A policy of condescension

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Henry David Thoreau, the famous essayist, said that “It is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.”

Judging by the desperate allegations being made by some supporters of amnesty for illegal aliens, it seems that one characteristic they lack is wisdom — or common sense, for that matter.

The most noisome of these allegations is that any opponent of amnesty must be a bigot, a xenophobe or a racist — since most illegal aliens are brown-skinned and most opponents are white. Of course, the message is that America’s immigration system is racist. Regrettably, many whites are so paralyzed by political correctness that they are quieter than church mice when the amnesty supporters cry “racism” — thus allowing the race-mongers to win the argument by default.

So, perhaps it behooves a brown-skinned immigrant to point out the fallacy of their despicable allegations. When I came to America many years ago, I was a lone young man from the Third World — poor and thick-accented, but a legal arrival nevertheless. Now a naturalized American, I am extremely proud of my American citizenship because I know I earned it the right way — by coming legally, by waiting in line.

My rise from Third World penury into America’s upper-middle class is an annihilation of the claim that America is a racist country. But obviously my immigrant story is not unique, since millions of poor immigrants have had similar success.

A foreigner has no constitutional right to come to America — there is nothing in the Constitution that gives them the right to live here. (I should know — I was a foreigner once.) In any case, for decades America has granted the privilege of admission to millions of legal applicants of every race — and provided an avenue whereby those millions can turn that privilege (a visa) into an inalienable right to live here (naturalized citizenship). So, anyone who claims that such a country is racist is simply indicating their abysmal ignorance of facts.

A few statistics will help obliterate their claims. In 2006, for instance, the top five countries whose people were given green cards (signifying legal permanent residence) were Mexico, China, the Philippines, India and Cuba. In fact, more Mexican immigrants were given green cards (173,753) than all European immigrants combined (164,285). It should be repeated — Mexico got more green cards than all the European countries combined. By any definition, that is not a sign of a country with a racist immigration policy.

Many decent people resent the Senate amnesty bill not because of racism, but because the bill insults the decency and intelligence of legal immigrant and citizen alike — for it legalizes those who had no respect for American law in the first place. After all, by coming here illegally, their very first act was to break the law. The bill’s proponents may claim that the illegal aliens will have to pay fines, that they will have to go to the back of the line, etc., but those are red-herring arguments. The truth is that this bill would legalize practically every illegal alien.

The claim of immigration racism is a device by amnesty proponents to legitimize their immoral cause — the subversion of American law in order to achieve ethnic and political goals. For if their cause was truly moral, they would not need such tactics. A truly moral cause would not need the dissembling that is so common with amnesty proponents. The 1960s civil-rights cause was a moral one — the civil-rights leaders did not need to dissemble. The morality of their cause was obvious to any reasonable American.

In a despicable attempt to put a moral veneer on a patently immoral cause, some amnesty supporters are comparing their campaign to the civil-rights struggles of the ‘50s and ‘60s. What a disgrace. After all, Rosa Parks did not ask the bus driver to take a special route for her — instead, having waited in line, she only asked that she be treated just like everybody else.

But the amnesty supporters are asking us to put the illegal aliens on a special route through the immigration system. The illegals did not wait in line. They came here anyway, and now they want us to accept their illegal behavior and turn our immigration laws upside down. By such logic, we might as well get rid of burglary laws because burglars could claim that since they now hold the goods, they should therefore be declared the rightful owners.

President Bush criticizes the failure of many schools to hold nonwhite students to high standards as “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” In fact, nothing indicates “the soft bigotry of low expectations” more than support for legalization of illegal aliens — for it presumes that nonwhite immigrants are incapable of high standards of conduct (such as coming here legally) and therefore their illegal behavior must be condoned. How can such a low expectation be construed as anything but a bigoted condescension?

Therefore, an amnesty for 10 million to 20 million illegal aliens, which the Senate bill clearly is, will be the biggest display of “the soft bigotry of low expectations” that America has ever seen. Thus, this amnesty will help perpetuate bigotry rather than end it.

Ian de Silva is an engineer who has side interests in politics and history.

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