Suffer the Little Children to Come Unto Me

The history of the world is one that is replete with the atrocities of inhumane and immoral practices against vulnerable people. The extreme form of these practices include genocide, wars, and forcing people to flee their native homeland. These atrocities are typically carried out under the orders of a dictator or a despotic government. Oftentimes the victims include vulnerable children who are traumatized and sometimes killed.

It is unfortunate that people do not learn from history as blatant human rights abuse of people in various countries have continued in contemporary times. While such countries have engaged in these human rights abuses, the developed or Western countries are not blameless for their fair share of these abuses. For example, America’s history is tainted with slavery and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

White Americans might not want to remember or be reminded of America’s history of human rights abuses. They prefer to focus on America’s record as global defender of human rights and champion of freedom. They cherish the stanza of the American poet, Emma Lazarus sonnet, The New Colossus inscribed on the plaque on the statue of Lady Liberty that reads:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

America cannot pretend to be a defender of human rights or a champion of freedom when it continues to inflict human rights abuses on children − abuses that contradict the words of The New Colossus. The recent immigration policy of separating children from their families who have been arriving at the border seeking asylum from oppression and violence in their Central American countries contradicts all the virtues of humanity and the words of The New Colossus poem.

The separation of children from their families is just one aspect of the rebranding of the American political and social landscape. This rebranding is chock-full of controversies, policies, and an agenda that divides more than unify people. While some aspects of the rebranding process have not raised an alarm, the separation of children from their families has because it involves children.

Trump’s immigration policy of separating children from their families is a disturbing policy that hearkens back to the methods that dictators have used from the time of antiquity. No one wants to compare the president of the USA with brutal dictators, but this is a country that was built on the back of immigrants – legal and illegal alike. So, a president who does not recognize or understand this, who sees immigrants as “invaders,” and who implement policies that put them in the same category of a dictator is not upholding moral and humanitarian virtues that America profess to subscribe to.

Throughout history and especially during the 20th century, children have been separated from their parents by dictators. There are several books that have made reference to this as shown below:

Pol Pot (Cambodia)

According to numerous sources, the Khmer Rouge government relocated 2.5 million city dwellers to rural Cambodia, separated children from parents and spouses from one another, executed a vast number of professionals and individuals educated in the northern hemisphere, and targeted minority groups such as the Cham for total extermination.

Doorway Thoughts: Cross Cultural Health Care for Older Adults                                                                                                                      By: American Geriatrics Society (p. 39)

General Francisco Franco (Spain)

In 2002, Ricard Vinyes, Montserrat Armengou, and Ricard Belis published Els nens perduts del franquisme to accompany Armengou and Belis’s 2002 documentary of the same name. Los ninos perdidos del franquismo, the Castilian version of the text, appeared the following year. The result of extensive research, it illuminates how the Franco dictatorship (1939 – 1975) systematically separated children from parents deemed it unfit due to their political beliefs.

Espectros: Ghostly Hauntings in Contemporary Transhispanic Narratives                                                                                           Edited by Alberto Ribas-Cassasayas, Amanda L. Petersen (p. 110)

The military junta (Argentina)

One of Argentina’s has first human rights organizations, the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, or Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, estimates that more than 400 infants were separated from their parents. The children were adopted by military or civilian coppers, who later claimed to have been unaware of the infants’ origins and the fate of their parents. Now in their 20s and 30s, these children are referred to as “the living disappeared.”

Judicial Independence and Human Rights in Latin America                                                                                                                         By:  E. Skaar (p. 47)

Stalin (Russia)

Authors in the Soviet Union were enjoined to become “engineers of human souls.” In China and Cambodia, mandatory communal dining halls, same-sex adult dormitories, and the separation of children from parents were recurring (and dested) experiments.

The Blank State: The Modern Denial of Human Nature                                                                                                                                         By: Steven Pinker (p. 158)

Mao Zedong (China)

Communal nurseries and kindergartens were set up everywhere in the summer of 1958, allowing women to step out of their homes and join the Great Leap Forward. Problems appeared right away, as children were separated from their parents all day long, in some cases for weeks on end.

Mao’s Great Famine: The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe                                                                                                   By: Frank Dikotter (p. 245)

The stories about children being separated from their families in these books, occurred decades ago, and it is extremely disturbing for a number of reasons that it is happening at this current time in America. Disturbing because this is a country that can be outraged over the cruel treatment of dogs, yet for children who are separated from their parents and put in cages like animals, that outrage doesn’t seems to be omnipresent.

When children are treated inhumanely by government policies it raises questions as to the character and integrity of the government. Because if the government can do this they can certainly do more egregious things that will harm all of us.

When Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not because there’s is the kingdom of heaven,” He was alluding to the spiritual principles of acceptance, wisdom, compassion, and brotherly love to those who are vulnerable. To ignore these spiritual principles conclusively points to a lack of moral and spirituality.