Suf­fer the chil­dren

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - Editorial - Rus­sell Wanger­sky

If you have kids, there’s a heart­break­ing mo­ment you’ll rec­og­nize.

That mo­ment where you child looks at you with trust, when you take them to day care or per­haps the first day of school, when you put your best face for­wards and force out a hope­ful, “It’ll be fun. You’ll make new friends.”

And you get that look back that’s both trust­ing, and afraid — and in­side, you feel that lit­tle quiver of un­ease, be­cause you know, you ab­so­lutely know, that what you’re say­ing might not be true at all. That it might not be fun, and that you are in all like­li­hood ly­ing to some­one who trusts you im­plic­itly.

Then, they’re off into class — and maybe you have a lit­tle cry right there in the car. At least, though, they will be back at the end of day, and you can do what you can to help with what­ever trou­ble the day has brought.

Now, imag­ine, that in­stead of school, your young child or chil­dren are be­ing sep­a­rated from you by bor­der agents, and are then be­ing moved into cage­like facilities where staff aren’t even al­lowed to com­fort them. That, in de­ten­tion, you are told your chil­dren are be­ing taken for show­ers — maybe you com­fort them, tell them it will be all right, tell them that you will see them soon.

Only they don’t re­turn. Wel­come to the United States of Amer­ica, a na­tion that once wel­comed im­mi­grants, but which now takes the chil­dren of peo­ple try­ing to make a bet­ter life for them­selves, and locks those chil­dren up, away from their par­ents and some­time alone.

The pic­tures com­ing out of U.S. de­ten­tion cen­tres are more than alarm­ing: chil­dren in chain link cages, hud­dled un­der 24hour light­ing while they try to sleep un­der foil emer­gency blan­kets.

Don’t be mis­led here. Don’t some­one say, “It’s not a cage, it’s a room with a chain link fence for walls.” Don’t let some­one say, “but their par­ents are break­ing the law…”

No one’s sug­gest­ing caging any other law­breaker’s chil­dren as de­ter­rence — and what hap­pened to the con­cept of in­no­cent un­til proven guilty, any­way?

Don’t let some­one say, “Well, Obama…” or blather off in some di­rec­tion about some­thing to do with Hil­lary Clin­ton’s emails.

Don’t let some­one say, “it’s de­ter­rence…” Hell, tor­ture can be seen as “de­ter­rence.” Cut­ting off hands can be seen as “de­ter­rence.” Indis­crim­i­nate use of anti-per­sonal land mines in pub­lic markets can be seen as “de­ter­rence.”

The truth of it is plainly clear: the gov­ern­ment of U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is us­ing the suf­fer­ing of chil­dren as a black­mail tactic to try and force vot­ing com­pli­ance — their ar­gu­ment that “the Democrats can stop this” is con­tin­gent on Democrats vot­ing in favour of gov­ern­ment leg­is­la­tion that has a whole host of de­tails not con­nected to im­pris­on­ing chil­dren.

Trump and the Repub­li­cans can stop it just as eas­ily — be­cause, af­ter all, they are the ones who put the zero-tol­er­ance pol­icy in place. This is the work of mon­sters.

There comes a time when you have to stop and think things not from the point of view of lib­eral or con­ser­va­tive, of Trump­sup­porter or Trumpop­po­nent.

You have to de­cide be­tween right and wrong, and whether there’s a place in a demo­cratic, first-world coun­try for the im­pris­on­ment of chil­dren, based on the al­leged ac­tions of their par­ents.

If you can com­fort­ably watch that hap­pen, if you can pre­var­i­cate or ex­cuse or con­done such be­hav­iour, I don’t want any­thing to do with you.

Maybe you should stop, look into your own child’s face, and ask how ac­cept­able you’d find it if it was done to them.

And if you think it would be ac­cept­able for the child of any­one else, then you’re a mon­ster, too.

The pic­tures com­ing out of U.S. de­ten­tion cen­tres are more than alarm­ing: chil­dren in chain link cages, hud­dled un­der 24hour light­ing while they try to sleep un­der foil emer­gency blan­kets.

Rus­sell Wanger­sky’s col­umn ap­pears in 39 Saltwire news­pa­pers and web­sites in At­lantic Canada. He can be reached at rus­sell.wanger­sky@thetele­ — Twit­ter: @wanger­sky.

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