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The monstrosity of the Trump presidency is in full display. Many of his Republican underlings, who have propped up Trump through countless episodes of overt racism, misogyny, and lying, are no longer standing by him over his most recent digression.

Trump’s merciless zero-tolerance policy has led to the excruciating tearing away of innocent and scared children from the arms of their parents who came to the Texas border to escape violence in their Central American homes. In the last six weeks since its enactment, approximately 2,400 children have been taken away from their parents and sent to live in prison-like conditions not sure if they will ever see their parents again. It is heartbreaking to see the father, who did everything in his power to keep his wife and children with him, reach a point of hopelessness and despair in a detention center where he took his own life. A recent recording of wailing and terrified youngsters calling out for their mothers and fathers is heart-wrenching.

In response to widespread opposition to his zero-tolerance policy, Trump now signed an executive order to terminate the separation. Yet, the policy does not apply to the 2,400 already taken from their parents. And Trump now seeks to keep children with their parents beyond the 20-day limit.

Despite his compromise, Trump is using these children —like Dreamers—as pawns to gain Congressional support for his needless multibillion-dollar wall that he wants to construct across our southern border. If the latest immigration proposals are not supported, Trump will simply claim that he is not responsible for the fate of these children. If Congress does endorse the immigration proposals, Trump gains his hideous wall. The art of the deal sans morality.

Trump does not view these children and their parents as real human beings. To him they are subhumans—animals, as he is fond of calling them—who are criminals, murderers, and rapists. It is easy to commit human rights violations and to destroy the lives of people who you consider animals. Slave owners heartlessly auctioned off human beings and mercilessly separated parents from their children. Nazis split Jewish families and ruthlessly slaughtered six million innocent Jews. Slave owners and Nazis slept peacefully because they did not see their victims as humans.

The well-respected stateswoman, Madeleine Albright, in her book titled Fascism: A Warning, provides much wisdom drawing on the dynamics that have historically produced fascist regimes. Commonalities that have surrounded the rise of fascism include an environment of social, economic, and political chaos; weak and divided opposition; simplistic explanations to societal ills on the part of fascist leaders; and the guile of conservatives who use fascism to support their own goals.

Albright worries about the potential rise of fascism in our country as Trump regularly promotes anti-democratic policies. In the past few weeks, after the publication of the book, we have seen Trump increasingly isolate himself and our country from the West—including our neighbor to the north—while coddling and fawning over yet another evil dictator, Kim Jong-un. Even more recently, Trump has pulled the United States, for long one of the world’s leader in human rights, from United Nation’s Human Rights Council. The Trump humanitarian crisis associated with the separation of children from their parents lowers us even more from our elevated place at the human-rights international table.

While Albright worries about the anti-democratic direction of our country today, she is optimistic. Albright emphasizes that in order to preserve our precious democracy, we must remember historical lessons and never take democracy for granted. She stresses that “for freedom to survive, it must be defended, and that if lies are to stop, they must be exposed.” Albright finally notes that Democrats and Republicans must collaborate on challenges to democracy.

The widespread challenge to the malicious taking of children from their parents at the border represents a hopeful sign. The future of our country and its place in the world stage as a leader in human rights needs to be preserved. There must be zero-tolerance for cruelty and the violation of basic human rights and of leaders who instigate it.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above guest column shows U.S. President Donald Trump signing an executive order on immigration policy with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Vice President Mike Pence at his side in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., on June 20, 2018. (REUTERS/Leah Millis)

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