Not Our Kids: A Fox News Operetta (2018)
for baritone, flute, alto sax, tenor sax, string bass, piano, and percussion
On May 7th, 2018 Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Thomas Homan announced that under the administration of Donald Trump, the United States would adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward anyone caught crossing the US border illegally. Part of this policy included separating any accompanying children from their parents (even those legally seeking asylum under international law) and detaining them in “detention facilities” in order to deter additional immigrants from trying to enter the country. Over the following few weeks, details of the appalling conditions at these facilities were brought to light, as well as the traumatic experiences that the detained children and babies have been suffering. Many children have also been lost, likely to never be returned to their parents.
No matter what your political views are, separating children from their families is objectively evil. It’s a black and white issue, and it transcends any form of justification. Despite this, conservative media outlets have been attempting to spin the Trump administration’s child separation policy as some kind of positive. Fox News in particular (known for being the most watched news network in America) has been methodically shielding its viewers from the issue through a series of weak justifications, gaslighting, and shifting blame to “democrats” and “liberals.”
Not Our Kids is a satirical commentary of the right-wing media’s role in normalizing the Trump administration’s child separation policy. For the piece’s text, I compiled a series of quotes from Fox News personalities, anchors, and newscasters that demonstrate how the network is rewriting the immigration narrative. These quotes are then sung and spoken by the vocalist, at times sounding mechanical and abrasive to reflect the propaganda machine of right-wing media, and at times resembling a work of deranged musical theater. My goal is to highlight the insidious and untruthful rhetoric that is being masqueraded as “news” and draw attention to the fact that this propaganda works. Millions of Americans watch Fox News, and consequently, we are facing a disturbing lack of empathy regarding immigration in this country.
Not Our Kids was commissioned by Jamil Fuller, Bianca Pratte, Becky Swanson, Ben Portzen, Zoe Markle, and Nolan Ehlers