Watching the news about the startling situation on America’s southern border regarding separating children from their parents got me to thinking about our old friend Jonathan Swift. Some folks say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So, I am sincerely stealing an idea from Jonathan Swift from his 1729 essay about what to do about the children of the poor people of Ireland.
For those of you who may not have been English majors, allow me to briefly summarize Johnny’s proposal. He was concerned about the plight of the Irish poor who could only survive by begging. His suggestion was that Irish children be sold to be eaten. To quote him, “I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well-nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked or broiled: and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.”
When his essay came out, some folks did not realize that it was satire. Undoubtedly there will be some of my gentle readers who may take offense to Johnny’s essay and likewise this very column. Kindly be aware that no migrant Hispanic children were harmed in the writing of this column, although the same cannot be said of 2,300 Hispanic children separated from their parents on the Mexican border.
I am not suggesting that migrant children be eaten. As Nixon once said, “That would be wrong.” However, seeing the fenced wire cages the children are being contained in did remind me of the treatment of calves who are destined to be veal. You keep the calves in one place, don’t let them move around much, and they are much tenderer and tastier than free range calves. I hope that whoever is in charge of storing the incarcerated children did not take Jonathan Swift literally.
The cages also reminded me of the “Twilight Zone” episode where benevolent space aliens come down to Earth with cures for diseases and all manner of misery. They start taking humans to a new paradise planet where the humans are told they can start a new and better civilization. Earth scientists manage to translate the title of a book the aliens left behind as “To Serve Man,” which sounds pretty nice. Sort of like a summer camp in an abandoned Walmart Superstore. Unfortunately, “To Serve Man” turns out to be a cookbook.
But what should be done? Laura Ingraham compared the Walmart Supercenter where the children are being housed to summer camp. Our compassionate friend and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said, “Womp, Womp!” when confronted by a story about a 10-year-old girl with Down syndrome who had been separated from her parents. Sympathy abounds in Corey’s breast. The government is calling the detention centers where babies and toddlers are being kept “Tender Age Shelters.”
George Orwell would be proud of that phrase. As you may recall, George once said, “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” “Tender Age Shelters” is a triumph of political language. I salute whoever came up with that phrase. Both sides of the immigration debate cannot hear each other over their shouting opposing slogans. Sad.
The news last week began with TV personality Samantha Bee making an ill-considered remark calling Ivanka Trump a feckless cupcake due to Ivanka’s silence on the new zero tolerance policy requiring child/parent separation at the border. Great offense was taken by the Right, as no name-calling has ever come from our president about his perceived enemies. Perhaps if Bee had referred to Ivanka as a feckful cupcake, then all would have been well.
Under the law of the Conservation of Energy, the total amount of feck in an isolated system remains constant. Feck can neither be created nor destroyed, it can only be transferred from one form of feck to another form of feck. Either one is full of feck, or one is without feck. Feck is in the eye of the beholder. If you have feck, you are a good person. If you are without feck, you are a bad person. Too bad Bee didn’t understand the distinction. Or, as a disinterested observer might say, “What the feck?”
I leave you with these conflicting thoughts.
Let he who is without feck cast the first stone. Ask not for whom the feck tolls. It tolls for thee.