Dr Liz Gordon – Hopes and fears

By   /   June 25, 2018  /   31 Comments

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It is hard to know what to take from the US border crisis.  On the one hand, the rhetoric and actions were so reminiscent of 1930s Germany that it would be easy to argue that Nazism has officially arrived in the White House.  On the other hand, the embarrassing backdown shows that Trumpism is far from all-powerful and may be just a blip in the system, a passing fad.

It is hard to know what to take from the US border crisis.  On the one hand, the rhetoric and actions were so reminiscent of 1930s Germany that it would be easy to argue that Nazism has officially arrived in the White House.  On the other hand, the embarrassing backdown shows that Trumpism is far from all-powerful and may be just a blip in the system, a passing fad.

So there is fear, but there is hope too.  In my view the scariest of all of the administration speakers is Jeff Sessions, with his arguments that the government was ordained by God to govern, and therefore it was incumbent upon everyone to always ‘obey the law’, even if the law mandates the forced separation of children from their families.  

This led to a fascinating sub-debate on whether Americans should ‘follow all laws’ because they come from the state which comes from God.  The Old Testament and fundamentalist nature of that debate is very disturbing. We are living in an age where the fundamentalists of certain religions hold centre stage, fighting among themselves to impose their beliefs on others.  

Women, of course, are aware that they do not do well in any of the fundamental religions. We may be revered or ignored, but never respected as the equals of men in society. The recent revelations of yet another ethnic war that was fought through the mass rape and immolation of women (the Rohingya) reminds us that we are ever vulnerable to the changing tides.  But I digress.

The other big theme to emerge from the border stoush was the language used by Trump to describe illegal immigrants – in particular as ‘vermin’.  Yes, he actually used that term. And guess where it has been used before? Try this:

Driven by a racist ideology that regarded Jews as “parasitic vermin” worthy only of eradication, the Nazis implemented genocide on an unprecedented scale.

Round them up, lock them in camps, then eliminate them.  That’s what they do to vermin. Of course, the existence of a discourse does not imply a coming genocide. But the US is on a fast train to somewhere.  Whether it is Eugenic City or Backlash Bonanza, I am not quite sure. Donald Trump’s extreme racism has always been there, but it has now been unleashed.  Persons of a colour other than his are vermin and women are pussies, to be grabbed at will.

And have you noticed that it has been a fast train from Obama’s ‘beyond racism’ to Trumps ‘whites forever’?  It has happened so quickly. Perhaps everything is now backlash and we will lurch from one extreme to the other.  Which means that after Trump if the US survives that long, we might be looking at a gay woman Democrat (or even Green?) socialist as next President. Bring it on!

In regard to the trauma experienced by those children being separated for their parents, you only have to look at the wonderful research by Dr Michael Trout.  He has a chapter in my children of prisoners’ book. The chapter is called: “They took my parent away: little ones affected by incarceration speak”. His arguments are complex and focused on the way the brain works. He says that even when children cannot verbally remember trauma, they may still react to it years later.

Little children are resilient, with enormous capacities for adaptation. But they are not unresponsive.  They store information in preparation for more life. If they have only limited access to information about previous experiences, or the information they store is tinged with fear and impotence, then their responses will be equally tinged.

In short, all of the 2500 children waiting in camps and worrying about their families are now storing up these experiences for the future, and this will affect their lives.  The notion that you can treat people so traumatically with no future effect is just nonsense.

It was nice, and such a contrast, to see Jacinda and Clarke with little Neve outside the hospital.  The differences between the Kate and Wills parades of babies and this were stark. The clothes were soft and warm, the smiles were genuine and I do think they radiated happiness.  Although it was posed, there was none of the poseur about it. You couldn’t buy such publicity. It is better than a Soap.

The Nats must be despairing, really.  The only thing they can hope or plan for is some kind of political ambush that threatens the stability of the coalition while Winston holds the reins.  But even if they found such an issue, and even if it was disruptive enough, the only outcome would be Jacinda would have to make an early return, and that would not look good for the Nats either: “PM forced to make early return to Parliament after Nat ambush”, or how about “PM Mum wrenched from baby bonding”.

As Jim Anderton used to say, “Sometimes in politics the tide just goes out on you, and there is nothing you can do but wait for it to come back in”.


