Some images get seared to deeply into one’s eyes and mind’s eye that they can never be exorcised – think images of Abu Ghraib, 9/11, panicked Afghans clinging to jets taking off in a desperate bid to escape their country after the Taliban takeover last month, the devastation wrought by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the 2011 Japanese tsunami.
So, it was with the pictures and videos that emerged this week of U.S. Border Control agents on horseback chasing Haitian immigrants with whips. It’s hard to even put “agents on horseback with whips” and “chasing people” together in the same sentence.
The pictures show human beings fleeing the reach of the border agents and clutching their belongings in plastic grocery bags. These pictures demonstrate a level of barbarism that is disgusting, disturbing and depict a cavalier disregard for the immigrants’ agency, dignity, safety and humanity.
There’s lot of outrage to go around as there should be and let’s hope heads roll righteously over this. The fact that these images have just appeared doesn’t mean it’s the first time this has happened.
Shame on us, as a nation and as human beings if we would treat others with this level of cruelty and humiliation. Shame on those who actions violate our laws and our own humanity.
Shame on anyone who can make joyous plans to welcome Afghan families to our communities while rejecting the legitimacy of these Haitian people’s attempts to seek asylum and make a better life for themselves.
Why is it so hard for people to remember we’re a nation of immigrants? All of our parents, grandparents, great grandparents, etc. came here seeking opportunity and safety and a chance to live in a society that respects the rule of law.
We are all dehumanized when any one person chases another person on horseback with a whip. It disgraces all of us to see people who have so little that their lives are contained in plastic shopping bags running from horses and agents with whips.
Where is our compassion?