South China Sea

45 and 40 Years Ago: Times Of Shame!

PBS last night had three hours of documentary coverage of two tragic events, occurring 45 and 40 years ago at the end of April.

In 1970, Richard Nixon ordered the invasion of Cambodia, an escalation of the war in Vietnam, causing massive anti war demonstrations, and the massacre of students at Kent State University in Ohio by the Ohio National Guard, a total of four killed and ten wounded; and Jackson State College in Mississippi, the killing of two students by state troopers and local police. This tragic event was covered in “The Day the Sixties Ended”, an hour presentation.

Then, five years later, on April 30, the final evacuation from Vietnam, two years after the Paris Peace Accords supposedly guaranteed two separate Vietnams, after 12 years of war, and 58,000 Americans had been killed, took place. About 130,000 South Vietnamese were evacuated, but hundreds of thousands were left behind, and ended up in re-education camps of the Communist Vietnamese government, or were “Boat People”, many of whom died in the South China Sea. A few hundred thousand ended up in the US, and others, in the Philippines and several other nations, but it was a tremendous human tragedy. These tragic events were covered in “The Last Days in Vietnam”, an award winning documentary put together by Rory Kennedy, the youngest child of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, born months after his assassination in 1968.

The sad part about these events in 1970 and 1975 is that most Americans have no awareness of these events, and we continue to make similar mistakes, as in the disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan, but causing the loss of American lives and treasure, and the massive loss of life among the people of those nations.

Both 1970 and 1975 are times of shame, but most Americans, being clueless, makes it ever more a shame!

The Immigrant Children Of El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala And The History Of Children Escaping Persecution And Death!

Nativism in its most incendiary way is rearing its ugly head in regards to the mass migration of women and children, some of them babies, but all under adult age, who are fleeing persecution, bloodshed, and potential death in the unstable nations of Central America, some of the most violent nations on earth.

This is specifically the case of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, with about 90,000 expected to flee their nations, walking on foot, going through tough terrain, many drowning or being overcome by the elements otherwise, but all wanting a better, more secure existence in America.

But the hysteria has grown, that somehow, these women and children are involved in drug smuggling, or are future terrorists over the next generation, or other such ridiculous, hard hearted views of their plight.

One must not forget, however, that this kind of nativism is nothing new in America!

It was visited upon Jews, Italians, Irish, Polish, Chinese, Japanese, and migrants from Mexico and other Latin American countries over the long haul of American history!

This nation refused to open its borders to Jews wishing to escape Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, and very small numbers of children were ever allowed in, and many died in the Holocaust!

Nativism was also utilized against Vietnamese escaping the collapse of South Vietnam forty years ago, with many “Boat People” dying in the South China Sea or the Pacific Ocean, but others making it to America, of all ages.

Cubans escaping Fidel Castro, including many children in the Mariel Boat Lift in 1980, were seen as dangerous and should not be admitted, but eventually were, since they could not be returned to Cuba.

The attempts to bring some Iraqis and Afghans of Muslim religion to this country has been a long battle as well.

But we have a tendency to forget we are a nation of immigrants, and particularly in times of political, social, and economic turmoil, we are the last best hope of mankind to offer asylum!

So now, IF the families of these children from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala can be reunited, then they may be returned to their host nations, but that should only be if their lives are not in danger, as to return them to certain death is unconscionable!

But IF the families cannot be reunited, sad as that may be, we have no realistic choice but to house, feed, and educate them, and give them the possibility of the “American Dream”!

If we simply reject these children and young mothers, we are losing the whole purpose of the American experiment, as expressed by the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We cannot turn our back on these children and condemn them to death, particularly in a nation which claims to support life itself as a goal!