Joco Opinion

July 1, 2014

Danedri Herbert: On this Independence Day, America is looking a little tired.

This used to be a country that valued the freedom to think how you wanted without fear of government reprisal, but that is no longer the case.

It will look like the America you grew up knowing on the Fourth of July. America will dress herself in red, white and blue, and children will line the streets waving flags in places like the Lenexa Community Day Parade.

The celebration of freedom will last long after the potato salad is gone. But on this Independence Day, America is looking a little tired. Or, as Cher would say in the movie “Clueless,” my country is looking like a Monet. From a distance, she’s beautiful, but up close, she’s a big ol’ mess.

America has a little work done in the last few years. Despite the promises of then-candidate Barack Obama, the hope and change we got are beginning to look like plastic surgery gone wrong.

Where America used to be a country that valued the freedom to think how you wanted without fear of government reprisal, that is no longer the case.

The most egregious example is that of Lois Lerner and the Internal Revenue Service. Lerner sought to use the power of the federal government against American citizens. Congress continues to look into the scandal, in which conservative and tea party organizations were denied or delayed in receiving tax-exempt statuses. Liberal groups were herded through the process with little difficulty, while conservative organizations were asked to supply lists of speakers, what prayers they said at their meetings and the names of donors.

The IRS admitted in March of last year that it targeted groups with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names. Back then, Lerner said the additional scrutiny was not driven by partisan motives. I can’t believe anyone is buying that story.

Members of Congress continue to investigate, as they should. Meanwhile, emails that could determine whether certain groups were targeted based on politics have vanished. Two years of Lerner emails have vanished, according to the IRS, because of hardware crashes.

Somehow, no one is in jail.

At one time, using the resources of the federal government to punish political enemies was cause for impeachment and prison. See, Richard Nixon. He resigned, becoming the first president to do so.

I’m not suggesting that America should jump to conclusions and throw Lerner in jail. I am suggesting she should be demanding evidence and scrounging up a jury. Lerner is collecting a nice government pension, and America it appears has decided to ignore the scandal. I guess she’s waiting until the finale of the next season of the Kardashians to get off the couch and make some noise.

The fact that some IRS bureaucrats would behave so badly is hardly surprising. America has always had her flaws. The maddening and enraging part is that many of my countrymen don’t seem to care.

Meanwhile, our border is being flooded daily by unaccompanied minors, mostly from South America. One could argue that the influx of illegal immigrants is part of a political ploy to play the hand of a Congress reluctant to consider immigration reform. I sincerely hope that’s not the case. Causing a humanitarian crisis for political gain is un-American.

More than 47,000 migrant children, mostly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are being warehoused in California, Oklahoma and Texas. They are divided by age into holding areas, and piled up on mattresses lining the floor.

We aren’t sure what we’ll do with them, but there are officials who say many will be allowed to stay.

While allowing them to stay seems like the kind thing to do, it only encourages more of the same. And from the few photos I’ve viewed online of the warehousing efforts, what we’re doing is cruel.

We should be stopping these buses full of unaccompanied minors back at the Mexican border. Mexican officials would probably do a better job of turning them back at their own southern border if Mexican authorities knew the unaccompanied minors were going to become their problem.

We’re not equipped to handle it, and in the meantime, we have warehouses full of children. It’s a humanitarian crisis. And most of my countrymen seem strangely silent on the matter.

Where are my countrymen?

And Lerner scandal and the wave of immigrants is just the tip-of-the-plastic-surgery iceberg gone wrong.

The things that garner strong words from the president are more likely to involve athletes coming out of the closet than abuses of our citizens in our own country and abroad.

America’s dance card will be full this Fourth of July, but she’s looking a little tired.

Freelancer Danedri Herbert writes in this space once a month.

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