Monday, April 10, 2006

Demanding Rights But Eschewing Rules

Hundreds of thousands march to demand citizenship rights for those who, for whatever reason, would rather not pursue them by following the rules.

A lot of people won't like how I phrased that, I'll bet, but isn't that the nub of it?

Most of what's being reported about protests today and over the weekend is more of the same-old, same-old, but it's still worth emphasizing and thinking about the following for a few minutes:

Different organizers have different agendas, but they do agree on the need to convert energy from protests into massive voter registration drives.

Voter registration and citizenship education initiatives are set to begin in several states after a "Day Without An Immigrant" campaign planned for May 1, an event that asks immigrants [me: all immigrants? illegal "immigrants"?] nationwide to stay home from work and school, and refrain from buying U.S. products.

"Marches will only get you so far," said Armando Navarro, coordinator of the National Alliance for Human Rights, a network of Hispanic activist groups in Southern California. "There has to be an electoral component to get the Republicans out of the majority."
[Emphasis added.]

So, the agenda here is ... what, really? I find it thought-provoking that in most of the versions of this AP story that I've read elsewhere, this quote and/or section is missing. Since it's at the end, that could simply be a space issue. The inverse pyramid approach for news stories is specifically designed to allow--though not require--chopping from the bottom to promote efficiency in processing copy for newspapers. I know this and in the past have chopped in just that fashion, many times. Yet, quite cynically, I still find this omission interesting.

(For the record, though I have been a registered voter--and a voter!--since I was eligible, I have never been a registered Democrat or a registered Republican. Currently, I'm registered "no party," which is an option in Iowa. Back East, I was registered as an Independent.)

About those massive voter registration drives: They are aimed at those legally here and already citizens and eligible to vote, right? If so, why is this twinned with "citizenship education initiatives"? (And what does that mean, exactly--for example, how to vote or whom to vote for?) If not, this is a travesty.

"We've got to get back in touch with the Statue of Liberty," said the Rev. Lawton Higgs, a United Methodist pastor and activist. "We've got to get back in touch with the civil rights movement, because that's what this is about."

No, sir, it isn't. No one is trying to deny legal citizens and those who are here legally anything, civil rights or otherwise. The only right we--or at least I--want to "deny" people from other countries is to unilaterally declare themselves as eligible for faster-track American citizenship simply by managing to enter the country illegally, evading getting caught and returned, and waiting for our political will to fail. In effect, that's the right we're granting if we just throw up our hands and once again offer amnesty, which is what the demonstrators want.

It's not xenophobic, ethnocentric, or fascist, or racist, or bigoted, or anything else to want our country to control its borders--its sovereignty--and to expect those who want the rights of citizenship here to follow the rules and laws to get here, as their first demonstration of a good faith intent to take on the responsibilities of citizenship.

I also--call me crazy--sort of think it would be nice if they would declare their loyalty to this country before and above all others, as a necessary demonstration of their desire to be Americans. If that's too much to ask, then, frankly, I don't think they belong here, not as citizens and not with that level of rights. Guest-worker status is another story--but I still think it should be tightly controlled, time-limited, and not offered to 11 million people as an end-run around the commitments and sacrifices required by full citizenship.

I'm not going to bother with the redundancy of discussing the way words are being twisted in an effort to manipulate reality: you know, the conflation of "immigrant" with "illegal alien" and so forth. That's been presented all over the place, and the only people who seem to care are--well, those who do. I did, however, find a bit amusing the nomenclature suggestions contained in this letter in my local paper. I don't subscribe to everything this man writes, but I think he makes a number of good points, and the comments attached online are a decent cross-section of what people around here seem to think.

(Regarding his letter, I think the swipe at "liberals" is misguided, given language use and the mix of views on immigration across the political spectrum, and I don't have a problem, for example, with an oath of citizenship being taken in a language other than English. I do expect would-be citizens to work to learn the language, though, if adults, and that their children be required to learn and speak it in school.)

Maybe those of us who oppose open borders and unfettered, disorderly, ad hoc immigration should stay home on May 2nd, and refuse to buy any products purchased by countries that encourage their citizens to illegally enter other nations and then demand "rights." I think that would be a bunch of sound and fury signifying nothing, too, but what the hell.

""If we don't protest they'll never hear us."