The incoming president of the American Academy of Pediatrics toured two Customs and Border Protection facilities last week and told CBS News the detention centers are no place for children. Dr. Sara Goza received pictures from a social worker that were drawn by children recently released from CBP custody, showing them in cages.
“When they opened the door, the first thing that … hit us was a smell. It was the smell of sweat, urine and feces,” Goza said. “And I heard crinkling to my left and I looked over there and it was a sea of silver … there were young children, boys in there. Unaccompanied boys in there.”
I’ve been calling my Republican and Democratic representatives on a near-daily basis about the concentration camps as the southern border. I expect collaborators like Marsha Blackburn and Lamar Alexander to help migrant children about as much as I’d expect a brownshirt to help a lost Jewish child find her way home. But the muted and useless response from so-called Democrat Jim Cooper has been disappointing.
On July 2, Cooper’s office told me they were “watching the situation carefully” and reminded me that it’s a “delicate topic.” This was a little much for me: I’m the kinda guy who puts things like “discussing mom’s alcoholism” or “a co-worker’s office affair” in the category of “delicate topics.” Call me cuckoo-bananas, call me a snowflake, call me a relic, call me what you will, say I’m old-fashioned, say I’m over the hill, but I put things like “migrant children in cages sleeping in their own filth and dying due to lack of care and neglect while being guarded by racist thugs who laugh at their suffering” into the category of “crimes against humanity.” There was, I am sad to report, some yelling. OK, a lot of yelling.
But today, and I am not making this up, I called back to apologize. I was wrong to get upset with Congressman Cooper. Outside of the money they’re likely making from their investment, I was wrong to get upset with Senators Alexander and Blackburn as well. I have no business being angry about this. In fact, I never should have written last week’s post lambasting Fox News talking stool sample Brian Kilmeade for his “other people’s kids” comment.
Nearly nine years ago, 20 children and six teachers were mowed down and America’s legislators did worse than nothing. Even a weak, bipartisan attempt to slow down gun purchases died a miserable death. And since then there have been too many school shootings and mass shootings to count, each with the same response: ‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.
If we, as a nation, aren’t willing to lift a finger -not even a finger- to protect our own children against having their little bodies ripped to shreds by some of the most efficient, effective, and easily-available killing machines devised by man, why on earth would we care about children in cages sleeping on concrete floors?
Much has been said about Ronald Reagan’s role in the unraveling of the social compact. It’s a view I share, and it has been upsetting to watch things continue to fall apart, from the bogus pursuit of Bill Clinton,, to the stolen election of 2000, to the trumped up case that led us to a failed war in Iraq, to the cynically racist Republican freakout over the election of Barack Obama, all of which led to the “election” of Donald Trump.
The fact that we’re not recoiling in collective horror at the images of helpless children and babies in cages shows me that the unraveling is nearly complete. Do we still even have a sense of collective identity, collective destiny, or collective meaning? Because without that shared experience, I don’t see how we have a country. It’s just a bunch of people living within an artificial border, paying taxes to a government that many don’t even recognize as legitimate, no matter WHO is in office.
So yeah, kids in cages. What else is new?
Image: A migrant child’s depiction of life in an American concentration camp/source: CBS news