Sunday, April 22, 2018

Were Mormon Immigrants Part of the Reason for Today's Restrictions?

   As it is so late, I think to revise an email I wrote earlier today and drop it in as today's blog, even though I wrote on the same thing last Sunday.
  As I introduce this, I think to notice how President Russell M. Nelson of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in General Conference weeks ago, noted that all eight of his great grandparents were converts to the church in Europe, and all eight of them immigrated to join the Saints here in the United States. 
  They were part of a massive influx in immigration -- and it was this large influx that has brought on the restrictive immigration policies we have today. Millions and millions of immigrants poured into America in the decades leading up to 1900, and, at some point, those who were born here decided enough was enough, that they wanted to bring down the gates on immigration. We speak of open borders and scoff at them, but, up until that time of this big Mormon migration -- which was part of a much larger migration -- the borders were open. The Mormons came for religious reasons, the Chinese for work, the Italians came for, among other reasons, earthquakes, and the Irish came in part due to the potato famine. Which of the immigrants attracted the wrath of those already living here, I do not altogether know. Maybe the Mormons were not among those who were opposed. As I sit here writing this, though, it occurs to me this was at the time of polygamy, and many opposed the Mormons because of that. 
  At any rate, the Mormons were part of an "invasion" (if I can parrot that word) that brought the backlash against immigration that continues to this day. The drawbridge to immigration, so to speak, came down as a result of this era of immigration, this "assault" on our open borders, that occurred during the last half of the 19th Century. Whether the the Mormons were among the immigrants that those already in America sought to lock out, I do not know, for certain. Perhaps it was the Chinese immigrants and the immigrants from other countries that drew the contempt.
   Were those who came opposed before they came, or was it not until after they arrived that it was decided it had been a mistake to allowed them to come?  
    We speak of the undocumented invading our land these days. We use the word "invasion," and it is members of the church, as well as any, who speak this way. What of ourselves, then? What of the time our own ancestors came, of of the time when all eight of President Nelson's grandparents "invaded" America's open borders? Did they -- just like the immigrants today -- come despite the despite those already here objecting to their coming? Did they come despite the desires of those already in America? 
   I just wonder if we should not be more understanding of the immigrants of today, given our pioneer ancestors were part of the era of immigration that brought about all the restrictions we have today.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Congress Should have Lived Up to its Charge in the Syrian Affair

 "The Congress shall have Power . . . To declare War." (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11)
   There is nothing in that to suggest Congress must wait for an invitation from the president to consider war. Our Congress was simply negligent in its duty last week. As soon as the suggestion of a strike against Syria was broached, Congress should have convened and voted.
   You would not have lost the element of surprise. That was already lost when President Trump said there would be retaliation against Syria for using chemical weapons. Nor was there a need to attack so quickly that waiting for a Congressional vote was unreasonable. Indeed, such a short wait did take take place.
   Congress should be stepping to the plate in these situations. It should be proactive. It should be fulfilling its responsibilities.
   Rather than the president's decision, this should have been Congress's decision. And, the president could have  -- and would have -- been bound by what Congress said. Order would have been restored. The ongoing string of times we have gone to war without Congressional approval would have been brought to an end.
   If only Congress had shown the backbone to do its job, the Constitution could have been honored.

