The Depths of Cruelty


As a young psychologist, Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman assisted the Israeli Air Force in devising procedures to reprimand those personnel who made mistakes or displayed unruly conduct. Pilots exuding poor behavior or made an error while performing their tasks, were publicly berated among peers, mentally tortured, temporarily stripped of their pay, and often left isolated in brutal conditions.

Kahneman learned that in the long run, pilots fared no better in their duties, under this policy, and, in fact, suffered eternal mental damage.

Inspired by Dr. Kahnem’s work, psychologists have since concluded that a policy utilizing cruelty as a means of deterrence never deters and always has far painful consequences than anticipated.

Either ignorant or indifferent to these findings, the current administration recently enacted a “zero-tolerance” policy towards adults passing the border.The stated goal was to prosecute as many illegal border crossings as possible– believing that such a policy would deter illegal immigrants from migrating to America. As a result, nearly 2,000 children have been separated from their parents.

And for what? So, the current administration can utilize human collateral as a means to misdirect a much needed good faith conversation on immigration for political gamesmanship.

Without question, the cognizant act of separating children from their parents constitutes one of the most egregious examples of American cruelty.

The American Pediatric Association has called the act of separating young migrants from their children near “child abuse.” Former First Lady Laura Bush stated that warehousing innocent kids in abandoned is “eerily reminiscent of the internment camps for U.S. citizens and noncitizens of Japanese descent during World War II.”

However, the brutality of forced family separation is far more than visually agonizing. Children in these situations, regardless of where they are housed, are susceptible to long term toxic stress that inhibits the brain and pulverizes the soul.

As Washington Post Science Correspondent William Wan explains, “When kids are forcefully separated from their parents their heart rate goes up. Their body releases a flood of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Those stress hormones can start killing off dendrites — the little branches in brain cells that transmit mes­sages. In time, the stress can start killing off neurons and — especially in young children — wreaking dramatic and long-term damage, both psychologically and to the physical structure of the brain.”

Yoka Verdoner, a retired psychotherapist who was tortured and separated from her family by Nazis, noted that the lifelong damage to these children has already occurred. Verander warns, “I know all too well what awaits many of the thousands of children…We can expect old men and women, decades from now, still suffering, still remembering, still writing in the present tense.”

The second component of American malice is once again being complacent in the unjust vilification of helpless immigrants, many who have escaped violence and terror in their country of origin, only to have their worst fears realized.

Reporting done by Deborah Sontag and Dale Russakoff from ProPublica and The Philadelphia Inquirer detail one detainee from Honduras pleading with ICE not to send his family members back for fear of his female members getting genitally mutilated by thugs upon returning home.

Make no mistake, any political representative or individual with power who sits idly by, creating false equivalencies or espousing tepid signs of disappointments, is a milksop blowhard complicit in this these barbaric acts. By acquiescing to this policy, America willfully abdicates their place in the world as a moral leader on the global stage.

In the words of Ella Wheeler Wilcox, “To sin by silence, while others doth protest, makes cowards out of men.”

The lack of humanity and vicious xenophobia shown by POTUS 45 can no longer be chalked up to his learning curve; this is an Orwellian megalomaniac destroying the lives of innocent adolescents as a flesh-and-blood political bargaining chip.

The relentless, yet unwarranted, attack on those in need of a safe haven for their family may gradually subside. There may eventually be civil servants who regain the moral courage and fortitude that has escaped the majority of them since November 2016. And yes, granted, there are indeed limits that most kids can be detained before being relocated.

Regardless, it does not change the fact that there are thousands of innocent children mercilessly held against their own will being mentally tortured.

That’s just cruel.

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