Beliefnet
At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

“War is hell.”

Daniel Somers and his family didn’t need Sherman to tell them this.

Somers was a distinguished Iraq War veteran who killed himself on June 10.  The hundreds of combat missions and other action of which he partook left Somers with a legacy of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, brain injuries, and an assortment of war-induced injuries that rendered every moment of daily existence intolerable.

Shortly before taking his life, he wrote a letter bidding farewell to his loved ones.  The latter has since given Gawker permission to publish it.

Upon informing his family that it was his love for them that managed to keep him alive this long, Somers goes on to describe his body as “a cage, a source of pain and constant problems,” and his mind as “a wasteland, filled with visions of incredible horror, unceasing depression, and crippling anxiety [.]”  Somers writes that he is incapable of laughing and crying, incapable of deriving pleasure from any activity, save sleep.  Thus, “to sleep forever seems to be the most merciful thing.”

He assures his loved ones that it is not they who brought him to this point, but the government that forced him “to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe.”  During his first deployment in Iraq, Somers states, he and his comrades-in-arms were made to perpetrate “war crimes, crimes against humanity.”

Though he insists that he made his “best effort to stop these events,” he is equally insistent that they were too horrible in nature from which to bounce back.  Only “a sociopath” could achieve this feat, Somers asserts.

Yet for as unspeakable as these “crimes against humanity” were, it was covering them up that further fueled Somers’ despondency.  “To force me to do these things and then participate in the ensuing coverup [sic] is more than any government has the right to demand.”

While taking shots at Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Dick Cheney, Somers accuses his government of abandoning, not just himself, but just those veterans who it consigned to the hell of war, including and especially the approximately two dozen veterans who commit suicide each and every day.

Somers’ plight, like that of far too many veterans of the post-9/11 era, is, at best, tragic.  At worst, it is scandalous, an outrage.  In any event, though, its significance lies in the light that it sheds on our politics, particularly the politics of the Republican Party.

War is the one circumstance under which the government conducting it becomes an activist government, i.e. a Big Government. It is the one time, more so than any other, when it is expected that the government will enlist the daily activities of civil society in the service of fulfilling its purposes.  That war is the emblem of Big Government explains why those who wish to see America’s federal government assume this activist role on the domestic scene not infrequently invoke the imagery of war (“The War on Drugs” and “The War on Poverty” are just two examples that come to mind).

But as real conservatives have always known, individual liberty and Big Government are mutually incompatible.  Real conservatives have also known that it is not uncommon for the best laid plans of men—particularly when they are men holding political office—to go awry.  And under no conditions is this more likely to occur than the unconditioned chaos of war.

In spite of this, most of today’s Republicans who insist upon calling themselves “conservatives” maintain that we are at war with an enemy that, because it has none of the distinctness of those governments that we’ve gone to war with in the past, promises to be intractable. Our war is a war without end.

However, a war without end requires a big military without end.

And a big military without end is Big Government without end.

To put it directly, the Republican Party is either self-delusional or deceptive, for its rhetoric of “limited government” and “individual liberty” is radically at odds with its enthusiasm for growing the military ad infinitum.   A smaller, decentralized, truly federal government most definitely is compatible with liberty.  In fact, the latter can’t exist without the former.  Calls for Big Government, though, are nothing less than calls for a drastic diminution of liberty and, as in the case of Somers, ever greater individual suffering.

These Republican “conservatives” should bear in mind what no true conservative would ever need to be told: as long as they get their wish, the Daniel Somers of the world will only multiply.

 

 

While discussing “comprehensive immigration reform”—i.e. amnesty—on Sean Hannity’s television program last week, Ann Coulter had some choice words for Florida Senator and amnesty apologist Marco Rubio.

Referring to Rubio as “the Jack Kevorkian of the Republican Party,” Coulter maintained that Rubio’s assertions to the contrary aside, the country’s illegal immigrants will be on a “pathway to citizenship” long before any meaningful improvements in border security could be expected to occur.  “If Congress was really serious about 100 percent border security,” she said, “they would enforce E-Verify and build a fence.”

Of course Congress is not in the least bit concerned about border security.  But before we see that this is so, there is something more fundamental to bear in mind.

Border security is not a bargaining chip.  It is as much of a non-negotiable in the governing of a nation as fidelity is a non-negotiable in marriage.  Whatever obligations a country’s government can be said to have, there is no duty more basic than that of border security, for unless its borders are secured, the integrity of the country is imperiled.  Similarly, a marriage promises to dissolve unless its most essential obligation, fidelity, the promise of each spouse to “forsake all others,” is discharged.

