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Russell Wangersky: Suffer the children

"The government of U.S. President Donald Trump is using the suffering of children as a blackmail tactic to try and force voting compliance," Russell Wangersky writes. — Stock photo
"The government of U.S. President Donald Trump is using the suffering of children as a blackmail tactic to try and force voting compliance," Russell Wangersky writes. — Stock photo

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.”

Russell Wangersky
Russell Wangersky

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 cage-like 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 24-hour 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?

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.

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 Trump-supporter or Trump-opponent.

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.

Recent columns by this author

Russell Wangersky: Both sides now

Russell Wangersky: Twisted Scripture

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

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