If you missed the subheadline, this quote was thoughtlessly tossed out by my dad while we were watching the CBS news report on that viral image of a mother and her three children getting tear-gassed. This act of inhumanity by United States' authority figures is repugnant of the 1963 Birmingham protest, where African American teenagers who were peacefully protesting in Birmingham, Alabama were shot with high-pressure water hoses. In that instance, official's reaction to the Birmingham Protest was so deplorable, that the rest of the world stepped in to shame the United States. The intensity of that global pressure caused U.S. president John F. Kennedy to address the violence in his statement that "[t]he events in Birmingham... have so increased the cries for equality that no city or state or legislative body can prudently choose to ignore them" in tandem with his quick abolition of the state's Jim Crow Laws.
Yet, half a century later, my father dropped this awful line. I looked to my mom, to share a look of common understanding of how vile this comment was, but she just glanced at me from the corner of her eye and pretended not to notice.
Although this initial line struck a sharp shiver of surprise through me, it would prove to be the first of many I'd encounter today. In good taste, my friend had posted the Washington Post's article on the incident and I made the mistake of scrolling through the comments. Here are just a few:
Cruel, cowardly and close-minded are just some of the words which come to mind while reading these absurdly hateful comments. Suddenly, after reading these statements, President Trump's supporters and their selfish mindsets are made clear. Each comment exhibits a similar theme: "It's not my problem." Yet, these individuals were so passionate that they went so far as to comment. Why not go on with their day? Trump is president, they will get their way— so why bother? Perhaps their estranged adult children refuse to speak to them, so in the dusty, stale air of their empty single houses they sit on their retirement money and lurk in the comment sections of popular articles they don't agree with; but I could be wrong— their children may very well call them once a month.
Luckily, U.S. society as a whole is not in agreement with this blatant child abuse. Like a breath of fresh air, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) put out several statements which condemned the retraumatization of children who tried to escape from the traumatic circumstances of their home country. Of most importance is the AAP's explanation of the dangers which face children exposed to tear gas:
"[c]hildren are uniquely vulnerable to physiological effects of chemical agents. A child's smaller size, more frequent number of breaths per minute and limited cardiovascular stress response compared to adults magnifies the harm of agents such as tear gas."
Unfortunately, only time will tell if the 60s era United States will be more proactive than our modern-day America. President Trump and his followers have walked us several steps back, so it's going to take some intense social pressure to walk us forward. It seems, however, that the world is maintaining the same indifference as my mother did this morning while bearing witness to this abuse of children and its supporters.