Like most people, I’ve been seeing a lot of disturbing videos and stories about the situation at our Southern border these past few weeks, in which thousands of children have been forcibly separated from their families for the crime of attempting to enter this country illegally. It’s a hot button issue, and one that has divided us as a country (and when we were living in such unprecedented harmony, too). There are a lot of talking points and statistics and arguments surrounding this, but ultimately it all comes down to those kids and how they’ve been treated as a result of policies put in place by the “party of family values.” And if you ask me, that’s a goddamn shame.
I know what you’re probably thinking: “OK, but I didn’t ask you. Nobody did. Also who the hell are you, anyway?” Well, I’m a comedian and a psychological masochist and as such I make political comedy videos for the Internet. Liberal ones. Which necessarily means that I get a lot of hateful comments. They mostly roll right off my back, but the only ones that bother me are the ones that are just patently, objectively false. “That’s not his real accent”; “This guy ain’t from the South”; “I bet he secretly loves shirt sleeves.” Stuff like that. But of all of these, the one that probably pisses me off the most is any variation on “Well, clearly this guy doesn’t have children. If he did, he would understand.”
These types of comments invariably crop up on any of my videos that deal with social issues. Because apparently anyone with children could understand the dire threat posed to their well-being by gay couples eating cake, or transgender people using the bathroom. Basically, if the issue involves a minority group wanting to do, well, pretty much anything, you can bet your sweet snowflakey ass that conservatives are about to start thinking of the children. No matter how irrelevant the issue may seem to be to the world of parenting and kids, fret not, those on the far right will make it relevant. They have to. For the children. To protect them from the imaginary bogeyman of immorality and societal decay that is heralded by progressivism. It is their duty, it’s what they do; they think of the children, when no one else will. But now that the world is watching as thousands of immigrant children suffer real, tangible pain at America’s hands, many conservative minds are apparently elsewhere.
It’s talk like this that often prompts those commenters to say to me, “You just don’t get it; you can’t get it if you don’t have children of your own, and clearly you don’t.” They are so confident that I can’t possibly be a father. Because, you see, if I only had children, then I would think of them before landing on these misguided progressive stances that I have.
I do have children. Two little boys. And I do think about them. All the time. Sometimes it feels like I hardly think about anything else. In fact, it’s precisely because of my children, because I think about them, that I am so passionate about many of my liberal stances. I think about the possibility of one of them being gay, or transgender, or atheist, or hell even just a little fuckin’ weird – however they want to be. And then I think about the idea of backward-ass bigots treating them terribly just because of that; calling them names, making them feel less than human, all that good ol-fashioned god-fearin’ stuff. I think about that…and I get fucking furious. I think about that and I’m not interested in political discourse; I’m not interested in debate or hearing the other side out. I’m interested only in letting the bigots know just exactly what I think of them and their beliefs.
And look, that’s not ideal, to say the least.
It certainly doesn’t help in bridging the proverbial gap or coming to the proverbial table or any of that proverbial shit. I should be better than they are, and I realize that. But where my kids are concerned, I just can’t help it. I’m incapable of feeling any other way. And when I see any political story where kids are involved, I immediately think of my sons in that position, and just like that, my stance is decided. I’m completely unwilling to back any position that I think is harmful to actual living children, no matter who or where those children are. No matter what the arguments to the contrary are, no matter how “complex” the issue may be. I just don’t care. If it hurts kids, then we have to find another way. I don’t see how anyone with children could possibly feel any differently. I really don’t.
I say all of the above just to say this to those on the far right in this country who constantly implore the rest of us to “think of the children”: Cut the shit. You don’t really think of the children. Sure, you might think of your children, or of white children, but you sure as hell don’t think of the children. You can’t. Not while you call gay kids unnatural, or try to take food out of a poor kid’s mouth because his mother is a “welfare queen,” or support the campaign of a judge who allegedly abused young girls, or accuse a kid who’s been shot in his goddamn cafeteria of lying about it to further a political agenda. Or when you defend putting children in cages because of their parents’ desperate attempt to better their quality of life. You do all this and then tell us to “think of the children.” Well we do think of the children. But more than that, we think of you too, and of the terrible things that so many kids might be subjected to if you have your way. And it scares the hell out of us.
So you see, we think of the children just as much as you do. And we worry, just as much as you do. We don’t worry about them falling victim to some nebulous specter of moral bankruptcy; we worry about them falling victim to hate and fear. We don’t worry about what might happen to kids if things change in this country; we worry what might happen if things don’t change.
The difference is that our bogeyman is real, and he’s the one making these decisions that are literally harming kids. So I ask you, die-hard Trump supporter: When will you think of the children?
Trae Crowder is a nationally touring stand up comedian, writer and co-author of The Liberal Redneck Manifesto: Draggin Dixie Outta The Dark.