Children of Men was my favorite movie of 2006.
Starring Clive Owen, Julianna Moore and a breakout performance from Clare-Hope Ashitey, the Alfonso Cuarón dystopic film explores a world where women stop having children. The world is in ruins. Borders are closed, food shortages are everywhere and people live in constant fear of a violent and unstoppable police state. Clive Owen plays a drunk recruited by his radical ex-wife Moore to help transport Ashitey out of England. You learn that Owen is grieving the loss his own child and is shocked when he learns that Ashitey is the first person on earth pregnant.
Through a variety of set-pieces—including a six-and-a-half-minute single shot of a street battle at the end—Owen shows the terror and humanity of trying to live by protecting others. He’s less than ordinary. He’s painfully flawed but somehow summons enough bravery to help her.
Children of Men is raw, political and absolutely stunning—somebody should send a copy to Kirstjen Nielsen.
All great dystopian movies, from zombie thriller to virus outbreaks to The Purge, leave you with the simple question of “what would I do if placed in the same situation.” And Children of Men is no different. Owen is like Dante’s Virgil leading Ashitey through Hell on the path to salvation. If I was placed in the same situation, I doubt that I would half the courage and a quarter of his resolve. He witnesses prisoners being tortured, wicked lawlessness and cruelty at every level. Yet, he keeps moving forward, desperately trying to help this scared, extraordinary pregnant girl.
Take any random scene from Children of Men and it looks like what’s been happening along the southern border of the United States.
I’m not being hyperbolic. The limited pictures that I’ve seen from the news is of men, women and children jammed into chain-link cells in Texas. There are no cots/beds, only emergency blankets for protection and concrete. The adults are packed into cells and children are warehoused in pens wondering where their parents are. As visuals go, there is nothing worse than seeing children crying out in terror.
Here’s the backstory:
Since George W. Bush and through Obama’s presidency, the policy of illegal immigrants apprehended at the border was to process them, charge them with a misdemeanor and release them. It didn’t matter if the immigrant was just crossing illegally or if they were seeking political asylum. Painting in broad strokes, when destitute folks were caught, the border patrol would act with a grain of humanity.
Trump ordered zero-tolerance for illegal immigration. Now, those caught are charged with felonies and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. And a consequence of this policy ordered by Trump is separating mothers from children and warehousing minors in cages.
Here’s a Bible quote from James 5:11, “As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”
Ever been to the southern deserts of the United States? If you got an all-wheel drive vehicle, cooler full of beer and water, chili to cook and a tent to sleep in, it might be the most incredible part of the country. But if you’ve been walking since Guatemala, carrying everything you own on your back, dodging rattlesnakes and bandits, fighting dehydration, starvation and heat exhaustion, the desert is your worst enemy. The desert doesn’t play. It’s a killer. Can you image surviving crossing the sun-scotched lands only to end up separated from your family the moment you cross into the United States? Even worse, if the only thought that powered you through some of the most hostile land on the planet is everything will be better when we get to the United States but the moment you cross, you’re thrown in zip-ties and separated from your family.
Yeah, I can see how this could be a little more than stressful.
The motivation to even attempt getting across the southern deserts into the United States has to be strong. Threats of violence, sexual assault, poverty and any other conceivable menaces must be pretty powerful to risk dying while heading north. But they come. Probably for the same reason my great grandparents came to the United States. My paternal family immigrated in from Canada around the mid-1890s. My maternal family made it via Ellis Island a little bit before then. Even though they didn’t risk sun-stroke to come to the US, they still risked a lot to make a new life for themselves. Why is their arrival so much different from those that come in across Texas?
The answer is simple: my folks are white. The people crossing the Texas border are brown. My folks spoke English with an Irish accent. These people speak Spanish. No mas.
The calculus is simple: the new policy is racist. Trump is a racist. He doesn’t want more brown people in the United States. He’s appealing to a base that has little regard for human rights and are openly xenophobic.
The solution is simple: reunited the kids with their parents. The immigration laws might be flawed but what good comes from holding children hostage while Trump tries to bully Democrats to authorize a wall?
Here’s another Bible quote from 2 Corinthians 1:3–4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
Jefferson Beauregard Sessions likes quoting the Bible too. In particular he likes Romans 13. The problem is he doesn’t like reading it past verse 1: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities.” If that weasel just made it to Romans 13:8, he might have read: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another.” I’m not even religious and I know you don’t use the Bible to throw kids in cages.
Seriously, where do they get their moral authority? How spiritually bankrupt do you have to be think for a moment that what’s happening in these detention centers is acceptable? There is so much insanity in the world (trade wars, crumbling alliances, North Korea, global warming, Russia, Russia, Russia, etc&), do we need this right now?
Oh, but we’ll have Space Force.
Trump is a joke. An absolute joke. He told us Mexico was going to pay for the wall. He slashed Obamacare. He lies at every moment to bolster his base. Frankly, his base should expect better from him. The only deal he’s made since being president is Stormy Daniels hush money and he even screwed that up. He’s the creepy uncle at the bar-b-que that parents warn their kids about. He’s surrounded by sycophants and liars who are afraid to speak truth to power.
Now he’s using children as pawns because the “Art of the Deal” can’t get his wall? Shame the devil.
And Republicans, damn you. I thought you guys were better than this. You should be better than this. Where is your courage? Moral compass? Compassion? Leadership? Trump is the easiest target in the history of American politics, yet you can’t hit the target within a country mile.
Teddy Roosevelt would have kicked Trump’s ass the moment he met him. Nixon would have thought he was smarmy. Yet, McConnell and company play the role of flatters because…Jesus, I honestly can’t even come up with an decent idea. But allowing children to be housed cages is acceptable. Trump could stop this immediately if you challenged him, but GOP, you don’t. Because you’re just as accountable—the same blood is on your hands. You have a majority in both houses and you can’t do squat because you’re either stupid or a liar. It’s probably both but I’m just assuming it’s stupid.
It’s been waxed that the Nazis were successful because a third of the people hurt/blamed a third of the people while the last third did nothing. We’re not Germany in the 1930s, but Sweet Pete, we’re starting to look like it. And maybe something as small as letting children to be reunited with their parents could stop the slow drift towards fascism.
SPOILER ALERT: Children of Men ends with a beautiful shot of Clive Owen slipping into death after rescuing Ashitey and her newborn. Help is on the horizon but it’s too late. Even though he was damaged, Owen found the strength to make the right choice to save the child. Seems like it would be easy enough for us to follow his example.
Ben Raskin bartends at Keys On Main. Follow him on Twitter @BennyRaskin. Here’s where you can contact your Utah delegation and let them know what you think.
4 thoughts on “Children in Cages”
As usual you are right on the spot Benny. It’s going to take more people like you to get the truth out to the masses. God help us come November if we don’t rise up.
Thanks, Mike. There has to be a better way to deal with immigration.
It’s been a while since I’ve had the pleasure of reading one of your posts. Too good. One of the women on my team immigrated here from Guatemala when she was an infant. She now has a 2 year old, so these times have hit especially close to home for her and for our team. I agree with Mike. Hopefully this craziness galvanizes the masses to vote to get some of these kooks out of office!
Thanks, Joe. We watched the news last night and the pictures are just getting worse. The fact that the idea of using children as currency is flat-out offensive.