Many of you have seen the recent coverage of a little girl crying. I have too. And it hurts me. I feel nothing but empathy for her. But let us face it: we are going to keep seeing these kinds of images until my little sister works with me, her brother, to come to an agreement to stop hitting herself.
Let me first address the obvious. I have been accused of callousness and inhumanity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Do I want her to smack her palm, fists, and sometimes fingernails against her face? No. Of course not. I am not a monster. I have repeatedly urged her to stop hitting herself.
My critics point out that during previous administrations—the trip to Nana’s house; that time in the airport lounge in Tucson—Janie was not forced to keep hitting herself. To them, I say we are a nation of laws, and Janie took my coloring book while I was still in the middle of it. Moreover, she keeps kicking me after I told her not to.
Let me also take this moment to broach the broader issue of border security. Our system is broken. The pillow wall in the middle seat that has separated us is poorly enforced, permeable, and made of pillows. Despite my administration’s best efforts, Janie has been able to touch me when I don’t want her to.
Amnesty is not an option; compassion does not require us to sanction criminal behavior. We can all remember the bath-time splashing incident of two weeks ago. Mom persuaded me not to retaliate. This led, inevitably, to escalating splashing—a cycle of chain-hydration. If previous administrations had taken a firmer hand, perhaps the back seat would not have arrived at its present, lawless state.
Did Janie have a legal option? Of course she did. Had she followed the proper procedures and applied for the coloring book before we left home, she might now have her own coloring book, though not one of the dinosaur ones because Uncle Pete gave those to me. But that time has passed. She has stuck out her tongue at me and colored the Tyrannosaurus wrong.
I realize that our allies do not always see eye-to-eye with me. I am willing to endure their condemnation. I acknowledge the possibility that this crisis violates the hands-to-yourself convention of which we are a co-signatory. I even see that this may escalate into a period of quiet time. I am willing to take that risk.
Critics have accused me of sexism. Yes, I did say ‘no girls allowed’ but that was in the context of a sleepover with Brady and has no role in my administration’s current, zero-tolerance enforcement policy.
I lament the tragic necessity of the current difficult time and the events that brought us here. Can I picture a future wherein peace is restored to the back seat? Yes. Do I hope that Janie may someday stop screaming? Indeed I do. Can I picture a future when I am no longer compelled to hold Janie’s wrists and slap her face with her own hands? Yes. Yes I can. And should that day come, I hope my administration gets the credit it deserves for managing this crisis.