Monday, September 03, 2007

Using the Right Word

The great American humorist Mark Twain once said that the difference between the right word and the almost-right word was as significant as the difference between the lightning and the lightning bug. Were he alive today, Mr Twain would certainly have something to say about the choice of words used in the loud and dishonest national debate about America's immigration policy.

I've written about this many times before in this blog, and I've also published my plan for immigration reform (which was acknowledged by both my Senators, my district Representative, and the President with form letters which were all variations on "thanks-for-your-views-don't-let-the-door-hit-you-in-the-fanny-on-your-way-out." At the risk of sounding like a one-note trumpet, I've decided to address the issue yet again, because the rank dishonesty and hypocrisy of people on all sides of the issue is once more getting under my skin.

Those arguing for what they term "immigrant rights" are hypocritical and dishonest when they accuse anyone opposing their view of being "anti-immigrant." This is beyond stupid. Of all the nations of the world, America is the only one (with the possible exception of Australia) to have been built almost entirely by immigrants. If you trace the family tree back far enough, every one of today's native-born American citizens is descended from someone who immigrated to America from somewhere else. The simple truth of this can be proven simply by paging through the white pages of any American city and looking at the enormous variety of names.

They are also hypocritical and dishonest when they refer to those who have entered the country illegally as "undocumented." Let's be clear on this point: "undocumented" is a fatuous attempt to finesse the fact that the so-called "undocumented" person is "undocumented" because he or she has willfully broken the law for his or her own benefit. To me, and to most people who can look honestly at the issue, this is pretty obvious. Laws are established to protect societies. If we wink and nudge and decide that we don't want to obey this or that law because we don't think it's fair or it should apply to us, we have taken a step on the road to the growing disregard for the rule of law that we see around the world. These people are not "undocumented" - they are lawbreakers.

The dishonesty and hypocrisy is not limited to the pro-illegal-immigrant lobby. It runs widely through our business communities and even our government. Businesses keep wages down and, thus, profits up by employing illegal immigrants who can't insist on the rights and protections available to American citizens or legal residents. And we consumers underwrite this hypocrisy by insisting on the lowest possible prices - not a bad thing, as long as we understand that we get those low prices by tacitly supporting illegal immigration and the exploitation of those who come here illegally. Our political leadership, on both sides of the aisle, continues the hypocrisy by pandering to loud and obnoxious "immigrant rights" groups while seeking the ever-growing Hispanic vote. Congress, unwilling to offend any side of the immigration debate, sticks its head deeply into the legislative sand and abrogates its responsibility to the states and local communities, which have responded with a patchwork quilt of varying and sometimes conflicting laws. Church groups claiming to support the human and civil rights of illegal immigrants offer them sanctuary and support, but fail utterly to press the Congress to fix the problem with fair and reasonable legislation.

This is what aggravates me most about the debate about illegal immigrants: no one is willing to be honest. No one is willing to call a spade a spade when it's easier and more politically correct to call it a pointy shovel.

Until we are honest with each other, the problem will not be fixed. Until we respond to blowhards like Mexico's President Calderon, who castigated the United States for its immigration policies in his State of the Union address, but ignored Mexico's brutal treatment of illegal immigrants entering that country from the south, we will continue to be the unwilling safety valve for every other nation unwilling to put its own house in order because it's easier just to dump the excess unemployed people on the U.S.

I have said this all before. I have also noted that my grandparents on both sides of the family were legal immigrants to this country from Europe. I have written of the bureaucratic fandango I had to dance to get legal immigration visas for my wife and daughter after we married overseas (I thought at one time that I'd be done when the weight of the paperwork equaled their combined weight, and I could prove I'd taken at least ten thousand miles of train trips back and forth to the American embassy to get all the right stamps, seals and signatures). I have no sympathy whatsoever for those who would ignore the law to achieve their ends, and no respect for legislators who fail in their responsibility to fix the laws that need to be fixed.

But what do I know...I'm just another opinionated blogger who believes in the antiquated concept of using the right word.

And being honest.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



John said...

It's all about the spin, isn't it? It is a rare politician that will say what they mean and mean what they say. When we sart pointing out the "illegal" in illegal immigrant, they change it to undocumented.

I'm afraid that you wouldn't make a very good politician. How can you take a stance that will offend so many people and not leave yourself a little political wiggle room. You may be quite the ballroom dancer but this is a whole different kind of dancing.

My father married my mother overseas (Philippines) and she became a naturalized citizen back in the 60's.
I know that a big part of the problem from Mexico is the local corruption and money that it takes to pay off Mexican officials for the right papers. For many in Mexico that would like to come legally, it is unaffordable. As long as the Mexican government encourages and supports them crossing illegally, they will continue to do so.

Another fine rant, Bilbo.

YO said...

I am afraid a decent person can´t make a decent politician, so I agree with John in that point. You wouldn´t make a good one.
I totally agree with your words, as it is just unfair with society the things the illegal are doing, but dont you yhink the wall across the border in Mexico wa a step too far?