Beliefnet
At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

Paul Greenberg’s last article proves what many of us have long known: neoconservatives are leftists by another name.

Greenberg waxes orgasmic over President Obama’s decision to grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens.  However, like every other champion of amnesty, he unequivocally denies both that he favors amnesty and that Obama has granted any such thing.  In fact, he enthusiastically seconds Obama’s line that “the real amnesty” is our current system, a system “that hasn’t stopped illegal immigration but just abandoned those who managed to sneak across the border, sentencing them to a vague limbo somewhere beyond the reach of law, offering them neither justice nor mercy” (italics added).  Greenberg is adamant that such a system is radically incompatible with “the America we know and still want to believe in.”

The excessive, but all too predictable, use of bumper sticker sloganeering and emotional appeals aside, Greenberg’s argument is shockingly bad.

First things first: Our immigration system is not “broken.”  The chief problem with the system lay in the fact that those who are entrusted with its enforcement refuse to discharge their duties.  Talk of a “broken system” serves both Republicans and Democrats, for it deflects all responsibility from derelict politicians to some abstract, impersonal entity.

Secondly, Greenberg is no doubt correct that there are “good hard working people” who will benefit from Obama’s and Greenberg’s amnesty.  However, judging from the fact that roughly one-third of the federal prison population consists of illegal aliens, there is also a fair share of very bad beneficiaries of their “mercy.”

Thirdly, the fact remains—even if he and his amnesty-loving ilk prefer that we ignore it—that even these “good” people to whom Greenberg refers are criminals.  Not only did they violate the law in entering this country; of necessity, they’ve broken a host of other laws—tax laws, driving laws, etc.—once they arrived here.

Fourthly, Greenberg’s and Obama’s (and most other Democrats’ and Republicans’) description of the present situation as “the real amnesty” is profoundly disingenuous for two reasons:

(1)As I said before, there are as many illegal immigrants as there are precisely because the amnesty lovers—those who, for economic, political, and/or racial reasons, wish to throw open the floodgates to Hispanics and others from the Third World—have adamantly refused to enforce America’s immigration laws.

(2)If we have a de facto amnesty because illegal aliens are “in the shadows,” then we have a de facto amnesty vis-à-vis drug users and drug dealers, rapists, murderers, child molesters, and every other sort of criminal.  If a de facto amnesty regarding illegal immigrants is intolerable, something that needs to be rectified by legalizing them, then, presumably, a de facto amnesty concerning all other criminals is intolerable and should be solved by legalizing them.

Finally, like all supporters of amnesty, Greenberg insists that no amnesty has taken place, for there are various “standards” that illegal immigrants must meet before their status can change.

The world is ridden with bad ideas, but I can’t think of any that more unequivocally convicts its holder of either scandalous gullibility or blatant dishonesty than this one.  Think about it: The government can’t fulfill its most basic Constitutional obligation by preventing millions of people from entering the country, but now that they’re here, it expects for us to believe that it will be able to make them comply with a bewildering battery of other laws!  This is like a lame person who, while admitting that he can’t walk, assures you that if you just give him the chance, he will become a marathon runner.

Also, if these illegal immigrants who are all “good hard working people” deserve “justice and mercy,” then isn’t it unjust and unmerciful to impose any standards at all upon them?

There is one last point that shouldn’t be lost upon us: Greenberg argues his case—and that of Obama’s—by way of the doctrine of “American Exceptionalism” (AE).

Obama’s speech last Thursday night, he says, “was…a tribute to American exceptionalism, for this is a nation bound together not like others, by blood or class or party, but by shared belief and hope [.]”

To be sure, AE is a quintessential egalitarian doctrine.  And like all such doctrines, it denies the variety of human existence by reducing human beings to a bunch of interchangeable rights-bearers.  This is why it is ready made for leftist ideologues of both the neoconservative and the more recognizable varieties, universalists who want to remake the country—and the world—in the image of their ideology. After all, when ethnic, racial, religious, and every other kind of consideration that has ever distinguished people from one another are treated as if they don’t really exist, then the human species is regarded as a blank slate upon which the champions of Equality can scribble out their fantasies—fantasies like Democracy, say.

The prevailing vision of immigration policy shared by neoconservatives, like Greenberg, and other leftists, like Obama, reflects this same bloodless, lifeless, egalitarianism.

 

 

 

 

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