By Atilla Sulker | United States
Like many contemporary issues, the debacle regarding immigration and the separation of immigrant families has become a polarizing and divisive issue in America. Ideologues on the left and the right both spew propaganda to try to discredit the other side, and as a result, the political scene has become nastier and further fractured. Those on the left and the establishment leaning right have become demagogues and have made this an emotional issue, while those on the populist right blindly support the protocols set by the Attorney General and others. The issue is far from over, but there is a more fundamental lesson that must be learned from this fiasco.
It is interesting that both sides have decided to focus so carefully on the separation of immigrant children from their parents, yet they have not bothered to pay attention to what I see as the domestic equivalent to this. And this is the gradual alienation of children here in America from their parents, which has taken multiple forms. The current issue with immigration can be very disheartening, but what good is it to set any moral standards in regards to immigrants, when we don’t apply this same thinking to our own children. This whole debate has ultimately distracted people from what domestic institutions have been doing both explicitly and implicitly. Humane treatment from any administration or government can not be expected if we can’t even set these standards for ourselves.
Let us look at the Child Protection Services and examine its assumption of children from parents. In a paper written by Professor Paul Chill titled “Burden of Proof Begone”, Chill finds that of the over 100,000 children removed from their families in 2001, over one-third of them were later found to never have been mistreated or abused. Chill also recognizes that this is coupled with the fact that the definition for mistreatment is very broad. “Reasonable cause” is enough to bring the CPS knocking at your door. I don’t mean to digress, but this sort of “reasonable suspicion overriding probable cause” approach was used under the Patriot Act in a post 9/11 world. The assuming of such powers by the CPS presents a very similar case. It is yet another way in which the state is intruding into our lives.
The fundamental problem with such organizations as the CPS and the Department of Children and Families is that the state practically assumes ownership of children. It is one thing to enforce the non-aggression principle and punish parents who have abused children. It is another thing to give the state the authority to assume ownership of our children. Even if the moral argument against the state is not sufficient, practically speaking, the utter inefficiency of the CPS based on the statistics presents a good argument against government assuming such a role. I think it is safe to ask the question “ do parents really own their children?”.
These explicit means are indeed something we must examine, but the government has also found a way to implicitly isolate the child from the parent. And this is the gradually increasing assumption of monopoly powers in schooling by the government. It may seem like an absurd statement at first to the typical sheep who obey their government masters, but the filtering and controlling of ideas is indeed a very powerful tool that the state uses, and it is especially useful for children, who possess young and fertile minds. Sheer military power is not enough for the state to keep control over its people. The state must also indoctrinate its subjects in its ideas. North Korea provides an excellent case study of how this indoctrination is used to maintain order.
Since I am in the public schooling system right now, I have had direct and recent experience in regards to this indoctrination. I had one teacher in my junior year in high school who would constantly make fun of me and embarrass me in class on a near daily basis for not agreeing with her progressive agenda. I didn’t mind and I understood she was joking around as well, but this goes to show you what kind of people are in the public school system. They are close-minded, safe space junkies. The censoring and suppression of ideas becomes nearly immediate when the discussion becomes just a little controversial. There was another teacher who was an ardent feminist that would make us read feminist articles, and only such articles. I don’t mind teachers discussing politics with students, but when their politics affect the information that they feed to the students, it becomes a problem. I believe it is crucial that all perspectives are considered.
So we have now established the premise that government schooling can at its most extreme be terribly biased. So what about homeschooling? Even then, the state has supervision over what must be taught to the students by their parents. Occasional evaluations are administered by the state to see how well a student has been indoctrinated by the ideas pushed forward by the state. According to an article written by Lynn Hatter in WFSU in 2013, a couple faced 10 charges that could put them in jail for up to 60 days per charge. And why did they face these charges? According to the state, their children had not been properly indoctrinated. The story occurred here in Leon County, Florida. Such cases are not necessarily rare; they can happen where you live too. I’m all for education, but what I am against is the government deciding what standards the education must conform with, and in such a way assuming even more ownership of children. It presents yet another example of the state alienating the child from the parent, even if doing so implicitly.
A final point I want to make is in regards to the Attorney General’s comments in comparing the bringing of children across the border to smuggling. Sessions claims that since the act of bringing immigrant children across the border can be likened unto smuggling, the state has the right to confiscate the children. In making such a claim, Sessions is taking the stance of a legal positivist. And all those who support such a policy are doing the same. In making this claim, the Attorney General is assuming that it is not wrong for the government to confiscate money and personal belongings from domestic citizens, and he is, therefore, extending this notion even further by applying it to immigration. His application of this doctrine to immigration assumes that he first applies it to domestic protocols, then protocols in regards to immigrants.
A large part of the populist right-wing takes this legal positivist stance regarding immigration and load of other issues, all this being influenced by strong nationalism. The left wing, however, is not exempt from any criticism. They claim to be such great supporters of civil liberties, but support to censorship of websites and organizations that they deem “too extreme” or “too far right”.
I think that the immigration controversy is certainly an issue that has to be addressed properly and is not something that can be solved overnight, but it is fallacious to assess that situation without even assessing what is going on here at home. We can not ignore the ways in which the state is alienating the child from his or her parents, both explicitly and implicitly. If we don’t have a sound foundation of ideas regarding how we, the citizens of the United States ought to be treated, what good is it to try to solve the current controversy. We must treat others in the same way that we want to be treated, and if this doctrine is to be held true, immigrants won’t get treated any better. If anything, this debacle has revealed a plethora of inconsistencies on both the left and right.
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