- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 9, 2002

Honoring Abe

A.M. Rosenthal, the former executive editor of the New York Times, may or may not be "the 20th century's greatest journalist," as his nominators for the Presidential Medal of Freedom asserted in their letter to President Bush, but a lot of his colleagues think he's one of the very best. This afternoon, Abe and 11 other distinguished Americans will receive the nation's highest civilian honor in a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden.

Yesterday, Wesley Pruden, our editor in chief, and several other editors and columnists entertained Mr. Rosenthal; his wife, Shirley Lord; and his sister, Rose Newman of New York City, at a small luncheon at The Washington Times. His column now appears every Monday in this newspaper (and the New York Daily News).

As a correspondent in India for the New York Times, he pressed the case for the untouchables, and his reports from the Russian gulags gave the lie to Soviet claims that it no longer punished political prisoners. His work on behalf of persecuted Christians in third-world satrapies led to the enactment of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1988. His nomination for the Medal of Freedom was signed by Catholics, Jews, evangelical Protestants, even a representative of the Dalai Lama.

But those of us in the news biz honor Abe for his insistence, against the extraordinary pressure of politically correct fads and hipper-than-thou trendiness, that there's a difference between news and editorial opinion that opinion, wherever it appears in a newspaper, must be labeled opinion so it can't be confused with news.

"Having Abe in this building is an honor for us at The Times," Wes Pruden said yesterday, toasting him with ice water (a vintage from his private cellar), "because in addition to the extraordinary influence he has projected, first as a columnist for the New York Times and whose column now appears in our paper, he's the newspaperman that those of us in the trade have always wanted to be."

Jim who?

We have to laugh at the Democratic National Committee, which is wasting party faithfuls' time by asking them to send letters "to President Bush to let him know you're proud of the job Tom Daschle and the Democratic Senate is doing" more than a year after Vermont Sen. James M. Jeffords handed Democrats power by defecting from the Republican Party.

Senate Majority Leader Daschle, of course, owes both title and throne to Mr. Jeffords, and insists the Jeffords defection "will go down in history as one of the great American declarations of political conscience."

On the recent one-year anniversary of Mr. Jeffords' switching to independent and giving Democrats control by one vote of the Senate, this newspaper couldn't even get one of his former Republican colleagues to mention him by name.

Summoning Monica

Asked whether political candidates should receive free TV airtime, Tom Adkins, editor of CommonConservative.com, told the Hill newspaper: "Oh sure, and free food, too. Free cars, free houses, free foot massages, and anything else a king might demand. Americans should simply hand over half of everything we own to our politicians . Next thing you know, they'll be asking for our daughters. Actually, that was the last administration."

Anchor babies

It's called birthright citizenship, and its related phenomenon has been dubbed "anchor babies."

The United States, says immigration watchdog group Project USA, grants automatic citizenship to babies born in this country to illegal aliens, temporary workers, even tourists. The babies can eventually "anchor" their extended families in the United States, thus precipitating an unlimited number of "chain immigrants" with the right to immigrate.

As a method of modernizing U.S. immigration policy, Project USA is proposing an end to birthright citizenship. It cites the Fourteenth Amendment, on which the practice of birthright citizenship is "wrongly" based (the salient part of the amendment reads: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.")

"To us, it seems obvious that a tourist or illegal alien and her newborn are not 'subject to' U.S. jurisdiction," the group argues.

Others take exception, including University of Wisconsin-Madison history professor Thomas J. Archdeacon, who writes: "If aliens in the U.S. commit crimes or otherwise come into contact with the law, they may seek support from their home governments, but they are most definitely subject to U.S. jurisdiction."

So the group put the same question to former Rep. Brian Bilbray, California Republican, who along with 80 co-sponsors introduced the Citizenship Reform Act of 1999. He points out that birthright citizenship is a concept rooted in English common law dating to a 1608 ruling called Calvin's Case.

Since then, he says, being "subject to" has meant that a person could be tried for treason to the sovereign in question, or be drafted into its military.

"Clearly," says Project USA, "neither a Korean tourist, nor a Saudi national with a temporary work visa, nor a Mexican illegal alien, can be tried for treason to the United States or be drafted into the U.S. military. And if these women are not 'subject to' the jurisdiction of the United States, their babies at birth must be even less so."

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