Step Up To the Plate or Heckle from the Stands

It’s Viet Nam all over again. Only this time it feels as though the world is a dumber place. It may take more than two decades to figure out that the narrative that’s being foist upon the plebs is meant to cover up the crimes of the perps. When I was growing up, even before becoming a teenager, it was clear that the system was rigged. Now, people that went through that era support the propaganda machine, telling me that a story has been debunked because they read it on Snopes or heard it on CNN. Even faced with the raw facts of the matter, their eyes and ears cannot be trusted because clearly, if it were true, it would be front page news.

The truth is that stories about child trafficking and sexual abuse have been front page news for decades, but it’s only when called into action by the dog whistle that a response is fomented– instructions given by the regime to don their hats, costumes, repost and create a hashtag or two. Dutifully the troops go forth in their uniforms, armed with their trusty cell phones, ready to answer the call.

This is no Tet Offensive or My Lai Massacre. This is babies in cages stuff, ideas that were normalized by governments over the years and seen to be sensible solutions to the problem of undocumented immigrants under the age of 18…a huge number barely past toddlerhood. These are the prime candidates for a new brand of warrior– the gangs that emerge out of poverty and hopelessness and generally living under fascist or communist leadership their entire lives.

I remember when the “Boat People” literally washed up on beaches around the globe, many landing in Canada. It was 1979 and my husband and I belonged to a church that had decided to answer the call and sponsor a refugee family. We sponsored the Tran family who had immediately adopted English names: Peter, Jane, Rosie, Howard. We were young parents with very young children and were only able to offer work to Peter. The education we received from that experience resonates today, and what started as an employer-employee relationship blossomed into life-long friendship.

Peter explained the situation from his first-hand perspective. He was one of the lucky ones who had the money, in the form of gold bars, to bribe the communist leaders who had taken over Saigon in the wake of the American abandonment of the city. It was only because his family was successful, stockpiling gold in their shared home, that he and his children, his siblings and parents were able to escape the country. He offered us a sober warning about the people that would be entering the country on the next wave- those who had escaped by hook or by crook, not having bribery money. These were the traffickers, the gang members and poverty-stricken remnant that were fleeing a country that had been all but abandoned by the West. This was not a racist viewpoint. Quite the opposite, since it was being posited by a fellow countryman of those very people and who was stunned by the naiveté of Canadians. This was a warning to anyone who took out a business license or obeyed traffic signs that disruption was coming and within two decades the warfare that these people had grown up under, and which was necessary for survival, would be coming to a neighbourhood near us. His son Howard now serves on the Asian gang task force in Surrey on the front lines in dealing with people that may have been neighbours growing up in Viet Nam, but who are now spreading their own form of justice in a world that has never experienced a battle in their back yard.

When I organized protests against the Viet Nam war there were people who understood the issues. They didn’t care so much who was in office as who was the next to receive their draft notice. I knew many of the so called “draft dodgers” who lived in and around Victoria which, because it dipped below the 49th parallel, was a perfect place to hide oneself when one received the dreaded letter. These were not cowards, they were people who understood the futility of the cause, something that so many didn’t get at the time, but that became all too clear in hindsight. Twenty years on the specious pretext behind sending troops to Viet Nam was obvious to all who learned about the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution at that point. But for those who were paying attention at the time of that “incident” there were clear indications that the selling of yet another war followed a blueprint that was, by then, dog-eared from having been trotted out so often throughout history.

Yet today people seem oblivious to those tactics. Create division. Create animosity and rancour wherever it can be found. Use emotional images. Dehumanize the “enemy”. Heck, those tactics go back to World War I if not further. It’s just the method of distribution that has changed. The people who create these campaigns have something to gain…and something to lose…in the game. In this case, undocumented minors who are not given over to the sex trade are part of the modern day slavery practiced by the modern day slave owners who hire domestics or farm workers who live with the threat of deportation looming over their heads at every moment. These workers are no more than chattel, often given room and board in exchange for labour in lieu of wages. How do we know what else happens to them? They don’t exist. Why else would the elite class want to encourage unfettered, undocumented immigration?

Those who buy in to the idea that undocumented migrants who cross the border at places other than the ones designated is a nice idea might want to take a moment to focus on that one word. Undocumented. My first job was in Child Welfare, as it was then known. I was 17 years old and still a child myself in so many ways, yet had to be “bonded” in order to work in that office. The reason: my entire job was to match children with their paternal and maternal parents for the foster care and adoption system that was then in place. My sister was a social worker out of Calgary and one of the perks of the job was to be able to talk to her on the government tab when she called a peer in the Victoria office to verify documentation. We understood our job because our daily duty was to read unbearable reports about how children landed in “care” in the first place. One that stands out was a child locked out of his apartment and left to freeze on the balcony of an Edmonton apartment block in winter, in his pajamas, because he put too much sugar on his cereal that morning. That was one of the less disgusting accounts, but one of the records that I had to read, through tears, in order to match birth records and other documents which were then stored on microfiche in order to determine who to detain after the child was rescued by a neighbour. Yes. That child was taken from the parents, as in the plethora of cases handled by my sister at the Calgary child protection agency. Like me, she had to give up the job as it was just too much to bear.  That is one of myriad examples I read of real parents treating their biological children in ways that we would not accept if they were animals. It’s not hard for me to imagine the heinousness of acts perpetrated on children by traffickers who, like the gangs of Viet Nam, have been raised in war zones.

If you think the problem can be solved by dismissing stories that you find too incredible to be true, you are part of the problem. If you are one of those people please STOP doing anything at all, particularly arguing with those who are trying to educate you with the truth that is often too hard to bear. Like those who stood in the way of the people who were trying to put an end to the Viet Nam war, you will look back one day and see how misplaced your rhetoric truly was. Meanwhile,  those of us who choose to break through the barriers of disinformation as we did during the Viet Nam era and so many times since, have heard all the shouting taken from the negative script issued by those whose interests are served by suppressing the facts. We are experienced at pushing through in our attempt to reveal the appalling truth and try to face the problem head on by supporting those on the front line of the battle, in this case against child trafficking.

If you think that it’s okay for kids to travel between Canada and the US with people who may be their parents, but don’t have the documentation to prove it, you can advocate for that system at the border between the US and Mexico. Until you are able to articulate your reasons for changing the law to make that possible it would seem a foolish thing to weigh in on the issue of undocumented minors at all. If you doubt or want to heckle, do it from the sidelines rather than standing in the way of those who have had their innocence stripped away and simply want to salvage what’s left of the innocence of the next generation.

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