A condom for our souls

What America needs, considering Trump’s latest thuggish policy—kenneling immigrant children

The author is a retired community college instructor.

Over 10,000 migrant or refugee children are being held in the not-so-safe custody of Donald Trump’s government. And ours. Imagine the fear, bewilderment and trauma visited upon those children. Imagine yourself the mother or father of one of them, not sure of where they were, or the condition they are in. Meanwhile, Trump has cut legal aid to those kids separated from their parents by his cruel edict.

I happened upon a quote by Gustave Flaubert while hearing news about Trump’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border, then storing them in buildings where they are guarded by people of dubious character. “Let us always have a vast condom within us,” Flaubert wrote, “to protect the health of our souls amid the filth into which they are plunged.”

America is surely in desperate need of some kind of prophylactic, something that can shield our souls from the filth that covers us now.

What moral filth could be greater than what Trump and his gnomic attorney general have smeared all over our nation with this barbarous and inhumane war on children, condemned by the United Nations as a crime against humanity? And rightly so. Snatching babies as young as a year old from the arms of their mothers, taking kids who are seeking asylum in “the land of the free and the home of the brave” and putting them in cells that aren’t much better than kennels is criminal, thuggish, fascistic. Pick your own word and it won’t be bad enough to describe what is being done, not only to children, but also to the image of this nation. What metaphorical condom could be large enough to shield us from the moral disease spreading among us now?

From Sand Creek to My Lai, from Birmingham to Manzanar, our country has often failed to live up to its best vision of itself. Nothing worse than this comes readily to mind. There is no justification for it and no weasel words sufficient to excuse it.