Labeling, law breaking, border walls, and a living, breathing Constitution


Labels. I think this word gets a raw deal. It’s been twisted and misapplied to the point of lowering it to a near expletive. I’d like to buck this political trend by restoring a perfectly good word from its smeared state.

Here goes:

We use labels and categories to organize and provide meaning. I’m a veteran. This label means that I’m a veteran, that I served in our armed forces. I’m also an American and a citizen. People like you and me who were born in their countries are natural-born citizens. Virtually every nation on Earth makes these distinctions and uses categories to organize and provide meaning for their people.

Illegal immigrant. Illegal alien. Legal resident. When it comes to immigration and citizenship, somehow the phrase “undocumented worker” is deemed more palatable and “humanizing” than the aforementioned perfectly viable labels.

Phrase swapping

Here’s the problem with phrase swapping—it alters meaning and pushes political narratives.

In the case of undocumented workers, the phrase implies that those here in the U.S. illegally are working, but are doing so under the radar. Are all working? The phrase invites us not to focus on the fact that they’re breaking the law, but rather that they’re contributing to our workforce in a desperate (yet honest) striving for a better life. They’re dreamers, you see.

After all, aren’t we all here because our ancestors dreamed of a better life in America? Aren’t we all immigrants? It’s who we are as Americans, right? I’m the grandson of an immigrant. My grandfather came here legally and jumped through all the hoops to become a citizen. He was a dreamer—and an honest one.

Phrase distortion is another political propaganda device. For example, the original phrase “illegal alien” has nothing to do with doing, but rather with being. It’s a temporary state that describes the legality of someone’s status in a sovereign nation; it has nothing to with their humanity.

The dehumanizing argument is a political construct designed, among other uses, to “label” and vilify those who believe in their nation’s immigration laws and its sovereignty and reject open borders and policies that seem driven by mere compassion (or worse) rather than compassion tempered by wisdom … and a respect for the rule of law.

Legal, precise and meaningful labels like illegal alien do not strip anyone of their humanity or God-created image. If you disagree and FEEL that they do, I’m not surprised. For years, we’ve been pelted with politically driven and partisan constructs like this one through education, social and other media, Machiavellian politicians and a subjective spirit of the age.

Rule of Law

Do you think it’s right to break the law? And I don’t mean laws you think are wrong; I mean laws that have withstood legal challenges and that the majority of citizens support—like our immigration laws.

Is it right for a father to break the law by breaching an enforced border, so he can work to give his children a better life? Good fathers would do virtually anything to improve their kids’ life chances. Should they break the law?

I applaud fatherly love and devotion, but don’t see how flaunting of the rule of law would provide a good example for one’s children. It seems to me that a father who respects the rule of law would offer an essential character building example for his kids and that this example would go much further in improving their life chances.

Here’s my advice to a father seeking to improve his children’s futures: If you can’t find suitable work to provide for your family in your country, seek employment in ours, but do it lawfully.

I’ve read someone claim that it’s human nature to put labels on people to help us rationalize decisions when we dehumanize others by categorizing them. Really? Labeling people to rationalize or dehumanize them is NOT in my nature. This is another construct and a faulty argument.

It’s faulty because it’s based on the flawed premise that labels dehumanize. I grant that there are people who use labels to devalue others. There are racists and elitists in our midst. But to say that this is in our nature is a stretch. And to say that categorizing people in terms of their legal or illegal status is dehumanizing is to buy into a cheap and transparent political ploy.

It seems to me that attempts to dehumanize come mostly from one side of the argument—i.e. those who believe in border security are heartless, unfeeling, alt-righters, uber-nationalists, and/or racists. The labels-to-dehumanize argument is lazy and partisan and a dishonest justification for anti-border security arguments.

Rubber meets road

Consider this hypothetical:

You live in a southern border town. People who chose to run the gauntlet show up on your porch. They’re tired, thirsty and frightened. What do you do? You give them water—just as I would and just as the neighboring pro-border wall ranchers would had they been standing on their porches. (And just as border patrol agents would.)

Are you breaking the law? It’s not illegal to give illegal immigrants water, is it? Now if you were maintaining water stations and, by doing so, helping people break the law and attracting more people to break the law, would this be wrong?

