Tag Archives: migrant children

“expressing outrage” … admirable or to be frowned upon?

 

 

I received an email from a relative last week. It was, on the surface at least, well meaning, but it could also be construed as condescending.

Re your email expressing outrage with Trump and incarcerated kids, at least he caved (although harm already done can’t be undone).

Without crawling under a rock, I try to avoid at least some of this aggravation. …

No doubt your frequent visits to Carnegie Hall and related forays into classical music (not to mention long walks) are therapeutic. You, like me, might try to avoid or at least minimize all the stuff that aggravates.

 

 

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I replied to my relative as follows.

I am mostly apolitical and have tried over the past couple of years not to be consumed with hatred of Trump.

The news about the incarceration of immigrant kids has really gotten to me, however. I can’t bear to contemplate it.

Also, immigration has long been an issue I have cared about and blogged about.

I won’t change.

You are right that “harm already done can’t be undone.” I read that the administration has said nothing about the children who have already been separated from their parents and that no steps are underway to reunite them.

I feel that this is an egregious violation of human rights that will not be forgotten and can’t be remedied, it seems. I mean the whole anti-immigrant policy, the characterization and treatment of immigrants as vermin, and worst of all, the separation of parents and children.

 

 

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Some people profess hatred and scorn for Donald Trump and his supporters, the “deplorables.” They are in the liberal vanguard and can be counted upon to support left of center politicians. When those politicians support policies merely for political expediency — such as Hillary Clinton (one of their favorites, arch enemy of the “deplorables”) voting for the Iraq War — they look the other way. Doctrinaire liberalism and political orthodoxy trump independent thinking, which might, they fear, make them appear ideologically “incorrect” and cause them to lose friends or to be looked down upon by them.

These people want nothing to do with the “deplorables” and isolate themselves in mostly white, upper middle class neighborhoods where they won’t have to rub elbows with the proletariat (George Orwell’s proles).

 

 

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When an outrage is seen such as the Trump administration’s hard line policies towards immigrants — PEOPLE like you and I (and we are descended, like all Americans, from immigrants) — Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson (a conservative) calls it, with dead on accuracy, “state-sponsored cruelty” — my relatives and their liberal friends are strangely silent.

They hate Donald Trump and Trump apologists such as Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kellyanne Conway. They march in parades where placards with a crude caricature of Trump reading “The only asshole is in the White House” are held aloft.

Trump to them represents the antithesis of their enlightened beliefs and values. They are eager to make the distinction manifest — that they are exemplars of values that distinguish the “best people” from ignorant and unrefined people.

But concern for actual people, especially sweaty aliens from the impoverished lower classes arriving in rafts and/or on foot at the Texas border, does not engage their sympathies or excite their imagination. And, while religion may be given lip service, an impassioned appeal to fundamental Christian tenets such as charity also does not move them; it may more often than not be an embarrassment to them and perhaps remind my auditors (heaven forbid) of the religious right.

Hence the advice to me from a relative to not get too worked up over the separation of immigrant children from their parents.

What such people care about is being on the “correct” side of political debates. They are essentially cold-blooded conformists to liberal ideology. Card carrying liberals who can be counted upon for support of ordained policies and positions.

They don’t care all that much about living, breathing, suffering people. The plight of lower class immigrants does not engage them emotionally. Of course, they do care about the welfare of their own families (and the maintenance of their own public institutions and communities), but that’s another matter. As long as they are safe in their suburban enclaves, they are not going to lose that much sleep over a few thousand “losers” and their children locked up in cages.

Caring deeply about man’s inhumanity to certain groups and persons can actually embarrass them. They would prefer that their relatives don’t call attention to themselves by expressing moral outrage, without checking with them first.

A historical parallel comes to mind. Many people felt at the time that abolitionists in their strident denunciations of slavery and insistence on immediate abolition were fanatics who should have restrained themselves. The parallel may not be exact in the present instance, but why am I being advised to “get a grip” on myself and exercise “restraint” when it comes to my distress and anger, indeed horror, over the consequences of the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant policies? This from Trump haters. Haters, but I question the depth and sincerity of their compassion.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

  June 2018

parental love

 

 

Re the horrendous crime of separating the children of immigrants from their parents. (And it is a crime for which there are no moral or legal reasons, no justification, and no excuses. As the Archbishop of San Antonio, Gustavo Garcia-Siller, put it: “To steal children from their parents is a grave sin, immoral and evil.”)

