Wednesday, April 5

Of divided loyalties, civic responsibilities, and shitty houseguests.

All of a sudden I forgot what I'd gotten so worked up about . . .

Earlier today, as some of you may know, I was ripped by a regular reader for my remarks in this post in which I declared my pissed-offedness that illegal immigrants would dare to wave Mexican (or Guatemalan, or Nicaraguan, or insert non-U.S. country here) flags while they rallied for amnesty for their illegal-ness. She made some valid points, and look, I'm not going to try and tell you I wrote that post casually, flippantly, and thoughtlessly like I do so much of the other crap I throw up on here. Even as I was hitting the "submit post" button, I was worried that some people might read that and think I was anti-immigrant, anti-Latino, or worse. I know some of the things I said put me a lot closer to the rabid right-wing Brown People Go Home camp than the faithful inclusive left-wing bleeding-heart Doug you've come to know and love (or pity), and I won't act like that didn't worry me.

But I'm not going to retract or apologize for anything I said, either. I will, however, elaborate a little, just so there's no misunderstanding.

The reader who laid into me brought up one of the posts I did back during the Olympics in which I cheered on the Slovakian hockey team -- Slovakia is where my mom's side of the family came from, FYI -- and referred to Slovakia as the "motherland." (You know, even as I was writing the immigration bit, I was thinking, "I'll bet someone's gonna bring up the Slovakian hockey team thing.") You will not be surprised to find that I think there's a difference between that and thousands of illegals waving Mexican flags in the streets, but perhaps I didn't explain that difference well enough the first time.

Before I begin, let me make it very clear that if lovin' Slovakia is wrong, I don't want to be right.

Let's make up a hypothetical American citizen, Juan Ramón, who is originally from, oh, let's say Costa Rica. Juan Ramón came here five years ago, went through the exhausting naturalization runaround, and is now a full-fledged American. He has a 9-to-5 job, and thus pays taxes. He registered with Selective Service just like every other male in America has to do. He's voted in nearly every single election that's been held since he got here. As much of a pain in the ass as it is, he's filling out his 1040 form right now, because that's the law and that's his responsibility. His English isn't perfect yet, but at least he's learning.

Juan Ramón loves soccer, and is thrilled to death that the Costa Rican national team has qualified for the World Cup in June. Not that he's got anything against the American team, but he's rooting for his homeland, and plans to hang a Costa Rican flag off his balcony during the Cup.

You know what? I got no problem with that. Juan Ramón followed all the rules to become an American citizens, he's fulfilled all the responsibilities of American citizenship since then, and with all that in mind, simply hanging a non-U.S. flag out of his apartment isn't enough to make me suspect his loyalty or dedication to his new country.

But contrast this with the people waving Mexican flags in the streets of Los Angeles and San Diego and wherever the hell else. I don't know how many of these folks are American citizens, but it doesn't seem like very many of them are. They're not paying taxes, filling out 1040s, or contributing money to Social Security. They haven't registered with Selective Service. They don't appear to have made much of an attempt to learn the language. As far as I can tell, they've kept up with hardly any of the civic responsibilities that I and every other American citizen have to follow. Not only that, but they want to receive certain benefits from the U.S. government without having paid anything in. So when I see them waving the flag of some other country, I think I have every right to wonder if they're really all that serious about this American-citizenship thing. They haven't come here through established legal channels, they haven't engaged in any of our American civil responsibilities, they're even waving someone else's flag -- on paper, they appear to be no more American than any Japanese tourist who just got off the plane from Tokyo.

Besides, if you've come over here illegally and now want to be considered a full-fledged American citizen, doesn't it seem like just plain bad rhetorical strategy to demand your amnesty, citizenship, whatever in Spanish, while waving the flag of the country you just left? Surely I'm not the only one who sees a disconnect here.

