We all know that Republicans are, generally speaking, heartless monsters who don't care about anyone but themselves, but you'd naively hope multiple airings of It's a Wonderful Life combined with the tragic death of a seven-year-old girl might cause their hearts to grow three sizes at least.

Not so much! Because the little girl wasn't a fetus competing with a woman's autonomy and was also a Guatemalan migrant who died in the custody of US Border Control. Republicans have since turned up on our TVs telling us why the death of Jackeline Caal was entirely her own fault.

Jason Chaffetz appeared on Fox News last night to inform its sociopathic viewers of the true "message" of Caal's death, which is that a seven-year-old girl should not have chosen to "make this journey" to America with her parents. Chaffetz also probably believes that Tiny Tim shouldn't have chosen a dead-ass broke father. What was he thinking?

Chaffetz's victim-blaming also implies that it was the journey itself that killed Caal. That's not true. She was very much alive when she and her father turned themselves in to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents in New Mexico last week. She died in their custody. The dictionary defines "custody" as "the protective care or guardianship of someone or something." The Department of Homeland Security defines it as "ain't our problem."

DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen released a statement on Caal's death that exhibited the depth of human feeling we normally see from Scrooge before the ghosts show up. I'm surprised it didn't end with "If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."

Wow, that's kind of callous and heartless. It's irrelevant that the journey is dangerous. This is like if an alien lands in Times Square, says "I come in peace. By they way, does anyone have spare Hamilton tickets," and the cops shoot her dead. The NYPD's statement shouldn't open with a passive-aggressivement reminder of the perils of space travel: "As we have always said, crossing the vastness of space is a treacherous proposition. You never know when representatives of a cruel species will mow you down. Best to wait until the touring company of Hamilton comes to you. We're a nation of laws."

However, words can be cold and dispassionate. Maybe it'll come across better once Nielsen throws on a fresh human suit and goes on TV to express something in the proximity of genuine remorse.

Sweet Christ! That is so much worse! Bring back the words, please! I need the comfort of the words.

I dunno. I hate to accuse people of gangster-like antics but responding to the senseless death of a migrant child in US custody with a winking "warning" about how dangerous it is to come here illegally is kinda gangster. She keeps trying to hammer home this key point: Your children aren't safe here. We'll either enroll them in Kiddie Jail Academy or we'll watch them accidentally die in our custody like they're Cool Hand Luke.

Really? I'm supposed to feel sorry that this woman was heckled in Mexican restaurants?

We're a couple of weeks away from Christmas, when those so inclined will celebrate the birth of a child whose parents went on a dangerous journey that could've gotten them all killed. Republicans will lecture us about not saying "Merry Christmas" whenever an angel sneezes or something like that, but they seem to have no problem with the very un-Christ-like sentiments regarding the death of Jackeline Caal. It may well be that in the sight of Heaven, they are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this seven year old girl.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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