Desmond Tutu once said “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
And what side have we shown ourselves to be on as our great friends, the US, have began openly committing systematic child abuse?
As everyone now knows; last week it emerged that families crossing the Mexican Border are being seperated, with the adults receiving criminal charges and any minors accompanying them, including babies, placed in child detention camps.
The rhetoric around this has been softened, with Trump signing an Executive Order meaning families could be detailed together indefinitely, but the fate of 2,300 children who had already been seized remains unclear.
United Nations human rights experts said Trump’s policy of detaining children “may amount to torture”.
The sight of children, covered by metallic blankets, crying for their parents, whilst locked in cages is one which haunts me and should haunt any person with any decency at all. Before anyone starts to make excuses for the US, think, if you heard your neighbours toddler was sleeping in a cage with just a metal blanket would you call the authorities?
I think the answer is yes.
Sadly, I think the dehumanisation that has been targeted at anyone with the word ‘immigrant’ associated with their life; has meant too many people are apathetic to the plight of these children.
History shows that the first action of governments seeking to abuse and oppress a group of people is to demonise that group so that the public cease to see this group as deserving as the same rights they hold.
On Friday Trump held an event with 14 people whose relatives were killed by immigrants (including in car accidents) saying this was the “human toll of illegal immigration”, repeating his campaign messages linking undocumented immigration to crime.
Of course, this rhetoric is not even vaguely related to fact: studies have repeatedly contradicted the president’s claims: undocumented immigrants are actually less likely to commit serious crimes than US-born people.
Research has also found that cities with sanctuary policies have lower crime rates than comparable municipalities. Considering that there were an estimated 17,250 murders in the United States in 2016, of which 11,000 were committed with firearms; you might think gun control was the best way to reduce the murder rate… But as we all know this simply not of interest to the president or, indeed the majority of American leaders.
The impact of taking children from parents is well known, as are the consequences of institutionalising children: social behavior and interaction, emotional attachments, cognitive performance and language skills are all impacted in the long term – in short children never recover.
Of course, it would be easy to claim that the cruelty of the current US government is solely the responsibility of Trump, and that once he has gone we can resume our friendship and see this period as a blip.
But let us look honestly at the US’ other actions.
For example, 30 years after the UN passed the Convention of the Rights of The Child (the most comprehensive framework on the rights of children) the US remain one of only three countries yet to ratify it (alongside South Sudan and Somalia).
The US remains the only developed country not to offer paid maternity leave to new mothers. It is the one country in the world that sentences offenders under the age of 18 to life in prison without parole!!
Until 2005 the death penalty could be used in some states for those under 18 when they committed their crime, and 31 states still have the death penalty.
Earlier this century, I along with countless others spent time protesting against the invasion of Iraq. The arguments against the war and the horrific consequences are well documented so I won’t reiterate them here.
One reason I voted to remain in the EU was because I felt we would benefit from emulating the values of European countries like Germany and Holland, rather than America: my concerns at the way the UK appeared to be prepared to blindly follow America wherever it went have not been availed.
Currently Theresa May continues to appear desperate to win Trump’s approval. For example as he left the G7 Summit early in order to meet with Kim Jong-Un last week she sought to defend him, saying “We work closely with President Trump, and the UK has a very good relationship with the United States.”
His comments about her were less complimentary, in fact he omitted her from a list of G7 leaders saying “I’d say the level of relationship is a 10. We have a great relationship. Angela [Merkel], and Emmanuel [Macron] and Justin [Trudeau] … I would say the relationship is a 10.”
Having publicly ignored the situation involving the plight of detained families; Theresa May finally spoke out last week when asked for her reaction by SNP leader Ian Blackford.
The Prime Minister told him: ‘I clearly and wholly, unequivocally said that that was wrong.”
Referring to our ‘special relationship she said “… when we disagree with what they [the US] are doing, we say so.”
You know what? If we have friends committing child abuse I don’t think it is enough to mention you disagree then continue enjoying a cup of tea together.
Taking no action ensures the abuse continues and makes you complicit in the abuse, and the same applies here.
Taking no action makes us complicit.
We should stop sucking up to the US at every stage.
We are always being told about our wonderful British values, well talk is cheap!
We should be condemning this in the strongest terms.
We should be threatening to walk away from any deals we have with them and we should, immediately be retracting Donald Trump’s invite to the UK next month.
All it takes for evil to prosper is for good people to do nothing.