I hate to run my mouth about anything medieval even if it’s specific to Portugal, because some of you are experts in the time and the stuff, and I’m not.
So, I won’t.
Instead, I’m going to run my mouth with qualifications. (Yeah, you thought I’d stay quiet, did you? You poor ducklings.)
The way I was taught/understood The Children’s Crusade, it was an effort mounted by Europe in the belief that there was a magical character to children and to faith, and that given the faith of a child, they could easily take over Jerusalem.
It was a mystical thing, with little connection to the world outside, or indeed to anything real, but it was deeply felt and internalized by people in what amounted to a theocracy.
Understand, I’m not putting the faith of the times down, but having achieved wall to wall dominance (save for the Moorish invasion) in Europe, Catholicism dominated every facet of life, to an extent even the most religious of us could not understand or engage with. People used the highly ritualized Catholicism of the time as a prism to see life through, and given that humans are humans and most of us never engage with the transcendent and those who do can’t stay engaged all the time, it was more superstition than anything else. The stories of saints and even of the life of Christ mixed with the local legends of the local divinities to create what’s technically known as a hot mess, which meant that most of the time their superstitions weren’t even about Christianity as such.
But because they were in an echo chamber those superstitions assumed the strength of proven facts. (No human experiences or proves everything by and for himself) and so… the children’s crusade.
Which goes a long way towards explaining what we’re seeing at our Southern Border.
Look, even in its worst aspect, what we’re seeing is not of a number sufficiently large to make a difference. I hear a hundred and two hundred thousand variously mentioned. And I’m not putting it down. It is a huge number.
But unless someone has been pissing down our necks about the number of immigrants already here, it’s a drop in the bucket. (The possibility of someone pissing down our necks is quite real. We’ve entered a state in which it’s easier to trust British newspapers about our numbers, and where even my moderate left friends roll their eyes when the unemployment numbers come out. And let’s face it, exaggerating the number of illegals has always – more or less – been a thing, because it gives more money for social services agencies as well as creating a “crisis” that calls for blanket naturalization. I’m not the only one to think that, because people keep quoting numbers widely apart for the number of illegal immigrants here.) Sane people often say something like “we have between three and eleven million illegal immigrants.” Because we can’t be sure, because our governing classes lie to us. BUT one thing is for sure: even if it’s just three million, even if we added a quarter million before someone puts an end to this insanity, it won’t be the end of the world.
Oh, sure, it will strain our schools and our medical systems. Oh, sure, we will get one or two terrorists in, and maybe a backpack nuke, which could change things dramatically.
But what I mean is, it won’t “fundamentally transform America” unless by transform you mean it will royally p*ss us off.
The kids, (and quite a few adults claiming to be kids) streaming over our border can’t conquer us, any more than children could conquer Jerusalem against experienced warriors.
Then what the heck is going on?
Magical thinking. On both parts, I’m afraid, but mostly on the part of our elites. (People in the third world aren’t isolated enough from every day realities to engage in magical thinking, “magical realism” notwithstanding. Or at least not to engage in it beyond the quotidian “good luck gesture” and such.)
First to understand the part of the people sending their kids across, or the kids coming across. This isn’t very hard, and might be more clear to me than to anyone else.
No, not because I wanted to come here. I wanted to come here because I grew up in books set in America and on translations of Readers’ Digest from the fifties, when granddad had subscribed (in Brazil) and on histories of America. I wanted to come home. I very much doubt that most of these kids have spent years poring over Heinlein and the founding fathers.
On the other hand, I come from a country (and a region) of emmigrants. And I knew that if I didn’t manage to get into the US right away (it’s hard) I’d still have to leave Portugal as soon as possible. It will tell you something that the corruptocracies of Europe were a better destination. I had plans and back up plans for the plans and back up plans for those plans. I’m sure by now I’d have made it here. But I got lucky and fell in love with and married and American.