I can’t help thinking about what parents must feel.

Becoming a parent is one of those human experiences that is the most important in a lifetime. That’s a clumsy way to put it, and it’s an understatement. But what else ranks with it? Birth? Death?

Shortly before my first child was born, my therapist asked me, “Do you feel ready to become a parent?”

I answered that I thought I was. “I’m as ready as I ever will be,” I said.

A friend of mine, a psychiatrist, and his wife, a clinical psychologist, had just had their first child. “Your life and your marriage will never be the same,” they told me. “Everything is different. You will never again have as much time for yourself or your spouse.”

A few days before our first child was born, my therapist said to me, in an admonitory fashion, “Do you realize that this new child will be a totally helpless creature? Totally dependent upon you for everything.”

I hadn’t really thought about it.

 

 

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When our son was born, I was a new person. The love was overwhelming and instantaneous. I was not the same person I had been the day before. I was a father. I was thrilled and terribly proud. But the outpouring of love I felt for our son was overwhelming. It was an emotion I had never experienced before. How could I have?

 

 

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A little while later, I had a conversation with a coworker of mine at The Wyatt Company. She was an attractive, personable woman.

She had just had her first child, a daughter. We were comparing notes about how it felt to be a first-time parent.

“You know,” I told her, “I never realized how powerful the emotion was and how immediate and total the feeling of parental love is. I thought that it was something that would develop or grow over time. Not that one wouldn’t be thrilled and proud to become a parent, but as you got to know the child your love would grow. I would sometimes hear stories about people losing a child in infancy or read about infant deaths in literature. I would always think it must have been hard, but at least the child was just an infant, so perhaps the parents didn’t know the child that well — perhaps it would make it easier to bear that.”

We both could see — and agree — that that was not at all the case. One’s love for a child is as strong and intense at the movement of birth as later, meaning at any stage of the child’s life. And, losing a child is the worst thing of all types of tragedies a parent can contemplate.

Not just losing, but having a child torn away from them without being told or knowing where they have been taken. Not being able to find them, or knowing if or when they will see their child again.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   June 2018

 

Alan Hovhaness, “Ave Maria”; governmental cruelty (including state sanctioned child abuse) beyond belief

 

 

 

 

 

I am reposting here a cantata, “Ave Maria” (1955), by the composer Alan Hovhaness (1911-2000).

This short piece combines beauty with pathos. I felt this morning that the music would console me. I wanted to listen to something, but knew I would find most music jarring.

 

 

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I know I am not alone in my feelings about the treatment of migrant families and migrant children. I almost can’t bear it.

Even though, of course, I am not a victim.

A couple of things from my own personal experience help to give me some understanding of how traumatic it must be for those children:

I recall once at a young age (but it could not have been too young), I spent a night at my paternal grandparents’ house. They lived in the next town. I had been left to stay over for the night. I missed my parents, got very upset, and began to cry. My grandmother couldn’t console me. She tried very hard; she was a very nice woman. And, yet, I couldn’t accept or deal with being separated from my parents.

My wife and I dropped our first-born son off at his aunt and uncle’s house on a Saturday evening when he was about six months old. It was the first time he had ever been left in someone else’s care. They lived about an hour away from us. It was not an overnight. It was just for a few hours while we attended some event. He had a frozen look on his face and looked not only emotionally distraught, but like he could not comprehend what was occurring and was so traumatized he was unable to express any emotion. He was mute and his facial muscles were constricted. He had already met his aunt and uncle, fairly often, in pleasant circumstances.

 

 

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The trauma associated with these instances is nothing compared to what the children taken away from their parents by Border Patrol agents are undergoing.