Now remember: These people are CHOOSING to break the law—they aren’t forced to—a lack of job opportunities in their area of, in this case, Mexico, does not justify their decision to break our laws. Aren’t we all accountable for our decisions?

Let’s consider this example:

You live in France in 1943. You’re working and living on a farm. In the dead of night, a family of Jews appears on your doorstep. They’re haggard, cold, tired, hungry, scared out of their minds and a half-day ahead of the Gestapo. The puppet Vichy government has decreed it unlawful to help fleeing Jews. What do you do?

You do just what I hope I would do—you give them food, water and shelter and a hiding place. Or do you give in to fear and close the door? Why put your life in danger? Because your government’s law violates God’s laws. You help them out of love and obedience to Almighty God and in defiance of your weakling government that’s doing the will of its evil client regime.

Big differences

Let’s review some key differences in these scenarios:

A) One describes a violation of God’s laws.
B) The people in one scenario are forced to flee and break the law; they have no other choice. Instead of looking for work, they’re looking to stay alive.
C) The American government is not a Vichy government enforcing evil immigration laws.

More questions:

Is the rule of law dependent on compassion? Do you think Nancy Pelosi and her colleagues know real hardship? Just because they care about people doesn’t mean they can empathize with them.

How much of their concern for illegal immigrants is powered by real compassion and how much is driven by new voter creation … or a craving for the endorphin release that comes with an eight-hour self-promoting pro-Dreamer speech?

In any case, why do we give them a pass to vilify their opponents, slander them and insult our intelligence by feeding us bull that they’re the only ones who care because they’re willing to brush aside the rule of law in order to help people break our laws?

God and borders

To those who think sovereign nations have no business securing their borders and like to say that God is on their side; here are a few questions to ponder and a counter argument to consider:

What if God recognizes nations and their sovereignty and rule of law regarding immigration? After all, the concepts of national sovereignty and natural-born citizenship originated from God regarding his people.

If this is true, there’s a sanctity to the rule of law. And if all legitimate laws come from God and are instituted by him, as Paul says in Romans 13, all are called to obey the laws of the land—UNLESS they conflict with God’s laws.

Whether or not you accept these as truths, here’s my challenge:

Convince me that the immigration laws that we have on our books conflict with God’s, and I’ll storm the Bastille with you. I’ll resist a border wall to the death. I may even join your silly resistance.

Let’s put rubber to road: Where does God stand on refugees and widows and orphans fleeing intolerable living conditions?

I think we can agree that he stands above and beyond petty politics and weaponized partisan constructs. We’re right to extend help and compassion toward refugees, travelers and the poor and widows. God is right there with us in our compassion and love toward others.

However, if you equate border walls and enforcement of existing immigration laws and those who the value rule of law to a lack of compassion, cruelty, hubris and any other misplaced, cheap and partisan propaganda word-bomb, I say you are wrong. This equivalence (which isn’t) is a form of arrogance and ignorance.

And so is the notion that, in a little over two centuries, we’ve evolved to the point that we’ve outstripped elements of our Constitution’s applicability to our lives and laws.

Our Constitution

Our Constitution is certainly not inerrant. It has its flaws just as we have ours. I have problems with some of Jefferson’s ideas about government and the governed and some of his word and phrase choices in it, but it is nevertheless a beautifully written document. It’s also merely a document; there’s nothing living or breathing about it. But it’s just as relevant today as it was 200 plus years ago.

Here’s why: We haven’t evolved in any way that requires alteration of our Constitution. Human nature and the nature of our fallen world haven’t changed a lick. Solomon is right on—there is nothing new under the sun. People are people now and certainly haven’t evolved significantly in a mere two centuries and some change.

The living-breathing-document-that-must-evolve-jazz is yet another political/social construct. And it is so because those who espouse it arrogantly deny the unchanging nature of our nature. This concept is shortsighted and reeks of presentism. And to some it has evolved from an element of their ideology to a core belief of their secular theology.

Ideology vs. theology

Ideology is an important component of one’s belief system. So is theology. Which has the preeminence in your worldview?

I try to make sure the ideas I embrace regarding government and politics are ruled by my understanding of God’s take on government. When I examine them in this light, I always return to Romans 13.