Spouses, just by virtue of being spouses, owe one another fidelity.  Likewise, governments owe it to their citizens to secure their borders.

Whether border security attracts or alienates voters is of no consequence: a country’s borders must be secured.  It is conditional upon nothing other than the relationship that obtains between a citizenry and its government.

There are still yet other considerations having nothing to do with its details that militate decisively against the Rubio-Schumer amnesty plan.

For starters, pro-amnesty politicians constantly tell us that our immigration system is “broken.”  This is a lie, for the problem is not the laws that constitute “the system” but our government’s refusal, over a span of decades and decades, to enforce those laws.  To put this point another way, if the system is “broken,” it is because politicians, both Democrat and Republican alike, broke it.

And what this in turn means is that the very same people who broke the system now want for us to trust them to construct a brand new indestructible one with which to replace it.

The American citizen who buys this is as big of a fool as one who would trust a man who burned down his house to build him a new one that is fire-proof.

Secondly, our government has proven itself either unwilling or unable to secure our country’s borders.  But not anymore, to hear the Gang of Eight and other amnesty apologists tell it.  If only—if only!—we pass “comprehensive immigration reform,” then the government will finally, at long last, fulfill its constitutional obligation.

As if to strengthen their case, Rubio and his allies spare no occasion to list all of the conditions that they swear the country’s illegal immigrants will have to satisfy on their “pathway to citizenship.”

Just a moment’s reflection readily reveals just how patently absurd is this line.

Our elected representatives are trying their best to convince us that while they failed to secure America’s borders in the past when immigration law was simpler, once the law becomes more complex, this failure will be rectified.

In other words, when their responsibilities were few in number, they were too much for our politicians to handle.  Now, they tell us, all they need is more responsibilities to not only do the job that they pledged to do, but perform it perfectly. This is like a person who fails to discharge his duties as mayor of a small town attempting to persuade us that if only we elected him to the presidency of the United States, then he would become the best mayor ever.

Common sense has delivered its verdict: not for a single moment can any person with an IQ above room temperature, least of all a conservative devoted to liberty and all too aware of the incompetence and inefficiencies of Big Government, endorse the Gang of Eight’s so-called “comprehensive immigration reform.”

 

Let’s be blunt: anyone who endorses anything remotely resembling the “comprehensive immigration reform” currently bandied about in Congress is either a fool or a liar.

Amnesty—and make no mistakes about it, “comprehensive immigration reform,” “a pathway to citizenship,” and whatever other euphemisms its apologists invoke do nothing to change the fact that it is amnesty that they favor—is a fool’s errand of epic proportions.  This becomes obvious once we consider it in light of an analogy from everyday life.

You’re married.  Chief among the obligations inherent in marriage is that of fidelity.  Now, your spouse has chronically failed to fulfill this most basic of duties.  Finally, you’ve had enough.  Upon threatening your philandering spouse with divorce, she acknowledges that your marriage is “broken” before swearing to not only change, but change radically.   Not only will she stop cheating, she promises to transform herself into the epitome of the subservient, loyal, and loving wife.

While you would doubtless want to believe this, you could not do so.

No one could.

Unfortunately, none of the good sense on display here is present in this debate over amnesty—even though the reasoning for the latter is identical to the reasoning of the unfaithful wife.

It is among the most basic obligations of a government to secure its country’s borders.  As fidelity is essential to preserving the integrity of marriage, so too is border security essential to preserving the integrity of a nation.  Indeed, a government that fails to secure its country’s borders is unfaithful to its citizens.

Now, according to the Senate Gang of Eight’s plan, the government will be expected, not only to secure the border, but to see to it that a whole lot of other conditions are satisfied by those who are on “the pathway to citizenship.”

There are a few things to note here.

First, if the government either can’t or won’t fulfill its most basic and simplest of obligations in securing the country’s borders now, there is zero reason to accept its assurances that it will fulfill this duty as well as a bunch of new duties later.  As my old martial arts instructor used to say, you’ve got to learn how to walk before you can learn how to run.

With respect to this issue, our government hasn’t yet learned how to walk, or even crawl.  But the Gang of Eight and their accomplices in the media would have us believe that with the stroke of a pen, the federal government will instantaneously become a marathon runner.

Second, border security is as big of a non-negotiable in governing as fidelity is a non-negotiable in marriage.  The citizens of the United States should no more have to negotiate with their government to secure its borders than spouses should have to negotiate with one another to refrain from engaging in adultery.  Spouses owe it to each other to be faithful. Similarly, the government owes it to its citizens to secure their borders.

