OPINION — A lot of back and forth on immigration has dominated both mass media and social media this past week. But the emotional cries of “Think of the children” and “We must protect our borders” are merely feeding an ongoing power struggle for dominion over one another.
That’s what happens when political tribalism meets weaponized compassion and institutionalized fear.
Concern for people who have actually suffered an injustice is a secondary consideration.
Commitment to one’s principles requires a degree of moral consistency. The latest wave of selective outrage is clearly lacking in this respect.
Those crying out on behalf of families being separated for crossing the border without official permission have been curiously quiet about the plight of other families being separated as a result of government policy.
U.S. drone strikes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and Syria continue to separate families – often literally – via high explosives, in attacks that have claimed thousands of innocent lives since 2001. The numbers have been well documented in reports like The Drone Papers.
Simply referring to those killed and maimed as “militants” seeks to obscure the innocent lives lost. Sure, some of those taken out in these extra-judicial killings may have been labeled enemies of the state.
What about the innocent bystanders who also paid with their lives for simply being in the vicinity of the accused? Why no media grandstanding or tears for these families?
Politically driven individuals and organizations have long favored using the violence of the state to impose their desires upon others. Now the left’s preference for statism is wavering as the state continues to enforce ill-conceived immigration policies, albeit under a Republican president.
If the policies being enforced are immoral under this president, then they were immoral under the last two Democratic administrations as well. Why not attack the misuse of government power rather than your political rivals?
Omissions like this make the current partisan caterwauling over immigration look more like a proxy war for or against a particular politician than a reasoned plea from the moral high ground.
Like the sleazy politician who insists “You can trust me,” individuals who are constantly trying to prove to us that their hearts are in the right place should also raise a few red flags.
Those chanting slogans on the law and order side also appear to be guilty of virtue signaling for the sake of dominance as well.
Their stance regarding America’s southern border has more to do with fear than respect for the law or a desire for justice.
Remember that there is nowhere in the U.S. Constitution where the federal government is given stated authority over immigration. It does have legitimate authority to oversee naturalization – the process of becoming a citizen – but the two terms are not interchangeable.
Under the 10th Amendment, the powers not expressly delegated to the federal government or enumerated in the Constitution are reserved to the states and the people, respectively.
When government usurps power that is not rightly within its legitimate scope, that is an illegal act. Consider this irony the next time you’re tempted to reduce people to mere objects by referring to them as “illegals.”
Secondly, crossing an invisible line separating America’s reality from Mexico’s reality without official permission is not in and of itself an evil act. It has only been illegal to do so since 1924, but not everything that is illegal is necessarily morally improper.
Characterizing all individuals who do this as criminal actors is another exercise in deception.
There may be individuals with criminal intent who seek to enter this country. The only reliable measure of authentic wrongdoing is found in whether they have caused measurable harm to another person or his property.
There are also peaceful individuals with valid motivation to seek greater opportunity here. Their unwillingness to submit to the current costly and drawn out bureaucratic process is not unreasonable given how cumbersome this task has become.
Fear-based fantasies about cartel hitmen and terrorist dirty bombs exploding in our cities are the prime driver of calls for more government in order to make the border an impenetrable no-mans-land. This stance blatantly ignores the role that unwise government policies have played in both enriching drug cartels and provoking acts of terrorism.
Those who sincerely are trying to prevent splitting up families by government force or to protect us from potential harm aren’t wrong for wanting to do so.
However, neither side can claim the moral high ground when it’s clear their ultimate goal is to politically dominate their opponents. Their moral inconsistency is clear.
Put another way, there’s nothing virtuous about wanting to dominate others.
If we genuinely seek to make a stand for humanity, our thoughtful individual actions will demonstrate this desire more eloquently than any amount of fanatical political posturing. Focus on cultivating your own wisdom, and your good intentions will accomplish a lot more than feeding the never-ending struggle for power.
Bryan Hyde is an opinion columnist specializing in current events and liberty viewed through what he calls the lens of common sense. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.
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