Dr Liz Gordon began her working life as a university lecturer at Massey and the Canterbury universities. She spent six years as an Alliance MP, before starting her own research company, Pukeko Research.  Her work is in the fields of justice, law, education and sociology (poverty and inequality). She is the president of Pillars, a charity that works for the children of prisoners, a prison volunteer, and is on the board of several other organisations. Her mission is to see New Zealand freed from the shackles of neo-liberalism before she dies (hopefully well before!).

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  1. Make no mistake, this is fascism. It may not be the clumsy, jack-booted, swastika-daubed garish variety from the 1930s and 40s – but it is fascism nevertheless.

    It has been refined (if ‘Trumpism’ can be viewed as “refined) somewhat and the more outrageous symbolisms removed from sight – but fascism it is.

    Like it’s more precocious ‘cousin’ of the 1930s, it shares one disturbing commonality: intolerance.

    As for hope? Yes, there is hope. Most humans seem to have an innate sense of fairness. It is that yearning for justice that eventually (hopefully) prevails.

    • Gary says:

      get your facts right. This practice was started under Obama and Crooked Hilary. You can see interviews where they stated dont come to the border with children.

      I enjoy this site, but the hypocrisy and double standards are sometime just to much to cope with

      • Sam Sam says:

        Are you damaged Gary? Current US immigration settings go back to 1995. And could give zero fucks about what you like or dislike putting in your brain.

      • Gary said


        I enjoy this site, but the hypocrisy and double standards are sometime just to much to cope with

        You should try the Kiwi Blog site Gary, then you will understand just what hypocrisy really is.

      • “Crooked Hilary”?!

        Gary, your comment might carry more weight if you didn’t parrot Trump and his unthinking supporters. Anyway, thus far I’m counting way more of Trump’s stooges being charged with various crimes than his political opponants. No doubt you’ll blame that on a “fixed system”, right?

        As for the rest of your assertions that “This practice was started under Obama and Crooked Hilary” – I refer you to your own admonition: “get your facts right”.

        • Gary says:

          Frank, dont lecture me….when Castro died your said, and I quote, “he made a few mistakes” No Frank, Castro murdered tens of thousands of his own people. My facts are right. Just like my facts are right in my comments above.

          I dont parrot anybody. Get YOUR facts right!

          • Well, Gary if you don’t want to be told you’re parroting Trump supporters, don’t use their phrases. “Crooked Hillary” is a typical Trump phrase you’ve used without thinking through what it means. Tell us what charges she is facing. Tell us what convictions she’s had.


            Because it’s utter crap you have parroted.

            Meanwhile, have a look at the number of Trump associates who are in jail or facing charges.

            As for quoting me – citation and context please or you’ve made it up.

            • Gary says:

              Frank, I made nothing up. That is what you said. Context nothing, I am calling you out for you are, a hypocrite.

              In your eyes Castro was a hero, Trump is a villain yet he hasn’t killed anyone.

              Trump will win a second term with a landslide and crooked Hilary is just that, like her perverted corrupt husband.

              The silly part is, you know I am right!

              • So, no citation to back up your claim about what I allegedly said?

                As for Trump “not killing anyone yet”. You forget the missile strikes on Syria, Gary. How many civilians were killed in those attacks? And how close did your hero take us to all out atomic war with Russia?

                Again you’re putting words in my mouth by suggesting I see “Castro as a hero”. Although he was popular with the Cuban people for ridding their country of a brutal despot (Batista) and US crime syndicates.

                You’re very good at making up shit, Gary. Not so good from the evidence angle.

                Just like you can’t provide evidence of Hillary Clinton being “crooked” – a mindlessly parroted catchphrase from other low-information Trump supporters like yourself. Meanwhile, Gary, here is a list of Trump associates currently charged with crimes (with one in prison already);

                Michael Flynn – charged and pleaded guilty for making false statements to the FBI.

                Paul Manafort – in prison for witness tampering

                Richard Gates – 11 counts related to filing false income tax returns and three counts of failure to report foreign bank and financial accounts; federal conspiracy and false-statements charges

                George Papadopoulos – charged and pleaded guilty for making false statements to the FBI

                Alex van der Zwaan – lying to federal investigators; found guilty; jailed for a month

                Richard Pinedo – pleaded guilty to buying and selling bank account numbers

                Ref: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/06/15/whos-been-charged-by-mueller-in-russia-probe-so-far.html

                It won’t be long before Trump and some of his family of parasites end up behind bars as well.

                Remind us what Ms Clinton has been charged with?

