How to win every argument with your Republican uncle at this year's July 4 picnic
An old white man yells at a relative/Shutterstock

Tomorrow is the United States of America's birthday.

And just like our own birthdays, it gets celebrated whether or not the past year was a success.

America doesn't have much to celebrate as it turns 242 years old, but celebrate we shall.

For most Americans, the holiday means getting together with friends and family, including that one racist uncle who will spend the day talking fawningly about Trump's big, beautiful border wall.

When that happens, you're going to want to debate him. And you're going to want to win.

Here is a guide to what the wingnuts are currently obsessed with, from someone who is professionally obligated to watch more Fox News than any sane person should.

Everyone crossing the border without authorization is acting illegally and that’s why we lock them up.

People from both sides of the aisle tend to casually refer to unauthorized border crossings as though they're all illegal. They're not, because the United States is obligated by international law to grant asylum to qualified people. The requirements to qualify for asylum are complex, but asylum should be granted to someone who fears persecution in their home country based on political opinion or being part of a particular social group when their home country's government is either involved in the persecution or unable to stop it.

So there's a good argument for the prototypical family of indigenous people from a rural Guatemalan village who is being targeted by Narcos who view indigenous people as subhuman and/or want to force them to participate in a violent criminal enterprise. That means those people are legally allowed to come to the United States. They don't have to "wait their turn" or any of that.

Trump and his agents are acting illegally by automatically detaining asylum seekers, a judge just ruled.

Trump and his supporters make a big deal about these folks needing to go to an officially designated port of entry to qualify for asylum. You can’t request asylum until you’re on American soil, so if the Trumpistas can block them from getting to American soil then the U.S. has no obligation to grant them asylum.

But that’s not the law—asylum seekers can make an unauthorized arrival by sneaking past immigration control and then file their paperwork. They have not necessarily committed a crime by doing so.

Crossing the border without authorization is a serious crime and we need to detain the people who do it. We detain them apart from their children because you can’t bring your kids to jail with you.

Crossing the border without authorization—what Reoublicans call “illegally”—is a Class B misdemeanor. As a crime, this is as serious as drawing with a marker on a dollar bill.

We don’t put people in jail for drawing a mustache on a dollar bill, let alone take their kid away and lock them in a cage inside an abandoned Walmart.

Once a migrant is here, being here without proper documentation is a civil infraction—but it’s not an infraction if they turn in paperwork to apply for asylum.

Obama was also locking up migrant kids and all the photos you see are of kids locked up during Obama’s administration.

The Obama administration did detain migrant children, and deported a lot of people. Despite what the right claims about amnesty, the former president was extremely aggressive in policing immigration.

But those children you see locked up under Obama were not forcibly separated from their parents at the border. They were “unaccompanied minors” who made their way north on their own and got caught at the border.

The difference is that Trump intentionally and cruelly took kids from their parents—including very small children and babies.

The girl in that famous photo later used on the cover of Time was not separated from her mother.

This is true—it’s also true that lots of little girls just like her were.

Democrats are destroying the country with a lack of civility—such as by refusing to serve fried chicken to Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

"Civility" is the right's latest obsession. Essentially, everyone on Fox New seems worried that if people stop treating collaborators nicely in public, it will be miserable for current collaborators and harder to recruit new ones.

Without resorting to whataboutism, it’s worth remembering that the root of Donald Trump’s appeal is his undermining of our culture’s norms. He’s said things that other politicians won’t say and done things that other politicians won’t do. The list is too long to even start into.

People have responded by resisting Trump and his collaborators in ways both big and small. That includes confronting them in restaurants.

When Obama was president, Republicans cheered when a bakery refused to serve Joe Biden.

Republicans also cheered when religious bakeries refused to make cakes for gay weddings.

Cake is not a sacred part of a wedding ceremony or the subject of any religious rituals. To say it’s OK for someone to refuse to serve a regular gay couple because you don’t like their personal choices but that it’s wrong to refuse to serve someone who constantly tells lies and took kids away from their parents and locked them in cages seems hypocritical.

Trump succeeded in North Korea and the media won’t give him credit.

People on the right are obsessed with the fact that North Korea destroyed its nuclear test site with great fanfare. What they don’t understand is that happened because North Korea no longer needs to test nuclear weapons—it knows they work, it built them, it has the missiles to fire them at us.

North Korea destroying its missile test site was a celebration of its successful tests, not of acquiesce to Trump.

What did happen is that Trump legitimized a dictator by negotiating with him as an equal.