Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

The 45th President and moral decency

There is a lot of discussion on Trump’s (lack of) moral decency, following his treatment of illegal labour migrants and/or refugees – and their children – as criminals, including the separation of parents and children. Trespassing is indeed an offence in criminal law, which usually result in fines rather than imprisonment. Hence, Trump now proposes trespassing of U.S. borders to be a “crime” and will detain parents and children together (eg, GuardianQuartzTime).

Defining moral decency is less easy than you might think. Eating dog meat is considered a moral indecency in the West, but Koreans get angry at Western protests (eg, GuardianStraits Times, Telegraph). This debate is about cultural double standards: “the application of different sets of principles for similar situations”.

Although China’s official news media sharply criticise Trump, there is no reference to Trump’s child separation policy. China may fear Trump’s criticism on its one-child policy of 1979, which was relaxed in 2002, and abandoned in 2018. China now urges parents to have another baby given the disastrous demographic consequences of that policy (Bloomberg, my 2018 blog).

The consequences of China’s one-child policy show a lack of moral decency:

  • “Officials would make unannounced visits to women’s homes every few months to check for secret pregnancies, she said, and those found to be with child were dragged off for abortions.”
  • “Forced abortions continue even today. As recently as 2012, there was a global outcry over bloody photos of a Chinese woman forced to undergo an abortion seven months into her pregnancy after failing to pay a 40,000 yuan fine.” (Irish Journal-2015)

The concept of moral decency does not even exist on Wikipedia, only topics like morality, decency, and minimal decency. Latter does not offer any helpful advice. A related book offers some insight: “A minimally decent society does not do unnecessary harm to its own members, or to others with whom it comes into contact.” Note LO: italic markings in quote by me.

The Trump Administration may argue that there is no physical harm to these children. It may indeed take years to measure emotional and/or psychological harm, which could always be attributed to subsequent developments in a child’s life.

Reuters: “Immigrant children are being routinely and forcibly given a range of psychotropic drugs at U.S. government-funded youth shelters to manage their trauma after being detained and in some cases separated from parents, according to a lawsuit.” Note LOitalic markings by me.

It’s hard to compare the moral decency of Trump’s child separation policy and China’s one-child policy. What is more harsh: a child crying for its lost mother, OR a (Chinese) mother crying for her lost (aborted) child. That’s the problem when applying double standards.

Double Standards (2008) by Patti Rothberg – artist, lyrics, video, Wiki

My oh my 

Don’t you even try 

To make sense of all you see 

The devil loves a double standard 

And heaven isn’t selling cheap

Note: all markings (bold, italic, underlining) by LO unless stated otherwise


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