  2. Andy says:

    If having strict border controls is Nazi-ism then NZ is a Nazi country

    But we knew that anyway

    • Sam Sam says:

      A fractured society, enabled by radical, intolerant, and violent “progressive liberal thought” and the fake commercial media have spawned a toxic environment stifling all critical thought. To be clear, suppression of thoughts, viewpoints and ideas is the foundation of Fascism.

    • No, Andy, it’s not “strict border controls” that are under the microscope here. It’s what happens to people once they are in the custody of US officials that is being discussed and criticised.

      • Andy says:

        Here are some simple steps to stop being arrested at the US border and being separated from your family.

        (1) Don’t cross the border illegally.
        (2) The End

        • Does that apply to Israeli settlers who are setting up illegal colonies on the West Bank?

          How do you view European colonisers who crossed into other peoples’ lands; stole their land; and occupied their territory? Did they cross borders illegally as well?

          Your hopelessly simplistic view still doesn’t address the issue that it’s not US officials apprehending illegal immigrants that are being criticised. It’s what happens to them afterwards.

          If you believe in the rule of law, Andy (?) you’ll understand that a person breaking the law is not justification for the State to do likewise. Right-wingers like you are supposedly “tough on crime”, yet turn a blind eye to when right-wing governments break those same laws. All very selective from you, isn’t it?

          • Andy says:

            The US law prohibits children being incarcerated with their parents.

            This was a law brought in by Bill Clinton.

            If a Mexican wants to claim asylum in the USA there are about 8 or so US consulates that they can visit.

            • Detaining asylum seekers for processing does not require incarceration. So your attempt to conflate the two, with previous adiministrations is a false equivalence.

              Interesting how Trump’s fascist policies can’t stand on their own “merit” and are continually compared to his predecessors for validation.

              Key did the same; constantly referring to the previous Labour government to justify his own excesses.

              Imagine if it was Venezquela separating children from their parents, Andy. You’d be screaming bloody-blue murder.

        • Sam Sam says:

          Further I’v gone into great detail explaining how the vast majority of detainees crossing the U.S Mexico boarder are detained at boarder checkpoints because day passes have been available since the 90’s. So you don’t actually have cross illegally, it only costs like $15 bucks. The only ones sending illegals across are U.S backed drug lords.

  3. Off white says:

    Isn’t it ironic when ‘the other side of the story’ is exactly the same as the main stream media narrative. That’s the real fascism. Make no mistake, the left are absolutely lapping this up. The cover of Time is fake, the outrage is fake. Anti Trump = Anti borders.

    • bert says:

      Trump is a fake!

    • It is illuminating that Trump’s supporters all tend to be on the right of the political spectrum.

      Which confirms the belief that Trump is a fascist and using fascist policies (ie, immigration) to bolster support some amongst US voters.

      • Andy says:

        I’m not sure I’m following the line of reason here. Trump supporters tend to be on the right, therefore Trump is Fascist.


        I’m pretty sure that the average conservative of libertarian doesn’t consider themselves Fascist, which is a collectivist ideology

        • I’m pretty sure that the average conservative of libertarian doesn’t consider themselves Fascist, which is a collectivist ideology

          Neither are Boy Scouts. Your reference to Libertarians is meaningless.

        • Johnnybg says:

          F.M. says “It is illuminating that Trump’s supporters all tend to be on the right of the political spectrum”.

          I think you’ll find that a lot of Trump supporters are good solid working class folk who, just like us here in Godzone, have been right royally screwed by the liberal/neo-liberal establishment. A lot of them were probably patriotic slightly left or slightly right of centre Americans, before globalisation destroyed their lives. If you don’t get that, then you’ve probably lived a very privileged life.

          F. M. says “Which confirms the belief that Trump is a fascist and using fascist policies (ie, immigration) to bolster support some amongst US voters”. F.M.

