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March 30, 2006

Heritage Conforms to Type

Flagging the Heritage Foundation for an absurdity is like calling the Oakland Raiders on roughing, but occasionally the offender is just too overt to ignore:

Lest we forget, immigrants who enter this country through unauthorized channels are breaking the law, and “an amnesty program that ignores this criminal behavior will only contribute to a general disrespect for the law.”

Ever driven above 65 miles per hour on the freeway? Ever noticed everyone else doing it too? Ever jaywalked? Yeah, thought so. The statutes are filled with selective laws: legislation passed so police have the option of cracking down, but widely understood to stand no prospect for comprehensive enforcement. And unlike speeders, or jaywalkers, illegal immigrants live as if they've broken the law: shadow citizens, existing on the margins of society, afraid to shine or shout lest the long arm of the government reach out to toss them a couple hundred miles south.

If we're worried that unenforced or widely-ignored laws will invalidate the superstructure of respect that keeps the state strong -- and my is it funny to see the Heritage Foundation adopting that concern -- you start by addressing brazen, universally violated statutes, not immigration. If we're just a bunch of hacks, though, who genuinely believe government power is unjust but are groping for every argument we can find to rationalize our xenophobia, looking out for the laws by attacking impoverished immigrants makes perfect sense.

March 30, 2006 | Permalink


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“a 'unitary executive' program that ignores this criminal behavior (by the President of the US) will only contribute to a general disrespect for the law.”

Where does Heritage stand on the President breaking the FISA law; redefining the acts that constitute torture under military law, US law, and international treaties that the US has signed; and denying the applicability of habeus corpus to US citizens?

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Mar 30, 2006 4:52:55 PM

"calling the Oakland Raiders on roughing"

...or calling Ezra on a mixed sports metaphor. Roughing is hockey; unnecessary roughness is football.

Posted by: diddy | Mar 30, 2006 5:20:32 PM

Here's something that I've always wanted to ask:

Why so much support for these lawbreakeres whose very existence in this country drive down the wages and eliminate workers' benefits for the working poor?

Aren't the working poor the group that the left says they want to help? How is having these outlaws fuck up the poor helping??

Posted by: Fred Jones | Mar 30, 2006 5:24:47 PM

roughing the passer and roughing the kicker....

Posted by: quietstorm | Mar 30, 2006 5:32:02 PM

roughing the passer, roughing the kicker. Point taken, however.

Posted by: TJ | Mar 30, 2006 5:32:55 PM

Roughing the passer. Roughing the kicker.

I know not of this "hockey." Presumably it is a sport? Not being a strong devotee of obscure pastimes, I generally need to be able to see it on TV or for it to have some other national exposure for me to know about it.

Posted by: Stephen | Mar 30, 2006 5:34:20 PM

quietstorm and TJ's comments weren't up when I posted, I swear.

Posted by: Stephen | Mar 30, 2006 5:35:08 PM

There is also unnecessary roughness in football.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Mar 30, 2006 5:36:01 PM

football also has Necessary Roughness, a penalty which, if you are flagged for it, results in the punishment of having to watch a movie in which wily freshman Quantum Leap teams up with HI-larious edgy comic Sinbad to win football games announced by legendary play-by-play man Rob Schneider

Posted by: Goldberg | Mar 30, 2006 5:45:42 PM

Apples and oranges, Ezra. Think about it: these people say they want to come here, but have such disrespect for our rule of law that they will break the law in order to come here. That shows that ultimately all they want is whatever they can get out of America, and do not give one damn about our laws or our culture.

You want these sort of people living next to you?

Posted by: shoelimpy | Mar 30, 2006 5:51:48 PM

Yes, Shoelimpy, and that is why I want to see this papist Irish expelled from our shores.


Posted by: Kylroy | Mar 30, 2006 5:56:05 PM

That shows that ultimately all they want is whatever they can get out of America, and do not give one damn about our laws or our culture.

You want these sort of people living next to you?

Well, damn, shoelimpy, these people control the government, so I guess them living next to me wouldn't be much more of a problem.

Posted by: Stephen | Mar 30, 2006 6:05:24 PM

The analogy to speeders is a great analogy. In fact, I often bring that up when people argue that illegal immigrants should not receive driver's licenses-- speeders, after all, cause far, far, far more harm than illegal immigrants, and yet nobody proposes pulling speeders' licenses (except perhaps with respect to multiple repeat offenders) to deter people from speeding.

The slight-of-hand in the "but they're breaking the law" argument (which was articulated by shoelimpy in his comment) is that nobody uses the mere fact of lawbreaking as the measure of moral fitness. For instance, most people would argue that the speeder who is attempting to get his wife to the hospital because she is going into labor should not be ticketed at all, and just about everyone would argue that it was morally justified to do so and that doing so does not demonstrate any sort of "contempt" for traffic laws.

Well, why is it that illegal immigrants come the US? Is it because they have no respect our laws? Not likely-- it is rather because they are trying to feed their families, and cannot get work in their home countries that is remunerative enough to do that. The "but it's illegal" argument totally ignores that one cannot judge the immorality of breaking a law without examining the context in which it occurs.

