Sentimental About Children?

When I read yesterday that a seven-year-old Guatemalan girl died in Border Patrol custody from dehydration and shock, I was at such a loss for words, thinking not only of this child’s physical agonies, but her separation from her mother, the most I could mutter was, “Not acceptable.” I am incredibly sentimental about children; and I hate seeing them suffer. In that way, I am probably a good deal like you.

Nothing the Trump administration is doing is morally acceptable. And the Washington Post picked the story up immediately to redistribute the justifiable outrage. What is it about children that mobilizes our sympathy so powerfully?

Whatever it is, it is promoted selectively.

Trump got the blame when an American MK-83 500-pound laser-guided bomb (made by Lockheed-Martin) was dropped by Saudi allies killed forty school children and eleven teachers in early August 2018 . . . at least when people knew. Until October, after Saudi authorities blessed the grisly murder of journalist Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi with its shocking impunity, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and MSNBC were loath to even mention the war in Yemen . . . one might suspect because the policy of supporting Saudi aggression in Yemen was inaugurated during the Obama administration.

Some children mobilize more sympathy than others. When we look at those horrific photographs of near-death, starving Yemeni children, it should take out breath away . . . and it did once the Democrats realized the horse was out of the barn after Khashoggi’s murder, and decided to make as much political hay as they could from it. Yesterday, the Senate passed a resolution to stop aid to Saudi Arabia for its ugly little war, a bill initiated by Senator Bernie Sanders. The sudden plethora of images from the war, along with reminders of Saudi cruelties at home and abroad, including public beheadings and whatnot, shifted even Republicans on this topic. Proving the efficacy of binding or loosing certain kinds of news. It was bound. It got loosed. Things moved.

Every Trump war policy is an Obama policy that was simply expanded. Every. Single. One.

Obama’s first executive act as President on January 23, 2009, was to launch drone strikes that killed at least twenty civilians, children included. Obama normalized these strikes with the assistance of the Democratic media, launching 540 attacks during his presidency. Every one of those strikes was a targeted killing, prohibited by international law — law that has now been effectively neutralized by practice. In 2011, he told his aids, “Turns out I’m really good at killing people. Didn’t know that was gonna be a strong suit of mine.”

Estimates were that nine percent of Obama’s kills were civilians — 288 total; but this fails to take into account how the administration itself declared any male with almost adult stature was declared a combatant by simply being a “military-aged male,” that hoary standard from Vietnam that excused us to kill men, including teens, at random without consequence. One of Obama’s kills was a 16-year-old American citizen in . . . Yemen. Obama was bombing Yemen before the Saudis.

Obama ordered the killing of children, too.

Children became real children, apparently, when we become aware of them in pictures or when our political enemies hurt them.

The Clinton administration killed many tens of thousands of children using starvation and medical nelglect with an occasional air strike in Iraq with the US’s ham-handed sanctions; and Clinton’s Secretary of State, Queen of the Dead Madelaine Albright, when asked if that was a price worth the asking to isolate one leader, replied in the affirmative.

When Democrats are confronted with these figures, they suddenly become national security and foreign policy wonks, adopting the “regretful necessity” arguments of their technocratic bosses.

Note how MSNBC has become neoconservative in its foreign policy outlook ever since Bernie Sanders . . . gotta isolate that leftish impulse. Better dead than red (Sanders is more like pink, but pollution is dose-insensitive).

You’ll never see MSNBC or WaPo or NYT report how the Obama-era coup d’etat in Honduras in 2009, supported and consolidated by the US under the benign and gentle direction of Secretary Clinton, is directly responsible for the conditions that have driven the migrant caravan north, where children can be ripped from their parents’ arms by the fascist thugs of the Border Patrol and ICE.

Until Trump, Obama was hailed as Deporter-in-Chief for having deported more people than all other administration combined.

The Democratic Party, for that matter, has never given two shits about Palestinian children, Afghani children, Haitian children, Honduran children, or any other children being beaten, run down, shot, and starved by Democratic allies. We don’t see what they don’t show. I am sentimental about children. So are you. That’s why they hid it as long as they could.

What is unacceptable for the goose is unacceptable for the gander.

And if the rising social democratic left wants to truly show its independence from this duopoly of child-killers and war-mongers, then this is where you can differentiate yourselves first. I’m waiting for the candidate who can explain American exceptionalism rather than mobilize it for cynical tactical advantage, for the candidate who says the US should withdraw its armed forces back inside the US, for the candidate who will renounce our clueless support for fascist Zionism, for the candidate that says the US should stay the hell out of other countries elections, for the candidate who will be unequivocal about drone strikes and air strikes and demand they stop altogether. The candidate that says it is not acceptable to murder children.

Author of the books “Hideous Dream,” “Full Spectrum Disorder,” “Borderline,” “Mammon’s Ecology,” “Tough Gynes,” and “Smitten Gate.”