Economic considerations notwithstanding, the case for providing amnesty to undocumented immigrants is usually argued along moral lines. On the pro side, the argument boils down to granting long-term, non-felon immigrant members of our society – who through no fault of their own have been impelled by economic necessity or violence to start a new life in the US – with the ability to safely rise out of the shadows. Those opposed focus on the original sin of knowingly violating immigration laws. This hard stance is sorely lacking in empathy. Who among us would not risk such a move to improve our lives and those of our families when the alternative is to wait decades to be considered for a green card? Immigrants who come seeking a better life are as morally in the wrong as those who have fled neighborhoods in Detroit and St. Louis for the same reasons. Nevertheless, perhaps you or someone you know is of the opinion that the law is the law, no excuses. Well, I believe that if we are taking an account of transgressions, some context is also necessary.
In the aftermath of Charlottesville, many Republican officials have forcefully denounced racism and Trump’s seemingly ambivalent reactions to the tragedy. But make no mistake, these are not people that truly espouse the principles of racial equality and justice. These are egoists and political zealots. Their top priorities are ones of personal gain and/or realizing their brand of utopia, even if it means circumventing democracy.
While most of the attention of the media has justifiably been focused on one particular false moral equivalence, Donald Trump blurted out another commonly used piece of faulty assessment in yesterday’s press conference. I refer to the notion that the reasons for commemorating Washington and Jefferson are on par with the reasons for commemorating the likes of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.
Enacting meaningful electoral reforms would be a catalyst for a myriad of other issues. And I am not using the word “catalyst” as it is commonly used, synonymous with a spark. I mean catalyst as it is used in chemistry: something that lowers the energy needed for a reaction to happen. Electoral reforms can reduce the amount of time and money needed to push through popular policy measures. If done correctly, they can make politicians less beholden to special interests for political survival. They ought to be the fries to everyone’s pet issues. Say young Berkeley liberal, what do you care about? Gun control AND electoral reform so that the NRA can’t squeeze your representatives’ grapes. What about you under-the-table conservative barber? Less market entrance regulations AND electoral reform so that Big Haircut can’t make beholden politicians treat the operation of a pair of clippers as if you’re wielding a loaded gun. Makes sense.
I believe that if there were a grand accounting of positive and negative experiences occasioned by race, complete with a +/- scoring system, the average for whites would be far and away the top score – perhaps even the only positive score in the bunch. Obviously, that is an impossibility. I could quote stats to justify this sense, but the truth is that I, like many minorities, have probably been convinced of this by experiences prior to having any knowledge of hard stats. So instead, what I will do is share my history with racism and suspected instants of racism. I do not know how typical my situation is, but I have met people whose racist experiences would need to be cataloged in a book, not a relatively short piece like this. Then again, of my 2 siblings and I, I have had the worst luck with racism – and this in an area that I regard as not having a large problem with racism. All in all, I feel fortunate that it wasn’t much worse and sad to presume that my experiences are not abnormal.