And again, I don't want anyone thinking I'm the least bit pleased about finally having something in common with Michelle fucking Malkin, who, if not the world's biggest racist, is certainly its most ironic. But I can't lie: The Mexican-flag-waving bothers me. Not enough to start knocking heads or spending entire days perched by the Rio Grande with a pair of Bushnells and a thirty-aught-six like those Minutemen knobs, but it bothers me.

And the worst part of this is, I'm very much in favor of a less bureaucratic, more simplified naturalization process. As I said in the comment I left in response to the angry reader's, I've watched people from Croatia, El Salvador, even freaking England come over here, follow every INS rule and regulation to the letter, abide by the law, renew their visas religiously, and contribute to American society in a manner almost befitting that of a religious quest -- and still be denied (or at least delayed in receiving) citizenship by an immigration protocol that moves slower than a senior citizen driving a bulldozer uphill. Through molasses. In January. See, I want more people to come over here and become Americans, not fewer, and I think there's got to be a better way to do this.

But that only begs the question, if we're not willing to make any concessions on behalf of the people who are following the law, why are we just going to grant them to people who willingly broke it? I'm never in favor of any policy that basically says "Yeah, you willingly broke the law, but we'll just let that slide," whether it's being said to a tax cheat, an Enron exec, or an illegal immigrant.

So, to recap: Immigration good, illegal immigration a problem. People who follow the law should get more consideration than people who don't. Waving another country's flag is not a bad thing to do in and of itself, but it depends on the context. Sometimes you're just showing ethnic pride; sometimes you're just being an asshole. I think the L.A. demonstrators fall on the latter side, but your mileage may vary.

I leave you with this scenario. Let's say I'm from New Orleans because my house got destroyed in Hurricane Katrina. Without calling ahead, I show up on your doorstep one evening -- yes, yours, dear reader -- and I'm like, "Hey, it's me, Doug, from Hey Jenny Slater. Yes, the blog you read all the time. My house back in New Orleans is gone, so I was wondering if I could come live with you for a while."

C'mon, look at this face. You'd take me in, right?

You're a little surprised (and taken aback) by all this, but you're a nice guy (or girl) and you want to help me out, so you let me in. I'm eating your food, drinking your beer, using your toothpaste to brush my teeth. (Don't worry, I brought my own toothbrush.) You're generous, and you know I've been through a lot, so you don't raise a big stink about this. Although it does get a little annoying the way I insist on watching "Simpsons" reruns when you want to watch the news -- oh, and forget about watching anything other than football on the weekends ('cause Hurricane Katrina has just happened and this is all going on in the fall, remember). Still, I mow the lawn and do your laundry without complaining, so it seems reasonably fair.

Before too long I've got a day job -- it pays good, not great, but enough that I can buy my own stuff now. Strangely, though, I'm still using your toothpaste. And months later, when you start asking me if I might chip in a little kinda-like-rent-but-not-really money for home upkeep, garden care, re-tiling the bathroom, what have you, I'm like "Yeah, sure" but always manage to conveniently forget about it later.

Now I'm starting to get kind of annoying, right? OK, now imagine that I never actually asked you if I could stay with you, but just snuck into your basement one night and set up shop. And imagine that I took down the Dallas Cowboys flag you had hanging on your front porch . . . and replaced it with one for the Washington Redskins.

Am I or am I not now officially being a dick? I leave this to you, dear reader, to decide.


Anonymous said...

So just to be clear, in your view, waving a confederate flag because you are proud of being a white is ok, but it would be wrong to wave it just because you are an asshole?

Kyle King said...

I knew someone was going to bring up the St. Andrew's Cross.

I believe Doug's point was that, if you waved a Confederate battle flag because you believed in Constitutional self-government or because you were proud of the bravery of your ancestors, it was all right, but, if you waved a Confederate battle flag because you were a bigot, that would be wrong.

Bear in mind that Doug belongs to a political party whose national chairman campaigned for president while saying that he wanted the votes of guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks.

