‘They’re adults lying about their age’

That’s what lots of commenters write on articles about Calais, including people who have commented on my posts here (I haven’t published those remarks). But here’s the thing:

No one said they would be toddlers. Calling them children is an accurate way to describe people who have not yet reached their 18th birthday. But 17 and 18-year-olds who have spent several months in a refugee camp look like adults. Trauma ages them. They might not have been able to shave recently. They might be on the very cusp of adulthood. But for now, they are children and it’s out duty to protect them. They will have spent a huge chunk of their childhood either living in a war zone or escaping it. Should they not now have a chance to rest and recover from that before starting adulthood? It takes a particular kind of callousness to insist they stay in a soon-to-be-demolished camp just because they can’t prove their credentials…

For those who ask harsh questions about where all the tiny children and girls are, I give you harsh answers. They didn’t make it. The girls have been sex-trafficked. The tiny children have died. The ones who are now arriving in the UK are strong looking because only the strongest have survived these harsh conditions. Seven-year-olds aren’t equipped to cross a continent and then fend for themselves in a makeshift tent. They die, they disappear…

More here.

And another thing: why exactly is it that some people are so unwilling to lend sympathy to young men? Can they not also suffer? This seems to be one pernicious effect of the way masculinity is constructed in our still patriarchal system: men are not vulnerable. Men should be able to fend for themselves. Men do not need protection.

What one white person learned whilst visiting Standing Rock

I’m home now in Chicago, but I was at Standing Rock just a few days ago. I know how it feels to sleep outside in two sleeping bags and a winter coat in below-freezing weather, and wake up to the sounds of people coughing from tents surrounding you. I remember feeling the ground shake as horses stampeded past on the way to the front lines. I can hear the elders on the microphone—the voice of the camp at the sacred fire—urging non-violence, keeping everything grounded in prayer and ceremony…

…By allowing Dakota Access to dig under the Missouri River to run this pipeline, the government is putting private interest before the public’s health. Flint, Michigan showed us what a water crisis looks like on a relatively small scale—“small” being an entire city.

By allowing the fossil fuel industry to occupy the land and rivers of the United States instead of shifting to renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and geothermal, the government is putting private interest before the environment. In the past 12 months alone, North Dakota reported 272 uncontained oil spills, defined as “an overflow of the facility boundaries or a leak from a facility pipeline.” Contained oil spills: 904 in North Dakota alone.

By allowing this construction to happen on indigenous land, the government is putting private interest before Native American treaty rights. In September, the construction company dug up human remains from a Native American burial ground, which is why dozens of campers are occupying the land at this specific location, directly beside the burial ground. This is land that originally belonged to the tribe as a result of the Fort Laramie treaty of 1851.

Read more here.