Sunday, July 7, 2024

The Crisis in Central America


Th Crisis in Central America

Peter Schultz


                  The following sentence is from the book, Everyone Who Is Gone Is Here: The United States, Central America, the Making of a Crisis,” by Jonathan Blitzer: “… in … 2018, the deterrent effects of [Trump’s policy of] zero tolerance were moot where people were starving.” [379]


                  People were starving in Guatemala because climate changes had undermined the agriculture that had been relied upon in Guatemala to keep people alive. “The changing climate was wiping out the region’s crops…. Farmers were abandoning their land.” [377]


                  So, obsessing about Trump’s policies, or Obama’s or Biden’s, obscures what was happening and why. People were starving due to climate changes. Treating the situation politically, i.e., as if it could be changed via one policy or another is futile because addressing the situation as an “immigration problem,” as if it could be solved by building a wall – or not, does not address the real problem, changing climates. Thereby, affirming the political merely creates vicious political circles characterized by charges and counter charges of betrayal, racism, criminality, or un-Americanness, with no way out of the crisis. Moreover, not surprisingly, the solutions offered by different administrations do not vary all that much:


                  “Obama entered the White House vowing to protect the undocumented and restrain ICE, but deportations increased steadily during his first two years in office. An average of a thousand immigrants were being removed every day, a large share of them the very people the president promised to spare….” [290]


                  There you have it: Evidence of the vicious circles that characterize American politics, due to the affirmation of the political, the belief that politics in one form or another can and will ameliorate the human condition. As the crisis in Central America reveals, our problems are not political and, so, they cannot be solved by laws, by walls, by bureaucracies like ICE, by presidents, or by the military. Solving our problems requires rethinking what we take to be reality, seeing the world as it is and not as we wish it to be. And that means, necessarily, rethinking those principles Americans hold most dear. In brief, it requires being “anti-American.” Moral or political virtue needs to be trumped by intellectual virtue, as even Socrates knew so long ago.


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