MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN | 7/8/2018, 12:49 a.m.
And now the boy is turning to me. “Tell me,” he asks, “what have you done with my future, what have you done with your life?” And I tell him that I have tried. I have tried to keep memory alive that I have tried to fight those who would forget. Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices.
And then I explain to him how naïve we were that the world did know and remained silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion or political views that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe ....
What all these victims need above all is to know that they are not alone; that we are not forgetting them, that when their voices are stifled we shall lend them ours, that while their freedom depends on ours, the quality of our freedom depends on theirs.
Every child’s life is sacred and valuable and as worthy of protection as President Trump’s children and grandchildren. His cold human indifference to the suffering of innocent children shames our nation. No political goal or “war” is worth the life of even one innocent child. Love and human decency trump hate. Love and family trump politics. Love and compassion trump unjust treatment of the smallest and most vulnerable among us. The president of the United States has brought shame on America with his reckless disregard of our most vulnerable young children entrusted to our care.
While the president’s June 20 Executive Order states it is the policy of this Administration “to maintain family unity,” he fails to clarify how they will keep parents and children together in the future and describe actions they will take to reunite the more than 2,500 children who have been cruelly separated from their parents and in many cases sent to distant states. It should cause us all great concern when we hear they will seek permission from the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to modify the Flores settlement, which defines existing standards for appropriate treatment of unaccompanied minors, to allow them to hold these children without their parents’ longer term and in unlicensed facilities.
This immoral tragedy must end with children returned to their parents immediately. And all of us must do everything we can to let these children know that they are not alone, that we are not forgetting them, and we will speak up and take whatever action is required to reunite them with their families and reunite our political leaders and nation with their sense of moral decency and caring for these beleaguered children and parents. A nation that does not stand for children does not stand for anything and will not stand guiltless before the God of history and all great faiths.
Marian Wright Edelman is the president of the Children’s Defense Fund. For more information, go to http://www.childrensdefense.org.