I'll bet a lot of my fellow liberals cheered last night when President Obama got to this line in his not-quite-a-State-of-the-Union address: "Living our values doesn't make us weaker," the President said, "it makes us safer and it makes us stronger."
I checked a transcript of the President's speech just to be sure: There is no asterisk after that line, no parentheses containing the words "except if the allegation is child abuse."
For too many of my fellow liberals in the child welfare establishment, there is a mental asterisk when it comes to civil liberties. As long as you say the magic words "child abuse" it's o.k. to hold secret trials, it's o.k. to search homes and stripsearch children without a warrant, it's o.k. to deprive the accused of legal counsel, it's o.k. to detain children indefinitely based on a standard of proof no higher than "preponderance of the evidence."
President Obama made the comment in the context of repeating his pledge to close the prison at Guantanamo. We on the left are all for it. But when the State of Texas held hundreds of innocent children in their own private Guantanamo last year, there was silence from the big, liberal child welfare groups. The Children's Defense Fund did not defend these children. They didn't seem to matter to Every Child Matters. Voices for America's Children stood mute.
It's time the child welfare establishment erased the mental asterisk. NCCPR believes in civil liberties without exception. We have a Due Process Agenda because living our values makes children safer, too.