There’s something liberating about laying my passions and feelings about what’s wrong or right with government next to the black and white words found in the only truly living and breathing document and one that never needs nor allows adaptation to the spirit of the age.

Disagree with me? Bring it.

But do so with substantive, ad hominem attack-free arguments and honest discussion. Don’t take the easy, lazy, low road. It requires little effort to pour to page emotive, amorphous, feel-good and universal-sounding truths; it’s much more difficult to provide logical, thoughtful defenses of ideas. The former is another aspect of our shallow spirit of the age; the latter is a lost art.

Let’s rediscover it.

9 Replies to “Labeling, law breaking, border walls, and a living, breathing Constitution”

  1. Pj, I am so happy to see your post. Hopefully it means all is well.

    First, can we agree that no one is actually advocating for open borders to allow anyone and everyone to pour in a la World War Z. That also is an instance of false labeling.

    We are each ruled by our understanding and relationship with God. I am a rule follower with caveats – a rule is a rule for everyone, if not it is a bias. A rule should not overrule what my understanding and relationship with God tells me.

    Can we agree that the progeny of the first immigrants along along with new immigrants were the absolute worst immigrants ever when they annihillated the original inhabinets of this country and stuffed them into corners of the country and then moved them again when they wanted those corners.

    Slaves were brought here to be bought and sold, empty chamber pots, to be beaten at will, to work the fields, etc.

    Chinese were brought here to work on the railroads.

    Each wave of immigrants (poor ones who came here for a better life) including the Irish, Polish, Italians, etc were enslaved in sweat shops, and/or doing the work no one else wanted to do, always with the sole purpose of putting money in someone else’s pocket by the sweat of others.

    For decades immigrants have worked the fields, laborered at construction sites, cleaned hotels, offices, etc. for less than minimum wage for employers who pocketed and profited off their labor while breaking a multitude of payroll laws, tax laws, etc. It has been met with a wink and a nod, I guess partly, because not doing so would raise the costs to us customers. My thought is that a lot of it was because making money is king no matter what.

    Even the first immigrants came here for a better life. They never went through any vetting let alone followed the rules of the people whose land they conquered.

    Have you heard of any employers facing consequences with all these raids? I see a bias.

    I was saddened to learn that US military veterans are deported. Such a wonderful thank you for their service.

    One of my grandfathers immigrated from Russia and was not a hard worker – he fathered 12 children took control of the money my grandmother inherited from her family and squandered every penny.

    My other grandfather and grandmother immigrated from Portugal. All hard workers. My mother was born here and along with her sisters had to quit school after 8th grade to pick and cut apricots. Family lore is that my grandfather was a stowaway. Do I believe I should be sent back to Portugal because of what he did if that is true – NO.

    Do you feel America owes reparation to African Americans because someone’s ancestor brought them to this country to be slaves?

    Are we responsible for what those that came before us did?

    I think I have written before my issue with Corporations, who for years have used the visa system to bring in immigrants for jobs they say they cannot fill, instead of investing in training for Americans here. Obviously it must have to do with which way is cheaper. It seems to always come down to money or may I say avarice.

    Personally I have never read or heard of anyone actually losing their job to an immigrant. More propaganda.

    You extend grace to Trump’s motives I cannot nor have I ever seen any moral reason to.

    Make all the rules you want. It would be nice if they were without bias, less about money and with a semblance of fairness, parity, and human decency.

    How far would you go to feed your family?

    Peace Pj

    1. I forgot – the constitution. Why then was it so important that McConnell obstructed and maneuvered things to keep Obama from getting even a moderate as a Supreme Court Justice? Even the Republicans said they were happy with 8 justices when they thought Hillary might win. There were never going to allow her to sit a justice either. They also blocked an inordinate amount of lower courts to be filled. Now Trump leaves it up to someone else to put the farthest right of the right wack a doodles in lifetime seats. A couple have been even too much for some Republicans to stomach. Keeping your thumb on the scales to get what you want leaves neither side with the moral high ground.

    2. Thanks, Jo

      I still have symptoms but am hopeful things will heal without surgery. Just trying to navigate the VA and its potholes.