By saying that, he did not mean he wanted the votes of racists, but that he wanted working class Southerners to return to the party of their fathers and their grandfathers. Had he said he wanted the votes of guys with Dale Earnhardt stickers on their pickup trucks, he would have meant exactly the same thing.

Astronaut Mike Dexter said...

Well, I think being proud of being white (as if that makes someone special) kind of makes you an asshole, but look, if people want to display Confederate flags from their apartments or pickup trucks or what have you, then I don't have any more problem with that than I do with Juan Ramon displaying a Costa Rican flag as a symbol of his World Cup fever. It's the people who insist that I have to live under that Confederate symbol on the flag of my state that I have a huge problem with.

DAve said...

The solution coming from many of the figureheads of the left seems to be: Accept (begrudgingly or not) the contributions illegal immigrants have made to this country's socioeconomic well-being and leave it at that.

The solution coming from many of the figureheads on the right seems to be: "Them bastids are taking jobs from good ol' homegrown tax-payin' American folk. Send their asses back to Mexico." Taking jobs?! Asinine.

Thankfully, there's another solution heralded by libertarians and some libs and conservatives as well. Food for thought, no? Considering how much money the immigrants near my home pour into the local QT every morning (and yes, that's every morning), isn't this something that should be more closely examined?

Anonymous said...

You seem to assume that all illegal immigrants are unemployed or taking their pay under the table. What about those illegal immigrants who fill out their W-4's at their minimum wage job using fake social security numbers? A lot pay taxes, but since they never fill out the 1040, they never get any refund. Many pay into the social security system and will never be elligable to receive any benefits. Think of all the money they pay in sales tax. Walmart sales would see a significant drop in sales without them.

Your claim that they should not receive special consideration in immigration policy holds some merit but you have truly shown more right wing rhetoric than I thought I would see come from you when you went off on how they are taking services without paying for them.

You don't seem to be thinking this all the way through. If you are here in the US illegally, you don't sign up for wellfare, food stamps or other social services. You are scared to enroll your kids in school. You live in the shadows hoping to attract no attention. You go to the emergency room only when you are scared for your child's life.

And you "know" what the immigrants meant when they flew their Mexican flag because...? Did you ask them? I think they were expressing ethnic unity. But somehow while watching the same display you saw them showing disrespect for the U S of A. Curious.

vg76 said...

No, I wouldn't take you in.

1) There is no way to send 11 million of anybody back to anywhere, so pretending that you can is just silly. We need to acknowledge reality and deal with it.

2) Making being an illegal a felony sounds great to the law and order crowd, butg it is even dumber than those who advocate number 1. At present, an illegal can be detained and returned summarily. If this becomes a felony, they will be entitled to all the due process anyone else arrested for a felony would be- court appointed attorneys, bail hearings, trials, etc. The effect on the criminal justice system would be immense and intolerable.

3) At the same time, for good reason, the borders must be kept secure and laws (immigration and otherwise) should be enforced. One law that is not enforced is the one penalizing employers for hiring undocumented workers (of course, they're generally Republicans. . .).

4) The idea of a wall along the Rio Grande is silly and insanely expensive- a million dollars a mile by one estimate. They already are climbing, cutting through, etc., the fences that do exist.

So- some sort of guest worker or other legalizaiton plan, with appropriate penalties, is essential. You can be as doctrinaire as you want, but you will still have 11 million illegals for whom we are providing health care, education, etc. Border security does need to be tightened, but we need to find ways that work, one of which is boots on the ground. And we need to enforce the laws that already exist.

The anti-immigration folks don't think that racism is part of this, but if all these guys were Brits, the attitude would be a whole lot different.

DAve said...

"If you are here in the US illegally, ... (y)ou live in the shadows hoping to attract no attention."


Astronaut Mike Dexter said...

