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CSotD: A Glorious Fourth

Jimmy Margulies leads off the conversation with a reflection on the upcoming holiday and our American identity.

There are all sorts of things wrong with this drawing, I suppose, starting with the kids not being crowded enough and the facility not being a series of indoor cages.

And of course we can argue over what it should say on that sign, because, while it is a concentration camp in terms of what the words “concentration camp” mean, it’s not a concentration camp in terms of what people who think it’s okay to lock people up think those words mean.

But, for the moment, I’m more interested, and I think Margulies is more interested, in what the Fourth of July means.

Perhaps it’s not fair to prejudge the Washington celebration, just because this is the first time a president has stepped in to direct what had, before, been a community event.

And just because this particular president previously wanted a huge military parade like they have on Bastille Day in Paris, which doesn’t necessarily mean he wants one like they have in Moscow or Beijing.

Or just because he has regularly held self-promoting rallies throughout the country since he was elected.

This could be the one big celebration he directs from behind, not seeking a major role for himself.

It could.


Meanwhile, I like the way Margulies draws this detention center, because I used to live near Dannemora, and, unlike some newer penitentiaries, Clinton Correctional is right next to the main road through town, and you can’t drive through without seeing it, without contemplating it.

Sometimes I’d kind of fantasize that a big electromagnet on a boom might swing out over the wall and pick up my car …

By comparison, I have also lived not that far from Canon City, but you don’t see the prison there unless you drive out of town in a direction you probably wouldn’t otherwise, and my mother lives in Ossining, but you only see Sing Sing from the train, not from the highway.

I suspect the places they hold most of these kids are similarly isolated.


Which makes me wonder if the reason we hold our PO-sorta-W’s in Guantanamo is not because they might escape but because we don’t want people to have to drive past the place and think about it.

They ought to all be required to be built right in the middle of town, right in your face, like Dannemora.


I’d run a picture of where they keep the kids, but, as Jack Ohman notes, we’re not only not encouraged to go have a look, we’re not permitted to donate the diapers, soap, toothpaste and other things the Border Patrol “can’t” furnish.

Is it deliberate cruelty or bureaucratic incapacity?


And, in the words of Yossarian, what the hell difference would that make?


Juxtaposition of the Day

(Joe Heller)

(Clay Jones)

It wouldn’t be so bad, I suppose, if it were not masterminded by a segment of our society that prays on street corners so that others may see them pray.

Heller is a bit whimsical in his condemnation, Jones is a bit over the top (though the fury of his essay does more than simply explain it).


Now, as David Rowe brilliantly points out, there is nothing remotely comical about a man, or his lackey administration, that can so blindly turn their heads and pretend that they just don’t see.

But absurd and humorous are not always the same thing, and Rowe is simply passionate enough to rub our noses in that which others might be too thoughtful and responsible to point out.

And if his image is absurd, maybe it’s time to be absurd.

Going back to Jones, I like the idea of Jesus coming to have a look around in person.


When I was a kid, I had a book called “If Jesus Came To My House,” in which a gentle, angelic Christ-child in a nightgown wandered around modern settings spreading kindness, but that’s not who we need.


We need the guy who cleaned out the Temple with a rope’s end, and to whom the Zealots flocked in hopes he’d do the same to the Roman legions.

He disappointed some of them, yes, because he knew to pick his battles, there being more than enough hypocrisy, cruelty and injustice to rail against without challenging Pilate and the Roman legions, who were, after all, only a symptom of what was wrong.


I also don’t envision a direct challenge to the current Pilate, either, but, between Baby Trump balloons and USS John McCain T-shirts, this July 4 is shaping up to be the best gathering in Washington since the levitation of the Pentagon.


The Fugs and the group that soon became the Yippies were not quite able to get the Pentagon entirely levitated, but they got something else off the ground that day, establishing an alternative to speeches about the Geneva Convention and lugubrious teach-ins and sincere, ponderous, boring demonstrations, and — not so much “instead” as “besides” — made space for people who simply wanted to cry “NO!”

Before it was too late.


Community Comments

#1 Susan Kilkelly
@ 8:55 am

Whether Dannemora Prison is more visible than Sing Sing depends on one’s perspective. When I lived in Poughkeepsie, NY in the late 70’s, the train to New York City went right through Sing Sing. And Dannemora might be visible if you find your way to that corner of NY, but it’s so far north and so remote that many claimed being sent there was cruel and unusual punishment as their families could never visit. (Admittedly, those were people that, like the Social Security Administration, thought Poughkeepsie was upstate.)

#2 Sean Martin
@ 10:55 am

“Which makes me wonder if the reason we hold our PO-sorta-W’s in Guantanamo is not because they might escape but because we don’t want people to have to drive past the place and think about it.”

No, the reason they’re held there is because some GOP Congressman decided that if they were held in a US military base that was off of the Mainland, the prisoners would be restricted in what access they would have to lawyers. Habeus corpus would somehow not apply, and these “guests” would be stuck with strictly military courts, which of course are *always* impartial…

Four maximum-security prisons that were desperate for prisoners asked to take the Gitmo “terrorists”. All four were turned down.

#3 Harry Brautt
@ 11:06 am

Great post, Mike. Thank you.

#4 Mary McNeil
@ 1:45 pm

Thank you for the tip o the hat to Jesus cleansing the Temple !

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