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Leonard Pitts: The day we used tear gas against children



The United States is made up of 329 million people spread over 3.8 million square kilometers. In terms of population and land mass it is a pretty big place. But those are not the only criteria that matter.

Morality is also important. And at least on Sunday, this country seemed to be rather small. Of course that was the day we used tear gas against kids.

It began at a San Diego border crossing when a group of Central American refugees entered what the Los Angeles Times described as a tent city. There is a strong smell of sewage, "while they were waiting to apply for asylum, the border collapsed. The Times reported that "a small group of men and teenagers" hit a hole in the border fence where some stones struck Border Patrol agents, none of whom were badly injured.

The Border Patrol reacted with tear gas to Mexico. As the news was filled with images of poor people, some of whom were children, some barefoot, some in diapers, hobbling to escape the stinging, stifling clouds, some of us were thrilled. Donald Trump called on Mexico to "send flag-waving migrants, many of them stone-cold criminals, back to their countries." Tomi Lahren, an expert, tweeted that gassing was the "highlight" of their Thanksgiving weekend.

And you felt like a big country was shrinking.

Rep. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin called the gassing "a new low". Senator Cory Booker called it "ugly, cruel and cowardly". Author Tananarive Due, whose deceased mother suffered permanent eye damage from a tear gas break during a nonviolent civil rights march in 1

960, called it "outrageous".

Not even Geraldo Rivera, who blamed Trayvon Martin for his own murder for wearing a hoodie in the rain, could support what he saw. "That tear gas stifled me," he said on Fox News. He demanded that America stop "treating these economic refugees as zombies of The Walking Dead."

"It's absolutely painful to watch." Rivera added in a sharp and rising voice, "We are a nation of immigrants – desperate people! They walked 2,000 miles, why? Because they rape your daughter or steal your lunch No, because they want a job! "

And yes, remove all exaggeration, and it's really that easy – they want jobs, they want a home, they want to be safe from political violence and gang violence In addition, most of them – regardless of the stone thrower – followed the legal procedure to preserve these things.

Treating them, as Rivera put it, zombies from "The Walking Dead," reveals America's best story. After all, we have often been – on the call and sometimes even indeed – a nation that has done great things.

If the world had to be saved, we saved it 659002] When Europe needed rebuilding, we rebuilt it. [19659002] When the Cold War had to be won, we won it.

But when a group of immigrants needed asylum, they gassed it.

About the Protocol: Newsweek reports that tear gas was used at the border under President Obama. Without knowing details, it is difficult to be final, but if the conditions were the same – a predominantly non-violent crowd, many of them children – then the same condemnation must apply.

For in the end this is less an argument about politics than about our national soul, who and what we are about. Yes, America is one of the largest nations on earth. But on Sunday America is gassing kids.

And that's one of the smaller things we've ever done.

  Leonard Pitts Jr.
Leonard Pitts Jr.


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