By D.L. Peoples

Annie was three years old, Walter was five, Jacob nine, Sarah ten, Bella six. Then there was Evi. She had only been on this earth for one year.

 Photo courtesy of Flickr

Photo courtesy of Flickr

What could she have possibly done?  

As I sat there scrolling through their names, a mere fraction of the total killed—twenty to a page, two-hundred and fifty-one pages, 5,020 children, I knew I couldn’t even begin to imagine their fear. But I knew exactly what had happened. I knew exactly what had led millions of people to sit on their hands while others raised theirs straight into the air and offered up their allegiance towards one man.

 

He was a con man, a liar, and a cheat, and they were wrapped up in their own troubles, their own fears, they were vulnerable.

 

And so he played them. And made them promises.

 

If only THOSE people weren’t here, weren’t our neighbors, didn’t exist. If only it was just us, then it would be like the good old days.

Nothing less than a land of milk and honey, that’s what he promised them.

Sound familiar?

Of course it does. But it can’t happen here. They’re just red hats, not swastikas. And WE don’t kill children.

Well, unless their parents lose their health insurance or depend on Planned Parenthood for pre-natal care. Or unless a child is seriously or chronically ill and needs Medicaid to sustain them. No, we don’t kill children unless their parents are poor and depend on food stamps to feed them or grant money to heat their home. And we don’t kill children unless a mentally ill individual gets a hold of an unregulated gun and decides to shoot up an elementary school, or a church—or a toddler picks up a gun and presses the trigger.  And we don’t kill children except when our CO2 emission standards are nixed, our water is poisoned, and climate change is denied. And we don’t kill children except for those who overdose because our phony war on drugs serves only the needs of the private prison industry. And we don’t kill children unless they happen to live in one of the six countries where we dropped tens of thousands of bombs last year. No, we don’t kill children unless they are refuges born in the wrong place, at the wrong time, into the wrong religion. You know, like the Jewish refugees we turned away during WWII.

No, we don’t kill children the way they did.

We don’t march our own Annies, Walters, Jacobs, Sarahs, Bellas and Evis to the gas chambers. Our atrocities are far more insidious. Justified by baseless soundbites and hidden in plain sight in deceptively named legislation and draconian budgets. Premature births, asthma, cancer, lead poisoning, gun shots, overdoses, war—a Congressional holocaust.

Bio:

Debby Peoples is a writer who is currently working on her second novel. Her first novel, Hollow State was published in 2014. Her non-fiction book, Experiencing Infertility, was published by W.W. Norton in 2000. She has also had a number of articles printed in local publications including Newsday. Additionally, she teaches creative writing classes part time.