should save hundreds of millions of dollars a year.”

A golden opportunity for a beleaguered biosimilars market” (Tradeoffs, January 26, 2023).

The post Biologics and Biosimilars: A Test for Intellectual Property first appeared on Conversable Economist.

Read the whole story
1 day ago
Newer patents protect corporate profits.
Central Pennsyltucky
Share this story

HIGHWAY TO HELL: Prison transportation officer sentenced to 2 years for abusing detainees

1 Share

A former prison transportation officer has been sentenced to two years in prison for violating the civil rights of those he was duty-bound to protect.

Anthony Buntyn, 55, is accused of intentionally and knowingly subjecting prisoners to “dangerous, painful, and unhealthy conditions,” when riding on a correction institution van between jurisdictions.

“Detainees are entitled to basic human dignity,”  U.S. Attorney Alexander M.M. Uballez for the District of New Mexico said. “Those who are responsible for their detention, from transport personnel to law enforcement and corrections officers, have the same duty to protect the rights and safety of their charges.”

Except Buntyn didn’t.

According to the DOJ, the transportation officer would retaliate against prisoners speaking out about the conditions endured during the trips in an inhumane fashion.

Buntyn would restrain the dissenters by tying the incarcerated passengers’ hands behind their backs and forcing them to remain in a segregated cage.

Buntyn amped up the sadism by denying those in his care access to food and water – and ignoring calls for restroom breaks.

Left with zero options, many of those being transported resorted to relieving themselves on the floor of the van, or in empty bottles if available.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time abuses by the for-profit prison transport industry have been in the spotlight.

In 2016, The Marshall Project collaborated with The New York Times on a story detailing the inner workings of an industry that has been allowed to operate with little government oversight.

In 2012, Florida business owner Steven Galack was arrested on an out-of-state Ohio warrant for failure to pay child support – but the father of three wouldn’t see the end of the 1,000-mile trip.

Packed in a van with several others, Galack was handcuffed from his wrists to his ankles and became delirious while traveling without air conditioning in over 90-degree heat.

According to inmate statements, on the third day of the trip, one of the guards told others in charge “Only body shots,”  as the others began stomping on the prisoner.

“This is someone’s brother, father, and it’s like nobody even cared,” the deceased’s ex-wife, Kristin Galack, said.

Tennessee-based Prisoner Transportation Services of America is the nation’s largest for-profit extradition company. The company is paid by the number of prisoners transported on each trip – as well as by the mile.

They make up to $1.50 a mile for both, The Marshall Project wrote.

Companies like PTS have operated with relative impunity while traveling across multiple jurisdictions adding to the lack of accountability for abusive actions that occur across several state lines.

Kristen Clarke, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, condemned Buntyn’s willful disregard for the prisoners’ rights.

Reminding the public that officers transporting prisoners are beholden to protect the constitutional rights of those in their custody – regardless if they are employed by a private company.

“The department will continue to vigorously enforce our nation’s laws to ensure that officers who break the law — including those who are driving the nation’s backroads in prisoner transport vans and may therefore wrongly believe they can act with impunity — are held accountable,” Clarke stated.

“Any abuse of detainees or failure to provide necessities is a violation of that trust and a violation of the law, and it will be roundly prosecuted,” Uballez said.

Buntyn’s egregious violations of prisoners’ civil and human rights were reported to federal authorities by officials at the Shawnee County Detention center located in Topeka, Kansas after noticing the condition of inmates.

According to Kansas City field office Special Agent in Charge Charles Dayoub, “Buntyn’s actions disparage the very core of what he was employed to do – protect these individuals while in his custody,” the DOJ wrote in its statement.

“He knowingly disregarded the detainees’ basic civil rights, putting these individuals in harm’s way. Today’s sentencing demonstrates the FBI’s unique ability to conduct a successful nationwide investigation alongside our law enforcement partners.”

Buntyn faces an additional year of supervised release after serving his two-year sentence.

Based on the former prisoner-turned-prisoner-transporter’s treatment of those incapable of standing up for themselves, it’s not nearly enough.

There are currently 26 states which hire for-profit extradition companies like PTS, the non-profit news website Muckrock reported.

Hopefully, the arrest and conviction of Buntyn will force the Justice Department’s hand in holding all of those accountable who violate the rights of prisoners being taken from point A to point B – including inhumane treatment, sexual assault – and in some cases, death.

Original reporting by Eli Hagar and Alysia Santo at The Marshall Project.

Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick

The post HIGHWAY TO HELL: Prison transportation officer sentenced to 2 years for abusing detainees appeared first on Occupy Democrats.

