Visceral horror

For years, I was involved in these uncomfortable debates within the atheist community where one side would argue “Reason and Science!” and the other would say “Emotions matter!”, and I would uneasily argue that they both matter — uneasy because I’m happier talking about science and am not at all charismatic or able to draw on any kind of emotional sympathy. Old Nerd Talking, that’s me.

But right now, in the court of public opinion, we’re seeing the debate play out, and what’s clearly winning is emotion — and, I think, reason as well, but it’s the feelings that are driving the discourse. I think that’s important. It really settles the argument that both are necessary. What’s punching everyone in the gut so hard is that the Republicans have thrown away any attempt to mask their lack of humanity.

An example: when my kids were very young, I let them watch what I thought was a harmless, fun, children’s movie. I didn’t realize that it was a horror movie.

That movie was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Does anyone remember this character?

It was striking: my kids were fine with the movie, until this guy shows up — a villain called The Child Catcher who snatches up children and drags them away from their families. He affected them immediately in a way that no other monster movie ever did. They’d cover their eyes. They’d run out of the room. They probably had nightmares about him, because all I had to do was say the words “Child Catcher!” and they’d shudder. I think if they had the choice of being attacked by the wolfman or the Child Catcher, the wolfman would win every time.

I got to visit my little grandson a few weeks ago. He’s 7 months old. Babies are fine-tuned, sensitive people detectors, and you could see it in his behavior, the way his eyes would light up and he’d squirm with happiness when he saw his mommy and daddy. He’s barely a person, he’s new and squishy and helpless, and the first concept his newly developed brain is forming is a love for his parents. I realized that I’d die fighting anyone trying to separate them.

It’s totally irrational. But this stuff matters. Donald Trump and the entire Republican party have steered themselves right into Child Catcher territory.

I’d like to think this would lead to their downfall, but unfortunately, Trumpsters also love children, and the only way they can resolve the dissonance is to dehumanize brown children even more — they aren’t babies, they’re future MS-13 gang members! That’s precisely what we’re seeing right now, and it could make everything even worse.


  1. kurt1 says

    “they aren’t babies, they’re future MS-13 gang members!”
    In addition to being absolutely inhumane and cruel, thats what this policy will accomplish as well. There is no plan on what to do with the kids. How to reunite them with their parents, who by fleeing probably lost the few things they had. They are traumatized and will have nothing, there is nothing left for them.
    Please don’t let your officials off the hook, let this not just be a moment of outrage, replaced by the next cruel and inhumane thing done by the Trump administration. Don’t look forward, like Obama chose to do regarding torture, if the government continues to get away with human rights abuses it will only get worse. And don’t forget that this started under the Democracts. Not the child snatching part, but abuses of migrants crossing the border, it happened before Trump and it’s being covered up now.

  2. Saad says


    Jackson Proskow:

    NEW: I just spoke with the former head of US Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) – He tells me that he expects hundreds of separated children will never be reunited with their parents. They will be lost in the system. Orphaned by the US Govt’.

    That’s one of the saddest and most nightmarish things to think about.

  3. rietpluim says

    That is one darn effective way of driving children to become MS-13 gang members.

  4. says

    Trumpsters also love children, and the only way they can resolve the dissonance is to dehumanize brown children even more…

    I’m also seeing a lot of “x number of children are separated from military service members” and “x number of children separated from killed LEOs“.

  5. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    That is one darn effective way of driving children to become MS-13 gang members.

    And then they will be deported to their countries of origin, where they will spread the violence there, forcing more families to try to flee to the US, where the kids will be separated from their parents….

  6. Sean Boyd says

    I vaguely remember the movie, and had forgotten the Child Catcher. Pretty blatant Jewish stereotype, in retrospect. I would propose that, in the eventual remake, the Child Catcher be given a wispy orange pompadour and a tie two feet too long. At least then the character would be realistic.

  7. Ragutis says

    Absolutely repugnant. Unconscionable. Inhumane. In-fucking-human.

    If there were a hell, Cheney and Kissinger may have just got upgrades on their rooms.

    Dog knows what may happen in the next 5 months, but this may very well be the issue that turns the House and Senate Democrat. I hope that they can find some way to recompense these families in some small way for their suffering.

  8. says

    When our daughter was five or six, we shared KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE with her, expecting she’d like it—and she did, right up till the young witch left her home. That’s when she freaked out.

