Sunday, June 24, 2018

Child Exploitation: A Guide for Liberals

Friends, have you noticed how the Left's talking points are increasingly reliant not on rational arguments but appeals to crass emotionalism?  The critique (if it can be called that) of President Trump's "family separation" policy was a notable case in point.  How the mighty are fallen, I say.  It's inconceivable that Walter Cronkite or even Dan Rather in his prime would have hidden behind a crying child instead of making a rational argument about the issues of the day.  No more.  It's a race to the bottom, and the bottom, it appears, is replete with bawling youngsters.  Expect to see a lot more of them in primetime.

Read all about it in my latest article, coming soon to a news website or a newspaper near you...

The Left's Last Resort: Crying Children

It seems that, having exhausted all rational and pseudo-rational arguments – without having made even a small dent in Republicans' support for President Trump – leftists are increasingly reducing their talking points and their life philosophy to one simple idea: Donald Trump is despicable because he makes babies cry. How, you may well ask, did we get to this point in our national discourse? It is particularly remarkable given how fond liberals are of reminding us of their superior intelligence and unfailing devotion to “logic”. Both points are belied by what we have seen in recent weeks.

One could argue that, when the great machine of leftism can only continue to function by lubricating itself with children's tears, this is a sure sign that the movement has become truly desperate. This may be true, and yet the recent fixation with (misleading and even staged) images of miserable kids at the U.S.-Mexican border is arguably just a further elaboration of a long-dominant theme in leftist politics: the cult of the victim. Surely, liberals opine, whomever has suffered is entitled to our sympathy, and to some kind of restitution. (You can see why trial lawyers lean left!) Since, moreover, leftists invariably think in terms of groups, for them the primacy of victimhood means essentially this: they should have a monopoly on deciding which groups are most deserving of compassion, indulgence, and gratification, based on their relative positions in the hierarchy of suffering and oppression. Now, if one buys into this spurious logic, then needless to say it becomes extremely important for each group to make its claims to victimhood as loudly and as emotively as possible. And so we find ourselves witnessing, to our universal consternation, a nightly parade of crying babies in our “news” broadcasts. Nothing could make greater sense, from a leftist perspective.

But why illegal immigrants? Surely the Left could find a group better suited to victim/hero status than a mass of people united by no common bond except their failure to adhere to U.S. immigration laws... Not necessarily!

Illegal immigrants have long appealed to the Left as an aggrieved minority. The fact that they are potential voters and usually reliable Democrats doesn't hurt their cause, of course, but it is their robust victimhood and sheer downtroddenness that really earns the liberal's respect. Nonetheless, the Left's current position – that no illegal immigrant parent should ever be separated from his or her child, when U.S. servicemen as well as Americans charged with crimes are accorded no such accommodation – is an extraordinary logical leap, even if, like a good liberal, one assumes that “victims” should have superior rights to “oppressors”. Again, though, one must understand that it isn't logic that sustains this thinking in the first place. It is instead the drumbeat repetition of images (and even audio clips) that drive home the fundamentally emotional message: Trump's policy at the border is different, and obscenely wrong, because it produces the palpable effect of sobbing children. People who choose to make children sad, moreover, are monsters. Thus, Trump is the worst of the worst and the lowest of the low. The evidence of bawling toddlers only confirms what leftists already know to be true.

The natural rejoinder to this strange species of sentimentality is this: lots of things make children cry, and lots of children are crying, both in this country and in others. Why, then, does the suffering only of the children who can credibly be called victims of Trumpism merit our attention and remedial action? 

As “Angels Moms” demonstrated on Friday, June 22nd in an event hosted by President Trump, a strong case can be made that illegal immigrants can just as easily be the cause of misery, both for children and adults, as they are victims of mistreatment. Angel Moms are U.S. mothers who have lost children to illegal alien criminals. Surely they, who have been permanently separated from their kids (at least in this life), have an even greater claim to public sympathy than those temporarily detained at the border, no? No, indeed, as the mainstream media sees it, because crimes committed by illegal immigrants are a non-issue. Why? Because to mention them makes advocates of “undocumented immigrants” sad and/or angry, and clearly we can't have that. Some tears, it seems, are worthier than others.

The broader implication of the Left's politics of despair is, of course, that conservatism, Republicanism, and nationalism all yield an aggregate quantity of crying children (and adults) far greater than that produced by, say, liberalism, political correctness, and socialism. In fact, though, there is not a shred of evidence to support this generalization. There are actually plenty of reasons to speculate that the opposite might be true. 

