Which Side Are You On — Cruelty or Empathy?

MAGA Governors Dumping Refugees on Democratic Cities and Towns Have Picked a Fight They Will Lose

Micah Sifry


“There were men, women and CHILDREN! They hadn’t eaten anything since 6:00 am. What kind of depraved individual loads up 50 people onto a plane and dumps them in a strange place without even notifying anyone that they’re coming? These are ‘leaders’? These are ‘Christians’? I’ll tell you what this is. It’s a disgusting political stunt — at the expense of human beings just wanting to work and provide for their families. But you know what? On this island, we treated them with dignity, we fed them, we gave them medical attention and we will give them a warm and safe place to sleep…Because on Martha’s Vineyard, we won’t turn our backs on people in need who are being abused by extremist Republican governors for some cheap soundbite on Fox News.”

That’s a text from a resident of Martha’s Vineyard responding to the decision by the governors of Florida and Texas to fly a group of Venezuelans who are in the US legally waiting for decisions on their asylum requests. It’s gone viral, and for good reason. It’s one thing for politicians to disagree about US immigration policy. It’s quite another to toy sadistically with people’s lives.

Of course, for MAGA Republicans like Gov. Ron DeSantis and Gov. Greg Abbott, the cruelty is the point. Demonstrating dominance is part of their political allure. But their new tactic of shipping refugees from Latin and South America to northern targets like New York City’s Port Authority Terminal and Chicago’s Union Station, which have seen hundreds arrive there in the last few weeks, and now this jab at Martha’s Vineyard, could well backfire. That’s because the overwhelming majority of Americans do not support cruelty. In the same way that Donald Trump’s deliberate policy of family separation triggered a massive counter-response — including from many longtime Republicans like George and Laura Bush — DeSantis and Abbott’s bullying is offering the rest of us an opportunity to show the America we actually want.

Of course, validating and whipping up hatred of dark-skinned people, whether they are immigrants or natives to this land is nothing new. In the 1950s and 1960s, one of the ways that Southern…