Which is neither here nor there – I knew both the drive of people my class (college students, mostly) and of people who were dead broke and starving. The downside of Portugal having a deep past, with castles and picturesque views, and quaint customs like the summer solstice “everyone goes to the street and dances all night” thing is that it that deep past is a vast underwater drag. Portugal is like an iceberg. Culturally what you see at the top is maybe 2% of the whole beast. The way the culture really behaves underneath, hidden from outsiders, is the other 98% and that’s mostly how it’s behaved through Roman and Muslim and Christian.
Certain things are very hard to understand from outside, and very hard for them to change from inside. The past will have its due. Which explains why Portuguese politics resembles nothing so much like the Roman system of patronage and why proverbs like “he who has no patron dies in jail” is not even vaguely scandalous.
This means that the system almost doesn’t work. Material wealth in the world at large is so great right now that even in Portugal people aren’t like the old immigrants to Germany I talked to on a train, unable to eat meat but twice a month.
But there’s stuff other than the material which drives people from a country. Portugal has gotten much worse, crime and insecurity wise, than it was when I left. But even at the level it was then, it created a bad background to life. And knowing that if what you wanted to do was not something you had contacts in, you couldn’t do it pushed a lot more people out. And then there was material need, and the stories that the streets of France (yes, France) were paved with gold. We knew they were true, too, because those lowest class people who went to France came back in a few years and looked… glossy. It’s the only way I can describe it. They went and they came back, and their kids looked healthy and sassy.
So, that’s what we’re seeing from the other side. Our government having invited them (I don’t know whether to trust that there were pamphlets distributed at American consulates, but after the IRS and the EPA and everything else, would anyone really be surprised?) and promised them citizenship which then means they can chain-bring their whole families, they’re coming to the place where the streets are paved with gold, and where there’s hope they can do something better than what their ancestors did.
No, it’s not because of “instability and war” because unless our press is more blind than usual, there ain’t no such thing going on in South and Central America right now. Or at least there ain’t more of it than there’s been since forever. If these children were primarily streaming in from Syria or Lybia, I’d understand it, but they’re not. Yes, South and Central America is a hot mess, but it has been since… well, since before the conquistadors came through. And that’s a d*mn long time.
In fact, the stories I’ve read of individual kids coming through, they came through not because they were starving or at war, but because their parents are in the US and the grandparents or uncles or whatever who’d been looking after them takes them to a bus and entrusts them to the coyotes.
But Sarah, you say, why would anyone do that with an unprotected child unless they’re truly and absolutely desperate?
Because the concept of children is different in the US. Sorry, guys, it is.
We “lived so well so long” that we’ve forgotten the normal behavior of humanity and what children mean or don’t mean even right now abroad. Look, our laws make it almost impossible for raising children to be anything but a net financial drain, a source of time loss, a labor of love. As our birth rate plummets, each child becomes “the all precious one child” or the “all precious two children” (I know. I suffer from that.)
I come from a different time and place. My family was relatively well off, definitely educated, and ran to small numbers of children. (Mom was one of five, dad one of four. For their time and place these were small families.) Of their siblings only my aunt had more than two – she had four because she wanted a son – and half had only one. That’s a precipitous birth rate drop in a generation – but the attitude was still there.
What do I mean? If you heard of a child dying at say, eight, it wasn’t “oh, the poor thing, so young and innocent.” No, the adults would shake their heads and say “almost raised.” Their pity was for the parents who having got the child through the most intensive-care years, now lost all their labor.
Families of poorer people seemed to view the death of a child as sad, of course, but something like between the death of a pet and an adult. It wasn’t as serious. A child might be mourned because he or she was the only one of its kind (our neighbor never got over losing her daughter in the measles/small pox/whatever the hell it was when we were three (Robert says from presentation and mortality sounds like small pox). She had three sons.) Or because he/she was the only one. Or for some other reason. But normal children as children didn’t have the value they have to us.
