Watching migrant children choke on tear gas at the US border, I’m horrified at what America has become

We’re not only gassing people, but denying hope and genuine opportunity to a generation of downtrodden dreamers out of sheer spite for all things foreign

Nash Riggins
Monday 26 November 2018 16:48 GMT
Migrants enveloped in tear gas after heading toward US

Most places have a pretty good sense of national identity. You get the odd moan from pensioners about the inevitable impacts of globalisation, sure. Yet by and large, we tend to overlook our differences, band together and take genuine pride in our commonalities and shared cultural quirks.

But in America, identity works a little bit differently.

Yes, we’re all spoon fed the lyrics to the “Star Spangled Banner” from the age of two – but apart from that, a lot of us try to create our own, unique cultural identities by latching onto the traditions and stereotypes of other nationalities.

Translation: ask any American where they’re from, and they won’t give you a state or a city. They’ll tell you what Scottish clan their great-great-great grandfather was a part of, or where in Sicily their great aunt Maria came from during the roaring 20s – and although that sounds a bit silly to a lot of people, in America it makes perfect sense.

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That’s because we’re a nation of immigrants. Ours was a country painstakingly built off the blood, sweat and tears of every other nation on earth. Most Americans alive today are the direct result of our country’s open armed approach towards immigration (discounting Native Americans, of course, as we disgustingly tend to do). Hell, even Donald Trump’s mum and wife were foreigners once upon a dream.

So bearing in mind the positive impact immigration has had upon America – not to mention how much our own president has gained personally from our visa system – you’d think the current administration and its supporters might actually be civil to the downtrodden and hardworking people who are queuing up to get a taste of the proverbial American dream.

But god, how wrong would you be?

At this point, it goes way beyond tough-guy rhetoric and that empty pledge to build a hilariously big wall along America’s southern border. It goes beyond snatching infants from their mothers and locking brown kids in cages. This week, we’re actually shooting tear gas into children’s eyes from across the US border.

That’s right: this morning, privileged Americans woke up to Twitter feeds absolutely littered with heart-wrenching images of half-clothed, barefoot toddlers being choked with mace. Their crime? Standing too close to the United States.

As always, there’s a little bit more to it than that. Officials claim the rounds were dished out because a peaceful protest about unfair visa application waiting times had resulted in a few desperate sods trying to make a run on a particularly sorry looking section of fencing.

Not cool, guys.

But coolness aside, can we all just pause for a second and let the gravity of this absolute human rights catastrophe sink in for a minute? The ironic tragedy of this entire episode is almost too much to bear.

America is one of the biggest and most powerful countries in the world. We’ve got plenty of space, plenty of money and work that needs done. Hell, we’re literally paying people to move to Oklahoma and offering up free land in Kansas because Americans can’t seem to find people to do the jobs they hate doing or live in the towns they don’t want to live in.

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We all claim to be from somewhere else, love to talk about our family immigration stories and show off dusty photos from Ellis Island.

Yet when push comes to shove, we are so hostile and so unwelcoming – so inexplicably against sharing our own good fortune with others – that we’re gassing innocent children as punishment for being alive. How would our nation’s heroic president feel watching someone live-tweet videos of his Scottish mother being choked by tear gas as she got off the boat in New York all those years ago?

Attacking people just for wanting a better life for their families is almost as selfish and hypocritical as it is un-American. We’re not only gassing people, but denying hope and genuine opportunity to a generation of downtrodden dreamers out of sheer spite for all things foreign.

Those people deserve better than this. Americans deserve better, too. This is hatred in action – it’s the culmination of 10 million Facebook posts about the phantom menace of liberalism and all things different. It’s a total rejection of our country’s founding principles and so-called values. And if you bought into the rhetoric and voted for that heartless wretch currently kicking his feet up on the Resolute Desk and threatening to close the US border to anyone he dislikes, this must be everything you ever wanted.


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