Which is why I think that both the Bush "plan" (blanket amnesty and do nothing about securing the borders) and the House of Representatives bill (make it a felony and build a big-ass fence along the Rio Grande) are asinine. I'm very much inclined toward the more moderate Democratic-sponsored Senate bill, which, if I understand it correctly, involves expansion of work-visa and guest-worker programs and at least an attempt at simplification of the naturalization process, along with some stricter border-security measures. Bill Frist, of course, in his infinite wisdom, is whining about the fact that the Democrats allegedly won't "compromise" on this bill, evidently ignoring that a) the Dems' bill was a compromise effort in the first place, and b) any Republican congressman getting chuffed over a lack of willingness to compromise is sort of like Eminem lecturing someone for being verbally abusive toward his wife.

I want to make very clear that for me, this is not an "immigrants are scary" or "They're takin' our jobs!!1!!1"[/south park] issue but rather a rule-of-law issue. We have laws and protocols for entering this country legally, and complicated though they may be, I believe it sends a wrong message to just think we can turn those laws on and off at the whim of the president or anyone else. We've got enough people in this country believing that stuff like wiretapping law and campaign-finance law can just be casually circumvented at will; I'd rather not see this attitude gain any more traction than it already has. I don't want to see European-style anti-immigrant rallies and I don't want to see 11,000,000 people loaded up and trucked back across the border, but there are some basic procedures and responsibilities involved in becoming a full-fledged American citizen, and I don't think it's too much to ask that we start calling on people more diligently to respect those.

Anyway. B, I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on the flag-waving issue, but I still think it's just poor form if nothing else; to me it's like going to a job interview at Delta wearing an AirTran T-shirt. Or to put it another way, it's like an Auburn alum wanting to go to Alabama to get his Ph.D. . . . and when he goes before the doctoral committee or whatever to interview, he walks in wearing a navy-blue blazer and orange shirt and greets the committee with a hearty "War Eagle!" Now, that doesn't make him an evil person necessarily (though Bama fans may disagree with me on that), but evil or not evil . . . still a dumb thing to do, in my opinion.

Zen Bubba said...

I wasn't aware the St Andrews Cross flag had stars on it, I thought that was from the UK... anyway I agree that waiving a confederate flag (actually the battle flag of the army of northern Virginia) is different that waiving a Mexican flag at a immigration rally, although I am not sure how. Both represent nation states that waged war on the United States. I guess the offensivness is gained by one representing the historical suppression of a race of people and the other, well it has clashing colors and a picture of a bird (is it a bird? I can't really tell) on it. What disturbs me is the folks that say the immigrants are only taking jobs that current citizens wouldn't have. The other day John McCain told a crowd that they would not pick lettuce for $50 an hour. Would I pick lettuce for $50 an hour??? Fuck Yeah! Where do I sign up? I would pick 2 seasons of John McCain's buttcheese for $50 an hour! The point however is that we trade low food prices for low agricultural wages. Without illegal immigrants willing to work all day in the sun for next to nothing, the prices at our grocery stores would skyrocket. As farmers are already having a hard time making ends meet the higher wages of documented workers could not be absorbed by competition.
So, aside from security, is this a problem that the US really wants to solve?

Zen Bubba said...

I really like the plan (I think it Bush's but there are so many right now) that says, essentially, "Admit you are illegal, pay a $1000 fine, and we will give you amnesty." Where is an illegal alien going to get $1000???

If we wanted to "solve" the "problem" of illegal immigration, me thinks we should:

1) grant blanket amnesty to those already here that have not otherwise committed felonies (ship those that have home) Those that have committed felonies represent a very small portion of the 11 million or so that are here as these are folks coming to the US because of their own industry and gumption.

2) secure our borders, along with our partners in Mexico and Canada, "tighter than Dick's hatband." We have the 2 longest unmilitarized borders in the world and should keep it that way. By working with our international partners we should be able to effectively patrol both sides of the borders.

3) Work with our partners towards economic development in those areas of our neighboring nations that the immigrants are coming from. To our north and south lay 2 of the most raw materials rich places on earth. With proper development there would be no reason to leave. For instance, at present, Mexico, Canada and Venezuala hold 3 of the largest oil reserves in the world.

