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LETTER: Balancing the needs of children with requirements of due process


Dear editor: Russell Wangersky objected in his June 18 column to U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions having quoted Scripture to justify “separating children from their parents and locking them up in detention camps.”

It seems that Mr. Sessions said, in that context, “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.”

Mr. Wangersky himself wrote in reply: “Governments set social directions for everyone, not just those who belong to a particular sect or faith.”

That seems to me to be exactly what St. Paul said in different words. If that is what one believes, it hardly seems to matter whether one quotes the Apostle Paul or the columnist, Russell, as best expressing one’s own opinion.

Maybe, for all I know of the matter, Mr. Sessions was in this case citing Scripture to justify the actions of government against the opinion of someone who had cited other Scripture in opposition to what government was doing, since an appeal to authority must appeal to an authority which is acknowledged. But even Mr. Wangersky’s observation about the purpose of government could be used to “justify actions that could not otherwise be justified,” as Mr. Wangersky says appeals to Scripture have been used.

The sort of self-contradiction which objects to “quoting Scripture” even when it expresses ideas to which one adheres when one can state them in one’s own words, was evident again in Mr. Wangersky’s column of June 19 condemning without any possibility of palliation at all the United States government’s detaining children in separation from their parents who are charged (apparently after being caught in the act, which can justify refusal of bail despite the presumption of innocence until guilt is proved) with illegally entering that country.

At least, that contradiction is evident when one recalls that the columnist who will not hear of balancing the needs of children with the requirements of due process of law and national interest had earlier written, in support of permitting abortion, that society must balance the right of children to be born with the right of women not have children.

Mr. Wangersky also wrote touchingly in that column about the expression in children’s eyes when being separated from a parent on being brought to school. That prompted me to wonder whether he had ever seen a child’s response to being told that some adults kill babies, or, perhaps, even to being told that the child’s parents sometimes “have sex” just “for fun.” But, of course, sex education in the schools to which parents now bring their children probably is meant almost specifically to spare the parents that particular experience.

Mr. Wangersky in this instance seems therefore almost a classic example of men who “Compound for sins they are inclined to/By damning those they have no mind to.”

Colin Burke, Port au Port

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