Thoughts on National Anthem protests

It’s a shame we can’t have nice things anymore.

Nice things like symbols of our American heritage (both the good and the bad).  Heritage is heritage … Something to either exalt in or learn from.  Sometimes both …

Nice things like a healthy appreciation for Free Speech, as set forth in Amendment 1 of the United States Constitution, and the challenges its practice presents.  Nice things like being able to veg in front of the dumbbox on NFL Sunday afternoons, not having to listen to pontifications by sports and social/political talking heads and in-depth analysis as to who will or won’t – and why or why not – stand, kneel, sit, etc. during National Anthem protests.

My first reaction to the notion of professional athletes protesting social injustices through protest during The Anthem was reluctant acceptance.  After all that is what Free Speech is all about.

Did it annoy me at first?  Certainly … But it bothers me much more now that the displays have dragged on and on, with pre-game speculations becoming a regular part of every Sunday.  Still it does not bother me nearly as much as flag burning.

Which brings me this accidental American sports heroes from 1976 …

That – to me – is much more egregious insofar as disrespect to Country is concerned.  But one must realize – even when it comes to such horrendous displays – that Tolerance for such behavior is precisely the essence of Free Speech.  That one willingly manages what offends them to their core as the expression of another American’s Right to air their views and feelings is paramount to the Constitution’s protection of Speech

No one ever suggested that American Citizenship should be easy!  The challenge is in the bystander’s response to expressions of Speech with the potential to enrage them.  Do you respond in an ever-escalating cycle of counter-attack?   Do you turn a deaf ear?  Or does one try to engage the opposition in productive, non-threatening discussion of the topics?

The problem with the NFL players’ ongoing displays is that the original intent of those early and limited protests have been twisted beyond recognition by the emotional reactions that have resulted.  Assisted largely by the MainStream Media’s exploitation of the protests to generate viewing interest and on-line click bait, the displays have become weekly events.

What was largely a carry-over from the Colin Kaepernick self-immolation during the 2016 season, has now morphed into either protests of the American social strata or a desecration of Country, its Institutions and icons … depending on which side of the divide you reside.

In my humble opinion, protests like these fade away the LESS attention and outrage is directed at them and the participants.  Attention not only tends to harden the resolve of those involved, the heat can attract other tangential movements.  Unfortunately muting the spotlight is generally a hopeless expectation, especially given the attention of The Media; but others – be they private citizens or Presidents (hint hint) – would be better off not making such a fuss over the expression of Rights we should all hold dear.

No matter how much it makes one’s blood boil …

 

 

 

 

 

Hate is Hate … period!

The Unabashed Moderate has a very difficult time making any sense whatsoever from the events in Charlottesville, VA last weekend.  There is no question that the message pushed by white supremacy groups must be countered; shouted down; challenged intellectually at every opportunity.  America has no room for – and certainly should show no tolerance for – the morally corrupt message such groups cling to for whatever misguided and hateful reasoning.

Of that there is no question!

But what does one make of the hate demonstrated by the so-called anti-fascists?

I am an old-fashioned white guy.  I readily admit that.  I will readily admit that our race relations are not where they should be.  I will own up to the fact that racism still exists in this country, although I firmly believe that the actions, speech, and behaviors are much improved over where they stood in the 1960’s and ’70s when I was a much younger white guy.

We aren’t there yet, as was so aptly demonstrated last weekend when the concept of “white  pride” was trotted out under the guise of preserving American History.

Yet the hate we all saw in Charlottesville was hardly one-sided.  Under similar circumstances I do not have a problem with hating the “white pride” message, and the people pushing that message.  To be honest, it’s perfectly understandable that anyone in this day and age could hate white supremacists.

The problem in my mind is that Antifa demonstrated that they are not all that different from the white supremacists when it comes tactics.  Antifa has demonstrated this on numerous occasions.  What happened Saturday was just the latest occasion that their own brand of hate was on display.  They have provided us examples all over the country under the guise of various political, economic, and social causes.

How is WHAT Antifa does any different from that which white supremacists do?  Intimidation, invoking fear and violence, equipping for warfare in the name of protest …

The tragic, unnecessary murder of Heather Heyer was the obvious answer in Charlottesville.  But killing is not generally a tactic of white supremacists in this day and age.  (Please, do not take that as a defense of that heinous act.  It’s simply recognition that in the context of this discussion, what happened on that street in Charlottesville was an aberration of sorts.)