That's it, not a complete plan and short on the details to be sure, but that's what I would do.

Kyle King said...

Bill, your idea of working "along with our partners in Mexico and Canada" to preserve "the 2 longest unmilitarized borders in the world" might work with our neighbor to the north.

However, "working with our international partners" will not enable us "to effectively patrol both sides of the borders" along the Rio Grande. Preserving access to the United States for immigrants from Mexico, both legal and otherwise, is a centerpiece of the Mexican government's foreign relations with the United States.

Expecting the Mexican government to work with the I.N.S. to control illegal immigration is as realistic as expecting the Colombian government to work with the D.E.A. to control drug trafficking.

As for the precise nature of the battle flag that formerly adorned the Georgia state flag (as opposed to the official flag of the Confederate government, which adorned the pre-1956 and current state flags), I am familiar with the history of the army to which Bill referred at 9:54.

My great-great-grandfather, Private Isom Nathaniel Underwood Cook, fought in that army as part of the 10th Georgia Infantry Battalion, as a member of which he was captured and imprisoned at Point Lookout, Maryland.

I'm one of the guys who feels fondly toward that flag for reasons having nothing to do with race and everything to do with history. Given Abraham Lincoln's record of waging war on false pretenses, silencing his political opposition, working for the Republican moneyed interests who elected him, suspending protected civil liberties, and trying to deport those with skin tones darker than his own, I would think that anyone who had a problem with George W. Bush would at least see my side of the argument where the Railsplitter was concerned.

Anonymous said...

The flag is a banner for the immigrants to rally around. What other symbol do they have to identify their cause? Certainly the American flag represents to them those who would throw them back to abject poverty in Mexico.

Your annology about wearing an Auburn shirt to a Alabama interview doesn't hold. If Mexico and the USA were arch rivals, it would hold. But we aren't at war with Mexico now are we? Supposedly they are allies. Why would the symbol of an ally be offensive?

Dave, in a crowd or mob, there is a sense of anonymity. Those young men in the picture feel safe because they believe the crowd surrounding them will protect them from arrest. And they are right about it too.

DAve said...

As if on cue...

Zen Bubba said...

Granted it will take some effort to get Mexico and the US reading off the same page Kyle, but to rule it out seems a bit harsh considering our overall relationship with Mexico.

As to Columbia curbing the drug traffic, there are cemetaries full of their dead police that gave their lives to do just that. It is not the Columbian government that is lax in drug enforcement but the american consumer.

Your comparison of Lincoln to Bush is well taken, and while I have respect for those that honor the "Confederate" flag, I must respectfully disagree with it's continued flying for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that it is the representation of one of America's greatest mistakes in the experiment of democracy. Beyond that it is the flag of the army that lost. You don't see folks flying the regimental colors of the Maine 22d regiment as a reminder that their ancestors kicked the living shit out of someone elses at Gettysburg. It's time has passed. Bury it I say, and move on.

Kyle King said...

I understand and appreciate your position, Bill, but upon these issues we simply shall have to agree to disagree.

Doug, I'll see you on North Campus on Saturday morning. Over and out.


Kanu said...

Seems to me that all the ideas on the table are treating the symptom not the problem.

If you want to stop illegals coming here and working, it seems fairly simple. Step up and penalize the fuck out of any corporations/entities that employ such people. The millions of jobs don't exist because illegals have come to the US; millions of illegals have come to the US because millions of jobs/opportunities exist. And who allows/encourages/exploits this? American businesses of course. People come here because there are lots of jobs & lots of opportunities vis a vis their situation at home, and corporate america (and hell, mom & pop shops as well) loves paying shit wages for labor. If you want this to end then crack down from the employer end, fine the shit out of them, or make it a felony to emply them, whatever, but treat it on this end. Of course, in reality, businesses don't want this, and it would never happen considering politics in general and the current administration in particular.