Read the whole story
2 days ago
Central Pennsyltucky
Share this story

SCHOOLED: IL Gov. Pritzker claps back as College Board caves to FL censorship

1 Comment

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) sent a stern warning to the College Board if its overhaul of the AP African American Studies program rejected by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) fails to include a true and realistic accounting of Black history.

This includes retaining the important role played by Black members of the LGBTQ community.

In a letter to the non-profit, Pritzker vowed to reject a sanitized version of the APAAS curriculum to comply pacify the authoritarian mandates of Gov. DeSantis.

“In Illinois, we reject any curriculum modifications designed to appease extremists like the Florida Governor and his allies,” he wrote.

The Illinois Democrat is refusing to accept changes that “ignores the nation’s ‘true, if sometimes unpleasant, history.”

Gov. Pritzer said the state will carefully review the revisions to insure their factual detailing of the role slavery played in the country’s foundation, an acknowledgment in the face of the Civil War, and the continued fight for equity in the 158 years since.

When the College Board’s pilot program was revealed in mid-January, a swift and immediate condemnation from Gov. DeSantis and his GOP allies commenced.

DeSantis accused the APAAS course of being a “gateway for indoctrination,” and alleged its writers have a “political agenda.”

We look forward to reviewing the College Board’s changes and expect the removal of content on the Critical Race Theory, Black Queer Studies, Intersectionality, and other topics that violate our laws. – DeSantis

In 2021, Pritzker referred to Florida’s governor as “Donald Trump with a mask on” at the state’s Democratic Party conference.

“He’s just trying to pass off his covert racism, homophobia, and misogyny as a more reasonable form of Trump Republicanism,” Pritzker said.

Shortly after DeSantis signed Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Bill, commonly called the “Don’t Say Gay” law, Pritzker publicly criticized the passing of the bill.

“We cannot stand idly by as Republican governors wage incessant attacks on the LGBTQ+ community,” Pritzker tweeted. “Everyone deserves a state where you can be your authentic self,” he added.

Unfortunately, the governor’s pleas fell on deaf ears.

On Wednesday, the College Board caved to Gov. DeSantis’ demands and released a new “acceptable” version of the APAAS program palpable to Republican dissenters.

Black writers associated with Black feminism, critical race theory, and the queer experience have been altogether removed from the curriculum, along with Black Lives Matter.

The revised version of the course highlights the “peaceful,” social justice movement of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and deceased congressman and civil rights pioneer, John Lewis, and states that civil rights legislation in the 1960s effectively ended segregation while segueing into the current right-wing narrative of disruptive civil unrest.

“Some members and leaders transitioned away from their commitment to nonviolence toward separatist, Black nationalist principles,” course details state.

The Board’s leader David Coleman insists politics had nothing to do with the changes, but instead, from “the input of professors” and adherence to the principles of the Advanced Placement program.

There’s been talk that Gov. Pritzker is a potential 2024 Democratic candidate for President, though the advocate for a true reflection point for America on its complicated, and oft-times brutal history in regard to equity, discrimination, and marginalization of the country’s African-American community has yet to confirm or deny the rumors.

DeSantis has picked up the pace – and egregiousness – in his war on Florida’s public education system.

The state’s shortage of nearly 10,000 teachers is likely to get worse as educators feel powerless in their ability to push back on the GOP administration’s increasingly restrictive and targeted directives, in effect, stifling a commitment to providing students with an educational, equitable, safe, and inclusive learning environment.

Though Pritzker’s actions appear to be coming from a sincere place, rejecting the College Board’s revised AAS course could be seen as a win-win for Republicans wanting to whitewash history.

This is dangerous, to say the least.

College Board’s decision to walk back its integrity and jeopardize the validity of its longstanding position as the administrator of the nation’s AP program by placating the bigoted demands and motivations of Gov. Ron DeSantis is also a gateway – to repression, oppression, and fascism.

Original reporting by Tina Sfondeles at The Chicago Sun-Times. 

Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick

The post SCHOOLED: IL Gov. Pritzker claps back as College Board caves to FL censorship appeared first on Occupy Democrats.

Read the whole story
3 days ago
"In Illinois, we reject any curriculum modifications designed to appease extremists like the Florida Governor and his allies,”
Central Pennsyltucky
Share this story

NOBLE & NECESSARY: We must call out antisemitism-especially when it’s coming from inside the House

1 Comment

It is utterly abhorrent that we’re still fighting against any kind of hate speech in the year 2023.

Here’s a hot tip from #ThisJew to all of you:


*except when citing other examples of mass genocide perpetrated by terrified mediocre White “Christian” men.

Early spikes in antisemitic hate crimes and other incidences were noticed soon after Donald Trump was inaugurated.

