Children are my greatest value. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)
Columnist

Let me make one thing clear: The treatment that children are receiving at the border, reported with horror by those lawyers — this is not against my values. Do not misunderstand! I still have more values than anyone. I am a values voter, with values for days, values that go all the way to the floor, values that wave amberly as far as the eye can see!

I value the family, a theoretical entity against which people are making hideous strides all the time, mainly by being themselves in public or in private but on occasion by the throwing of unwanted parades. This thing that has happened — That Congress, I should say, has permitted to happen! Shame on Congress! Bring me a bowl to wash my hands in! Not as an uncomfortable reminder that government lawyers have argued that soap is no necessity for these children, but to demonstrate in a visual metaphor how very not-my-fault this is! — is not an assault on the family.

We can clearly see that these are just children by themselves, not families, and they are merely covered in filth and tear stains, not exposed to comprehensive sex education, Darwinism or a textbook implying the reality of climate change. So, yes, what’s going on there is in no way an attack on the family. The family is something to be cherished, as luminous as it is theoretical.

It is important to have these values. But I have lots! All the most important, decorative values are the ones I have.

A value is when someone is about to let the tiny paper flag on a toothpick in the middle of a cake drop to the ground and you throw your body down and catch it and say, “Not on my watch, USA." A value is when you hug the flag. A value is when you stand all the time and salute all the time, with as many guns as you possibly can! A value is when you do decorum, unless you do not like the other person. A value is when you observe proper process, unless proper process would result in Merrick Garland’s confirmation to the Supreme Court (another institution I abstractly cherish). A value is when you sing the anthem loudly.

But children are my greatest value. Especially future children. Those who are children currently, I could take or leave. This is not heartless; the children that I do value are simply not here yet.

We must have values because people are flawed and fallen. As the Good Book teaches us (it is no “The Art of the Deal,” but it has some points, if you skim it correctly), if you see someone who is suffering, ask yourself, is it possible that this person did something wrong? Not only is it possible, it is probable. Well, then! Probably what they are getting is a just desert. Cross to the side of the road, and let a Samaritan handle it, or some other foreign entity.

I value life (ideally before it is capable of expressing wishes or placing demands on me), liberty (for those who deserve it, those who have never done anything wrong in their lives, and also myself) and the pursuit of happiness (unless the pursuit of that happiness involves anything that makes me personally uncomfortable.)

It is important to elect people with values. I am a values voter, and I value values. Maybe they are all I value.

Read more by Alexandra Petri:

A brief history of the world, according to Donald Trump

The right answers to the New York Times candidate questionnaire

Appropriate ways of describing what is happening at the border