Or put another way … Will anyone be surprised when – not if – Antifa actions, given their current trajectory, result in a death?  I know I will not be surprised.

I must be old-fashioned, because I can remember a day when white supremacists and neo-Nazis were met face-to-face on the public square with nary a punch being thrown.  Arrests and perhaps a scuffle or two, but not wild, pitched battles with pepper spray, human waste as weapons, flame-throwing aerosol cans …

Hate is hate.  Violence is violence.

I do not believe the legitimacy of your stand or the difference in your objective makes the hate any more palatable or acceptable.

It’s easy to spot a white supremacist.  You know what their objectives are; who they hate; and how they will go about expressing that hate.  They want to impose a social order, long rejected by American values even if we still struggle to completely right that boat.

On the other hand, Antifa looks to push several social and political objectives, using not only very similar tactics, but certainly a similar brand of hate as those they purport to reject and work hardily to oppose.  The BIG PROBLEM is they do not hate only white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

Antifa – through their very actions – have shown that they also hate Conservatives, Republicans, and people who simply exercised their personal political freedom by daring to vote for and support President Donald Trump.  We have seen this at political rallies, speaker events, world organization meetings, even at local festivals!

In Philadelphia, antifa elements vandalized property simply because they do not like the concept of gentrification.  This despite conventional wisdom that major urban centers depend on the improved tax base to fund important programs like inner city education and municipal services to the benefit of all city dwellers.

Antifa hates people for the way they vote.  They hate people for the way they think.  They hate people for simply assembling in the manner in which they identify themselves as the Portland example demonstrates.

Antifa hate is not limited to those with ancient notions of the relation between the races.  They hate even those with conventional, mainstream political thought.  They hate people simply because they disagree with them.

Their hate is corrosive, violent, and frankly quite deliberate, a political methodology.  And in that regard is no different than racist hate at its basest, most disgusting level.  Antifa may hold higher ground than the racists, but it’s not much higher.

It has always been easy to spot hate grown from the beliefs of white supremacy.  Now we have to be mindful of those whose hate is so easily expressed with violence simply because they disagree.

Tribute to those killed in service at Charlottesville

A Conversation about Immigration (1)

gettyimages-518777418Admittedly, I struggle with the question of illegal immigration.  Not so much whether or what constitutes unauthorized entry to the United States so much as what to do about it and how.  The objective of this post – and others to perhaps follow – is to generate discussion that will hopefully add to my understanding of immigration law and consolidate my thinking on a subject that – among other things – was crucial to the election of President Donald J. Trump last November.

Yes, I realize many people prefer “undocumented immigrant” over “illegal immigrant”.  But to me the terms are interchangeable at best, and – at worst – undocumented suggests sneaking into another country is a matter rectified by simply locating one’s wallet, where undoubtedly the proper piece of paper would be found!

Feel free however, to liberally interchange “undocumented” for “illegal” if it makes the subject more palatable. 

I like to think I have a pragmatic view of immigrants, their contributions, illegal immigration, and potential solutions.  But thinking and knowing are different states of mind.  Maybe you can help me sort through my pragmatism and bring me to an even more thorough understanding of the issues and problems.

First however, I would like to set the foundation for the things I believe – and do not believe – in when it comes to immigration both legal and otherwise.

  1. Nation Security starts with secure borders.  There are few areas in the world where an individual can enter another country without being challenged to prove identification, status, permissions, and the absence of illegal contraband.  The European Union has tried an open borders policy, and many have not been happy with the results … particularly when one of its member-states decides to throw out the “Welcome!” mat to all comers.
  2. America is a country of immigrants.  This is no different than any other country,
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    A queue at Ellis Island

    yet it seems to be a major stake-holder for those who favor looser immigration restrictions … particularly in the U.S.  All countries and regions – at one time or another – demonstrate the same fundamental behaviors (exploration, conquest, settlement, assimilation), whether immigration occurred thousands of years ago or is occurring presently.  Both human nature and the survival features of human existence dictate the need to acquire new territories when needed, and can motivate the newcomers, assuming they are sufficiently advanced compared to the native inhabitants, to push aside weaker cultures and peoples, who are competing with them for space and required resources.

