Monday, March 27, 2006

Just As I Thought

So after what turned out to be a quite unsatisfying discussion, in the comments of "Not Against the Pro-Illegal Immigration Rally" - I bit the bullet and delved into a topic I really have very little interest in: the Sensenbrenner legislation in Congress. I've read through the provisions of the bill, and I find nothing I have a problem with. Draconian? No. Stiffer penalties. That seems like a really good thing, to me. What is a law that doesn't provide for meaningful penalties upon its breach?

The crux of the issue seems to reside in the phrase "aggravated felony." Specifically, Section 203 of H.R. 4437 makes `unlawful presence' in the United States a misdemeanor. That really doesn't seem unreasonable to me. At all. Where does the "aggravated felony" come in? Section 201 makes a conviction under 203 an "aggravated felony" for immigration purposes. In other words, it is not an aggravated felony, except as a legal fiction.

Clearly, we have a group, a large multitude, that is unimpressed with the law as it stands. They break it with impunity, and at will. Well, folks - time to get serious. Don't like it? You can protest, but you'd better obey the law, or you'll be a misdemeanant who partakes of the nature of a felon. Simple.

Here's the thing. Borders matter. You are not "just the same" as us, for a simple reason: you are not citizens. The unliscenced driver is not "just the same" as the licenced driver. There are rights that come with status, which not everyone gets. Membership has its privileges. It is the nature of nationality. It is a private club, which you must petition to join. It's a movie theater, and you have to buy the ticket to see the film. It's the YMCA - you have to be a member, or an invited guest, to use the facility. We are a membership organization, and you don't get a vote. You have rights. But not equal rights. Tough. I can't vote in Mexico. Boo hoo for me. If for some reason I wanted to vote in Mexico. They do vote in Mexico, right?

Don't like it? As long as we remain a sovereign nation with the power to make and enforce law, the self-serving opinions of illegal aliens is a matter of indifference, to me. The opinion of a drug addict about drug laws is a matter of indifference. The opinions of whore-mongers is unimportant. Theirs are crimes against society, not against individuals. This does not diminish their disrepute. Just so, the illegal alien. That they are so shameless, to publicly proclaim their demands, having pushed themselves forward ahead of the honest people who wait in line to enter legally ... that they are so blind, so morally insensible to the stink of it - no, this is a crime, and they are criminals.

The thing about civil disobedience is that it has integrity. You don't skirt the law, sneak about by night. You confront it, and make it confront you. In the face of such courage, even injustice becomes ashamed. These protestors, to be respected, should walk up to the federal building, line up, and say, one by one, "I am here illegally. Apply the law to me." Gandhi. Martin. Heroic. They put their bodies on the line. These people skipped the first line, and are too cowardly for the second. Instead, they have a fiesta outside city hall. Contemptible.

Hardworking? Mostly. Looking out for family? Undoubtedly. Taken advantage of by slum lords and crappy bosses? Comes with their status. But twenty percent of the prison population is illegal aliens. A majority of gangsters are illegals. As I've said, hospitals close, schools are over-crowded ... I don't care about any economic benefit they bring. Bring it lawfully. Or stay home. Too harsh? Racist? Grow up. Enough with the excuses. Honorable people take responsibility, and act openly and honestly. Period.

This is why I've wanted to avoid the issue. Not pleasant, is it. Not gracious.

Okay, I'll go into it. Every empire falls. They fall because they are invaded by barbarians - people of an alien culture that do not respect the land they enter. The Germans into Rome. The Spanish into Mexico. The Moslems into Europe. It seems to be an inevitable, unavoidable process, that can only be slowed, not stopped. One method of slowing it is to build a wall - either a literal wall, like the Great Wall of China, or the wall against the Amorites built during the Old Babylonian era (don't ask) - or a metaphorical wall, say, the Roman frontier provinces ... a buffering zone. What does the US have? A river. Some desert. In other words, nothing. So of course they will come. We can't stop them.

But we can control their entry, and we must. This is the difference between order and chaos, and I trust I don't have to spell out the importance of order. Consider Ellis Island. As I understand it, people pretty much just got on a boat and came over. No such thing as illegal immigration. But wait. Yes there was. Because even though the process had hardly any paperwork, there was some guy in a hat who looked at your passport, and who looked at you. And if you were coughing up blood, well, sorry, mate - no entry. The borders were regulated. Is it more complex now? Perhaps because the times are more complex. To ignore this fact, is to dishonor us. Enough, of the disrespect.

A wall won't work? Um, tell that to the East Germans. There was a mass influx into the west only after the Berlin WALL fell. How ever might we puzzle out this insuperable mystery? The glib response, of course, is that such a wall would make us totalitarian. Ah, so that's the definition. If you have a wall, you're a fascist. Very reasonable. I now envision a joyous paradise, a Messianic paradise where babes play happily at the adder's lair, and pink bunnies gaily scamper with smiling foxes across sun-dappled meadows ... and all brought about because those mean old Americans knocked down all their nasty old walls.

I've heard "The Racists" ... I mean, "The Race" claim that this is their land. Let's examine this proposition. It is true, that the American southwest did once upon a time belong to the Mexican government. For twenty-seven years, from when the Mexicans stole it from Spain with the Treaty of Cordoba in 1821, until the US liberated it in 1848. Yeay, that sounds fair to me. For the past nearly 160 years, we've had it. So is it Mexican? Did we steal it? Win it in a war? Buy it? Take your pick. But who did the Mexicans steal it from, or win it in a war? And it belonged to Spain for, what? - over three hundred years. And who did the Spanish steal it from? Some Indian tribes, now largely destroyed. Who did they steal it from? Some tribe there even sooner. In other words, the argument is stupid.

