Monday, July 09, 2007

Learning from History 

King, you now say that "[tradeoffs in the moral realm] were the subject of my first post. There are ways to do things that 'get the job done,' like handing everyone an ID card or putting a "status check" marker on a drivers license. And the culture does seem to accept this now. My problem is that this trades off the culture we used to hold, the culture we had not too long ago."

But your first post didn't say that -- it said that �laws are only enforced when they have some basis in the structure of our country�s culture.� I responded with many examples in which the structure of our country's culture does support enforcement of our ID laws. How is it not a shift that your current position is that the cultural change is regrettable?

As for Reagan's endorsement of the positive aspects of immigration, this is what I wrote:

"legal immigration to the US has been and continues to be an enormous benefit to us. People choose to come here, to a greater extent than anywhere else on earth, because we are a beacon of liberty and opportunity. Those who choose to become legal citizens are generally courageous, ambitious, industrious and hard-working. I have been making significant new and ongoing connections with immigrants for more 30 years, including many in my most recent classes. The vast majority are grateful to be here, and play by the rules of our system. I know we are extremely lucky to have their contributions. My knowledge of various nations and cultures has expanded because of them - they share why they came, their hopes, their dreams, and for most of them, the desire to become Americans. We need to expand the opportunities for legal immigration, and to provide funding and personnel to remove the idiotic bureaucratic obstacles and processing delays in our current system."

I think I can fairly claim to agree with Reagan on the positive aspects of immigration.

However, I doubt that Reagan would have said "let's give illegal immigrants a pass on the enforcement of our ID laws," especially after 20+ years of ignoring the requirements in the law he supported. I submit that the persistent refusal of our political and bureaucratic elites to enforce the cultural and legal norms applied to the the vast majority of our populace -- starting after the 1965 immigration reforms, continuing after the 1986 Reagan-Era comprehensive reform, and down through today -- is one of the principal causes of the cultural shift you deplore. As Robert Heinlein said, "A generation which ignores history has no past and no future."

We have consistently supported a legalization program which is both generous to the alien and fair to the countless thousands of people throughout the world who seek legally to come to America. -- Ronald Reagan, 1986
The quality of that generosity is exactly what I am questioning. It's not a positive question.