    So after that, we were a lot more aware of things that wouldn’t bother us that would bother a young kid who’d been left at an orphanage as an infant. I’d known in my mind how much Disney movies fall back on the broken home / missing parent trope, but when your own daughter has issues, you really start to look closely at the media they’re putting out there. We realized that it’s everywhere.

    The Child Catcher would have probably hit her pretty hard, too.

    She’s sixteen now, and not at all pleased with what they’re doing at the border, by the way. Neither are we.

  9. says

    A related video segment from “All In” with Chris Hayes:

    The civil rights attorney who obtained an audio recording of children separated from their parents crying joins Chris Hayes to talk about how she got it and how asylum seekers are being turned away at the border.


  10. cartomancer says

    The US, and US-dependent corporate interests in the rest of the Western Hemisphere, spent most of the late 20th Century funding death squads to disrupt Central American states, scotch their attempts to determine their own economic futures and cow their populations into submission. A big part of this was the torture and murder of street children in unconscionable numbers. There is little in the world by way of sadism and cruelty that the CIA hasn’t supported when it comes to the children of Central American people whose aspirations run counter to their own.

    All that’s happening here is that the cruelty is being administered on US soil, rather than outside it. But, make no mistake, these are exactly the same people the US government hasn’t given a second thought to sadistically murdering since the Second World War. The only novelty is in the form that the cruelty is taking.

    What is different – and perhaps, horrible though this is, hopeful – is that the US media is kicking up a big fuss about it. The corporate media is not marching in lockstep with the establishment now. US citizens are actually hearing about it, where the US atrocities in Nicaragua and Honduras and Guatemala and Panama went virtually unreported.

  11. says

    Taking a closer look at Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s claim that, “[…] if you are seeking asylum for your family, there is no reason to break the law and illegally cross between ports of entry”; and a closer look at this statement from Jeff Sessions, “They can go to our ports of entry, if they want to claim asylum, and they won’t be arrested”:

    […] “On paper it’s totally true,” says Adam Isacson, director for defense oversight at the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights organization. “It’s perfectly legal to show up at a port of entry and ask the first officer you see. The problem is that at many border crossings, at places like El Paso, at Roma, we’re hearing that [Customs and Border Protection] is sending officers out to the very line and telling people on the bridge, ‘Nope, come back later.’ Or sometimes they even lie to them and tell them they can’t take them, until they give up and cross the illegal way.” […]

    At some crossings, Isacson says, guards have claimed “capacity issues”—that there isn’t any room for additional people seeking asylum. He notes that while “it does take a while to sit down and interview” asylum seekers, many advocates are reporting that housing for asylum seekers in places like El Paso is “half full.”

    The persistence of asylum seekers, who often are forced to camp out for days on end before they can make their asylum claims, can be witnessed in several recent videos. Last week, Annunciation House, an El Paso nonprofit that works with immigrants and refugees, gave the Washington Post a video that showed a father and son from Guatemala being denied entry to seek asylum for the ninth time in nine days. That same week, the Intercept posted a video of a father and son who had to ask seven times to continue on the El Paso bridge and seek asylum, despite already being on the US side of the border. They were eventually permitted to pass. In both cases, CPB cited capacity issues as the reason for denying entry.

    […] Trump has doubled down on his stance that there is an increase in the number of asylum seekers because of “loopholes” that Democrats need to fix, WOLA reports that the majority of asylum seekers come from countries “ranking among the top five most violent countries in the world.”

    But that might not be enough for migrants to be granted asylum anymore. Last week, Sessions complicated the matter when he issued a ruling that migrants escaping gangs and domestic violence would not necessarily qualify for asylum. This change in policy could have a significant impact on families trying to cross the border, where the Trump administration is currently separating on average of 65 children a day from their families.


  12. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Scott Simmons:

    Do you mind if I put your image up on my blog and send it around Mastodon (the Twitter analog that isn’t twitter)?

  13. petesh says

    I can’t even … I gotta work and there is this veil over my eyes and blanket on my brain.

    Dr Crip Dyke, if Scott allows, please do that. I can’t even stand to look at that again.

    Oh, a suggestion from my partner, who flew home from DC on Monday: She wore a short-sleeve shirt and on both biceps wrote “#47” (a) in honor of the incarcerated kids with numbers painted on their bodies and (b) as a conversation starter. [The number was random.] She did get a couple of conversations started and no one beat her up or even argued really. I re-inked her when one started to fade.