But everyone seems to be approaching this from the wrong end. It's like the bathtub faucet is running, the tub is overflowing with water, and everyone is trying to come up with the best way to bail the water out of the tub. Hey, anyone ever consider turning off the faucet instead?

As an aside, I have yet to hear a single real-world example of a job currently being performed by an illegal alien that an American would willingly work for the same wages, so the 'stealing jobs' rhetoric rings a bit hollow for me.

It is amusing that America as a whole wants all jobs to be worked by Americans at good wages, yet at the same time America want to be able to by Polo shirts at Wal-Mart for $5.99. You can't have both.

OK, I'm done. Back to The Masters.

Anonymous said...

I think you are pretty much right on it Kanu. Much like the drug traffic from Columbia a big part of the "problem", if there is one, is the demand for cheap labor at this end. Which is why what appears to be coming out of Congress is a law that will grant amnesty as long as the illegal has been here 5 years, can prove that thru paycheck stubs, and pays a $2000 fine as well as any back taxes. Now, alot of these folks work on a cash basis and don't have paystubs to prove that they have been here 5 years. In addition, they don't have $2000 sitting around, nor do they have the cash sitting around to pay the back taxes. So you have a law with no actual effect in the end as the illegals will continue to be illegal and the Republicans can go home at election time claiming to have done something about it. I haven't seen anything that says employers who should have been withholding payroll taxes on these folks will be penalized for having broken the law either.

Anonymous said...

Alright. First, it just hurt my heart to read those things that you wrote, Doug, because I think so well of you and know you to be absolutely one of the best men I?ve ever known. I know you?re not a racist or bigot. I just didn?t want to believe you really believed those things you wrote. That was the emotional part of my response.

Second, it?s a hard argument because we both would like to see a few of the same things happen, including the simplification of the naturalization process. But we?d argue the point differently. Third, America has no official language. I?d rather everyone in America could speak Spanish than try to get it the other way around; I think we?d be better off. Fourth, freedom of speech is a bitch, isn?t it? People who are waving those flags around aren?t doing anything wrong, in fact, they?re exercising their First Amendment rights. How much more American can you get?

Those things aside, here is where I?m coming from: most of the people who come to this country as illegal immigrants aren?t doing it because they think America is so cool and would be a better place to live or because they want to come and sponge off society. It boils down to this: they have a family to feed, and they can?t do it where they live. Because they don?t want to watch their families starve or go without clothes or medicines or without just a basic education so that maybe their kids can get out of this life, they leave everything they have ever known. (I would argue that this is the most basic human instinct, to be able to feed yourself and your family and provide shelter and safety, and after all, we?re humans first, and (insert nationality) second.) And they risk a hell of a lot to get here, you?ve heard it all before, and if you think that what drives a man to climb into the back of a broiling hot truck with 50 other men and women to be transported over the border is the promise of a Big Mac, think again. He?s got his little girl?s face in his mind, and he?s praying he?ll ever see her again. I know I am pretty much preaching to the choir; I?m pretty sure you agree with me. Here is what has been pissing me off about your arguments. You say breaking the law is wrong. I can?t argue with that (in and of itself a pisser). You bring up your friends who came over and tried to do it through the legal channels and are having problems. Doug, IT IS NOT THE SAME THING. If your friend has enough money to get from the UK to the US, it is not the same thing.

I will direct you to If you feel your life or your family?s lives are in danger for almost any reason other than poverty, you can come to the US. Your family might die because you?re a certain religion? Come on in. You?ll all be killed because of the color of your skin? Okay. AND, ?There is no quota limit on the number of people who may obtain political asylum.? But if your family might die because you don?t have enough money to feed them (and lord knows we Americans can?t stand people without money), well, fuck off. So we?ve got this great policy for asylum and refugee status that I agree with, except we left out one really important group. The process has to change, and here we agree.

