Page 20 THE VILLADOM TIMES I • November 25, 2009 often, so hard, and with so little provocation. The agencies we support today can be seen by some as a pain in the neck, but other people are very glad they exist. The parents’ rights to pass on their own religious views, their languages, their preferred diets, and a degree of visible respect not seen in many suburban kids are Constitutional. Hitting a child hard enough to draw blood or break bones is pathological and criminal. People who feel the need to do so might blame their own genes rather than a lack of discipline if their kids need extreme and illegal control. The government-sanctioned program was a form of slavery, except that the kids could usually escape when they were in their late teens and find outside employment. In general, girls are not mentioned. Around the world, girls from destitute families are often raised by brothel keepers as investments. This used to happen in London, just as it did in Shanghai and Bombay, and under the haphazard control of the same government. The principal objectors to this were Christian groups like the Salvation Army, or devout Christian individuals like Prime Minister Edward Gladstone and General Charles Gordon. Most secular people didn’t concern themselves. Social Darwinism taught that the poor had only themselves to blame and had better go extinct because they dragged the rest of us down, and away from our seven-course dinners with four kinds of wine followed by brandy and cigars. Darwinism of another kind welcomed the “orphans” to Australia. One elderly man remembered a speech by the archbishop when he arrived as a frightened child in Freemantle. The man recalled, “I can still remember (the archbishop’s) words. He said, ‘Welcome to Australia. We want white stock because we’re terrified of the yellow peril.’ We were white fodder.” At Evian-les-Bains, in France in 1938, at about the time this boy started his life as a battered child serf, the civilized nations of Europe met to try to solve the problem of Jewish refugees. Three countries – the Dominican Republic, Japan, and the United States – accepted a significant number of people being drastically encouraged to get out of Nazi Germany, Poland, and Rumania. The British accepted very few, and the Canadians and the Australians accepted almost none at all. “Australia, having no racial problem, is not desirous of importing one,” their delegate said. The Canadians said they wanted cold-weather farmers, but no urban people. The Japanese took anybody who wanted to live in Manchuria or occupied China, though not in the Home Islands unless they had special skills. The South American countries talked to hear themselves talk, bashed the Anglo-Saxons, and did next to nothing themselves except for the Dominicans, who saved about 10,000 people and – like the Japanese who saved more than 40,000 – would have saved more if the war had not cut off immigration a year later. The corrosive irony was in the labeling. Most German and Austrian Jews were light-haired and light-skinned, not exceptionally religious, and were probably healthier and undoubtedly better educated than the kids from the slums of London and Liverpool. This Thanksgiving, let’s reflect on what we really have. We have a country where there is still adequate food if you can stay straight and sober to find it, where the physical aspects of child abuse are forbidden, where Christian worship is freely permitted and where Christian symbols are not banned – as Hitler once tried to ban them in Oldenburg in Germany, and as Stalin did ban them in the Soviet Union, while murdering many of the practitioners. “Separation of church and state” means, clearly, that no religion can be mandatory, that no specific religious activities can be supported by general taxation, and that no responsible religion can be forbidden or used to target immigrants for rejection, as most of the world tragically and shamefully did at Evian. Despite the most insidious efforts of some partisans, people of all religions enjoy Constitutional protection from persecution and government discrimination, and the right of free expression. That is something for which we can all be thankful. Those of us who have kids, and those of our friends who don’t, can all be thankful that American children not in the clutches of criminals are safe from brutal beatings and crass labor exploitation, as they are from racially-motivated murder. It’s not like that everywhere, and people who want to import that sort of mentally, whatever side of somebody else’s quarrel they’re on, don’t belong here and don’t deserve a public forum, other than the good old pillory of the Pilgrims. We may or may not be thankful for our own prosperity this Thanksgiving, but we can all the thankful for the United States just as we are for Bergen County. Thanksgiving is one of the best-loved holidays in America, and perhaps one of the least commercialized. The chance to get together with the extended family is both a joy and a burden if the kids or the parents live on the other side of the country, or somewhere else in the world, and have to put up with the inconvenience, expense, and menace of travel. Added to the cancelled flights and the metal detectors, we have one more daunting menace to a happy Thanksgiving. A lot of people we know are not doing all that well this year, and we may not be doing as well as we might want to be. I don’t know why the kids don’t want to live a little closer to home. I’ve got it: Since they don’t have children of their own, they don’t want to pay the kind of property taxes that are a mortgage on a mansion in some other middle-class communities. In the abstract, I never wanted children because the world is not a nice place, and I didn’t want to inflict it on innocent victims. My kids won me over because they were a sort of expiation for me. With the help of my wife and of the community at large, I was able to give them things I never had: a school system of reasonable civility and some capable teachers, and friends who were almost never penitentiary material. (When I was in high school, I once had a fist fight with a guy who, two weeks later, was arrested for first-degree murder.) My wife and I raised our kids in a town and a region of considerable aesthetic beauty where the air and the water are usually clean. My kids both turned out much better than I did. My kids and I will never really understand one another, and I will never understand the kind of people who lean back smacking their lips, saying, “Life is good.” When I give thanks on Thanksgiving, it’s for what I might call a fortunate escape. I wasn’t happy where I came from, but I’m happy where I am, and I’m happy my kids never had to go through what I did, especially now that they’ve both stopped asking me for money. This was brought home to me by a recent news story about how Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd recently apologized to the surviving constituents of the 150,000 children who were wrested from families who may not have wanted them anyway and dropped off first in North America, later in Australia. These kids were described as orphans, but some of them were born out of wedlock and others had parents who either couldn’t feed them or didn’t want them. Those of us who complain about the welfare system and public assistance might reflect on the sort of alternative this program, which lasted into my own lifetime, represented. Instead of putting people on the dole, the Brits dropped the kids off with people who needed weeding machines and often didn’t like kids very much. Some of the survivors, now men in their 70s or 80s, remember being whipped with belt buckles and sticks, and most of them remember hard work and little food. One man picked up a life-long stutter, a psychiatrist told him, because the man he trusted as a foster father beat him so Learning to be thankful for kids and for parents Letters to the Editor Dear Editor: I read with surprise the report of the Franklin Lakes Council’s vote in your Nov. 18 story “Council decides against library lot restrictions.” My astonishment, however, lasted only a few minutes, until I remembered, the supreme importance of youth sports in this town and environs. Books? Of no value at all, one would think. How silly to imagine that the council might support its own library instead of the hoards of out-of-towners who invade the borough’s sports fields on an increasingly regular basis. I was especially interested in about-to-be-former Councilwoman Greer’s comment about the safety of kids cross- Concerns aired ing the street, meaning DeKorte Drive. If that is really how she feels, she might have spent her term trying to eliminate the problem of speeding cars on DeKorte, many of which have been observed rushing to and from sporting events on the municipal fields behind the library. My neighbors and I, who walk on and/or live on DeKorte, have children and pets, too, and have never had any satisfaction in getting this problem solved (except for the installation of an inconsequential speed bump). Does Councilwoman Greer’s safety concern not extend to us as well? Jane Fyffe Franklin Lakes Top honors At a recent AAA North Jersey Community Traffic Safety Luncheon, officials of Franklin Lakes were presented with an AAA Special Recognition Award. The award is presented to communities for their outstanding traffic safety program activities. The Franklin Lakes Police Department conducts safety programs and combats aggressive driving and other dangerous traffic offenses through enforcement and education activities in the community. Pictured are Chief of Police Irving Conklin, AAA North Jersey Executive Vice President David L. Hughes, Franklin Lakes Mayor Maura DeNicola and Officer Robert Lyon.