    If I can write that much, I guess I can work. It’s honest work, for a non-profit that is (inter alia) scared shitless about modern eugenics.

  14. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    yeah, the abomination implementing this “procedure”, and the many voters who fully advocate “being tuff”, seem to think these children are just ‘things’ the criminals value, and it is justified to deprive them of their wealth for punishment for scooting around the “legal” entry portals, exactly as we confiscate money from bank robbers.
    I con;t even try to see through their viewpoint. I agree, individuals who sneak through the barriers for nefarious resons need to be prosecuted and their wealth confiscated. I simply can’t apply that to these people who are literally refugees who endured many hardships in their effort to find a safe harbor for their child, and did line up for the legal portal of entry and were pushed away, told to find another way in, not this one, this door is closed, from which they out of desperation find a way to enter that is not currently manned by bureaucrats only LEO who snatch them crossing the border without entry pass and immediately separate the children from their families before any judicial mandate.
    expand PZ’s story of the horror his kids experienced only seeing a story of “that guy”. now try to imagine the horror of the kids being forced to experience “that guy” directly. *shudder*
    This whole thing is so horrific, I could keep ranting, … restraining my fingers
    so long

  15. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    appears now that “45” is trying to swoop in to “save the day” by rescinding this policy he continues to claim was the one from ‘the Dems’. To aggrandize himself as The Hero and the Dems as The Villain
    The sick fuckwad

  16. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @petesh: I’m enjoying the call-back reference to “Dr Crip Dyke”.

    @Scott Simmons:
    I sent out your art on Mastodon with credit. If you have an Mastodon account, let me know & I’ll boost that for additional certainty of authorship.

    I’ve scheduled a post on Pervert Justice with the picture for early tomorrow morning, but right now I want to leave up my post “A Minor Major Victory” as the lead article on PJ because it’s so important.



    The new executive order comes later today. Trump hasn’t even signed it yet (or hadn’t when I last checked an hour ago) but the order has already been announced.

  17. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Whoops. Yes they have. Sorry, Slithey, I didn’t mean to step on your toves.

    I hadn’t read your link yet and the headline text embedded in the link didn’t make it clear that the article included coverage of the new executive order.

  18. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    re 22:
    sorry to make a fuss, I’m actually quite pleased we crossed paths.

  19. Ed Seedhouse says

    He’s signed the order, but it seems that all it does is put the children in prison *with* their parents. So now the children will “only” be punished for a “crime” for which their parents have not yet been convicted (and which internment has already been ruled illegal beyond 20 days).

    They are building “tent cities” (read: concentration camps) on military property. How generous of them…

  20. davidc1 says

    Don’t know if any of you Americans have had the misfortune to have heard of one katie hopkins ?
    A British ann coulter clone ,she described refugees from the middle east as cockroaches .
    She would love to be the person in charge of the camps America is setting up .

  21. blf says

    On @25 & Katie Hopkins, she intended to sail on the nazi ship last summer here in the Mediterranean to attack NGO rescue vessels. From memory, she didn’t in the end due to the refusal of most ports to allow the kooks to dock (i.e., difficult to meet up with the loons).

  22. thirdmill301 says

    “They aren’t babies; they’re future MS-13 gang members!”
    Even worse, they might grow up to be Fox News commentators.

  23. says

    Re: Executive order
    This proves that they can be pushed into doing better and since we’re still nowhere near what’s acceptable, the lesson we should take away from this is to push harder.

  24. ck, the Irate Lump says

    kurt1 wrote:

    And don’t forget that this started under the Democracts.

    I don’t know if that is literally true. The Democrats were certainly complicit and willing participants in it, but did they start it, or just help escallate it. Abuse of refugees and asylum seekers has been going on for decades or longer. We shouldn’t let things simply return to the old status quo (which was only slightly less horrifying), but we also shouldn’t help promote Trump’s propaganda.