Read:

“ ‘No One Is Going to Separate Us Again’: Guatemalan Mother Reunites With Son,” The New York Times, June 23, 2018

 

 

This mother got her child back. But can you imagine the emotional harm he has experienced? If I remember vividly being emotionally distraught when I was left for one evening with my kindly grandmother (when I was around same age as the Guatemalan boy whose separation is the subject of this story), can you imagine the psychological harm done (as I have already said) and how he will never be able to overcome, forget, or bury it?

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

    June 23, 2018

 

 

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See also my post:

 

“Alan Hovhaness, choral works (Ave Maria, Christmas Ode, Easter Cantata)”

https://rogersgleanings.com/2016/01/24/alan-hovhaness-choral-works-ave-maria-christmas-ode-easter-cantata/

washing their hands

 

 

When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.

 

— Matthew 27:24, King James Version

 

 

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REP. JEFF DENHAM (R-CALIF)

“We are fixing family separation within this bill and have made changes to keep children with at least one of their parents.”

 

HOGAN GIDLEY

“Sadly, Democrats openly oppose simple fixes to federal law that would stop the illegal migrant crisis and end the magnet for unlawful migration,” said White House spokesman Hogan Gidley.

 

JOHN F. KELLY

“A big name of the game is deterrence,” Mr. Kelly, [then the homeland security secretary] now the chief of staff, told NPR in May. “The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever — but the big point is they elected to come illegally into the United States, and this is a technique that no one hopes will be used extensively or for very long.”

 

MARK MEADOWS

“Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), one of Trump’s closest allies in Congress, questioned Sunday whether some of the adult migrants who show up at the border with children are really their parents, citing human-trafficking concerns.”

 

STEPHEN MILLER [senior policy adviser to President Trump]

“No nation can have the policy that whole classes of people are immune from immigration law or enforcement. It was a simple decision by the administration to have a zero tolerance policy for illegal entry, period. The message is that no one is exempt from immigration law.”

 

KIRSTJEN NIELSEN

“My decision has been that anyone who breaks the law will be prosecuted,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in Senate testimony earlier this month. “If you’re a parent, or you’re a single person, or you happen to have a family, if you cross between the ports of entry, we will refer you for prosecution. You’ve broken U.S. law.”

 

MARCO RUBIO

“We have to understand a lot of these people that are crossing children are being trafficked here. They are being brought here by criminal groups that help guide them and often take advantage of them and brutalize them on the path toward the United States, and the ability to cross that border is a magnet that is drawing this behavior.”

 

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS

“Our administration has had the same position since we started on Day 1 that we were going to enforce the law,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said on Thursday. “We’re a country of law and order, and we’re enforcing the law and protecting our borders.”

 

JEFF SESSIONS

“Having children does not give you immunity from arrest and prosecution. I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government. Because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.”

 

JEFF SESSIONS

“Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves. Consistent and fair application of the law is in itself a good and moral thing, and that protects the weak and protects the lawful.”

“If people don’t want to be separated from their children, they should not bring them with them. We’ve got to get this message out. You’re not given immunity.”

“If you don’t want your child separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally. It’s not our fault that somebody does that.”

 

DONALD J. TRUMP

“Put pressure on the Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children from there [sic] parents once they cross the Border into the U.S.,” Trump tweeted Saturday. “Catch and Release, Lottery and Chain must also go with it and we MUST continue building the WALL! DEMOCRATS ARE PROTECTING MS-13 THUGS.”

 

DONALD J. TRUMP

“Democrats can fix their forced family breakup at the Border by working with Republicans on new legislation, for a change!”

 

KENNETH WOLFE

“HHS is legally required to provide care and shelter for all unaccompanied alien children referred by DHS, and works in close coordination with DHS on the security and safety of the children and community,” [HRS spokesman Kenneth] Wolfe said in a statement.

 

“The side effect of zero tolerance is that fewer people will come up illegally, and fewer minors would be put in danger,” said a third senior administration official. “What is more dangerous to a minor, the 4,000-mile journey to America or the short-term detention of their parents?”

 

“The president has told folks that in lieu of the laws being fixed, he wants to use the enforcement mechanisms that we have,” a White House official said. “The thinking in the building is to force people to the table.”

 

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   June 16, 2018