  3. The United States has a proud tradition of compassion.  Whether pulling for the underdog/down-trodden or recognizing the contributions of groups that have immigrated here in the 220-plus years since the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.  Whether it’s Irish immigrants fleeing potato famine; varied European artisans who built the stone churches in my native Philadelphia; or the dependence our agricultural programs have on cheap, plentiful labor, we tend to embrace the concept of Immigration, if not always the immigrant themselves.  On immigration our Constitution requires only due process and extension of the Rights all U.S. citizens enjoy.  Society demands compassionate response to the World’s disasters, whether man-made (civil war, oppression, etc.) or natural.
  4. Illegal is illegal.  There is no way around it.  Unauthorized entry and those who conspire to assist such entries must be handled as criminals.  For this reason and the fact that they usurp federal powers, Sanctuary Cities are a joke.
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Checkpoint in  Singapore … Immigration: Controlled everywhere

My view is that America’s response to the issue of immigration should be a balancing act of the above factors.  And within the problem of illegal immigration there are various conundrums.

The U.S. Government has a history of turning a lazy eye towards unauthorized entries at the behest largely of its agricultural industry.  It would be grossly unfair to dispose of those used in such a way once the work is done.  Immigrants here illegally prefer to stay off the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) radar, which also keeps them off the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) radar, and allows them to avoid paying taxes, yet said immigrants absorb tax-funded benefits and protections.

On a personal note, I have a socially conscious family member, who has spent time in years past working in the border desert regions to ease the dangers and sufferings of those trying to infiltrate our southern border.  Despite my feelings about “Illegal is Illegal”, I admired the humanity of his efforts even as they ran counter to the objectives of protecting a precious border.  My own personal conundrum …

With that in mind, I would like to add a few other considerations from the perspective of personal responsibility with which all of us are entrusted.

  1. The Decision to enter any country illegally is a personal decision.  And that decision carries with it responsibility for all that transpires afterwards.  There are often good reasons to seek immigration, and good reasons why one may not wish to wait for permission to do so.  But the result is the personal choice to disobey the laws of another country.
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    Where does Responsibility lie?

    The presence or involvement of a child does not relieve the Offender of the responsibilities of the Decision.  As parents, we are uniquely responsible for a child’s safety and welfare.  While these considerations may be the reason why one may choose to immigrate illegally, those same considerations should include a hard and clear look at the potential situations into which an unauthorized immigrant’s child might be subjected.

  3. Compassion for the innocent “co-violators” should be of paramount concern when confronting unauthorized parent immigrants.  Despite 2. above, primary consideration should be exhibited toward the treatment and potential aftereffects of confronting a parent, who has entered the country illegally, on the children also directly affected.
  4. “Anchor babies” do not relieve the Parent of the consequences of their decisions.  Another one of those conundrums …
  5. Felony crime – committed before, during, or after entry – should end any discussion of potential legal relief.  Misdemeanor crime is another story, but should be addressed where repeated with a reasonable line drawn for repeat violations on a case-by-case basis.  That is, a traffic or public intoxication conviction should not be the sole basis for expulsion or imprisonment for illegal immigration, all other things being acceptable.

So this is from where I start.  I enlist all those reading this to give me honest, respectful, and productive feedback, advice, admonishment even.  Maybe when we are done talking we may still be different in places philosophically; but maybe we will understand the varied facets of the issue a bit more.

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Hungary’s eventual response to immigrant flood out of North Africa

Jimmy Kimmel’s misdirected tug at your heart-strings

chlaFeel bad for their son and the experience they had to go through, but turning it into a misdirected, ill-conceived political statement, Kimmel sounded as short-sighted as those he often chastises comically for making similarly silly or stupid arguments.

Of course the episode had to be extremely emotional for the Kimmel family.  But turning it into a political message, where you are so clearly off base factually, was an error in judgment.

Using his newborn son to do so just makes it all the more irritating.

The following article describes why Kimmel’s emotion-turned-political statement was so off the mark as it morphed into a tearful plea for ObamaCare.

5 Things You Need To Know About The Hospital Where Jimmy Kimmel Took His Son, And Why It’s Not A Case For Obamacare