  25. Akira MacKenzie says

    I’ve had a revelation about American partisan politics: The primary difference between the two major parties is that Republican politicians actually believe the crazy, racist, sexist, theocratic cut-throat-capitalist bullshit they spew. Democratic politicians, on the other hand, claim to support economic, racial, and sexual equality as well as a rational, secular government, but will quickly abandon those positions (particular the economic ones) in the name of “bipartisanship” and “centrist compromise” the second their seat is threatened. The result is that the GOP has a base that is far more loyal and motivated to vote than the Democrats who often feel betrayed by their party and will either stay home or vote for Green Party loons like Jill Stein. If the charge of “there is no difference between the two parties” sticks anywhere, it’s in the fact that both Democratic and Republican parties are economically capitalist. There is no viable socialist option.

    If the Dems were really serious about a “Blue Wave” and removing Trump from office, they SHOULD be not only beating the drum for Left-wing issues, but calling out Democrats who flip-flop on important issues like taxation, abortion-rights, health care, Civil Rights, and church/state separation. The should be trying to create an honest-to-goodness Leftist party rather than babbling on about “Big Tents” and “slow-gradual change.” They should seek to create a base that is just a loyal to it’s party as America’s right-wingers are to theirs.

    However, since I don’t see that happening, I’m left to wonder how much Democrats really want to win in 2018 and 2020.

  26. Ed Seedhouse says

    kurt1 wrote:

    ‘”And don’t forget that this started under the Democracts.”

    I don’t know if that is literally true.’

    Let me help. Trump said it so it’s a lie.

  27. rayceeya says

    Hey, just a side note, “Chitty Chitty, Bang Bang” was actually written by Ian Flemming. The same Ian Flemming who created James Bond. He decided to write a book for his son. I just love that fun little fact.

  28. blf says

    Re @32, that made me look up the Child Catcher character. From Ye Pffft! Of All Knowledge:

    In 2005, the Child Catcher was voted “the scariest villain in children’s books”, despite not actually featuring in the original book. He was created for the film by co-screenwriter Roald Dahl, who specialized in creating colorful antagonists in his books.

    In 2008, Entertainment Weekly called [Robert] Helpmann’s depiction of the Child Catcher one of the “50 Most Vile Movie Villains.”

    Dahl wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and numerous other books.

  29. Akira MacKenzie says

    Of course, the Centrist Clinton/Obama Dems will claim that Trump’s new executive order is a positive. I can hear them now: “Well, at least they’ll be living together as a family in a concentration camp. That’s a gradual, incrementalist step toward progress! Baby steps, everyone. Baby steps…”

  30. DrewN says

    There are new allegations that the children are being drugged to keep them docile while in their cages.

  31. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says


    Those allegations are getting new press attention, but the underlying behavior is from 2016. These were kids who were detained & drugged under Obama. It’s also a situation where the alleged bad behavior was conducted by a private entity who was contracted to do needed work in a situation where the original referral of the government to a psych services provider was very possibly (but not definitely) warranted. It’s just that once the provider got hold of the kids it seems that they were overdiagnosing them, overmedicating them and overreporting symptoms so that the kids could be held longer, more services could be provided, and thus more money could be made.

    I don’t have all the details, but I was able to access many of the exhibits from the case. I still need to get hold of the original plaintiff’s filing and original defendant response so I can get all the basics right.

  32. ck, the Irate Lump says

    The horror gets worse:
    Apparently, the kids at one detention facility have been treated with a cocktail of psychoactive drugs in order to pacify them, with one child recieving ten different ones: Antipsychotic drugs Latuda, Geodon and Olanzapine; Parkinson’s medication Benztropin; anti-seizure medications Clonazepam and Divalproex; antidepressant Duloxetine; and cognition enhancer Guanfacine.

    Apparently some of this started in 2016 and has escalated in 2017 and 2018. U.S. immigration agents have done this in the past, too, with two people winning a settlement from the U.S. government in 2008, but that time it was done to adults.