Here is the thing. When do we decide it is okay to break the law? Never ever ever, Doug? Are you sure? Because there was a lady once who sat down at the front of a bus and broke the law. The law was wrong, and history has made her a hero. When we make laws that are wrong, the question is not how to nail those who broke the law, the question is how we right that wrong. You say giving blanket amnesty is not the solution. I say it is. I?m saying the law is wrong, and instead of punishing those people who broke this false law, we make room in our country and in our hearts and in our minds for these people who, but for an accident of birth, could have been our neighbors anyway. (And before you go saying that an illegal immigrant is hardly a hero, I'll argue that someone who leaves everything behind and risks imprisonment or worse in order to keep his or her family alive without causing harm to any other person is a hero).

We Americans got lucky, damn lucky, and I?m willing to spread the love and I?ll work harder and spend my tax dollars to help people who have less, and I won?t bitch and moan about it because I HAVE ENOUGH, and even if they love the country they came from and miss it and wish they could still be there, I?m going to empathize and not be angry because IT IS NOT FUCKING PERSONAL. I have enough, and I can afford to share. And so can you: if you are reading this, you can afford to share. And I don?t want to live in the kind of country where people will close their hearts to those with less and come up with technicalities to make it seem like it?s a not matter of principle, after all, and will say ?I don?t owe you anything? because you didn?t follow the rules. I want to live in the kind of country where people will take stock and see that they have more to give than almost any other country in the world, and if you have it, why not give it to those who need it and go to the extra trouble, simply because we can? And where it goes without saying that if we can, we will. And I know our country is not full of people who think like that, I know we?re losing people like that every day, but I honestly thought you were one of them, Doug. And that?s why it hurt to read your words.

To sum up: If the law is wrong, then is it wrong to break it? In history, how have we come to change laws that are wrong? By everyone quietly obeying the law and tough shit for those who are victimized? No, it is usually through a process similar to the one we are experiencing now: people breaking the law, marching in the streets, Congress eventually catching up to the rest of the country. Only sometimes Congress can lead the way, and I think amnesty is one way to do that. You don?t. That?s okay. Disappointing, but okay.

I?m bringing brownies and beer on Saturday. I?ve leaving this topic at home.

(Do you ever have the feeling right before you post something that you might be making a big mistake? My stomach feels a little queasy right now.)

Astronaut Mike Dexter said...

Well, that's pretty much the feeling I've had while writing everything I've posted on this subject.

I don't think your comparison to the Rosa Parks civil disobedience quite holds water, because Parks was protesting a law that was prima facie discriminatory -- it explicitly stated that African-Americans were to be treated differently from (and worse than) whites. To the extent that they're protesting policy, the immigrant demonstrators are protesting laws that, at least in principle, treat everyone the same. Our immigration procedures are pretty much the same whether you come from Mexico, Slovakia, Thailand, Sweden, wherever (notice I said pretty much the same, I know there may be some differences), and again, whichever country you're from you make the choice as to whether you follow those laws or not.

Do those laws and procedures need to be changed and made more efficient? As I've said before, yes. But until those changes are made, the laws are what they are. And if we're just going to summarily say "Well, you didn't follow the rules, but ehhh, so what" to a few million people a year, then we might as well just throw open the borders and not have any immigration regs whatsoever. I hope you'll understand me when I say that in this day and age, we just can't afford to do that.

Now then. One thing I do think I need to apologize for is my earlier statement that "I don't owe them [illegal immigrants] anything," which was a particularly callous way of overstating a case to make a point. We may not have any legal obligations to these people, but as an American, a descendant of immigrants, a Christian, and a bleeding-heart liberal, I believe we do have some moral obligations to try and help them find a better life. However, even when the government attempts to fulfill perceived moral obligations, there are rules and procedures to be followed. This is why you don't see the Department of Housing and Urban Development driving trucks through public-housing projects and just throwing $100 bills out to whoever might be passing by.

