Forum, July 21: Elders angry at treatment of refugee children

Published: 7/21/2019 1:18:23 PM
Elders angry at Border Patrol’s treatment of refugee children

We are elders. We have raised generations of children and grandchildren. We have long been productive members of society. We love our country and adhere to its ideals. But we become gravely disappointed, indeed angry, when our leadership betrays us.

So it is with reports of the abuse and mistreatment of detained refugee children held near our southern border without family, adequate food, water or sanitation by Border Patrol and Customs personnel. These represent a deliberate trashing of all that is best in our history and in our moral and religious beliefs. They instead promote all that is cruelest, perpetrated by the world’s most barbaric regimes.

We demand that the U.S. government immediately make funds available to improve conditions in the holding facilities, that the children in custody be released at once to their parents or guardians, and that the incarcerated adults be processed fairly.



This letter was co-signed by 17 other residents of Kendal at Hanover. The opinions expressed are their own and are independent of Kendal, its administration and board.

Foundation of our political system

On a recent PBS NewsHour program, syndicated columnist Mark Shields observed that “money is the mother’s milk of politics.”

The comment took me back to 1973, when I was employed by an insurance company in Hartford, Conn. I spent much time in Washington attempting to discern the extent to which Congress was interested in investigating the insurance industry. Early in my tour, I had what can only be described as an “audience” with U.S. Sen. Abraham Ribicoff, D-Conn. He gave me 15 minutes and referred me to his chief of staff, with whom I formed a good relationship. During one of several lunches together (guess who picked up the tab?) he stated, “money is the mother’s milk of politics.”

Oh my, it is so reassuring to know that the foundation of our political system has such endurance.



What real patriotism is

The Perspectives section of the July 7 Sunday Valley News had two opinion columns on patriotism. One column was by Randall Balmer (“Should patriotism be compulsory?”) and the other was by Steve Nelson (“Reflect on America’s promise, not its might”).

I have a degree in political science, I have long been involved in bird-dogging political candidates, I have been active in electoral politics, I am an amateur historian, I worked for the Department of the Army for 26 years as a civilian and I have a long history of activism. I am also a patriot. Both writers were dead on with their analysis of what patriotism is.

Patriotism should never be confused with nationalism or militarism. Patriotism means that all of us should be the best we can be and love our neighbors.

As Balmer so eloquently stated, “A robust patriotism embraces diversity and dissent.”



Connection builds compassion

In Claremont recently, at Trinity Episcopal Church and Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, we had a wonderful gathering for the “Lights for Liberty” national and international action for the refugee crisis.

There were 24 of us all together. clergy, state representatives, attendees from Vermont, members of various faiths, members of the United Valley Interfaith Project, children, someone from Rochester, N.Y., visiting family. Almost all of us had a parent, grandparent or great-grandparent who sought refuge in the United States. This is a strong tie that binds us and our compassion for those who are now seeking refuge, many today for life-and-death reasons.

This evening was alive with ideas for action and ways to contribute to solutions to this humanitarian crisis. We discussed fundraising events, educating ourselves and our communities about the challenges that refugees face, committing to connecting with our legislators on all levels, speaking with local law enforcement agencies about their policies for interacting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, using civil disobedience when our consciences are violated by reprehensible acts of our government and involving more influential members of our community.



Osher lecture series is the best ever

Osher@Dartmouth, the outstanding local adult education organization, recently opened its 22nd consecutive summer lecture series at Spaulding Auditorium in Hanover with the first of six weekly programs under the title “Critical Thinking for the Preservation of our Democracy,” perhaps one of its best programs ever and a more than appropriate subject in our currently polarized political environment.

The format of initial presentation followed by direct debate was revealing — professor and student, supporter and defender, classic lecture and irreverent, creative debater — all made even better by moderator David Bisno, who had created the whole concept of a summer lecture program long ago.

For all who care for this country, don’t miss your choice of the next five subjects. For ticket prices and more information, visit and click on “Summer Lecture Series.”

Hope to see you there in future weeks.

Bruce Macdonald​​​​​​​


The writer is the volunteer chair of the Marketing and Communications Committee for Osher@Dartmouth.

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