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Kelly's "Family Separation" Recalls Slave Era Practice of Selling Parents Down the River


Kelly's "Family Separation" Recalls Slave Era Practice of Selling Parents Down the River

Juan Cole

John Kelly, White House chief of staff, is an immigrant-hating bigot, as demonstrated by a long series of Draconian statements and measures that would have embarrassed most normal people into a lifetime vow of silence in their wake.


“The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever.”


There’s a big difference between immigrants and refugees. To say the obvious: the latter are not voluntary General Kelly.


Kelly–another reptilian soul! Good God! Have all the black souls of the Universe reincarnated now–and joined the Trump cesspool?


Amen to that, Professor Cole!

More and more, I feel as if I have been transported to an alternate universe. The fact that millions of Americans are seemingly okay with this, is very puzzling and frightening. It’s as
though some demonic force has destroyed their souls and taken control of their hearts and minds. We are in deep trouble!


Yes…I think so!


The former usually are not either.

The US arms both sides of a narco war that takes some 50,000 people in Mexico alone so as to control the country’s government to keep its people in poverty. Then people imagine that the children of immigrants are culpable in their own abandonment.


I would we had people of Professor Cole’s integrity and Moral Compass leading us…Bravo to his commentary! Truth as usual!


Applause for Cole’s willingness to call a bigot a bigot.

One often wonders when speaking with Americans about immigration where simple ignorance breaks off and willful ignorance begins.

US paramilitary “intelligence” groups arm and run multiple sides of a war between traffickers that runs from South America into the United States, and the people trying to stay out of its way are called “illegals.”

When Americans let people like Gina Haspel and Mike Pompeo in and let them loose, violence is coming home to roost. Clamoring to hold its proletariat out is not apt to slow that.

Take care, you-all.


This citing of John Kelly’s genealogy is so important to me. My family is German by origin, not Italian but could be the same. And I have relatives that do the same thing–hate on people that look a lot like my family tree at the turn of the 20th century.

Excellent article.


Much as I abhor Kelly’s policy, I take offense at the headline (clickbait) analogy to the US slave era; the only thing then has in common with now is separation of families. But slaves were “bred” as chattel under the control of their “owners,” or by rape by their owners, after they or their forebears had been brought here by force, not after they had fled here for refuge. The analogy thus insults both Central American immigrants today and those enslaved in our past. Let’s take some care in how we express our outrage.


Cole is also misleading in referring to the children being separated as “US citizens.” I believe in the quoted NPR interview (Cole’s link goes back to his own article on slavery) and in the policy at issue, Kelly was talking about the children in the asylum-seekers’ “caravan” recently arrived at the Mexican border. Someone is harking back to the dogwhistle issue of “anchor children,” but I think it’s Cole.


I’ve given some thought to your comment and I do respectfully disagree.

While the situations are not mirror images of each other, it takes depersonalization of hispanic parents and children to do what Kelly is doing. And it is very much like what we did when parents were separated from children and sold as chattel in American slavery. What’s alike is the extreme depersonalization.

Now among some of these parents and children, some are all immigrant children–again no one consulted the children. They are at the border or in an American town because their parents chose it. Some are children born in america to immigrant parents. And the children are citizens watching their parents get arrested.

There is always this terrible minimization of why people flee–particularly Central American countries. people act like they are coming to America so they can shop in a mall or buy American jeans. They are coming because they often in an imminent way fear for their lives and their children’s lives. This is the “stern, impassioned stress a thoroughfare for freedom beat across the wilderness” just like we used to sing about in grade school. We treat these requests for sanctuary in a dismissive and perfunctory way. And furthermore, it is often some ilk of American intervention that has created that instability in those Central American villages.

again, you may disagree with Cole’s similes but the unmistakable similarity is the depersonalization of the other.


One of the big things I disagree with is Cole’s setting up a clickbait simile off someone else’s interview with Kelly. Cole is little more than an aggregator pundit, not a news source.

Ask some of your African-American neighbors, no matter how much they may empathize with the immigrants of whom Kelly (not Cole) was speaking whether it is equivalent depersonalization.

It’s not entirely clear what immigrants Kelly meant, but here’s the link Cole left out. Kelly’s remarks on immigration are at the end. https://www.npr.org/2018/05/11/610116389/transcript-white-house-chief-of-staff-john-kellys-interview-with-npr


I share your interest in primary sources. While the primary source doesn’t make him look vastly better or worse, he sure is not a nuanced thinker.

I guess I could ask black friends I know if they think what we do to immigrants is worse than what was done to them. But their answer would only be of slight interest to me. Frankly, both behaviors are reprehensible. Not sure there is a benefit to rank ordering reprehensible.


bkswrites sent me back to the NPR original story. Reading the Kelly interview in entirety is worthwhile.

So the interview comments, “Family separation stands as a pretty tough deterrent.”

Kelly answers, “It could be a tough deterrent — would be a tough deterrent. A much faster turnaround on asylum seekers.”

Asylum seekers are saying, “if I go back there, I will be killed.” And for many of them, this is no overstatement. And Kelly’s goal? A much faster turnaround.

Let that sink in. That is what America is in the year 2018.