South Carolina Prison Riot Points to Need for Love in Prisons

   When you are learning from current events, and not just reading about them, you should wonder about the prison riot in South Carolina just days ago. Seven inmates killed, and at least 17 injured. One of the worst cases of prison violence in recent years, and perhaps the worst in modern South Carolina history. And, it wasn't just an isolated case. South Carolina has an inmate-on-inmate homicide rate nearly 12 times the national average.
   It didn't go unnoticed on those breaking down the story that the Lee Correctional Institution is understaffed and underfunded.
   But, don't let the analyst stop there. Underfunded translates into poor living conditions. It translates into poorly paid guards who can be (and reportedly are) disgruntled, and thus grumpy in how they perform their job.
   Which likely translates into gruff treatment of the inmates.
   Love is one of the most important elements -- if not the most important-- you can have in a good prison. Yes, we should treat our prisoners with love and respect and dignity. If these things did not matter, a Lee Correctional Institution would be as good of a prison as any other.
   I will add one more thing. While Lee Correctional might rank low it how it treats prisoners, there probably isn't a prison out there that treats its prisoners with warmth. If every time a guard interacted with a prisoner, he showed warmth and enthusiasm for the inmate, what a difference we could make. I would venture to say, rare is the prison that hires guards with an eye toward those who are naturally loving people. Does any prison at all do this? And, rare is the prison that trains its guards to be warm and accepting and caring in their interaction with prisoners.
   I will repeat: Love is one of the most important elements -- if not the most important-- you can have in a good prison. If this is true, more can be done to improve our prison system by instilling love than by doing any other single thing.
  Oh, this is an nontraditional way of going about prison reform, but it probably is the best way.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

It takes not the voice of reason, but a dog's bark to win an argument

   The loudest voice always wins. I'm not so sure if "always" is the right word, but it seems the person who barks the loudest does, indeed, usually win.
   And, of all the people on the public square, Donald Trump barks the loudest.
   So, I think there is value in James Comey's new book, and in his media tour promoting it. Comey becomes a foil to Trump. Is the FBI and its investigation ethical? Whereas Trump and the Republicans have been the loudest voices, now there is more of a balance. Whereas the federal investigative agencies usually don't defend themselves (and don't usually need to, as they are not usually attacked as they are at this time), now they have a voice.
   Even falsehood can be perceived as truth if it is delivered through a megaphone. Trump and the Republicans picked up their megaphone long ago, questioning the integrity of the Russian investigation. If you can't defend yourself in an argument, you'll likely lose. So, I'm hoping Comey defends the integrity of the Russian investigation.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Take the 14th Amendment for what it Meant then, and We're all Citizens

  Be careful. If are going to interpret who is a citizen based on the Fourteenth Amendment, be ready to consider that everyone is. Yes, that's right: everyone -- including those who sneak across the border in dead of night.
   Them too. Stamp the title, "Citizen," right across each of their foreheads.
  First of all, lets read what it says in the Fourteenth Amendment. "All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States." As you finish reading and set it down, you might be thinking that means just the opposite from what I'm saying.
  And, by today's rules, you're right.
  But, we've changed the rules. They weren't the same back then. When the 14th Amendment was written, we had open borders. People weren't restricted from coming here. If you walked across the U.S.-Mexico border and chose to live in the United States, that was your God-given right; No one would think to stop you.
   Being a citizen wasn't a matter of getting those who already lived in this country to accept you. It was a matter of who lived here. Residency was citizenship. Yes, you needed to be naturalized, but that was a formality. I'm guessing you would find few among all those who asked to be naturalized who weren't.
   That was back in the days before deportation was invented, or at least before it was common.
   Then, starting with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the rules began to change. First, we criminalized workers from China, then it wasn't long before we criminalized a lot of others. America changed, immigration changed, and the rules changed. Whereas most everyone was naturalized before this time, a lot of folks no longer were.
   So, if you take the Fourteenth Amendment and read it through the tainted glasses of today, yes, you'll conclude it locks people out. But, if you take the Fourteenth Amendment to mean what it meant back then, we're all citizens.

Note: Blog revised 4/19/18

Congress Should be More Proactive in Declaring War

   I join with those who suggest President Trump should have obtained Congressional approval before attacking Syria.
   But, I also wonder why Congress thinks it has to wait for Trump to ask for its approval. There might be something in the Constitution to this effect -- that Congress should wait for the President to ask -- and I confess I do not have time to look that up. But, it seems if Congress wanted to do its job, it would convene on its own and vote on the question. Congress should be more proactive.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

 Every right begins with a rhyme
And every cause with a song
 For if you put your political stands to music
Everyone will sing along