However, when Marco Rubio or Chuck Schumer or any other politician favoring amnesty tells us that in order to secure the border we must first place millions of illegal immigrants on a “pathway” to citizenship, what they are essentially saying is that we, the people’s elected representatives, the government, will not discharge our constitutional duty unless you go along with what we want. 

Translation: border security most definitely is negotiable.

And their accomplices in the media, most tragically the so-called “conservative” media, echo this sentiment.

Finally, when Chuck Schumer, Marco Rubio, and their allies in Washington inform us that our immigration system is “broken,” they admit, albeit unwittingly, that they, Republicans and Democrats alike, broke it. Only now, after decades of breaking the system apart piece by piece, they expect for citizens to trust them to construct a new system that is better than ever, a system that will magically solve all of our immigration related issues once and forever.

To take seriously such a claim is to expose oneself as a fool.  To get others to take it seriously is to expose oneself as a liar.

           

 

For many of us, Barack Obama’s presidency has been anything but an occasion for rejoicing.  From its beginnings to the present, and particularly during the last couple of months with the eruption of one scandal after the other, it has been like a dark cloud hanging over the nation’s head.

Still, this dark cloud does indeed have a silver lining.

Five years ago, Obama and his supporters (on both the left and right) assured the country that his election promised to alleviate interracial tensions.  Most people bought this line.  Some of us, though, knew that it was just that—a line.   Moreover, we knew that not only would race relations not improve, they would actually worsen as the usual suspects in the Racism Industrial Complex (RIC), ever fearful that a black president would undermine their heretofore tried and true narrative of perpetual white oppression and black suffering, accelerated their cries of “racism.”

On the other hand, some of us also knew that RIC agents’ fears were not unfounded.  For however frequently and loudly they screamed “racism,” the presence of a black president—and a black president with the name of Barack Hussein Obama, to boot—could very well, eventually, suck the life out of their template.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll taken two weeks ago suggests that maybe, just maybe, this is beginning to occur.

The poll found that the public’s support for affirmative action is at an all-time low. 

Forty-five percent of respondents maintain that this race-centered preferential treatment policy is still necessary in order to protect racial minorities.  But, for the first time, an equal number of people think that it is unjust inasmuch as it discriminates against white.

The significance of this can’t be overstated.  Two decades ago, 61 percent of Americans supported affirmative action.

Predictably, race and politics remain reliable indicators of where one comes down on this issue.  Opposition to affirmative action stems from nearly 60 percent of whites, 40 percent of Hispanics, and 20 percent of blacks. Sixty-seven percent of Democrats support it, versus just 22 percent of Republicans and 17 percent of self-identified members of the Tea Party who do so.  Independents support affirmative action by just 39 percent.

As NBC News’ Domenico Mantanaro writes, this historically low support for affirmative action is attributable to several things, including “diversity fatigue” and “20 years of anti-affirmative-action campaigns.”  Yet, he adds, it is also explained as a result of “an African-American being elected president [.]”

Whether Obama’s presidency is just one cause among others or a primary contributor to the erosion of support for affirmative action is neither here nor there.  To the extent that it accounts to any extent for this phenomenon almost makes his time in the Oval office worth it, for there are few policies as inimical to our constitutional order as affirmative action.

The liberty that Americans have always prized and that our Founders did their best to codify in and secure by way of the Constitution did not fall like manna from heaven.  It is the product of many generations, a complex of historically and culturally-specific habits, including and especially the habit of despising large concentrations of power.  This last found its penultimate expression in respect for the rule of law.

The rule of law prevents those in government from succumbing to arbitrary—i.e. unlawful—deployments of the power at their disposal.  In other words, it forbids them from acting partially, whether in their own interests or those of a class.  It requires of the government that it refrain from privileging some citizens above others.

The rule of law precludes affirmative action.

Reporting on the results of the NBC/WSJ poll, Domenico Mantanaro says that respondents who reject affirmative action reject it on the grounds that such “programs unfairly discriminate against whites.”  They are mistaken.  Affirmative action deserves to be rejected, certainly, but not because it is either discriminatory or discriminatory against whites.

Affirmative action needs to be abolished because it is government discrimination against some citizens and in favor of others.

As such, it is an affront to the liberty of all citizens.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if Obama’s color wound up actually harming his cause by facilitating the end of affirmative action and a restoration of some measure of liberty?