I was reading about the poor woman arrested for letting her nine year old go to a park alone with a cell phone, and I told Robert “Likely they’d arrest me now for the way I raised you and your brother.” Because see, we lived in a small mountain town with a large complement of nosy grandmothers so that the kids COULD be free range. At five, Robert would walk downtown (two blocks. It’s a 5k people town) to the arcade, to buy himself a corn dog and play the games. At seven, he’d take his three year old brother with him. I’m not going to lie: the first few times I followed from a block away, making sure they were being good about crossing the street and such. But I wanted them to be free-range and self-sufficient and not dependent on mom to drive them everywhere, and not hemmed in by structured play dates.
This of course sounds like borderline abuse now.
But in other countries it’s not like that. They still have larger families. Children are still a means to an end.
When I was growing up there was a family of hereditary beggers who blinded their children (the family was known for being blind) if they were born with sight, so they could continue in the family tradition. And they blinded them at birth because blind children bring in the most money.
You are now probably thinking I’m maligning people from third world countries. I’m not. They’re the norm. We’re the anomaly.
So if you had a chance to send your young kid on this perilous journey to secure for the entire family the blessings of the United States wherethestreetsarepavedwithgold, why WOULDN’T you do it? He/she is a kid. He/she is supposed to benefit the family. It’s not like you’re blinding him/her.
And then… And then there is the people who invited them – who promised these children and by extension these families the ability to become Americans and to bring their whole tribe to greater opportunity and prosperity.
What were they thinking?
And here we are in the children’s crusade. You see, these children are magical.
Under the twist Marxism took in the seventies (I think. Might have been earlier. I suck with dates) the proletariat that failed to rise were discarded in favor of the “international proletariat.” I.e. the people in the Western countries who refused to take to Marxism were discarded by the dreamers in favor of the idea of internationalism and the idea of the poor of oppressed countries.
People like our president – generational, fervent Marxists – have been raised with the idea that there’s a magic to people of exotic races (yes, he thinks so, trust me) particularly people of oppressed races from poor countries. So, you know, your South American campesino trumps the inner city Chicago youth from the projects.
It’s a magical category and a magical thought. They think that people have more “power” in proportion to their class (oppressed) and color (brown.)
In current Marxist eschatology the poor from third world countries will inherit the world, because of their magic victimhood that gives them the power to defeat everyone else.
It’s entirely possible that they think if they bring in a few thousand of the “oppressed” it will be enough to change us completely, because, oppressed power or something.
But it’s more likely that they have in mind something more physical. Apparently a lot of these “kiddies” have criminal records and have belonged to gangs. Which means… I don’t know. At any other time I’d think this was insane, but it’s entirely possible the elites view these “children” as their defense against us should we turn on them. Look, disarming us didn’t work and they tried so hard, by flooding Mexico with guns which action should make us give ours up in disgust, and by screaming when a nut shot up some school children. They need some protection.
That’s an hypothesis.
The other one is that they think that they can use these young adults, carefully distributed, to tip the polls in selected places. While this is more plausible, it still doesn’t make much in the way of sense because, well, guys, we had places with more than 100% vote for the president. They can’t get much more dirty than that, and they don’t need physical people to game the polls.
Perhaps they think they can overwhelm the system enough it will collapse. This is possible. It’s the idea that what rises afterwards is communism that is insane. I mean even in Russia or for that matter France, that’s how it was sold, but it’s not what happened. If things collapse we’re more likely to get a strong man, and I doubt he’ll be from the left, the current generation being what it is.
None of it makes much sense, in fact, given the numbers involved, unless it is predicted in magical thinking.
You know, Children- Purity of oppression- something happens – fall of capitalism.
This is the level of intellectual understanding we’re dealing with now.
The children’s crusade is in full swing, and theocrats singing L’International will not listen to reason. In all this, I pity the poor people caught in the middle and decided with false promises, and the people who will die because of the terrorists and weapons that inevitably will cross over.
As for our elites, I think they might be past help. Like the desperate theocrats of medieval Europe, they sacrifice the children of others, and are unaware of the suffering they cause.
It is up to us — our duty and our sacred obligation — to bring them into contact with reality as speedily as may be.