Friday, June 06, 2008

Obama's Division

Desite his intentions, Sen. Obama's candidacy has been a divisive one.

It took me a while to see it, but the little eruptions around its fringes -- the firebrand preachers, the lapel pins worn or not worn, the words used or not used by the candidate or his wife -- are fenceposts on which the wall that divides us is built.

Often, when candidates or their friends do something that clearly will make it difficult for many citizens to vote for him, his supporters try to downplay it and his opponents try to keep it in the spotlight.

With Obama, however, it seems to me that his supporters as well as his detractors embrace the "over the line" moments. To the latter, of course, they are hints of a dangerous tendency that the candidate would rather not have us see. That's to be expected from them. But so many Obama supporters, instead of positioning their man away from such material, seem to find the wellspring of their support for him in the hope that he really feels that way.

Here, for instance.

So move over Michelle Obama, I'm ashamed of this country to the point where I don't know whether to reach for my passport or my gun. It's the country of "I've got mine and screw you, it's not enough." It's the country of fear and intimidation and self righteous contempt for decency. If I'm ever really proud of this country, it will be when it starts acting as though the law was made for people, not people for the law. It will be when the much bragged about Christian Values aren't just a euphemism for "fuck you." It will be when the anger of the stupid, the willfully ignorant, the selfish, the war lovers and the cowards no longer lifts its light beside the golden door to hell.

And that's not going to happen.

And you can find this sort of thing all over the Leftosphere. The Michelle Obama quote is nowhere near the news story that sparked this outrage. Yet it was what came to the poster's mind to summarize his exact feelings about America. In fact, he radicalizes it: She said she only felt pride in her country after something happened. The poster posits patriotic pride as an extremely unlikely event.

The news story is about a teenager in California who is due to be sent back to his native Armenia because his family didn't get political asylum in the U.S. The kid is his class valedictorian and has been in America since he was a toddler.

The problem seems to be his father, who was a Soviet police officer in Armenia when it was a captive SSR, then felt threatened when the USSR died and his people rose up from under the Russian boot. Probably his were legitimate fears, but, given that long-forgotten thing called the Cold War, it is not necessarily the job of the U.S. to give the man a safe haven.

Yet the son's case is legitimate. It would be wonderful if we could craft laws to admit only the immigrants who will be productive and useful citizens who will make the most of all the opportunities this country offers. I have yet to see such a law.

One solution, in cases such as this, would be The DREAM Act, which, on the surface of it, I like:

The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (also called "The DREAM Act") is a piece of proposed federal legislation in the United States that would provide high-achieving high school students who are long-term illegal immigrants, and who wish to serve in the armed forces or attend college to be able to gain legal status.

The bill, in various incarnations, has been introduced several times in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. In the House it has never been brought to a floor vote as a stand-alone bill; in the Senate it was finally brought for debate on the floor on October 24, 2007, and though it was able to gain a majority vote it failed to gain cloture by a 52-44 vote, 8 votes short of overcoming a filibuster by senators opposed to the bill.

So, advocate for the act, call your Congressmen, and in the case of this boy, push for a special legislative exception. Such things happen all the time. The law is a crude tool and knows nothing of fairness (I wish those who wanted legislative solutions to everything would keep this in mind). But in America, there's usually a way for fairness to win.

At any rate, it seems to me the solution here is not to give up on the country (or to use this unresolved case to reinforce in public your having given up on it all along).

Obama's sideshows are divisive exactly because one part of us reads them and says, "oh, no," and another part reads them and says, "Hell, yes!"