As if we didn't have enough proof that far-right Republicans are lacking in empathy, and possibly actual human hearts, comes this charming vignette from Wednesday's Senate hearing on the Uniting American Families Act. Shirley Tan, the 43-year-old mother of twins and partner of 23 years to Jay Mercado, testified about recent attempts by immigration officials to deport her to the Philliipines. James Kirchick at The New Republic reports:
One of Tan's children started crying within seconds of the start of her testimony. ... For most people, the sight of a 12-year-old boy in tears at the prospect of his mother being deported halfway around the world would invoke some sympathy. Unmoved, however, was Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions, ranking minority member of the Committee and the only Republican to bother to attend the hearing. At the sight of the weeping boy, according to a Senate staffer who was at the hearing, Sessions leaned towards one of his aides and sighed, "Enough with the histrionics." Session's press secretary did not return a call seeking comment.
I suppose I should stop being surprised when some wingers keep proving they're even more crass and craven that we thought them to be. But it's certainly indicative of how some still feel about us and our families, and how important the UAFA legislation is.
I'm fortunate that my husband is a naturalized citizen, although the afternoon we were detained for a time at the Canadian border when returning from an impromptu day-trip to Vancouver during our Seattle vacation did teach me a lot about how much easier it is to navigate the federal bureaucracy with white skin and a nondescript accent.
This weekend is the anniversary of my brother-in-law's death. He was Cavin's older brother, and he left behind an 8-year-old son who just turned 9 last month. He's been spending some time with Cavin and me, because we both think it's important to be involved in his life. My in-laws are a fairly tight family, and lord knows I feel honored that they treat me as part of it.
So my nephew is a rambunctious kid, a little on the wild side, but in a way that a lot of boys just are. He laughs a lot, plays Pokemon, runs willy-nilly through the house, and has a tendency to roughhouse when he shouldn't. But sometimes, with Cavin, he's broken into tears because he misses his dad. It's the kind of thing that breaks your heart.
I'm sure it would break Senator Sessions' crusty heart as well, because it's a tragedy that's played out in a relationship he considers "valid" - the death of a husband who leaves behind a wife and child.
But the tears of a boy who may lose one of his two mothers merits nothing but cold-hearted dismissal, because those are people who don't count?
All of us - gay and straight, child and adult - deserve better politicians than Sessions and his ilk. We all need to work hard to make sure every family gets the respect, and empathy, they deserve.