The fear of children, how embarrassing

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Thousands of children are fleeing parts of Latin America in fear of their lives and trying to come here, where, even bedeviled by gun violence and gang warfare of our own, these children and their parents see a safe haven.

Rather than greeting these frightened children with love, children who have come several hundred miles over strange territory without the protective wings of their parents, we are greeting them as some sort of threat.

Some politicians are pontificating to their constituents that these children are somehow dangerous and deserve only the back of our hand as a greeting.

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Once there were similar children in the slums of our largest cities – especially in the seaports—and even in some of the smaller cities.

They were children who may have arrived here with parents—or maybe not if their parents died on the long sea voyage from Ireland or some other part of Europe—but then became orphans either through the death of their parents or abandonment.

These children were taken in by churches and other charitable organizations that raised them or found them new homes and parents.

There were even famous orphan trains that took the lucky to where their new homes and families were located.

Retired Pearl River Central drama teacher and Blue Maskers sponsor Deborah Craig once wrote a play for her students based on the orphan train.

The history of this nation and the way it treats immigrants is spotty.

Famously, “No Irish need apply” signs sprouted at businesses here during the desperate migration of the Irish who were being starved to death by the combination of the potato famine and the callousness of the English.

Migrants from the mostly Slavic nations in Central Europe at a later time met with the same attitude.

Those immigrants were our parents or great-grandparents or great-great-grandparents, certainly our forebears or we wouldn’t be here.

With that history of jingoism, it should be no surprise that immigrants from Latin America are being treated as they are, though perhaps we should be more civilized today.

But children?

Greetings such as they have received all along our borders is sickening to the humane among us.

What’s worse is the pandering by some of our politicians to cruel side of human nature.

They whip up fear among the fearful and hatred among those inclined to bigotry.

These children need succor, not hatred and the backs of our hands.

Perhaps we can’t keep them here, but at least we should be humane and try to help them and their parents find safety in their own countries.

How that can be accomplished, I don’t know.

If we don’t at least try to help these children, though, we will only make more and more enemies, and on our southern border.

We don’t need any more enemies.

What we desperately need is more friends and to make friends, you don’t treat people in the manner so many are treating these desperate children.