If this land belonged, still, to Mexico, well, it would be Mexico - poor, corrupt, and the place people would want to leave. California would be as rich as, um, Utah. The Mexicans who lived here would be finding the US border by night and crossing it illegally. Because it isn't the land, it's the culture, that they come to. American culture breeds prosperity. Mexican - Latin American - culture breeds poverty. How do we know? - some theory? The inconvenient and implacable tangibility of reality. Mexico's chief export is Mexicans. Don't like that fact? Find an excuse for it. "Poor Mexico. So far from God, and so close to the United States." Blame some corporation or cite some conspiracy. But agree that the reality is that the USA is the place where people want to be. That is, after all, the heart of the problem.

This really is a rant. It's a reaction to what I've come to consider some rather disrespectful treatment, from A in the comments of Not Against the Pro-Illegal immigration Rally. Ah well. It's fundamentally meaningless. Communication is such a difficult thing. Like obeying the law seems to be. What a world.



Jack H said...

"Honorable people take responsibility, and act openly and honestly. Period." Compare this with the theme of "Piety" - where the author maintains that it's not only okay, but good, to lie to Nazis to protect Jews. Not open, not honest. Is the author inconsistant, here? Explain and discuss. You have ten minutes.



Rhonda said...

Is it okay to protect an entire population from systematic, government-sponsored genocide? Of course it is. If it makes me a dishonest, bad person, then I'll be a dishonest, bad person. If the people I know who are illegal need my help, I'll help them to the best of my ability even if it makes me a criminal. I recognize that not everyone has the opportunities that I, as a white person, have. Being that I'm female, I also recognize discrimination and unfair treatment as a frustration and injustice. Personally, I want to take my experiences and influence and use them to better the quality of life for people. People who bleed like me, people who see the same sun, people who have enough courage to face death for the chance of sending ten dollars back home to feed the family.

If you think the U.S. is so great, read a book by Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire, force commander for UNAMIR (United Nations Assistance Mission In Rwanda). Pay attention to the parts where the United States purposefully blocked assistance to the country, despite their acknowledgement of the crisis.

Jack H said...

Oh, and you were doing so well, R. To help protect the oppressed? Yes. To aid the needy? Of course. To succor those who deliberately place themselves in harms way, crossing arid wastes in violation of the laws of the country they enter, uninvited? Yes, this too. Are they "illegal"? Nevertheless, we will give them water. But their thirst does not make them welcome. Do we make ourselves criminals, that we may challenge unjust laws. Great men provide great examples, in this regard, and we must follow their example of sacrifice. Our current immigration laws are not unjust, however. There is no virtue found in their violation. There is only self-seeking - understandable, but selfish. They are not evil, they are just wrong, in the eyes of the law and the majority of citizens.

As for Rwanda, your logic seems to be that because corrupt politicians have done cowardly things, the USA is bad. I find your reasoning unsound and your argument unconvincing.

Here's a universal observation about liberals. They say, "Americans are greedy." I say, "Don't you mean to say that *humans* are greedy?" The hard lefties say, "No! Americans!" The moderate, or sane liberals say, "Yes, I meant people." Rhonda, what do you say?


Miroslav said...

No virtue? Far too simple an approach J. Or perhaps you think it virtous to obey the law of the land while watching your child die of dysentery?

Nice exchange here! *M waits with much anticipation for a response from R*

Jack H said...

Is there no solution to fighting your child's dysentery, other then an arduous trek across the desert? The operative word is "just" law. There may certainly be compeling reason to break it, but there is no virtue in stealing bread when you're starving. Necessity, but not virtue. Consider the meaning of "virtue" and you'll see my point, even if you don't agree.


Miroslav said...

Virtue does NOT = obeying the law.

Virtue = "the quality of doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong ... a particular moral excellence"

Look. Stealing bread to feed my family IS virtuous. TO do so from another starving family is not. Stealing butter because I prefer bread that way... also not.

My point is to say that there are time that illegal immigration is virtous, depending on the circumstances.

Of course, what to say to us, the rich who are being stolen from? Have we no call to protect that which is ours?

I tell ya' ... its enough to make a guy get all medieval and let God sort it out!

Jack H said...

Didn't say virtue = obeying law. Before you steal, you beg. That, in the instance where you cannot earn, is "the right thing." A case could be made that it is a sort of "moral excellence." I've already made the case, in "Piety," for the moral excellence for lying, and it applies perhaps to begging as well. To bilk the guilty in their iniquity is no problem. To steal from some guy, 'cause you want what is his, is not virtuous. So now it comes down, M, to WHOM you steal from. Stealing secrets from the commies? Yippie! Stealing bread for your children from the corner store, because you won't beg? Shameful. Again, to support your family is virtuous - but not by mugging passers-by. Oh, well if not by mugging, then stealing? No, not virtuous. Only in the instance when begging has been attempted and your child is still starving, would it be acceptible - or rather, "understandable", as Paul has it. That would be a "hard case", and we do not determine the substance of our morality on the hard cases. In any case, Prov 6:30-31 is pretty clear: we "do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house." I find no support here, for vitue - only need.

As for illegal immigration being "virtuous" - you can only make the case if you define "moral excellence" as something that provides a benefit for only the individual, at the expense of the respect for law in the society being invaded (let's not go into the supposed "benefit" to the economy from illegals. The data are not unequivocal, and the argument itself is hopelessly cynical).

We're not talking about political refugees, about persecuted minorities of oppressive governments. Even if they enter illegally - or rather, escape to us without papers - their status is entirely other than the self-seeking line-jumpers who put their private interests ahead of the public will.

Let's distinguish between necessity and desire, between what is good for them, and what is "morally excellent." That's a high standard, my friend, and skulking by moonlight doesn't meet it. Courage? Surely. Virtue? No.