When founding the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1866 according to The History Channel, “(Henry Bergh) argued that protecting animals was an issue that crossed party lines and class boundaries. ‘This is a matter purely of conscience; it has no perplexing side issues,’ he said. ‘It is a moral question in all its aspects.’ The speech prompted a number of dignitaries to sign his ‘Declaration of the Rights of Animals.’” In 1874, activists founded the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Bergh served as one of the group’s first vice presidents.

If that was true then, how can, over 145 years later, we, as a people, put children and infants and toddlers in cages without their parents and live with ourselves? What rationale could possibly justify this? “They shouldn’t have come here?” or “Their parents should have known better?”

How did your ancestors arrive here? Most of mine came by sea a very long time ago. They didn’t come for a lark. They came, with nothing, to escape an intolerable life. They risked everything to cross a sometimes angry ocean in a small wooden boat; not unlike crossing a brutal desert on foot for a promise of a better, safer life. Some of my people (and yours) probably left their original county with a pending warrant for their arrest because of laws we now say were unconscionable. “That was different,” you say. “Was it really?” I say.

Unless your family crossed the land bridge and you are of an indigenous group or your ancestors were forced onto slave ships, your family came to escape something or make a better future than what they could have had in their country of origin (not to be confused with oranges.) Let’s get real here. Deep down, is it because the people in power fear that the color of the migrants’ skin may somehow give “The Powerful” less power? Is that what this is really all about — Us versus “the-oh-so-scary THEM”?

We have the obligation to do what we can do to end this senseless practice of putting children in cages and to hold accountable those responsible for the atrocities currently being committed. For the innocent children today, Bergh’s message would be, “This is a matter purely of conscience; it has no perplexing side issues. It is a moral question in all its aspects.”

DEBORAH HARDY

Centreville

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