Weird, huh?

Kanye West: Los Angeles officials condemn demonstrators seen in photos showing support of rapper's antisemitic remarks | CNN
Nice friends, Ye!

Antisemitic and racist slurs have also skyrocketed on Twitter in the months since Elon Musk took over and granted “amnesty” to suspended accounts that have been banned for spouting hate speech.

I reported this tweet and got the automated email reply that there was no violation of Twitter’s terms of service.

Thanks, Elon!

It’s not surprising to learn that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) recently released an audit showing a 40-year high in antisemitic acts such as assault, vandalism, and harassment in the past year alone.

Because it’s literally coming from inside the House.

Another sitting member of Congress made antisemitic remarks on the House floor on Wednesday by comparing something to the Holocaust that is in no way anything like the Holocaust.

Following in the GED Genius footsteps of Rep. Lauren “Squeaky” Boebert (R-CO via Ted Cruz’s Vegas timeshare), Rep. Eric Burlison of MAGA-ssouri thought it was fine to hate-spew this insane false comparison into the historical record while defending a propaganda network during a Congressional hearing.

BRB, it’s just hard to type when all of your skin is on fire.

Anyway, it’s bad enough to have dealt with systemic antisemitism out in the general public forever, but to hear it from your own government is really something to bear witness to.

We’ve seen Rep. Marjorie “Nazi Tailor” Greene welcoming white supremacists to be Congressional office interns after hanging out with them at a conference deemed “too right-wing” for CPAC attendees.

Not even a tour of the Holocaust Museum cured Marjorie of her hateful antisemitic rhetoric.

She continues to use typical virtue-signaling words like “Globalist” and “Soros” in her hate-tweets, so sometimes I can’t help myself and I remind her of how awful she is.

Yeah, I did.

I’m a GenX Jewish girl from New Jersey, Dear Reader.

Just don’t try it with me.

Florida fascist Ron DeSantis does it too.

Anyway, thanks to Kanye “I Love Hitler” and Nick “Hey, Me Too!” Fuentes dining with Donald “I’ll Never Forgive My Daughter For Marrying a Jew” Trump at MAGA-Lago, Nazis think it’s fine to hang signs over freeways proclaiming it’s time to kill all remaining Jewish people, yay!

And that’s also how we got to good ol’ “Jew-ish” Rep. George “Anthony Devolder Zabrovsky Kitara Ravache Jingleheimer Schmidt” Santos (R-NY-ish) making a Qrazy speech on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Thankfully, the Biden administration is fully aware of how far(-right) things have gotten, and has created the Office of the Special Envoy To Monitor and Combat Antisemitism.

And our proudly Jewish mensch of a Second Gentleman, Douglas “Dougie” Emhoff, is leading the very vocal pack to combat the hate speech.

Emhoff hosted a round table discussion at the White House during the holiday season to tackle the topic head-on.

Dougie also just made an emotional trip to the infamous concentration camp Auschwitz as part of his efforts to raise awareness regarding the rise of antisemitism in America, and he’s also participating in a global effort spearheaded by the United Nations to combat antisemitism.

Hate will always exist in some form, so it’s up to us to make sure it doesn’t spread.

Silence is complicity.

Demand better protections from your government and vote for lawmakers who aren’t trying to wipe out an entire group of human beings.

It’s just not that hard to unlearn hate.


The post NOBLE & NECESSARY: We must call out antisemitism-especially when it’s coming from inside the House appeared first on Occupy Democrats.

Read the whole story
3 days ago
It’s just not that hard to unlearn hate.
Central Pennsyltucky
Share this story

Lives of loud desperation

1 Comment

I write about human beings in every one of my columns. To read more of my work about issues like immigration as more than numbers and pejoratives, you can buy a subscription here:

There was a headline in one of the major newspapers today – I won’t say which one, because other papers have posted similar headlines before, and they will all post them again: “Illegal border crossings fell sharply in January, U.S. figures show.”  Those figures!  They’re always rising, or falling, or up slightly, or close to last month’s.

So many of the stories are about illegal border crossings, and why?  Because they can count them, so some headline writer up in New York City or Washington D.C. can get a tight enough word count to fit in the space of a newspaper headline.

You want to know what’s wrong with these headlines and their numbers?  They’re flat, they’re emotionless, they’re imprecise, and they don’t tell you what’s really going on.  Oh, the story quoted above goes on to tell you that the Biden administration has come up with a program offering “parole” to a certain number of migrants from four countries, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Haiti after the U.S. expelled 30,000 of them – there’s another number -- back into Mexico earlier in January before following that move with the so-called “parole” program permitting migrants from those countries to enter the U.S. legally if they fill out an online application and have a sponsor in this country.