Posted by: Dilan Esper | Mar 30, 2006 7:05:31 PM

when i read conservatives going into conniption fits about breaking the law, it just reminds me of scandal-fearing, respectability-seeking wankers they are.

it reminds me of the times when they congratulate themselves on being "law-abiding citizens." whenever i hear that, sometimes i want to go out and break the law so that i'm in no way like THEM.

Posted by: harry near indy | Mar 30, 2006 7:30:46 PM

I disagree, this is a very poor analogy. Because it is difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone traveling 66 mph in a 65 mph zone was actually speeding and because even someone trying to obey all traffic regulations will ocasionally violate one inadvertently there needs to be a margin of tolerance in enforcement. Everyone knows this and it is taken into account when setting and enforcing safe speed limits. I do expect someone to lose his license if he is repeatedly caught driving dangerously.

The immigration law violations at issue are not the sporadic, minor and often inadvertent violations of traffic laws of which many people are guilty. Most people are not upset because someone overstays his tourist visa by a few days or because someone here on a student visa accepts payment for occasional odd jobs. The immigration law violations I and others object to are continuous, knowing and major. They are the equivalent of traveling 70 mph in a school zone.

A better comparison might be to drug laws which have not succeeded in suppressing the drug trade. However if the same effort were devoted to enforcing immigration laws as has been devoted to attempting to enforce the drug laws I believe illegal immigration would be reduced to acceptable levels so this is not really a great analogy either.

Posted by: James B. Shearer | Mar 30, 2006 8:06:42 PM

If these people wanted to be law-abiding citizens, they wouldn't break the law. Period. How hard is it to immigrate here legally? It is done ALL THE TIME. There are plenty of legal Mexican immigrants in the United States, not to mention people from every other country on earth. There are a reason those laws are in place, and people who want to live here SHOULD RESPECT THAT.

It's simple.

Posted by: shoelimpy | Mar 30, 2006 8:31:02 PM

"Well, why is it that illegal immigrants come the US? Is it because they have no respect our laws? Not likely-- it is rather because they are trying to feed their families, and cannot get work in their home countries that is remunerative enough to do that."

So we are to be punished by the fact that these countries are horrid shitholes that cannot even take care of its own people? If they want to come here, there are ways to do it legally. They should respect that if they want to work here.

Should someone be allowed to shoot you in your face so they can steal your wallet to buy food for their starving children?

Posted by: shoelimpy | Mar 30, 2006 8:35:20 PM

Wow -- that's possibly the most uninformed comment I've heard in the whole debate.

Posted by: Ezra | Mar 30, 2006 8:35:31 PM

How is it that any of us can argue on one hand that Bush should be impeached for breaking the law and then argue simultaneously that we should overlook other laws that are inconvenient to us for one reason or another?

Your speeding analogy is bankrupt. Those laws are the law of the land. It may be socially acceptable to speed, but to argue that makes it OK is scandalous, and intellectually dishonest.

There is always selective enforcement because no one wants a police force big enough to enfore every violation every time, and that's a good thing. What it isn't, though, is a basis for arguing that breaking the law is OK.

If there is any one single thing that distinguishes a sovereign state from one less organized it is the utter right to determine who enters,settles and/or leaves within its borders.

Those of us who wish that this country maintain its openess and historic embrace of those wishing to lead a better life should be arguing for better and more liberal immigration policies and procedures. Arguing that it's OK to come here illegally is *not* OK, albeit understandable.

Bush's sanctimonious "guest worker" plan is hideous on its face, a new way to systematically exploit with no up-side for those workers. If we need these workers, we should be finding ways to have them here legally, with the chance to become full, producticve citizens.

Absent that, we should be enforcing our own laws.

Posted by: Vizsla1086 | Mar 30, 2006 8:57:33 PM

"Wow -- that's possibly the most uninformed comment I've heard in the whole debate."

You've got to take every crime in context. Right, Ezra?

Posted by: shoelimpy | Mar 30, 2006 9:13:35 PM

I've seen shoelimpy post on a couple blogs, and I doubt that he/she/it is expressing his/her/its genuine opinions. Really, what we have here is a sort of half-assed attention-craving trollery.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Mar 30, 2006 11:12:17 PM

If shoelimpy won't respect the laws of trolling, how we can expect him/her/it to follow the laws of our country? Would YOU want shoelimpy living next to you?

Posted by: J. Puckett | Mar 30, 2006 11:54:13 PM

And yes, Ezra. I drive over 65 on the freeway all the time. Of course, the speed limit is 75 in some places of the country...

But I sort of see the point you're trying to make. Unfortunately, like James Shearer and Vizsla1086, I see a fundamental flaw in the analogy.

People who speed fully expect that, at some point in time, a friendly person with flashing red, white, and blue lights all over their vehicle, will focus their entire attention upon them just to make the speeder's life a little bit mroe interesting. What the "We Are Not Criminals" protesters seem to be asking for is effective immunity from the immigration laws.

Selective prosecution != immunity

Posted by: Off Colfax | Mar 31, 2006 12:03:58 AM

I don't think that's right, Off Colfax. People who usually drive 70 in a 65 zone don't expect to be pulled over. (At least, I didn't.)

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Mar 31, 2006 1:08:56 AM

Neil, it helps to not keep going 70 when everyone else is doing 35 in moderate traffic. Keeps the friendly lights from focusing on you. ;-)

Posted by: Off Colfax | Mar 31, 2006 1:14:09 AM

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