So I got an email from an anonymous Left of the Dial reader about a month back asking what my position on illegal immigration was, and saying that she was interested in me posting a piece on it.
The gorgeous, brilliant and oh so rotund Top Management and I had to laugh. I mean, the idea that anyone’s really interested in my opinion on just about anything is amusing in and of itself. But something as complex as immigration? That just cracked us up.
Besides—and this is going to be tough for most regular Left of the Dial reader to believe, but it’s true—I don’t have an opinion on absolutely everything and more important, I don’t just spout off at the drop of a hat. Again, against all evidence to the contrary, I actually think long and hard about this stuff and while I may sometimes sit down and let my bile pour forth in one big messy gush, I then take some time to let it marinate for a while to make sure I really mean the stuff I’m saying. And unlike the Leaker-in-Chief, I do.
Also, my mom gets all upset when I post about politics because she hates being faced with the inexorable proof that she’s wrong about pretty much everything, except how wonderful I am. So I don’t post about politics gratuitously just to upset The Bomber. That’s simply a very, very nice bonus.
Finally, not living in a border state, I don’t have a lot of daily contact with illegal immigrants, or even people who have a lot of contact with illegal immigrants, so it’s not an immediately pressing problem for me, the way health care, for instance, is. Yes, it affects each and every American, but the results are currently less obvious to me personally than, say, pollution or voter fraud. Not that I’m suggesting by any stretch that it’s not a serious issue, nor that I don’t care, just that it’s a bit further down on the list of Incredibly Important Things for Me to Rant and Rail About on a Daily Basis.
And yet…just by asking me what I thought about the issue, that reader has had me paying much closer attention to the issue. Of course, given how it’s blown up in the news over the past few weeks, that may have been inevitable. Ne’ertheless, I have given it quite a bit of thought.
My first thought is: I used to like Senator John McCain so much. Even when I disagreed with him, which wasn’t infrequent, he seemed so much the mensch, the real deal, the straight talker. But he’s just bummed the living shit out of me the past few months. It’s not that he’s a conservative Republican. I always knew that. And when he’s loyal to the party line, that’s fine. But when he kisses the ass of the man who called his wife an adulterer, well, that’s a man for whom I can have next to no respect. I still get a kick out of listening to him talk, but for pete’s sake, they called your daughter a bastard and you’re out there literally hugging and kissing (well, being kissed by) the very people behind those awful, awful smears. That’s…that’s inexplicable. Actually, it’s not. And that’s why I can’t respect him anymore.
But what’s more, even when I agree with him, I worry that the good senator’s getting a little too old to compete in the biggest of arenas. Senator McCain said recently that there weren’t Americans who’d be willing to pick lettuce for fifty bucks an hour.
I’m sorry, but is he on crack? I agree with the argument that illegal immigrants do the jobs Americans don’t want. But what an asinine example. Not only are there plenty of Americans who’d be willing to pick lettuce for fifty bucks an hour, I’d personally be overjoyed to pick lettuce for fifty bucks an hour. I mean, jeeze louise. You gotta be kidding me. The problem is that Americans won’t pick lettuce for three bucks an hour. Fifty? I think there’s a college professor in the neighborhood and a local science teacher who would both seriously consider joining me for that kinda cabbage. So to speak.
Next, whatever the validity of their arguments, the vituperative words issuing from some of the folks in this discussion are so heinous as to render moot any legitimate points they might possibly have. For instance, last week a talk radio host in Arizona advocated murdering anyone trying to cross into this country illegally.
"What we’ll do is randomly pick one night - every week - where we will kill whoever crosses the border. Step over there and you die. You get to decide whether it’s your lucky night or not. I think that would be more fun…[I’d be] happy to sit there with my high-powered rifle and my night scope."
— Brian James of KFYI in Arizona
According to a letter sent by Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard and U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton to the FCC:
At no time during this hour did Mr. James disavow violence or indicate he was joking. In fact, when one caller suggested Mr. James did not really mean he wanted to shoot and kill immigrants, Mr. James retorted that in fact he did mean it. Immediately after this exchange, Mr. James engaged the next caller in a discussion about the correct ammunition to use when shooting border crossers to make sure the shots would be fatal.
Then there’s the worry about rank hypocrisy, as always. Currently, rabid congressman Tom Tancredo has been railing against the possibility of amnesty for illegal immigrants, and no matter how often Senator McCain, amongst others, tries to explain that it’s not amnesty, he just keeps barking about amnesty.
And yet President Bush’s current Secretary of Commerce seems to perhaps be a former illegal immigrant who was granted amnesty.
What the--!? Double standards? In politics? What are the damn odds?
Speaking of, much has been made about all the Mexican flags being waved at some of the protests. Since there’s footage of President Bush himself waving a Mexican flag, that seems a little disingenuous, to put it mildly. And as has been pointed out numerous times, no one ever got upset about all the Irish flags at all the St. Patrick’s Day parades. Once again, maybe we’re not quite that color-blind nation that those who oppose affirmative action would like us to think we are.
Finally, this news story gave me incredible pause:
Eighth grader Anthony Soltero shot himself through the head on Thursday, March 30, after the assistant principal at De Anza Middle School told him that he was going to prison for three years because of his involvement as an organizer of the April 28 school walk-outs to protest the anti-immigrant legislation in Washington. The vice principal also forbade Anthony from attending graduation activities and threatened to fine his mother for Anthony’s truancy and participation in the student protests.
Anthony was learning about the importance of civic duties and rights in his eighth grade class. Ironically, he died because the vice principal at his school threatened him for speaking out and exercising those rights, Ms. Corales said today.
Anthony was buried on Monday.
So. Not only do I not have the answer to illegal immigration, I’m not even sure I know what I think. Except for one thing: the rhetoric needs to be dialed way, way back.
Tags: immigration, George W. Bush, John McCain