In this country and all over the world there is a deafening cry of “Crimes Against Humanity,” as babies are ripped from their mothers and families are illegally separated at our southern border. It is not the tactic of a civilized country at peace – it is the well-planned strategy of a country at war.
Every child has a right to life, and world leaders, as they call for peace, have a legal and moral duty to do all they can to ensure children are protected. Article 3 of the UN Convention on the Right of the Child unequivocally calls for the best interests of the child to be the top priority in all decisions and actions that affect the child.
Humanitarian crises affect children’s rights not be separated from their parents against their will. 3,500 children in Syria have crossed the border unaccompanied or separated from their families. Under the statistics, is the sickening human toll. The fear, psychological and emotional trauma these children are subjected to by police, border guards, soldiers, pedophiles, and slave traders is something even adults have serious issues grappling with. Children must endure torture, inhumane and degrading treatment.
It is easy to point to other countries.
Devastated by war, famine, and destruction, the adults in these countries have intentionally sent their children to safety knowing they might never see them again:
- England: Operation Pied Piper — In World War II, English families sent more than two million children to the safety of the countryside to escape the bombings. Some hated living away from their families – others didn’t want to go home again.
- South Africa: Children of War, movie — The adults interviewed recall their childhood in testimonies that contradict the optimism of the Mandela years, and the narrative of exceptionalism South Africa has created about itself in relation to Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and others. The former child fighters, both boys and girls, are not recognized as war veterans or freedom fighters, and so have been left to deal with the trauma of their actions.
- Germany: “wolf children” — Forced to flee then-East Prussia to Lithuania at the end of World War II, these orphaned German children survived hunger, cold and the loss of identity. Their fate has remained long overlooked by the German government. The total number of wolf children can only be estimated. Some say there were up to 25,000 of them roaming the woods and swamps of East Prussia and Lithuania after 1945. Russians were forbidden from taking in these “fascist children.”
- German Jewish Children: Kindertransport — Children’s Transport was the informal name of a rescue effort between 1938 and 1940 which brought thousands of refugee Jewish children (without their parents) to safety in Great Britain from Nazi Germany and German-occupied territories.
- Vietnam: Amerasians — In the spring of 1975, U.S. forces withdrew from Vietnam, leaving behind an estimated 50,000 children they’d fathered with Vietnamese women. The Smithsonian Magazine wrote: “The care and welfare of these unfortunate children…has never been and is not now considered an area of government responsibility,” the U.S. Defense Department said in a 1970 statement. “Our society does not need these bad elements,” the Vietnamese director of social welfare in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) said a decade later.
The US government has its own nefarious history.
Some examples follow:
- Native Americans: The US authorized the genocide, an act of war, of Native Americans, separated families, and sent the children to schools to learn how to be “white.” It was a fallacy and pure meanness because, to our government and population, they would always be discriminated against because of their heritage while the government took their land and tried to decimate their culture. The survivors, beaten and humiliated, were sent to reservations, forced to remain separate.
- Africans: Slavery brought riches to this country in the form of “free” labor. Families were separated, human beings of African descent were bought and sold in marketplaces, witness speak to the torture, murder, and hangings at the whim of white owners all in the interest of greed and cruelty. White privileged Americans were at war with African Americans who were kept in hovels, barely fed, and their bodies were available for abuse, sexual and otherwise, at the owner’s/jailor’s pleasure,
- Japanese Americans: In 1942, with no facts or provocation our government tore Japanese Americans from their homes and threw them in internment camps. The SCOTUS 1944 Korematsu decision, which challenged the action, said the internment camps were legal. In fact, the government showed no basis for the action. That was proven when the Korematsu’s conviction was overturned in 1983, and nearly three decades later, the Justice Department acknowledged it had erred in defending internment camps during World War II. In a word, it was pure racism.
Today, the US government has elevated its abusive treatment of People of Color, targeting immigrants legally seeking asylum and refuge from the dangerous situations in their country. Families are either bringing or sending their children to the US to protect them. In areas of crisis across the globe, children are the most vulnerable.
Fifty percent of those arriving are from the Central American Northern Triangle of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. They are refugees, not illegals, fleeing from brutality, poverty, and discrimination. If they stay at home, they will die from violence, exposure, and/or hunger. Any life in the US has to be better than the one they came from. They come seeking asylum with their future — their children in their arms, squeezing their hands, or clutching their legs.
In this country, our government has declared war on refugees and set up Baby Concentration Camps, and Children Concentration Camps and holding areas throughout the country. The youngsters were ripped from the parents and sent to one of these facilities. The families were told they would never see their kids again. Around 2300 are missing, untracked by the government.
Bullying only reflects badly on the bullies.
When our government says their inhumane treatment of the legal refugees and asylum seekers, especially women and children, is a deterrent, they are taking a page out of the book of wartime behavior. They have become experts in bullying people, beating them up, abusing them, throwing them in prison, and/or taking away their personhood. Humiliation and commoditization of people is a specialty. They’ve been practicing this behavior for years on American people of color.
The winners are every corporation making huge profits at the expense of human misery and the white supremacists who feel empowered. The losers are the people being abused and the people paying taxes to support the abuse. We seem to be in the midst of a cold war, a civil war.
Cold war outcomes
If this country is indeed at war with itself and the rest of the world, it is a destructive stand. Trade agreements and tariffs are crippling American farmers and manufacturers, changing financial controls devastate consumers and increase their personal debt. This alone would be enough to kill us. However, there is a backup plan. The EPA’s withdrawal of clean air, water, and land rules will do it by contamination. Of course, there’s climate change and global warming issues that let us know, if we can’t pay attention, nature will take care of itself – people be damned.
An aside: We can’t kill everyone. Who would repay our huge national debt? With government plundering and decreasing social security reserves, health care affordability, social services, and jobs, it’s likely survivors will have to declare bankruptcy… or sell out to a wealthy dictator. Hmm.
This is a perspective for hope. We must know and understand what’s happening on many levels, so we can arm our minds and bodies to fight for the country we want to live in. We must separate fact from fiction, we must recognize the signs and actions of authoritarianism/fascism, and we must fight for everyone’s human rights, justice, and freedom.
Americans have a choice.
We can win this fight. Register to vote, confirm your voter registration, and VOTE. Vote in local, state, and federal elections. Do not listen to the news. Do not assume your candidate will win. Do not sit home and refuse or forget to vote. It takes only 11 million voters to overturn a Congress that acts without conscience or responsibility to their electorate.
VOTE! If we exercise our rights today, we will have them tomorrow.
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Photo credit: Nitish Meena