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Set the children free

Matt Westerhold • Jul 5, 2014 at 5:29 PM

Protestors and anti-protestors faced off last week as the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol transported busloads of immigrant children to temporary relocation centers in California.

The worked-up Americans stood with signs saying “Illegals out” and “Return to sender.” They stopped the buses and turned back the children in Murrieta, Calif.

The protestors sit atop a high horse declaring what's theirs is theirs and nobody else can have it. It doesn't seem, that turning away children, is an act of courage or cowardice.

Thankfully, enter the anti-protestors, carrying signs declaring their anti-protest and giving hope that the immigration debate is kept alive.

“We are one nation of immigrants;” “No one is illegal;” “We are all Americans;” and “We are all humans.”

If the slogans on the signs are the movement, the anti-protestors win — hands-down — with the message of Mandela, of Ghandi or Martin Luther King Jr. and RFK.

The message of the anti-protestors is 'we come in peace to defend the human rights of children to be protected and safe.'

The signs, slogans and messages from protestors, on the other hand, come designed to educate, to protect, to defend and to allege. The politically charged dialogue leads to a cacophony of misinformation designed to defeat compromise.

“What part of illegal don't you understand?” and “The U.S. is not responsible for supporting a failed nation: Mexico.”

The issue of immigration, so misunderstood and used as a political wedge and rhetorical tool to dissuade compromise, has always put roadblocks in the way of expanding freedom, at home and abroad.

It might be those Americans who must become enlightened, or become extinct over time and generations, before immigration issues get resolved. Only strong beliefs — as misguided as they might be — can energize someone to protest.

Giving energy to a cause against children is itself a cause, a cause for concern. The sloganeering and the message from that restricted viewpoint needs combating. It should trigger a community conversation about freedoms and the responsibilities a nation that perceives itself as free has to other nations and populations.

Those global responsibilities go at the very core of what it means to be free, and what it means to believe in the ideal of freedom, the American ideal.

The signs carried by protestors show a depth of understanding that anti-protestors see as shallow and lacking respect for human dignity, and for true support of that American ideal.

Some reaction to a recent column on that topic seemed to mirror that restating the protest, and the anti-protest, from the limited perspective and the wider one, respectively.


On June 23, 2014, 8:50 a.m. Thinkagain wrote, “OK, we won’t call children illegal. How about we call them unwanted? You know, like the godless liberals call the unborn, right before they maim and murder them. Hypocrisy, thy name is Liberal.

The reader wants to protect the unborn but is OK with sending living children away to face an uncertain future.


On June 23, 2014, 6 a.m. Mum-Of-One wrote, “The USA is a civilized nation with educated people. The lack of compassion is astounding. These children are victims of circumstance yet the comments refer to them as less human than any American and that is saddening. These children have the potential to be great citizens and they will understand compassion because of their struggle. Maybe they could teach that compassion one day if given the chance.”

She gets it.


On June 23, 2014, 1:37 p.m. Bottom Line writes, “I'm offended by Matt being offended by a commenter correctly labeling an illegal immigrant as an illegal immigrant.”

and, finally…

On June 21, 2014, 1:02 p.m. Bottom Line writes, “Of all the columns of Matt's I've read, this one is the worst. And that's really saying something.” 

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