Towards A Good Samaritan World

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

A PERSONAL TRAGEDY, SADLY TYPICAL

Dan Griswold, over at Reason: "Beyond the Barbed Wire: Bush Won a Mandate For Immigration Reform." Amen to that!

I just posted a long article, or series of articles, called "Borders" on my website. I wrote most of it more than a year ago, and planned to make it part of a book, but I don't foresee getting a chance to write the book, so there it is. I split it up into eight parts:

Introduction: Strange Entities
History: The Changing Meaning of Borders
Rome, China and the Tenacious Dream of World Empire
Nation-States and the Globalization of the Westphalian System
Whither Borders in an Age of Globalization and "Empire?"
A New Function: Borders as Membranes to Regulate Population Flows
The Political Economy of Immigration
Tocqueville's Democratic Wave: How Borders Aborted the Egalitarian Revolution

In personal news, my mother-in-law-to-be was just denied a visa to the US. My fiancee and I are getting married on December 29th. Nadia is her mother's only daughter (she also has a son), whom she loves very much. (Sometimes too much, it feels like.)

Think about that. A woman out there is sad tonight, because her daughter, whom she raised for 22 years, is going to America to marry, and she cannot even be there. Those joyous occasions, meeting the parents, watching the altar, hearing the music and the words, seeing your daughter dressed in white, those occasions that fill a parent's head with images which reassure them of their child's happiness; she will get none of those. And not because of a shortage of money; they sold an apartment they own recently and have enough money to come. (They would have bought a couple of thousand dollars, at a time when the dollar needs buying!) Why?
Because a bureaucrat in the US State Department decided that she might want to stay in America and work.

It's easy to argue against immigration restrictions from abstract justice or economic advantage. But we must never forget, and we need as many reminders as possible, that this is not just an abstract question, it is real violence being enacted every day, tearing apart families, shattering dreams.

My fiancee absolved me of what my country did. "You don't have to say you're sorry you live in America. I already know." And I didn't object. Even though I'm listed on the blogroll at Hamilton's Pamphlets under "Alexander's Great Patriots," even though I am a fervent believer in the American creed, I admire the military and regret that I didn't join the Reserves in time for the Iraq War, even though in other respects I have never been prouder of my country, I didn't object. To be patriotic at a moment like that, when your country has inflicted such a cruel and gratuitous grief on a loving mother, is impossible. I was ashamed to be an American, and every day I'm a bit ashamed that the land I walk upon is partitioned off from the rest of humanity by unjust laws. The land is tainted by this ongoing crime.

"Why do they hate us?" It was a fashionable question for a while, a silly one in a way, but of course it's a fact that America has a bad reputation out there. Some say it's our foreign policy, some say it's leftist propaganda, some say they hate our freedom. I believe immigration restrictions are the most important reason. People resent being locked out, and they feel it makes our lofty claims that "all men are created equal" into hypocrisy. And they are right.

I'm glad we share a land border with Mexico so that at least some people manage to come in with relative freedom! I offer a welcome and my deepest gratitude to those who have not let these unAmerican laws stop them, who come to this country to work in our restaurants and our homes and to become America's living, breathing conscience, a reminder of our nation's calling, expressed on the Statue of Liberty: "Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..." You are the true patriots.

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