As a propaganda piece, it’s close to perfect.
A video getting national traction this week by purporting to show the kind of setup illegal immigrant children face in special immigration courts received a major boost on Tuesday when actress Alyssa Moreno published it to her Twitter following of almost 3.5 million.
And she didn’t hold back on the hyperventilating about how utterly horrible it all was.
“Oh my f***ing, God. Oh my f***ing, God. Oh my f***ing, God,” Milano wrote with needless redundancy. “Stop what you’re doing and watch this. If you’re ok with this unfollow me because you have no heart.” (Note: the link to the picture below does not redact the cursing.)
Considering Ms. Milano’s profession, that’s more than a little over the top. In fact, it’s suspiciously so. Since when do actresses not know what acting is?
It may be true that the dialogue in the 4-minute melodrama is based on actual transcripts of children’s immigration court – we have only moviemaker Linda Freeman’s word for it.
But since there are no recording devices allowed into these hearings, according to KGW in Portland, it’s undeniably true that literally everything else about the visuals is conjured up — from the Olympian judge staring sternly from the bench to the heart-rending childish tics some the actors portraying the illegal immigrant children evince.
It’s beautifully done, but that doesn’t make it more honest, just more dangerous as a tool of persuasion.
Even assuming that the words as spoken are true, the scant dialogue tells the viewers literally nothing about what else transpired during the hearings. A judge asking if a prospective witness speaks Spanish, if that witness understands what an attorney is and so forth are the kinds of questions that would come at the very beginning of any such hearing.
What took place after that? What might have taken place after that? We haven’t a clue because Freeman never sees fit to include it.
Maybe judges ask if the children were ever personally endangered in the homes where they were born, and the children said, “no.” Maybe the children were asked if they ever wanted to leave home and embark on a frightening, dangerous trip to an unknown destination and they said “no.”
Maybe a million and one other questions were posed and the children answered in ways that determined they were not eligible for asylum — by adults who take their jobs and responsibility to enforce the laws the United States seriously. Conservatives take a back seat to no one when it comes to refusing to surrender American rights to the government. But it’s important to remember that that’s not what is happening here.
What is happening is that citizens of a foreign country are being questioned about their presence in the United States — a presence that doesn’t even have a vestige of legality to it. It is not a question of innocence being presumed in the case of a crime. The crime is self-evident. The question is a procedural one about how it should be dealt with.
If these children had not been brought to, or sent to, the United States illegally in the first place, the situation would not have arisen. And for that, their parents or families, not the United States government, are responsible. It’s unfortunate, it’s heart-wrenching. But that is the real truth.
Alyssa Milano is an actress who has spent a career memorizing words written by someone else and printed on a page for her to parrot. She has spent a career watching as skilled technicians were able to turn barren sounds sets into the living rooms of families that Americans accepted into their homes in hit shows like “Who’s the Boss?”, “Melrose Place” and “My Name Is Earl.”
In short, Milano knows — or should know — exactly what’s being done with this video, by the woman who created it, by the children who are starring in it, and by the players involved.
Pearl-clutching obscenities and melt-down histrionics in her tweet aside, she knows that what’s going on in this video can be no more assumed to be real life than a sitcom about a bum who wins a lottery but ends up devoting his life trying to right the wrongs he’s committed.
The message got through. The thread of digitally sobbing liberals on Milano’s Twitter account makes it clear that it worked. She doesn’t care if it bears any semblance to reality.
As a piece of propaganda goes, it’s close to perfect. But that doesn’t make it necessarily close to true.
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