They Are Children
by Robert P. Coutinho
At the risk of stating the obvious, I am writing to mention something that I have failed to see in any articles about one of the more recent scandals in the United States. The subject is the report given by court-appointed lawyers whose job was to make sure that the conditions in detention facilities were safe and sanitary. These facilities exist to house, feed and care for people who do not have official sanction to be in the country. Specifically, the facility in Flint, Texas was housing children.
As most who have not been unconscious or deliberately avoiding the news in the past two weeks probably know, the children in the facility spoke of conditions that could easily fit into the category of a crime against humanity. The children were lacking sufficient toiletries, supervision, and adult care.
What has not seemed to have been discussed in the over-all horror of the situation is the rationale for such malfesance. For instance, let us assume (I don’t, but that is beside the point for the observation) that:
1. One believes that harsh treatment of detainees will give a disincentive for them to enter the country.
2. One believes that it is acceptable to imprison people who come across the border illegally, regardless of their stated reasons.
3. One believes that the detainees need to be kept secretly (at least to the point of no visitation) because they may be harboring anti-social ideas.
4. One believes that a person who is in this status needs only to request repatritation in order to go back where they came from.
5. A person may be held responsible so long as they have chosen this action, regardless of age.
One of the specific claims of the investigators was that a young, teen girl was given a toddler to care for. The toddler was urinating on the floor and had no diaper. The girl just watched as it happened, not knowing what to do. Another claim was that the children had not been allowed to shower—or not until just a few days before the inspectors (who gave the government a 3-week notice) arrived. Other horrible situations also occurred.
We are talking about children here!
We are talking about some very young children here!
Even if you want to be so callous as to suggest that a ten-year-old child chose to come here illegally, that it is acceptable to jail such a child, even that the child should face harsh conditions as a deterrent to the other pre-pubescent scallywags; even given all of these assumptions, why the toddlers? Did the babies who were under the age of four choose to cross into the country illegally? Will harsh treatment of such babies be a sufficient deterrent to prevent other such babies from choosing to take the dangerous path of illegal entry into the country? Is it acceptable to not give basic hygiene items to children…EVER? Can these children even communicate a desire to, “go home?”
I am reminded of a scene in the movie, Schildler’s List, where the women were sent to a death camp. They feared for their lives when they were placed into a shower because rumors were that the guards at such camps would claim to be sending them to showers when they were about to kill them with lethal gas. Fortunately for those women, it was really a shower.
Unfortunately for the children in the care of the government of the United States, they were NOT given showers. They were not given soap. They were not given the capacity to wash their clothes. They were not given diapers for the babies.
In addition to all of this, when a man brought some supplies to the Flint facility, he was prohibited from giving the items to the children. The staff at the facility would not even talk to him.
Many people believe the falsehood that hatred is the opposite of love. They are wrong. Someone who hates you still has an opinion about you. The opposite of love is indifference. This is why so many religious people try to convert others to their religion—they know that the opposite of loving God is not acknowledging his existence. If you hate God and worship the Devil, at least you are acknowledging the former’s existence. There may be hope for getting you to see the error of your ways.
I do not believe that our current president or vice president even bothered to listen to (or read) the complaints of Customs and Border Patrol staff who stated that they were lacking basic hygienic necessities for those in their custody. When they (the president and vice president heard of the lack of supplies, their only concern was to blame Congress. Interestingly, the Congress that should receive the blame is the one that failed to appropriate sufficient resources in the first place. So they were (logically speaking—and that means they were not but should have been) blaming the Congress that was completely controlled by Republican Party legislators. This is indifference on an epic level.
When Allied prisoners of war in the custody of the Nazi Germans had access to better facilities than we are giving to children in the custody of our government—that says something about this country.
Robert Coutinho is a disabled pharmaceutical chemist living in Massachusetts. He has been learning about life, the universe, and everything since he was born in 1963. He has had little else to do since his disability began in 1997. He has written a fictional novel, Their Last Best Hope, which is currently available at Tate Publishing, Amazon and book stores.