See how easy that was for me to write the word “people?”  Because that’s what the newspaper headline is actually talking about.  It is people who are crossing the border illegally, and people from the countries left out of the parole program, amounting to about 150,000 in January, “down from the record-high 251,487 tallied in December,” again using typically flat language to describe the ongoing humanitarian crisis along the U.S. border with Mexico. 

A group of 20 states, which the post tells us were “led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R),” because of course they were, filed a lawsuit on January 24 against the new parole policy, calling it an “unlawful amnesty program, which will invite hundreds of thousands of aliens into the U.S. every year.”  As if that prospect is a terrible thing that must be avoided because the United States, described in high school and college history text books as “a nation of immigrants,” might continue on that heretofore unthinkable path.

In other news this afternoon, Representative Andy Biggs, a Republican from Arizona who was deeply involved in the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, including speaking at the Trump rally on the Ellipse before the riot and voting to help Trump attempt to overturn the election results only hours later, filed articles of impeachment against Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, accusing him of “high crimes and misdemeanors” for attempting to end Trump-era policies such as Title 42 that restricted immigration at the southern border.  Texas Republican Representative Pat Fallon, another signatory to Biggs’ articles of impeachment, said in statement that Secretary Mayorkas “has willfully abdicated his duties as Secretary of Homeland Security and actively misled Congress and the American people. To make any progress at our southern border, he must go.”  The articles of impeachment have been referred to the Judiciary Committee, chaired by Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio.

You will not find the word “people” anywhere in the story posted today about “illegal border crossings.”  You’ll find the words “migrant,” “individuals,” “aliens,” and “asylum seekers.”  You’ll find “enforcement tool,” and “expulsion,” and “illegal entries,” but you won’t find the word “people,” which apparently does not fit into the dry language of these stories. 

But sadly, every one of these stories is about the people who are attempting to immigrate to the United States.  What must it be like to be one of these people?  Some are men, some are women, some are children of school age, some are babies, but they are all people living lives of loud desperation.  I say “loud” because everything about being a migrant is loud.  It’s loud in the places where people attempt to cross the border, children yelling for parents who have slipped from their view in the crowds, babies crying from hunger and fatigue, husbands calling out to wives, and once across, border police yelling to crowd into the back of this truck or that van, to line up to file into pens and confinement facilities, more yelling to line up for food and water if they’re lucky. 

Arrested for illegally crossing the border, people are penned up in wire enclosures and then crowded into temporary shelters like tents and converted schools and warehouses where frightened children and babies cry and guards yell and family members try to find each other by calling out names of wives or husbands or children.  Try imagining the clamor of a crowded cafeteria in junior high school, two or three hundred kids all talking over each other trying to be heard, teachers yelling fruitlessly for order -- it's loud in a way we have conveniently forgotten at this point in our lives, and not just a 30-minute lunch hour. 

Now imagine it is hundreds and hundreds of desperate frightened people crowded together hour after frightening hour, tumultuous and scary and frantic with no let-up, no one knowing what’s going on, what’s going to happen to them, watching fearfully as a man or two men or a whole family are escorted out of the big holding facility through a door, no one knows where, and never returning.

It is loud and it is desperate.  People, these hundreds and hundreds of people from a dozen different countries, were desperate to flee from gangs in Guatemala and Nicaragua, from poverty and unrest in Venezuela, from crime in Colombia, some of them all the way from Ukraine, desperate from crime and hunger and war and persecution.  They’re desperate on the other side of the border and desperate once they get across, hungry and frightened and desperate to be able to stay here, desperate for someone to listen to them, desperate for food and water and blankets to cover them from the unseasonable cold which has recently gripped the border region, desperate for their children not to be terrorized by men in helmets and bulletproof vests with guns, desperate from the noise and confusion in a place where everything is foreign and strange and threatening, desperate because money and papers were stolen from them along their journeys, desperate because in all of the noise and madness surrounding them there is plenty of terror and so, so little hope.

They may be seeking asylum, they may be migrants, they may have indeed broken a law by not crossing at a customs and immigration checkpoint and gone through the proper, lawful process, but they are people, each and every one of them.  They are our parents 50 years ago, our grandparents 100 years or even 200, or 300 or 400 years ago.  In 10 years, or 20 years, they will be Americans, but even right now, right this minute, they are human beings and they are us.

Leave a comment


Give a gift subscription

Read the whole story
3 days ago
They are people, each and every one of them.  They are our parents 50 years ago, our grandparents 100 years or even 200, or 300 or 400 years ago.
Central Pennsyltucky
Share this story
Next Page of Stories