Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Imagine What They Can Do To You

 The GOP response to the FBI's raid on Mar-a-Lago has been very straightforward:

The immediate response to this was that I never doubted that the FBI was capable of getting a warrant to search my house if they established probable cause that I had committed a crime. Not only was that well within the realm of imagination, it'd be very bad if I couldn't imagine it!

But it when it comes down to "imagine what they can do to you", this isn't the story that is haunting. It was this Atlantic deep dive into how Trump's "family separation" policy was implemented.

Obviously, the basic fact patterns found in that story are terrifying. Imagining your small children ripped away from you, shipped to God knows where, with no guarantee you'll ever see them again -- it beggars belief. But there's a more fundamental horror at work here -- the impunity of power. In contrast to the formal legal process that resulted in the Mar-a-Lago raid, processes which will be challengeable in a courtroom and held to significant judicial scrutiny, the parents and children victimized by Trump's family separation policy were thrust into a chaotic state of legal limbo defined by the fact that nobody would, or could, help them. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine your child gone missing, and your frantic pleas for help just ... ignored? Not even that people try to help and fail -- they won't help at all. You're in the most dire crisis imaginable, and the men and women in uniform who seem like they should be tasked with helping you, who seem like they have the power to end the nightmare, just leave you to twist?

The argument against allowing the Mar-a-Lago raid is little more complex than the belief that if you become powerful enough, the law should no longer apply to you. That form of entitled impunity is not at all unrelated to the administrative lawlessness and abandonment that characterized how the family separation victims were traumatized. In either case, the message is that one's ability to claim the protections of the law is wholly a function of whether you possess the requisite amount of social power. If you're part of the favored in-class -- the Trumps of the world -- then law will bend over backwards to ensure you have your hearing. If you're on the outside looking in, then law will ignore you no matter how loud you scream.

Imagine what that could mean for you.

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