      We can agree that not many advocate for open borders in the form of no borders. But it depends on how one defines open borders.

      Just a small matter of words: There weren’t any immigrants during the time of the pilgrims through 1781 when the U.S. won its independence and became a nation. The people who settled in what is now America did mistreat the continent’s indigenous people. And many indigenous peoples mistreated many of the newcomers.

      I think it’s more accurate to say that all sides treated one another badly in general and some from all sides demonstrated kindness and goodness toward some on all sides. There were people of low character in all groups involved. And contrary to Hollywood spin, many of the mistreaters were “noble savages” who weren’t so noble.

      People are sinners regardless of skin color and origin. Do you think Native Americans may have annihilated members of previous indigenous people groups? I say this not absolve the many wrongs done to Native Americans by our government’s policies, just so you know. Same goes for African Americans.

      As far as I know, the Chinese who came here to work on the railroads came of their own free will. Right? It’s apples and oranges to compare them to African or other slaves.

      As a descendent of Irish and Italian immigrants, I can say (and could say even if I weren’t a descendent of the groups above) that they were not “enslaved” in sweatshops. I’m sure they felt trapped, but they had options that genuine slaves did not. They were definitely taken advantage of, but not made slaves. Many enterprising and pugnacious ones moved further west and carved out a living. My grandfather didn’t settle for a sweatshop.

      I’m all for rooting and regulating out business schmucks who break payroll and tax laws to maximize profits on the backs of immigrants. No wink or nods here. Raided business turning up illegal aliens should face penalties.

      As far as I’m concerned, if a person serves honorably in our military, citizenship is well earned and should be granted on the day of his or her honorable discharge.

      Do you think it’s wrong to more intensely vet emigrants from Islamic countries than say Mexico? Do you think one’s religious creed and possible extremist ties warrants intense vetting?

      Why should we as taxpayers owe reparations to people who weren’t slaves? I’m confident neither you or I own or have ever owned slaves. Should I pay a traffic fine for an ancestor? I’m not responsible for his crime.

      I don’t believe in national guilt for slavery. I was born 101 years after its abolishment. I don’t feel an iota of guilt for the policies of a government and practices of people of which I had no part. To feel and/or accept guilt, one has to be guilty of something.

      It seems to me that free money in the form of reparations would be as enslaving as Great Society measures that reward African American mothers for staying single.
      Let’s work on truly leveling the playing field rather than throwing fake-guilt money at people.

      I don’t extend grace to Trump’s motives because I don’t know them. I don’t know him and haven’t been invited to get to know him. The only grace I extend to him is not condemning him based on propaganda and innuendo.

      Do you withhold grace to Trump based on personal knowledge? Do you suspect his immigration policies based on reality or biased punditry? Do you believe the rants of Nancy Pelosi and her posse?

      I would go as far as the law allows feed my family. And if legality stood in my way, I’d move my family to a place where it doesn’t. Would I steal a loaf of bread to feed my children? If I had to become a thief to give them something to eat, I’d be a bad father.

      Now if faced with circumstances my decisions did not lead me to … like an unforeseen calamity such as an apocalyptic earthquake or something like that, who knows? I hope I would find a way to avoid sacrificing my principles.

      How is strategic obstruction in order to stall Supreme Court appointees wrong? The Senate rules allow it. Both parties do it. How is it keeping a thumb on any scale?
      Do you think Gorsuch is a wack-a-doodle? I think Ruther Bader Ginsberg is a far left ideologue. Unfortunately, right and left Justices are needed for balance.

      In my view, if they interpreted law based on the letter of the law of our static Constitution and other legal documents, it wouldn’t matter a whit which side of the political aisle they embrace.

      Glad to hear from you. I await your salvo ;-).

  2. Are you saying the DACA “dreamers” aren’t honest? I think i know you better than that but it seemed to be implied. The system is BROKEN. We absolutely agree on that. The problem is we have elected people who have continually looked the other way and that includes members from the right who are now on the protect our borders bus.

    A wall is not going to solve the problem. It is a bad symbol and speaks to our lack of vision on solving the issue. I want Congress to do its job. i want them to protect those that were brought here without their consent or understanding. Folks who came here as young children or teenagers should not be forced to leave to be resettled in a country they have no claim on. These folks are Americans. FIX the problem.

