I think about William Styron's "Sophie's Choice" when I watch reports of immigrant children being removed from their mothers on the southwestern U.S, border.
Styron's book revealed the horror of a Nazi officer forcing a mother to make the choice of which of her children to save.
Now, the officious inhumanity envisioned by Styron defines U.S. policy.
Families must decide whether to leave a repressive Central American society or risk losing their children in a country once known as the home of the brave and the land of the free.
One of the great inhumanities of American slavery was the dissolution of families. A slave father sold to a plantation owner miles away would have to leave his wife and children. A sold child would be forced from his mother's home.
Jeff Beauregard Sessions is the avatar of those old South slave owners. He's the latest iteration of "The banality of evil."
Trump is like the Northern absentee owner of a plantation.
Styron in his "Confessions of Nat Turner" examined slavery's tragic toll on America.
In "Sophie's Choice," he saw the other side of America, the magnanimous refuge for brutalized immigrants like Sophie.
Deeply haunted by slavery's legacy, he believed that America was different from Nazi Germany. Sophie's unthinkable choice was the metric that defined the difference.
He would be sad to see America reverting to its worst instincts, the America of Nat Turner, not Sophie.