          So “Trump is a fascist” is now a belief & immigration policy is a fascist methodology, really. The confirmation you speak of is simply a prejudicial leap of faith on your part. F.M. you’re beginning to sound a little over zealous in such matters, much like those you profess to despise (like reflects like I suppose). I’d suggest improving your understanding of fascist ideology before throwing such emotive words around. As far as I know two parties still dominate the American political landscape, which means Micky Mouse America is about as far from fascism as it gets. I agree, Trump is a blowhard but I see him more as a ‘sheep in wolfs clothing’; it’s the ultra globalist French president Macron I’d be more worried about, a real ‘wolf in sheep clothing’ if ever there was one. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of the somewhat crass, spoilt brat who is the president of the USA; but what really irritates me is lightweight, emotive commentary by those who seem to have little understanding of the drivers & complexity of human nature, & the effect exceptional personality has on shaping reality . Whats really at question here is the economic inequity & widespread injustice that is part & parcel of our current world order; it is this that motivates some to put themselves into the hands of people traffickers (slave traders) in order to better their lot. This is a risky business but desperate people will do really desperate things too survive & improve their lives. These migrants are ultimately responsible for the choices they’ve made & the actions they’ve taken; if things do not work out as well as they’d hoped for then the blame does not lie with you, I or the US government. As long as nothing radical is done too reduce such things as; global economic inequality ~ water shortages ~ poverty ~ environmental degradation ~ senseless brutality & the proliferation of failed states, this problem will only get much much worse. The wealthy few need to wake up too the fact that if they don’t share their wealth, resources & toys with the rest of the world then the impoverished, excluded & envious from both within & beyond their borders, will take what ever means necessary to come & take whatever they need to survive, improve their standard of living or realise their materialistic dreams.

  4. Siobhan says:

    …separating families and children is an abomination, but have you actually thought about the reality of life for families being ‘kept together’ by Obama? I know, its vox, but the facts speak for themselves, Obama oversaw a cruel industry of detention and deportation.

    Trump and his pile of filth is the appalling result of incrementally oppressive policies and acceptance of abusive policies and laws in America over decades. Be it the establishments/msm attitude to the incarcerated, the opiate addict, the people being poisoned by contaminated water, the people with no access to proper health care…the guy didn’t just appear out of thin air, and the Democrats didn’t lose the election and The House The Senate for no reason.


    • Sam Sam says:

      I think you’ll find that congressional democrats where told to repeal there own policy but refused to. Then got told again.

  5. Christine says:

    Blip in the system or passing fad ? No, absolutely not.

    And every outrageous action of Trump increases his popularity in well-defined sectors.

    No-one has suggested that adults or children can be treated traumatically without it affecting them in the future.

    But I am suggesting that future shock matters not one whit to the perpetrators of trauma – in fact, in the USA it’s good for business because if the traumatised victims end up as criminals, or as drug addicts, or as alcoholics, then the privatised health and prison systems can get to make big bucks out of them.

    • Sam Sam says:

      Mexican towns police force detained after murder of mayoral candidate>>> http://news.sky.com/story/mexican-towns-police-force-detained-after-murder-of-mayoral-candidate-11416072

      The U.S.? Have to deal with major refugee issues. Be distracted from non-American politics for years. Face the possibility of an anti-U.S. group in charge of one of two neighbors. Focus on border fences that don’t really work. Watch the advantage of having two mostly peaceful, friendly neighbor states disappear and all that foreign policy headaches that brings. Have a few people point out that demanding basic checks on buying guns and ammunition would do wonders… and the NRA scream about how it’s part of the plan to confiscate every firearm in America.

      If the present Mexican government continued to exist we should probably back it and avoid actual military involvement, but that might become inevitable depending on what happens.

  6. Andy says:

    A large number of European countries are seeing so-called “far-right” parties gaining power, whose main beef seems to be the growing problems of mass immigration from the 3rd world.

    Meanwhile, the US-Mexico border sees about 1000 people arrested everyday by people trying to illegally cross the border.

    It’s easy to virtue signal in NZ which to date has no big immigration problems

  7. Andrew says:

    “On the one hand, the rhetoric and actions were so reminiscent of 1930s Germany…”

    I wasn’t aware Trump was promising to send people to death camps!

    Did I miss something?

    Allow me to explain what’s really going on:

    1. The Democrats lost the election despite massive propaganda against Trump in the mainstream media

    2. Having failed at the election, the Democrats promised the faithful that the economy would tank. The economy boomed.

    3. Before the election they said it was impossible to rig a US election. Afterwards they blamed their favourite bogeyman the Russians. So after a year of digging, they found no Russian collusion.

    4. Trump begins detente with North Korea despite media saying he would start WW3.

    5. US unemployment at historic lows. Black unemployment at all time lows. Stock market roaring along still.

    6. Ever more desperate and watching Trump’s approval ratings rise above Obama’s the Democrat controlled media have to invent a crisis, and they do: immigration.

    Trump’s done nothing that Obama wasn’t already doing (Obama expelled more illegal immigrants than Trump), the photos of cages were from 2014 when Obama was in charge. Time magazine had to make an embarrassing retraction over its front cover.

    Media has gone too far – they’ve over-egged it and people are catching on fast.

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