Some time ago I was in a bookstore – remember them? I was looking for something to get me out of my gloomy mood, and I heard these lyrics on the piped-in music. They expressed my feelings exactly:
How do you sleep while the city’s burning?
Where do you go when you can’t go home?
How do you drink when there’s blood in the water?
Where do you turn when the world moves on?
− Rob Thomas, “Fire on the Mountain,” 2009
Sometimes I feel like that. Sometimes I feel that the world I knew has been exchanged for another world.
When I get up in the morning, I turn on the radio. I’ve done so every morning since 9/11. Being on the West Coast, I didn’t learn about it until both towers were down. I never want to be that far “behind the curve” again.
But as a result, I hear the latest news about IRS-gate, Veterans Affairs-gate, Benghazi-gate, and immigration-gate. I hear about President Obama’s latest attempt to usurp the powers of Congress by issuing executive orders – that is, ruling by decree. I hear about his latest attempt to enforce laws that Congress did not pass (like the Dream Act), and not to enforce laws Congress did pass (like several portions of ObamaCare, as well as the immigration laws). And I wonder whether our form of government – with powers divided between the three branches – can survive.
When we stop for gasoline, we pay the highest prices in six years. Then we go to the supermarket, where we pay about a dollar per apple, and two dollars per grapefruit. We buy toilet-paper that is now an inch narrower than formerly, while a “big roll” of paper towels is about half the size of the old normal roll. Nevertheless, the government gives Social Security recipients a mere 1.5% increase, claiming that is the inflation rate. When the government announces figures that are hard to believe, it undermines its own right to govern.
When we go to the mall, we often see women in head scarves and long gowns. But sometimes we see a woman in a niqab – or is it a burqa? – walking two or three paces behind a man. Whatever it is, it covers a person entirely, including the face. To me, this insults a human being created in God’s image, and therefore insults the Creator.
Besides, who says it’s a woman? It might be a man packed with explosives. Early-day California, and I believe other states, outlawed wearing a mask in public. In those days they wanted to prevent stage-coach robberies. Today we want to prevent terrorism, but it’s the same principle. If others follow their laws, perhaps it is time for us to follow ours.
We often eat at a café, where we get to know the employees. Most of them are Latinas – you know, what we used to call Hispanic women. English lost different case endings for male and female centuries ago, but Spanish retains them. So now we talk about Latinos and Latinas.
And when a woman retires from a university, she is no longer emeritus, but emerita. But this is incorrect. To modify a male noun, professor, you need a male adjective, emeritus. If you want to use emerita, you should call the woman a profesora, as they do in Spanish. I would not be surprised to see profesora and doctora in newspapers before long.
One would think feminists would object to classifying people by gender. One would be wrong. The object of feminism is not to advance the cause of women, but to advance the cause of leftism – that is, to undo as much of Western civilization as possible.
The deconstruction of English is not limited to gender endings. Unlike Spanish and many other languages, English has no diacritical marks – accents over letters. But newspapers in California already print the names of people as Peña and León. Newscasters pronounce place names as if they were speaking Spanish. So the TV news tells us what happened in “Sahn Frahnseesco.” But St. Francis was Italian. If we insist on giving his name in another language, it should be San Francesco, pronounced “Frahnchesco.”
But if I can’t use American English, the reporters can’t use Mexican Spanish. I insist that they use pure Castilian Spanish, as it is spoken in Spain’s capital. So the reporter’s name should not be pronounced “Gonzalez,” but “Gonthaleth.” If she can’t pronounce her own name “correctly,” what right has she to tell me how to pronounce San Francisco?
When I bring up this subject with the Latinos and Latinas we know, they merely laugh. They couldn’t care less how I pronounce Spanish words. In fact, they often speak “Spanglish.” They don’t call a pickup a “camioneta,” the proper Spanish word, but a “troque,” which of course means “truck.” Ordinary people just want to be understood, not to feel superior to others by constantly correcting their pronunciation. That is the province of self-anointed “intellectuals.”
Sadly, the Latinos and Latinas we know in cafés and stores disappear after a few months, and are replaced by new ones. True, entry-level jobs are not meant to be lifelong careers. Still, the turnover of these employees is much faster that it was formerly. And why not? There is a seemingly endless supply of new Latinos and Latinas, most willing to work for the minimum wage – or sometimes less.
This is why big business – and the Democrats and Republicans it funds – favor unlimited immigration. Low-skilled workers are easy to obtain – and easy to mistreat or fire, with less fear of legal consequences. Unlimited immigration makes Latinos and Latinas interchangeable, as if they were auto parts. They are used, then discarded.
After a while, we take less care to know the Latinos and Latinas who work to serve us our food or sell us our goods. Why bother? They will be gone soon, replaced by others, until we have trouble noticing the difference. Unlimited immigration is harmful not only to workers – native-born or immigrants – who seek jobs that can support their families. It is also harmful to consumers, who are led to see Latinos and Latinas – native-born or immigrants – as interchangeable. Thus the humanity of both the workers and the consumers is diminished.
We are losing our ability to see people – native born or immigrants – as unique individuals, each having worth because they are created in God’s image, and each deserving of respect and freedom. Instead, we are beginning to see people as interchangeable and disposable, and as having worth only so long as they are economically useful to others.
This can be fatal to a republic, which needs citizens, not subjects. If the politicians who favor unlimited immigration do not understand this, they are fools. If they do understand it, they are criminals.
In the America where I grew up, we saw ourselves as responsible individuals. We agreed strongly when President Reagan declared, “If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth.” And we listened when pioneer reporter Edward R. Murrow warned us, “A nation of sheep begets a government of wolves.”
I recall an older couple my parents knew. They had escaped from Austria just ahead of the Nazis. One day my father was expressing concerns about the direction America was heading. His friend replied, “No matter what happens, we will not run away again. Besides, where would we run to?”
But don’t worry – our government is alert to dangers. Not the IRS scandal, in which both the sender and the recipient of e-mails mysteriously had their hard drives “recycled.” Not the thousands of immigrants flooding across the border without verifiable IDs or medical exams. Instead, the Department of Justice is investigating a July Fourth parade float in a small Nebraska town. The float consisted of a flatbed truck carrying an outhouse labeled, “Obama Presidential Library.”
In today’s America, conspiracies to harass political opponents, destroy public records, or violate immigration laws are not crimes – but ridiculing the president is a crime. You can call that nation “America,” but the glory has departed.
They took all the rights
Put ’em in a rights museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see ’em.
– Mark Steyn, paraphrasing Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi”
People remain apathetic while the government takes over their health care, dominates vast areas of the economy, and controls everything from light bulbs and toilets to dishwasher detergent to what our kids eat for lunch. These wide-ranging laws bear no resemblance to the limited powers delegated to the federal government by the Constitution.
But now, the Constitution is a “living document” that means whatever the government says it means today. Tomorrow it may mean something different − who knows?
Worst of all, the oath that military and civil officers swear to support the Constitution is becoming merely an oath to obey the current government − something else entirely. Rather than swearing to uphold a written document that everyone can read, in effect they are swearing to uphold whatever the current government wants – which can change at any time. The essence of tyranny is not necessarily oppressive law, but arbitrary and capricious law.
So you can see why sometimes I feel like a stranger here. But where do I go when I can’t go home?
No, I am home. This is my homeland. I’m not going anywhere. I can shake off my gloom. I can point out how we are going in the wrong direction. As Pastor Niemöller taught us, I can speak out. So can you.
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