The 100 million people killed by Marxism in the 20th century, for instance, presumably engendered a fair amount of despondency among their loved ones. On a lesser scale, the job losses and economic and social dislocation fostered by the waves of illegal immigration and one-sided trade deals beloved by liberals have also, one assumes, caused more than a few Americans, including children, to bemoan their fates. And yet, for some strange reason, the raw negative emotions produced by left-wing fiascos has never been considered newsworthy. C'est la vie.

To argue the same point from another perspective, how many Americans, including children, have been cheered by Donald Trump's election and its innumerable positive ramifications? How many children on the Korean Peninsula, and beyond, may sleep more soundly, may shed fewer tears, because of President Trump's decision to pursue denuclearization and a rapprochement with Kim Jong-un? How many children, adolescents, and young adults have been heartened to see job prospects improve, both for them and for their parents, because of the booming economy that Trump presides over? How many children walk to school or play in neighborhood parks with a greater sense of safety and well-being, because the Trump administration is vigorously deporting MS-13 thugs, instead of making excuses for them and shielding them from immigration authorities, as liberal “sanctuary” mayors and governors do every day? How many children have been liberated from stultifying, crime-infested public schools, and instead were able to attend private or religious schools, or be home-schooled, because of the farsighted policies of this administration? And, at the end of the day, how many children may, if Trump gets to appoint even one more Supreme Court Justice, experience the joys of life itself, because they were saved from abortion-on-demand?

It is not hard, as we see here, to argue that it is liberals and the Democratic Party that are the true enemies of children, and the more reliable instigators of their tears. In truth, though, these are still the arguments of sentimentalists and hucksters. They carry little weight, rationally speaking, because they are overwhelmingly based on anecdotes and emotional manipulation, not hard evidence and a balanced consideration of pros and cons. They are, in other words, the arguments of children, and those who think like them, not mature adults.

Which party, then, is the true champion of happiness, and which is the architect of torment and grief? That is a question best left to philosophers and theologians, not pundits and reporters. They may be experts at exploiting human emotions, including grief, but when it comes to identifying the true sources of joy and fulfillment, and of gloom and agony, they are at best only as insightful as all the rest of us mere mortals. Let us hope, therefore, that, in future they will stick to reporting the facts and keep their preaching to themselves.

Dr. Nicholas L. Waddy is an Associate Professor of History at SUNY Alfred and blogs at: He appears weekly on the Newsmaker program on WLEA 1480.

And here's the American Greatness version! 


  1. Dr. Waddy: This is a well said and comprehensive commentary. Yeah, Hillary often evoked "the children" as a justification for her policies, while also advocating the unfettered murder of humans a few minutes short of childhood.

  2. Thank you, Jack! Keep in mind that liberals seem to believe that the personhood of the unborn is entirely at the mother's discretion. For instance, if you murder a pregnant woman who WANTS to have her baby, you've committed a double murder. If you kill her unborn baby at her request, however, no harm, no foul. Ergo, it's the state of mind of the mother that creates...a human being. Curious! Frankly, I have respect for both sides in the abortion debate, but the abortion-on-demand crowd does invite some head-scratching...

  3. Dr. Waddy: My personal belief, for what its worth, is that the maternal instinct is the most fundamental of spiritual and/or psychological human feelings. Its willful and convenient contradiction condemns the radical feminist movement and shows them up for sociopaths, I think. Abortion is an unspeakably horrid act the justification of which can be plausibly argued, I say with misgivings but only in the most extreme of circumstances. If radical feminists deny my right as a male to hold forth on this I defy them! If a film of an actual abortion, including a complete depiction of the experience of the fetus, were to be broadcast, I think the "abortion rights movement" would collapse overnight. Women are endowed with at birth with a special responsibility to the unborn and this verity is unaffected by the presumptuous assertions of those feminists who are obvious apologists for inhumanity. To hell with 'em.

  4. You're right, Jack, in the sense that almost everyone has misgivings about abortion, and that shows that the far left perspective that a fetus is a mere "ball of cells" isn't viable beyond a tiny minority. My own views aren't doctrinaire, but I do, as always, recommend adherence to the Constitution...and the notion of a constitutional "right to an abortion" is about as absurd as jurisprudence gets...

  5. Dr. Waddy: Ditto. "Penumbras and emanations" indeed (even though this phrase originated in a decision predating Roe v. Wade). Next it will be "Feelings and offending thoughts".