    I will be emotive for a moment. This is a story about a professor in KS who was doing all that the system had asked him to do, until a change in the Presidency. Now he and his family are in a profoundly difficult situation.

    How do we allow that to occur? We had better be our brother’s keeper. That’s our call. We allowed the mess to be created by winking and nodding. Congress needs to fix the problem.

    We want to stop the threats from the outside. We did this by ethnicity several times in our history , the most recent was the 1940s when a LIBERAL President placed men, women, and children of Japanese descent in interment camps. That isn’t who we are. That isn’t who we should be.

    SOLVE the problem that’s my plea but don’t do it on the backs of people we have already commented to or whose lives are showing what “the American Dream” truly looks like.

    1. I’m saying that anyone who knowingly and willfully breaks the law is dishonest. It’s high time we ALL stop looking the other way and fix our immigration system and provide a path to citizenship for those who were brought here illegally. I, too, don’t want to see minors deported; I’d like to see them get an opportunity to become legal citizens. How do you know that a wall won’t help solve the problem? Do you have information to persuade me that a wall won’t be helpful? If so, please share. As Americans, we’re also about law and order and doing the right thing when it’s much harder than cutting corners (breaking laws) while doing the wrong thing. Agree?

  3. Pj – what we agree on – We have a right to make laws protecting our country from those who bring harm or wish us harm. Serving our country honorably and being ready to give your life for this country should certainly be good enough to earn citizenship. We are not responsible for what those who came before us did. People come here for a better life – no one would come here for a worse life. Dreamers whose only dreams was to harm others should be deported.

    I think we agree that people who exploit illegal immigrants and break laws just to put more money in their pocket should face consequences. I wouldn’t think men who do that are great examples as fathers either. There was big press about the raids on 7 – 11’s here in California. I didn’t read anything about the people who hired them. Did you? I had asked you if your have heard anyone face consequences for breaking payroll, tax, and employer laws.

    A thug on the streets boosts a $30,000 car – goes to jail. A revered bank steals millions from their customers – a corporation walks away with their employee’s pension money – jail for anyone? Some even make a few changes and start business anew.

    So I say again, make all the laws and rules you want. Who is the decider of responsibility and consequences? It seems laws are rated just like many rate sins.

    You didn’t like the word enslaved? Fine, insert a synonym – exploited. I did not say that the Chinese were forced to come here nor did I even mean to imply that Gorsich was a wack a doodle. He does speak to the issue I have about making Justice appointments so political. I would have thought a moderate would be the perfect choice for all of them.

    You ask me if I withhold grace to Trump based on personal knowledge? Do I suspect his immigration policies based on reality or biased punditry? What the heck Pj? Maybe you can tell me your answers first in regards to Pelosi, Schumer, Bill, Hillary, Frederica Wilson, Ginsberg, liberals and anyone else you have called out. I have seen and heard decades of recordings, tv shows, radio interviews, Newspaper articles, daily tweets and actions, disregard for any norms we expected and received from previous presidents, etc. I read. Please gift me with adequate brain power to decide who I can believe in, respect, be disgusted by and even frightened by.

    I would be ok with Schumer and Pelosi shown the door as long as Paul “Forcible Rape” Ryan and Mitch “strategic obstruction” McConnell are shown the same door. I guess gerrymandering is not putting your thumb on the scale either or maybe it just depends on who is doing it.

    You have been gifted with an incredible talent with words. I hope your recovery happens sooner rather than later.

    Pease Pj

    1. Touché, Jo. You’re right—I should give you the benefit of the doubt when it comes to your personal observation vs. biased punditry. I know you’re smart and think for yourself … as do I. Point taken. We as voters are free to show any politician the door by voting them out. Trump is right about one thing—it IS kind of a swamp. Sorry it took me so long to reply. Been busy with our remodel as we have to be out of this place in May.

  4. Ha I meant peace. Also, I think the wall is one more irresponsible waste of tax payer money and is extreme overreach over states. Add agents, equipment whatever. And Trump’s parade is equally irresponsible. But he is the king of debt. Put it towards treating patients at the VA. I hate waste and debt.

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