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After President Trump said (of undocumented immigrants) “these aren’t people. These are animals,” Eugene Scott, writing in The Washington Post, pointed out that there’s a long and ugly history to the political dehumanization of oppressed groups:
Referring to marginalized groups as subhuman has been a way dictators have justified the abuse of those groups. This happened with the Jewish people during the Holocaust. It happen with the Tutsis during the Rwandan genocide. And it is happening with the Rohingya people in Burma.
Trump, as usual, does not speak alone. When, researching this cartoon, I read the comments section of articles about the suffering or deaths of undocumented immigrants, I saw many comments referring to immigrants as “animals.” Calling undocumented immigrants animals is a way of justifying the indifference to their deaths which has become all too common in America.
Immigrants are coming, and they will keep on coming. Nothing short of the total economic collapse of the US, combined with enormous economic growth in Mexico and in the central American countries, will change that. (And if that happens, plenty of Americans will be looking for ways to move south). Increased enforcement, and building walls, cannot stop the economics driving immigration. What it can do, however, is force undocumented immigrants to take ever more remote and dangerous routes into America. And when that happens, people die. By the thousands.
This cannot be an acceptable policy outcome for us.
But some people want immigrants to die. The group No More Deaths, also called No Más Muertes, released a video showing U.S. border patrol agents destroying drinking water that No More Death volunteers had left in the desert to give crossing immigrants a better chance of survival. (Almost immediately after the video’s release, The Border Patrol arrested a No More Deaths volunteer.)
The agents aren’t legally required to destroy lifesaving food and water – in fact, they’ve been officially ordered not to, although I doubt that order is effectively enforced. They’re doing it because they want people to die.
The tragedy of deaths on the border – and of the towns who are overwhelmed by the number of bodies, many of which will be buried without ever being identified – was suggested as a topic for a cartoon by patron Tomas Sanchez, who is thanked on the sidebar of the cartoon. Thank you, Tomas, for all your support – I really appreciate it!
TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON
This cartoon has six panels.
Two men are walking through what looks like a hilly park. The man walking in front has a high hairline and glasses; the man walking in the back is bald with a goatee. The man in back is wide-eyed and looks distressed.
GOATEE: Over seven thousand immigrants have died int eh desert trying to cross the U.S. border. Seven thousands!
GOATEE: Some town morgues are overwhelmed by the sheer number of corpses!
Glasses has stopped and turned back to face Goatee. Glasses has his arms crossed; Goatee has his arms extended, palms up, in a supplicating fashion.
GLASSES: So what do you want, an “open door” policy?
GOATEE: Maybe! Or if we have a closed door policy, design it to stop our closed door from causing thousands of deaths!
A shot from behind Glasses, looking towards Goatee. Glasses has a hand upraised in a “stop!” gesture; Goatee has put one hand on his cheek and still looks wide-eyed and distressed.
GLASSES: Well, I think we should get stricter. If more of them die, that’s not our problem.
GOATEE: But these are human beings!
A close-up of glasses, looking stern and angry, one forefinger raised.
GLASSES: That’s where we disagree. I don’t think of them as human.
GLASSES: They gave up their claim to being human by disrespecting our laws!
Same shot as the previous panel, but now Glasses is transforming like a wolfman; he’s grown fur, his ears have gotten pointy, his nose has pushed forward into a snout.
GLASSES: When people act uncivilized, they stop being human!
A long shot shows that Glasses has now almost fully transformed into a dog-like creature. Goatee is raising his hands defensively and backing up.
GLASSES: These are animals, and if they die I don’t grrrrr growf! GROWF!
Below the bottom of the strip, there is a quote.
“These aren’t people. They’re animals.” –Donald Trump, May 16, 2018