When children are ‘the enemy’

Printed from a July 13 audio column aired by Prison Radio at prisonradio.org.

I’ve been watching for days now, as media reports display the growing hatreds at the arrival of Central American children across the Mexican-U.S. border.

American voices crackle with bile as they begin the drumbeat for their immediate deportation.

Vile names are called against them, and they are described as “invaders,” “sick” and “dirty.”

In truth, they are refugees from want and war, almost all the result of U.S. interventions in Central America in support of murderous military governments and the mindless drug war.

These are the grandchildren of NAFTA [the North American Free Trade Agreement], the economic policy which leached wealth from Mexico and its neighbors for U.S. corporate greed.

That said, this antipathy shown toward children is deeply disturbing.

It reminds me of the era of World War II, when a bill was submitted in Congress to allow the entry of thousands of German-Jewish children. The Wagner-Rogers bill would’ve saved 20,000 kids living in Germany, but President Franklin Delano Roosevelt opposed it and the bill quickly died.

Actually, many American elites opposed it, including Roosevelt’s cousin, Laura Delano Houghtelling, and wife of the U.S. Immigration Commission, who argued, “20,000 charming children would all too soon grow into 20,000 ugly adults.”

Such crude racism portrays the ugliness of Americans, and the day will come when we will look back at how these children are treated today and we will not feel pride.

This frenzy, this political and social fear whipped up by petty, ambitious politicians will yet pass.

But left behind will be our shame — at how a nation that claims so much greatness can be both so small and so cruel.