  33. alixmo says

    @Akira McKenzie post 30, I agree. Also, the justified outcry over the inhumane treatment of migrants/asylum seekers and their children in particular has to be accompanied by the constant reminder that this politics of nationalism is nothing but scapegoating in order to continue bad politics that favour the rich and ruin the environment. Social tensions will rise even more, when Climate Change makes more of an impact and the huge, unfair wealth inequality continues to grow. Those problems have to be tackled immediately. Yes, more socialism and a better democracy is essential. Scapegoating has to be shown as what it is – dirty politics in order to fool some suckers. Of course, there are too many nasty people around that can only be called “true fascists”, but most of them sure are rather naive and uneducated people who are being fooled. Too many years of indoctrination about the “American Dream” that hard work makes you rich if you only try hard enough, too many years of bs history lessons and TV shows praising “American Exceptionalism”, too many years of bs and religion instead of real education, too many years of “fake” FOX news made too many brains susceptible to right wing lies that provide easy solutions to complex issues (“It is not your fault that you are a poor loser with shit healthcare – it is the migrants/foreigners and the Democrats that looove them and do not give a damn about you!”)
    The Democrats (or at least pundits like Rachel Maddow) are sadly trying their hand at a similar game (even if the real life implications are yet not so grave) by blaming Trump on some Russian conspiracy. As I mentioned before, the US is very capable of creating its own misery. Continuing myths about exceptionalism and the American Dream instead of promoting solid leftist politics that tackle much needed reforms, halt the environmental crisis, stop the insane inequality etc. will only worsen the problems and may bring up real fascism at the hand of the Republican party. Not a great prospect, especially in light of the fact that the US has a huge military.

  34. kurt1 says

    @31 Ed Seedhouse: Not the family separations, the general inhumane treatment of migrants. Read the next sentence in my post…

  35. says

    @#30, Akira MacKenzie

    I’ve had a revelation about American partisan politics: The primary difference between the two major parties is that Republican politicians actually believe the crazy, racist, sexist, theocratic cut-throat-capitalist bullshit they spew. Democratic politicians, on the other hand, claim to support economic, racial, and sexual equality as well as a rational, secular government, but will quickly abandon those positions (particular the economic ones) in the name of “bipartisanship” and “centrist compromise” the second their seat is threatened. The result is that the GOP has a base that is far more loyal and motivated to vote than the Democrats who often feel betrayed by their party and will either stay home or vote for Green Party loons like Jill Stein.

    It’s very revealing of the Democratic mindset that you’ve just admitted that the Democrats have no principles and are effectively nothing but enablers of right-wing policy, but you still feel it necessary to describe third parties as “loons”.

    It was a Democratic president who first killed a US citizen without trial as an “unlawful combatant”. It was a Democrat who signed Ronald Reagan’s NAFTA into law and told us how great it was going to be, and a pair of Democrats who were pushing for the even-worse TPP. (And, I might add, Democrats who continue to push the TPP as being about trade imbalance, rather than — as it actually is — a power-grab by multinational corporations at the expense of everybody else. Any time you see anybody trying to claim we need the TPP “because China!!!!” you know that person is — wittingly or not — a servant of the 1%.) Democrats acting against the will of Congress brought down a foreign government at will, killing (at a minimum) thousands of their people and causing a resurgence of actual slavery and said that it was okay because “not a single American died“. As posted on this blog, several Democrats voted to deregulate the banks. Several Democrats voted to put a torturer in charge of the CIA (and some of them voted, earlier, to put that torturer’s former boss — who ordered the torture — in charge of the CIA). Democrats actively sought the right-wing vote in the last election because they didn’t care about their own base — and bragged about it as a great strategy. But somehow you still see third parties as the bigger threat. Why, Jill Stein actually went and supported the Dakota Access Pipeline Protests in person, and got arrested for it — you know, the pipeline that Obama shut down temporarily after hemming and hawing for months, and we were all supposed to cheer even though he should have acted much earlier (and Trump started it right back up)? Obviously Stein should have stayed away, like Hillary Clinton. Or made empty promises to the people of Flint about fixing their water no matter what (and then not going back even once, even to offer moral support, since the election) the way Clinton did.

    Right now, the Democrats are crowing about Trump “backing off” with that executive order, except that the main effect of it is to keep children locked up permanently when before they could only be detained 20 days. (Salon is jubilant. I bet the planned protests for June 30th end up collapsing.) But hey, at least they aren’t those crazy third party people. Why, if they were those crazy third-party people, they might actually stand for something, and you’re so damned conditioned to hate that that you see that as a minus.

  36. says

    Here’s what I call the statement “the kids can’t be reunited with their families: bullshit!
    They simply don’t give a fuck.
    After WWII the Red Cross had a search service which reunited thousands of families that had been separated by war and flight and they did so without computers. If the administration cared, it would be no problem to reunite these people. Even if they deported people already they could at least try to make contact with charities etc. in the place where they sent them to.

