Email This Article
Your Name:
Your Email:
Email To:
Comment:
Optional
Authentication:  
10 + 9 = ?: (Required) Please type in the correct answer to the math question.

  
clear
You are sending a link to...
Call It Abuse

On bringing children to political protests

by Theodore Dalrymple

“Give me a child until he is seven,” said St. Ignatius Loyola, at least allegedly, “and I will show you the man.”

Whether or not St. Ignatius actually said this, I could not but help think of these words when I read a short report from a New York Times correspondent in Oakland. The report went as follows:

Close to downtown, a few hundred protesters peacefully marched through the streets, chanting and carrying signs.

Behind the diverse crowd, Donavon Butler, 33, drove a white minivan with his wife and four children inside. His 5-year-old son, Chase, hung out the back window with his right fist raised and his left hand holding a cardboard sign that said “Mama! I can’t breath. Don’t shoot.”

“The world we live in is not equal. People look at us different,” Mr. Butler said he told his son.

This report was published without commentary, so it is impossible to say—though perhaps not to guess—what the correspondent’s attitude to the episode was. But it horrified me.

What kind of parent takes a five-year-old child to a political demonstration that, even if presently peaceful, has an obvious potential to turn violent? Surely the father knew this: he could hardly have been completely ignorant of what was happening elsewhere in the U.S.

What kind of parent uses his child as an instrument to promote a political message and teaches him (at age five!) to make a political gesture that has, at the very least, connotations of intransigence, if not of outright violence? And what fathomless sentimentality—the reverse of the coin of brutality—allows someone to believe that the participation of a child in a political demonstration adds to, rather than detracts, from the power of its message?

Clearly the father also believed that a child is never too young to resent—and should be indoctrinated into doing so. That the world is unequal, unfair, and often unjust is true, but resentment is, of all human emotions, among the least constructive and most incompatible with real happiness, though it may bring with it certain sour satisfactions, including the elimination of personal responsibility for one’s situation. Unfortunately, also, it is one of the few emotions that can last a lifetime, for it is protean in its ability to find justifications for itself. I hope that in this case the father’s conduct was an error committed in the heat of the moment, rather than a settled plan of education.

We are appalled—rightly—at the use of child soldiers in civil or international wars. There could hardly be a greater manifestation of inhumanity. The use of little Chase was not in the same league of abuse, but abuse of him it was, regardless of whether the correspondent of the New York Times recognized it as such.

First published in City Journal.

 

Order at Amazon or Amazon UK today!

Order on Amazon.or Amazon UK.


Order from Amazon or Amazon UK today!


Amazon donates to World Encounter Institute Inc when you shop at smile.amazon.com/ch/56-2572448. #AmazonSmile #StartWithaSmile

Subscribe

Categories

Adam Selene (2) A.J. Caschetta (7) Ahnaf Kalam (2) Alexander Murinson (1) Andrew Harrod (4) Anne-Christine Hoff (1) Bat Ye'or (6) Bradley Betters (1) Brex I Teer (9) Brian of London (32) Carol Sebastian (1) Christina McIntosh (864) Christopher DeGroot (2) Conrad Black (581) Daniel Mallock (5) David J. Baldovin (1) David P. Gontar (7) David Solway (78) David Wemyss (1) Dexter Van Zile (74) Dr. Michael Welner (3) E. B Samuel (1) Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff (1) Emmet Scott (1) Eric Rozenman (6) Esmerelda Weatherwax (9684) Fergus Downie (23) Fred Leder (1) Friedrich Hansen (7) G. Murphy Donovan (69) G. Tod Slone (1) Gary Fouse (156) Geert Wilders (13) Geoffrey Botkin (1) Geoffrey Clarfield (330) George Rojas (1) Hannah Rubenstein (3) Hesham Shehab and Anne-Christine Hoff (1) Hossein Khorram (2) Howard Rotberg (12) Hugh Fitzgerald (21123) Ibn Warraq (10) Ilana Freedman (2) James Como (23) James Robbins (1) James Stevens Curl (2) Janice Fiamengo (1) jeffrey burghauser (1) Jenna Wright (1) Jerry Gordon (2513) Jerry Gordon and Lt. Gen. Abakar M. Abdallah (2) Jesse Sandoval (1) John Constantine (122) John Hajjar (5) John M. Joyce (391) John Rossomando (1) Jonathan Ferguson (1) Jonathan Hausman (4) Jordan Cope (1) Joseph S. Spoerl (10) Kenneth Francis (2) Kenneth Lasson (1) Kenneth Timmerman (25) Lorna Salzman (9) Louis Rene Beres (37) Manda Zand Ervin (1) Marc Epstein (9) Mark Anthony Signorelli (11) Mark Durie (7) Mark Zaslav (1) Mary Jackson (5065) Matthew Hausman (43) Michael Curtis (653) Michael Rechtenwald (16) Mordechai Nisan (2) Moshe Dann (1) NER (2590) New English Review Press (82) Nidra Poller (73) Nikos A. Salingaros (1) Nonie Darwish (10) Norman Berdichevsky (86) Paul Oakley (1) Paul Weston (5) Paula Boddington (1) Peter McGregor (1) Peter McLoughlin (1) Philip Blake (1) Phyllis Chesler (133) Rebecca Bynum (7192) Richard Butrick (24) Richard Kostelanetz (16) Richard L. Benkin (21) Richard L. Cravatts (7) Richard L. Rubenstein (44) Robert Harris (85) Sally Ross (36) Sam Bluefarb (1) Sha’i ben-Tekoa (1) Springtime for Snowflakes (4) Stacey McKenna (1) Stephen Schecter (1) Steve Hecht (26) Ted Belman (8) The Law (90) Theodore Dalrymple (884) Thomas J. Scheff (6) Thomas Ország-Land (3) Tom Harb (4) Tyler Curtis (1) Walid Phares (32) Winfield Myers (1) z - all below inactive (7) z - Ares Demertzis (2) z - Andrew Bostom (74) z - Andy McCarthy (536) z - Artemis Gordon Glidden (881) z - DL Adams (21) z - John Derbyshire (1013) z - Marisol Seibold (26) z - Mark Butterworth (49) z- Robert Bove (1189) zz - Ali Sina (2)
clear
Site Archive