What the L.A. demonstrators are doing, when you get right down to it, is asking for a favor: They're asking for the U.S. government to pardon illegal activities they may have undertaken in the past -- well-intentioned or not -- and alter policy to better fulfill that moral obligation. Should we, as a country, do that? I think to some extent, yes, we should (to what extent is a separate debate, one that's being wrangled over on Capitol Hill as we speak). But when you're asking for a favor, whether it's big or little, earned or unearned, there's a right way and a wrong way to go about it. And it's my personal belief that turning American flags upside-down and hoisting Mexican flags above them is a pretty dumb way of doing so. The protestors certainly have a right to free speech, and I recognize that they may even be doing it as a symbol of ethnic unity as opposed to disloyalty -- but it's still an assy thing to do (and one that certainly isn't helping their case with the American public -- really bad PR, if you will). That's all I'm trying to say about the flag stuff.

And it's also my last word on the subject, period . . . thankfully. (Everyone else is free to continue discussing it at their leisure.)

See you tomorrow morning.

Anonymous said...

1) It looks like the marchers took your advice. It wouldn't bother me one way or the other, but then I am a crazy (legal) immigrant and don't get hung up on these things.

2) The only part of your analogy that would set me off would be putting a Redskins flag on my porch. There are limits.

Anonymous said...

Comparing Rosa Parks circumstances to the present day illegal immigration issue is way off base. First, illegals have NO legal standing in this country. Second, they are ILLEGALS who have conciously broken the law. Also, asylum is available for political, not economic reasons.

The law is not wrong, the illegals are wrong. Changing the law to make the illegals legal is wrong. With that logic, we should legalize drinking and driving or drugs or adultery. The old "everybody does it" justification that my teenagers lay on me.

Send 'em all back and put them at the end of the line behind a 50' wall...with razor wire...electrified razor wire. They figured out how to get here, they can figure out how to get home. And about those jobs no American will do? Kick some of the lazy-ass freeloaders off welfare and give them a sack and send them to the fields.

I say resurrect Harry Reid's 1993 immigration reform bill. Now, that's what I'm talking about.

Anonymous said...

Interesting discussion, but I'm not going to get into it. Except:

Yo, Bill! You don't sound like you know very much about Canada. That's okay. Why should you? But you know, we're as rich a society as you are. We have about as many people illegally skipping the border to your country as you have people illegally skipping the border to Mexico (probably fewer), and we care about as much.

And, this is not a criticism. Americans are fucking salt-of-the-earth people, by God, as is admirably shown by you suggesting here that the wealth should be spread around. The only thing is, it isn't a good idea. And in practical terms it can't happen anyway, because different national and business interests rarely coincide. I applaud your wish to better the lot of your neighbours, but it's a hellishly thorny job even to try, sometimes. For instance (please don't be shocked), I often wish that Canada could find a way to help out the United States with some of its problems. But Americans, I think, would quite properly resent the suggestion that they needed Canada's help. Because you don't!

In closing, I know quite a bit about the good old U.S. of A., but sadly I know far too little about the good old U.S. of M. (never even been there on holiday), so I can't pretend that anything I've said relates to them in any way.

Oh, but one more thing: in my opinion, civil disobedience ought to be cherished the same way no matter where it occurs, because it's the very essence of the spirit of democratic freedom. Because, nothing protects it! It's enshrined nowhere, and noplace! It is in fact against the bloody law! And yet we in the Fortunate Lands of the West know that you've just got to have it, because it's the only thing that can keep those legally-apportioned freedoms of ours supple. And for "supple", read: useful.

Pardon my drivel.

Anonymous said...

And by the way, I mean to offend no one, but that anonymous fellow who posted just before me? Somehow while reading his post, I couldn't keep from thinking of Rod Serling. I just kept thinking and thinking of Rod Serling, I couldn't stop myself! Weird, eh?

Everybody knows what I'm talking about, right?

ACG said...

Ah, yes, the good old days, back before they made adultery illegal. I remember the wholesale and uninterrupted scrogging that used to go on in the very streets back before the Anti-Adultery Act of... What year was that, Anonymous? When they made adultery illegal?