It is cruel and unjust to separate children from their migrant parents yet Attorney General Sessions and President Trump want us to believe that’s OK because “it’s the law”. Sessions goes as far as to believe this policy is approved by God. Such is the moral vacuum of Donald Trump and his administration.
As I write this, children are being forcibly taken from their migrant mothers and Attorney General Jeff Sessions says God is on his side.
Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker wrote a recent column, “I Don’t Recognize This Country Anymore” (hat tip to Café Hayek) which takes on Trump’s policy of separating children from their parents who crossed the border without government permission. I found myself strongly agreeing with Ms. Parker even though I rarely agree with much the Post says.
It is clear that the Administration’s policy of removing children from their mothers and fathers is morally wrong and cruel. I can think of no other country which treats illegal migrants this way, except, perhaps, semi-totalitarian states.
Don Boudreaux at Café Hayek wrote an excellent piece about the difference between law and legislation in regard to the Administration’s cruel policy. In it he points out:
The people currently victimized by the Trump administration are guilty of nothing other than what the ancestors of all Americans were guilty of: wanting to live in America. Acting to make that wish come true is itself not a crime; it is not, as lawyers say, malum in se. Acting on that wish is a crime only because the state declares it to be so; it is, as lawyers say, malum prohibitum. Ethically, violating legislation is – or ought to be – presumptively far less objectionable than violating law. And also: violating law in order to enforce legislation is itself presumptively unethical. I submit that the law is violated by the Trump administration and those U.S. government officials who follow the Trump administration’s commands to separate children from their peaceful parents.
In other words, those who justify this cruelty on the grounds that “they are breaking the law” need to recognize that not all legislation is just and moral as embodied in the malum in se concept.
Ilya Somin, a law professor at George Mason University, whose blog The Volokh Conspiracy now appears at Reason.com, picks apart Trump and his administration’s justifications on legal and moral grounds (Enforcing the Law’ Doesn’t Justify Separating Migrant Children from their Parents). Somin says,
Even in the case of otherwise just laws, there must be moral limits to the means used to enforce them. The child-separation policy crosses any reasonable line. It inflicts harm grossly disproportionate to any offense. And most of that harm is suffered by children – people themselves innocent of wrongdoing. Even if their parents acted wrongly in trying to enter the United States, the children had little choice in the matter.
The worst outrage is the comment by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that this policy has God’s blessing:
I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes.
Sarah Sanders backed up Sessions at a White House press conference that same day:
[I]t is “very biblical to enforce the law.” And “That is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible,” she said, responding to a question about Sessions’ comments about Scripture’s supporting the administration’s policies.
I would ask Mr. Session and Mrs. Sanders, both known to be Christian fundamentalists, what part of the Bible should we follow? The ones condoning slavery, rape, incest, murder, oppression of women, war? How do you pick the ones that are actually the word of God? And, Sarah Sanders, what about St. Paul’s admonition, “[S]uffer not a woman to teach nor to usurp authority over a man; she must be silent” (1 Timothy 2:12).
History is clear that it is just to oppose morally abhorrent laws. From Abolition to women’s suffrage to Jim Crow, civil disobedience is a valid tool to oppose unjust laws. Supporting unjust or immoral laws because “it’s the law” is not a valid argument. Those carrying out such laws should be aware that blindly following such laws does not excuse violations of human rights.
Mr. Session’s reliance on the Bible to justify what he is doing is “the last refuge of scoundrels” as they say. Because “the Bible says so” is not good enough. Our Constitution was founded on reason, not religion. But if he truly believes that God justifies his actions here, then that is a danger sign. Apparently, he can justify anything the government does because he believes God has ordained the Trump Administration.
Before Mr. Sessions and Mrs. Sanders rely on the Bible again, perhaps they should obey God’s clear admonition against doing wrong to the “foreigner” lest they face God’s wrath against those who do (Jeremiah 22:3-5).