Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Perry’s ploy is dangerous

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry has called out a thousand members of the Texas National Guard to stop refugee children from cross-ing U.S. borders. It is a foolish and fool-hardy act that will do nothing to halt the refugees, will expose the U.S. to ridicule from nations around the world, and could end in tragedy.
    Perry is far from the first politician to use his state’s National Guard to enhance his own political standing. In the 1960s, Ronald Reagan called in the California Guard to crush protests at Berkeley, which it did with unprecedented severity. Guardsmen were used to break up gather-ings of as few as four students. Reagan’s tough-guy escalations resulted in the spraying of pepper gas over the entire campus and the hills to the east, including a hospital.
    Citizen soldiers in Guard units train one weekend a month plus an additional two-week training period each year. Their job is to be ready to function in a military role if they are called up or to help in times of natural disaster. But now the Texas Guard is being asked to perform a very different task. Perry has asked his troops to use their training and their weapons to confront children.
    What happens then? The Guard is un-likely to have received much training in proper babysitting techniques, or are they supposed to drive 6-year-olds back across the border into the Mexican desert?
    The country learned in the 1970s, to its sorrow and shame, that the National Guard can be too heavy a hand to play when political rhetoric has enflamed emo-tions. At Kent State University, the Guard was told they were facing outside agita-tors, communist sympathizers, threats to society. Such demonization didn’t square with young women placing daisies in their rifle. That didn’t matter. When things got hectic, frightened young men fired and four unarmed American students died.
    The men and women of the Texas Guard have been put in an impossible situation. We can only hope that some-one’s child, brother, aunt or parent does not have to face the future with the knowl-edge that he or she had killed an unarmed child, especially since it is all because of political grandstanding.

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