I love it when I can see the future.
Take this coming Thanksgiving; I see it clearly, on my prevision TV. Yes, there will be lots of football, and the parade down Broadway – but on the news, and on the news channels, there will be endless Thanksgiving dinners being served up to American troops on active duty on the holiday in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
For all their generic sentimentality, these pictures also communicate real drama, because, whatever you think of the wisdom of those missions, they are all genuinely military and do confront armed and dangerous enemies.
But even more predictable is the replication of these images of the Thanksgiving feast, as it is served to American soldiers guarding our southern border. Turkey, all the trimmings, apple pie for dessert, mmmmm. Maybe not quite like home, but duty calls.
“By the way, soldier, what exactly are your duties on this border protection mission?” What depth of pride do you suppose the answer to that predictable question will bring forth?
But back to the future. Long before Thanksgiving, 108 Democratic Congresspeople sent a letter to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis asking the “What are they doing?” question, but also, what is this border defense mission costing in dollars and diversion of the troops from their normal assignments?
The names at the top of the letter were House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith, and House Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Bennie Thompson. In January, they’ll be committee chairmen and they won’t just be sending letters; they’ll soon be holding hearings examining the Donald Trump initiative that likely cost a few hundred million dollars to protect America from caravans of poor Central American civilians, many of them women and children.
There will be a lot of Thanksgiving dinners to show on TV because the border is getting crowded, and not by Central American asylum-seekers.
By mid-November, the Pentagon has promised, there will be 7,000 active duty American troops on mission, in addition to 2,100 National Guard personnel who started arriving in May.
And then there are the volunteers, the recent arrivals, self-designated militiamen from hundreds or thousands of miles away from the border, many of them summoned via social media messages like this one from the Patriots of the Constitution recorded by the Albuquerque Journal, calling for “A FULL DEPLOYMENT OF EVERY ABLE BODY U.S. CITIZEN to Head to the U.S. Southern Border [to make] a Stand to Secure our Border from a Mob of Migrating Immigrants.”
A final foresight of the future: these militia volunteers will be eating their Thanksgiving dinners, if they get any, off-camera.
Angela Kocherga is a staff writer in the Las Cruces Bureau of the Albuquerque Journal.