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EDITORIAL – Reality of kids’ detention camps doesn’t need exaggeration

Photo inside U.S. detention camp for children of illegal immigrants. (Image: U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security)

What do we do when something a government does makes us really mad? We compare it to Nazi Germany. A good name for it might be Holocaust hyperbole.

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

MAYBE NOW that Donald Trump has backed off at least a little on the apprehension of children of illegal immigrants coming across the U.S.-Mexico border, some of the indignant rhetoric will be reined in.

It’s a terrible situation down there, one manufactured by our friend in the White House, who until Wednesday seemed determined to blame the Democrats for his “zero-tolerance” policy.

Kids from toddlers to teens have been put in detention facilities while their parents face the legal consequences of entering the U.S. without the proper permissions. Even with Donald Trump’s latest executive order, it’s unclear how the 2,000-plus kids already in detention will be reunited with their parents.

His back-track has done little to quell critics’ concerns about the policy, which Senator John McCain has called “an affront to decency.”

Right-thinking people get outraged when they see kids in disstress, and video of chain-link enclosures and audio of youngsters crying out for their parents is hard to take.

But so is the exaggerated bombast coming from some quarters. The “Hitler” word has been used. The term “Naxi Germany” has been floated around.

Michael V. Hayden, author, retired general and a former CIA director, has compared Trump’s youth detention centres to concentration camps. Hayden tweeted a photo of Birkenau, a Nazi concentration camp during the second World War, along with the sentence “Other governments have separated mothers and children.”

That’s more than a little over the top. Birkenau was an extermination camp. Jews were starved, beaten, worked to death and gassed there.

The kids at the U.S. immigrant detention centres are fed, clothed and kept warm, and can watch TV and play games. That doesn’t make the situation in any way acceptable, of course, and a good argument can be made that forcibly separating kids from their parents — “ripping” them from each other’s arms, as critics have taken to saying —is tantamount to child abuse.

Grossly exaggerating conditions, though, is unnecessary. Justified criticism and political pressure forced Trump to reconsider his policy, not inappropriate comparisons. The reality speaks for itself without need of hyperbole.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

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About Mel Rothenburger (5943 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on EDITORIAL – Reality of kids’ detention camps doesn’t need exaggeration

  1. Sean McGuinness // June 21, 2018 at 9:16 AM // Reply

    While many republicans are “disgusted”, “outraged” etc by the forced separation of immigrant kids, in the aftermath of Sandy Hook these same people did nothing. How is it that ripping children out of the arms of parents was intolerable to the point where it had to be stopped, whereas kids killed mass shootings elicited no real action other than prayers?

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