KIDS ON THE FRONT LINE OF PROTEST
Did Queensland Liberal MP George Christensen and those of his ilk calling for the removal of a “jihad” Muslim child from its parents think through what would happen next?
Was the child to be taken into a foster home and brought up as…What? A Christian? A Liberal voter? A climate change denier? Pro-uranium mining?
Someone who thinks more like Mr. Christensen himself?
Was this to be the beginning of another “stolen generation”?
It appalls me that this child’s mum was so terrified that her son might be taken from her that she turned herself into police: that the police then visited the family home and that , no doubt, his parents now have an even deeper animosity towards authority.
The NSW Family and Community Services Minister, Pru Goward was on ABC radio this morning assuring us the children were “well cared for”. Of course they were! The child in this photo was only a metre away from his mother. (Image left: Photograph by Bevan Shields, Fairfax.)
Had authorities removed the boy from his family home, the effect would have been catastrophic and guaranteed to incite violence in which people might well have been severely injured or worse.
To think it could all have been handled with the confiscation of the offending sign and a warning on the day.
I’m loathe to give Mr. Christensen any more oxygen for his vile rant, but here goes: “We must question what rights the parents have to bring up a child in a household that actively incites racial or religious hatred and violence or killing. I have no doubt similar circumstances in the wider community would see a child removed from the care of such parents.”
Well, sorry to tell you, but all over the world children are brought up by parents who hate other parents for their race or religion. (Thank goodness Hitler didn’t breed). Parents will strive to teach their children their own beliefs, no matter how odious. Some bring them up to advocate the death of pro-lifers, or “fags” or Tutsi or Hutu or Jews or Palestinians…Some bring their kids up to not care if refugees drown at sea.
And many such parents will see fit to take their offspring to protests and demonstrations. Some (pleased to see Nan and Pop at rallies holding up “Ditch the Witch” placards) will take their kids to anti-carbon tax rallies…
Some, like me, will take them to “Stop the Supertrawler” demos…
Some will herd their kids along to protests against homosexuality, like the two from the Westboro Baptist Church, who earned the title “the most hated parents in America”.
(They didn’t lose custody of their kids. Their right to protest and peddle hatred is protected by the First Amendment.)
Children have been present on picket lines and demonstrations, forever. Often they are trapped in war zones and perish because of the sheer stupidity of their mothers and fathers.
However, children are expected to be obedient to their parents – truly, what is the alternative here? That children have more authority than their parents? That the State polices all families bringing up children who are inculcated into belief systems the majority abhors?
There is no solution except trusting that if children are well educated and cared for by society as a whole they will grow up to challenge the so-called “wisdom” of their elders.
Sometimes kids surprise us with wisdom beyond their years. Like this boy, aged nine, at the Westboro protest who decided to stage his own protest against the haters. His sign, written in pencil on a small sketchpad, read simply, “God Hates No One.”
“He’s growing up to be a fine young man,” his mother said. “I got my Mother’s Day gift a day early.”
The point is, are we creating a society that will appeal to these children when they are adults? One that remains tolerant, even in the face of sometimes extreme provocation?
Will they feel confident to abandon old emnities and embrace our national anthem that says: “For we are young and free”?
Only if we can really make that vision a reality will we win their hearts and minds. That’s the task ahead of us.
Ever taken your children to a rally or demo?
Where do you draw the line?
PS: How is it that children’s faces are so widely displayed in the media at such protests, when one has to sign an approval to have a photographer take a snap of the kids at the zoo for the school website? PS: The Hoopla appreciates the ethics of publishing children’s faces and thanks Bevan Shields for the use of his image, taken from behind the child in question.