Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Partisan Rancor Meets Simple Charity

Leering at me from an underlit recess at the end of the hall is the beetled brow of my hunched American ancestry, twinkles of anger and disappointment sprinkled atop a foundation of cold contempt. I have failed him. I have allowed my beloved country which he fumed, hewed, hacked, and slashed from its dusty wooden bones to descend into petty, fulminous bickering over clear, uncontroversial, basic humanitarian duties.

There are children on the southern border. Children without homes, children fleeing violence. Children that have braved perilous journeys of many hundreds of leagues, placing frail hopes on the slender reed that strangers in the north might breathe a puff of air into the rusty bellows of simple charity.

Perhaps these wayward sons and daughters should have done their homework first. Perhaps they should have realized that since they're apt to grow up and register with the Democratic Party, they're not welcome here by the opposing faction. Perhaps they should have realized that since they can't hold a job (ever?), they're a net drain on the already debt-ridden public fisc. Perhaps they should have been ever so slightly more diligent and discovered that the curable diseases they've brought with them have to be treated by doctors who could be more gainfully employed tending to people with the good sense to be born north of the Rio Grande.

Because our political equilibrium is so frail and our need for military might so urgent, we just can't possibly afford to let our fellow citizens exercise basic private charity. It is imperative that we send these children back to the chaos they went to great lengths to escape. The Republic could not stand otherwise.

Sweet Jumping Hotcakes, people. This is why we can't have nice things. Look, I get it, migration is not euvoluntary. In this case, we're neck deep in Locke's Venditio: these kids are the proverbial foundering ship at sea, in dire want of an anchor. You may or may not have an individual duty to assist, that's between you and your conscience. But to claim that you have the moral authority to stand between your fellow citizen and their moral imperative to help for reasons of partisan politics seems ...well... slightly monstrous, don't you think?

Examine your BATNA. Examine theirs. Exercise analytical sympathy. It's not that difficult. Recalculate your moral intuitions.

And then face the inevitable conclusion that if this is the best we have to offer refugee children, some of them under ten years old, then the prospects for meaningful immigration reform will be dashed on yon rocky shore until the median US constituent finds a better heuristic for the proper role of the sovereign.

Solon wept.

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Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?