  37. blf says

    @42, I wouldn’t say “it would be no problem”, but that’s a quibble.

    And whilst I concur “they simply don’t give a fuck”†, there is quite possibly more to it: The continuing separate detentions can be creatively misrepresented to various audiences (to retain support from the “base”, to discourage people, to distract the critics, …); Continues to make money for the various profiteers involved; Ties up time, money, and people of the press, ACLU, …; and so on.

      † A variant would be “they are so stooopid they forgot about the problem”. Which still translates into not giving a damn.

  38. blf says

    (Slightly edited cross-post from poppyhead’s current Political Madness All the Time thread.)

    Another devious move, somewhat related, and (as per the second excerpt below) with knock-on effects making family reunification even harder.

    Why Trump thinks domestic violence victims don’t deserve asylum:

    If there is one theme to the Trump administration’s immigration rules, largely crafted by Jeff Sessions and the White House policy adviser Stephen Miller, it is this: target the most vulnerable.

    We saw that at play in the egregious policy […] of separating children from their parents at the border, and warehousing them in cages where they cry for their parents. And we see it in a less-remarked-upon policy shift, too: Sessions’s directive to refuse grants of asylum to women fleeing domestic violence.

    To hear Trump tell it, these increasingly authoritarian immigration rules are to protect Americans from the bad hombres coming across the border. And transnational gangs like MS-13 are a real threat and do real violence. It’s telling, though, that the Trump immigration policies don’t do anything to target these potentially dangerous men. Instead, they pick off the lowest-hanging fruit: women and children.

    […] Sessions classifies intimate partner violence as private, and leveled against women for personal reasons. That’s significant because obtaining a grant of asylum requires that the asylum seeker show they are persecuted for their race, religion, political views, national origin, or membership in a particular social group. While of course some men suffer domestic violence as well, and some women are perpetrators, overwhelmingly it is women who are abused at the hands of men — it’s not just “domestic violence”, it’s gender-based violence, perpetrated because men believe they have a right of absolute control over women, and often ignored by law enforcement because, like Sessions, police and governments all over the world considered raping and beating your wife or girlfriend a private, personal matter.


    Not every victim of a crime is entitled to asylum — most are not. But when a particular kind of crime is leveled against a particular group of people because of their membership in that group, and when a nation’s government refuses to get involved, that is what asylum is for. Sessions, because of his deep antipathy toward immigrants and his misogynistic worldview that domestic violence is a private family matter, has undercut this promise of safe harbor — and taken a law meant for protection and turned it into a cudgel of sexist cruelty.

    According to the Vox article cited & linked-to in the above except, Jeff Sessions just all but slammed the door on survivors of domestic violence and gang violence:

    […] Jeff Sessions issued a ruling Monday [11 June] in an immigration case, Matter of A- B- [PDF], that will make it hard or even impossible for Central Americans fleeing gang violence in their home countries, and women fleeing domestic violence, to get asylum in the US — or even be allowed to stay in the US to seek asylum instead of being summarily deported.


    Sessions is using his traditional, but rarely used, powers of self-referral to reshape the way immigration courts work. The new ruling will have an immediate impact on tens of thousands of cases currently in the pipeline.

    It could even trap some of the families separated in the past few weeks by the Trump administration’s new zero-tolerance border policy — depriving the parents of any way to stay in the country, and drastically reducing their chances of relocating their children before they’re deported.

  39. TheoLib says

    As @rayceeya @32 points out, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a book by Ian Fleming and bears little resemblance to the travesty of a movie. It’s a children’s spy story, one of my favorites when I was a kid in the 1960s. The father is an inventor and sells his candy whistle to a candy company. The family then buy a rusting race car sitting in the garage of the local mechanic. They fix it up and decide to take a trip to the beach. However, the traffic is heavy, so Chitty Chitty Bang Bang–which is a magical car–unfolds a pair of wings and flies them across the English Channel to a French beach. The tide comes in, the car can’t take off, and they drive through a cave they discover. The children find evidence of a spy ring and they eventually convince the French authorities (via gestures, since the children don’t speak French) of the existence of the spies. The bad guys are arrested and everyone lives happily ever after. Great story! (I probably haven’t read the book since the 1960s, so my memory of the details may not be reliable.)

  40. says

    There’s a sequel to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as well. I never read either one because of fear that it would have some degree of similarity to that godawful movie.