Free the Idaho Ten, Part Two

“PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Ten U.S. missionaries arrested trying to leave earthquake-crippled Haiti with a busload of children may be spending the weekend in jail despite a judge recommending their provisional release.”

“…group leader Laura Silsby of Meridian, Idaho, told the AP the children were obtained either from orphanages or from distant relatives. She said only children who were found not to have living parents or relatives who could care for them might be put up for adoption.” ]

Even now, our media mavens continue to snipe at Ms. Silsby, the 40 year old woman who led the small cohort of Christians in a valiant effort to rescue orphans on scene in Haiti under conditions so chaotic and difficult that most of us would prefer to write a small check and go on with our comfortable lives.

“The 40-year-old Idaho businesswoman convinced members of Idaho’s Central Valley Baptist Church to follow her dream of building an orphanage in the Dominican Republic for Haitian children. But her other business and personal ventures reveal a checkered history.”

Far less critical attention was given Senator Edwards when he was running for the presidency.

A Haitian judge is due to provisionally release the ten Christian women from small town USA, finding that they did not act with criminal intent when they tried to rescue and repatriate orphaned children from a cesspool. This: after several weeks of incarceration without bail in a country unable to control real crime. This: in a country where its own citizens have no constitutional right to leave.
Legal status – My rights, my country

By Ilio Durandis, Haitian Times, 18 November 2008.

“Haiti is a country where the rules of law mean very little to people. We have books that contain the laws, but we don’t have fair-minded people to apply them. Our leaders take greater pride in protecting their own power and interests instead of those they represent. Haiti is a failed state not simply because it is corrupt, but mainly because it cannot protect the rights of its citizens.”

Ten American citizens have been imprisoned for trying to save some children from a hellhole. Why is there not more outrage? Why do the media seem automatically drawn into “blame the victim” mode, picking on the group’s leader, Laura Silsby, for flaws routinely tolerated among our highest elected officials?

I suspect that these ten brave, well meaning women are being marginalized because our over-comfortable, somewhat decadent culture has lost touch with the value of direct, personal charitable action. This is the variety of concrete kindness that always difficult, sometimes risky, but never less than the real deal. No, it appears that, in the current culture, charitable acts should be reserved for governments, large agencies and the very wealthy and well-protected who can drop in like beneficent, mighty angels and exit the same way.

Does anyone doubt for a moment that a celebrity like, say, Angelina Jolie, could have been detained for five hours, let alone five weeks, under similar circumstances?

Are we really a nation in which no ordinary good deed is immune from snarky second guessing?


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