When World War Two ended, there was jubilation in the streets all over the world. But in Germany, not so much. There, children and parents began a long and sometimes futile search. Every newspaper of the day carried pages where people would describe where they had last seen each other, how old they were, what they looked like, everything. They had lost contact because of a widespread, well-intentioned practice that sent children into the homes of strangers and even institutions, far away ‘in the country’, because parents feared imminent bombing raids and wanted their children to be ‘safe’ in the middle of the war.
I just missed becoming one of these lost children. I had been sent to an institution about fifty kilometres away from the little town where we lived. I remember how afraid I was; I was only four years old, and I didn’t understand why my grandmother was leaving me among all these strangers. Crying myself to sleep, I could not make sense of anything around me. I was there for a miserable month when my grandmother, a determined upper-class lady, suddenly appeared in the middle of the night, roughly made me get dressed and whisked me back home. I was still confused, but at least, I was home!
The reason for this sudden turnaround was that my grandmother had got wind of an imminent attack on the bridge over the Fulda River that connected our town to the institute. The next day, the bridge was bombed, and all contact cut off. The children still at the institute were destined to grow up searching for their parents and their parents searching for them, increasingly desperate as the trail got cold. In the chaos of the ‘peace’ that followed the war, years went by. It was just another private tragedy, not as terrible as losing one’s life, surely. It was just an unfortunate by-product of a much greater tragedy.
You know where I am going with this: where is the war that necessitates the dreadful scenes of parents and children being torn from each other in the US borderlands today? Can someone please explain to me why people fleeing for their lives become instant criminals in ‘the land of the free’? What is the justification for such extreme cruelty in peacetime? Maybe there is a war that we’re not aware of?
And how is it possible that one man, who doesn’t deserve the title of President, can stand in front of the entire world and glibly claim that ‘it’s the law’? And by the way, why is our handsome and pc Prime Minister not loudly calling on Parliament to declare that the US is no longer a safe country to which asylum seekers can be returned? Canada and the USA have an agreement under which it is assumed that the US is a ‘safe’ country. It’s clear that is no longer the case, and dithering on how to respond makes Canada complicit in these ghastly scenes from the border. How long are we going to sit on the proverbial fence?
But wait, there is one faint hope. Between fomenting seriously damaging trade wars and trampling all over our sense of what is humane and decent, maybe, just maybe, Trump’s image is beginning to tarnish, even to his adoring fans. His base, in the American ‘heartland’. Maybe that base will actually remember that it has a heart, and begin to wonder whom they have lifted to such high office. Maybe this is the beginning of the end of Trump, trumpism, and the slow slide into neo-fascism.
Do your worst, oh great wannabe dictator. Bring it on. Maybe you should get some advice from your new friend, Kim Jong Il. He’s the expert in barbaric practices.
This is the flashpoint: it could change everything.