In comparison to other global threats, the near collapse of societies in the hemisphere with the associated drug and [undocumented immigrant] flow are frequently viewed to be of low importance. Many argue these threats are not existential and do not challenge our national security. I disagree.
– Gen. John Kelly, USMC, Commanding General, Southern Command
These are family members. These are not gang members. These are not dangerous individuals.
– Gil Kerlikowske, Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection
If people hold different views, often it is possible to reach a compromise. For example, if you want to go north and I want to go east, we can compromise and go northeast. Both of us can be at least partially satisfied. But what if you want to go north and I want to go south? Then we cancel each other out, and we go nowhere. Like a tug-of-war between equally strong opponents, nothing moves, and no one wins.
Even worse, diametrically opposite ideas may be held by the same person. If the person is aware that his ideas conflict, it can cause emotional distress. This is called cognitive dissonance. But if the person is not aware that his ideas are mutually contradictory, there is no emotional distress. The person feels no pressure to bring his ideas into accord with one another. He goes on his way, oblivious to his problem and therefore unable to resolve it. And he accomplishes nothing.
Similarly, how can we compromise the opinions of General Kelly and Commissioner Kerlikowske? We can’t – they are diametrically opposite. Yet both these men were appointed by President Obama to high office. Both presumably meet the president’s criteria for their responsible positions, yet they disagree on the subject of illegal immigration as strongly as it is possible to disagree.
General Kelly is concerned about an “existential threat” that Commissioner Kerlikowske believes is nonexistent. Like the man who holds mutually contradictory ideas, but is unaware of this fact, the U.S. government is in the unenviable position of cancelling out any reason for effective action. And in fact, no effective action is being taken.
Here we might pause and ask how these gentlemen came to hold their respective views. General Kelly is tasked with dealing with security problems on our southern border, and therefore with problems in the nations to our south that may affect us. When he talks about drug cartels, government corruption, terrorism, and immigration, we understand that he is speaking from experience.
On the other hand, how does Commissioner Kerlikowske know that all of the current wave of illegal immigrants are family members, are not gang members, and are not dangerous individuals? Thousands are streaming in without the most elementary screening. Many have infectious diseases. Many have no reliable means of identification. Many of the “children” are teenage boys. So except for young children who are clearly innocent, how can Kerlikowske say anything accurate about the immigrants – that is, anything except that they are here illegally?
He can’t. His statement was made up – fabricated – in order to allay public concern about the problem. But that is not his job. His job is to deal with the problem, not to sweep it under the rug. His job is customs and border protection, not public relations. Or at least, that should be his job. Can any sane person believe that a border so porous that unaccompanied children can cross it could possibly prevent terrorists from crossing?
TSA is allowing illegals to fly on commercail airliners without verifiable ID.
– Border Patrol Union
And who wrote MS-13 graffiti on the walls of an immigration processing center? Members of this violent, drug-dealing, child-trafficking gang? No, it must have been visitors from the Twilight Zone, or perhaps Klingons. Who knows? Who cares? Certainly not President Obama, who still claims that the border is secure.
What about high unemployment among African American workers? What about overcrowded schools, hospitals, and jails? Don’t worry. The “elite” who control our immigration policy send their children to private schools, see doctors in fashionable office buildings, and live in upscale communities with low crime rates. They aren’t giving immigrants their jobs, their kids’ places in schoolrooms, or their places in doctors’ waiting rooms. They aren’t reducing the safety of their streets. No, they are giving away what belongs to poor and minority citizens – and then congratulating themselves on their generosity. This reminds me of an old rhyme:
He who gives away what isn’t his’n
Must give it back or go to prison.
So far we have discussed two possibilities: (1) The administration is confused, and cannot decide whether there is a problem, much less how to deal with it. (2) The administration is incompetent, and allows highly placed spokespersons to make contradictory statements.
But there is a third possibility: The administration is neither confused nor incompetent, but instead it is dishonest. That is, the administration allows General Kelly to express his concerns about uncontrolled illegal immigration, showing conservatives that the administration is aware of the problem. But at the same time, it allows Commissioner Kerlikowske to express his reassurance that there is no problem, showing liberals that the administration is going to do nothing meaningful.
I regret to state that I believe the third possibility is in fact the case.
● Seeing both sides of an issue may make for an “A” in an academic seminar. But it gets an “F” in the real world.
● Arguing both sides of a case is useful in moot court in law school. But it is utterly useless in dealing with real problems.
● Talking out of both sides of your mouth may attract voters of differing viewpoints during an election campaign. But when the campaigning is over and governing begins, talking out of both sides of your mouth confuses citizens, confuses potential immigrants, and – worst of all – confuses yourself. Eventually, you forget where you really stand. You come to believe that you can accomplish both of your conflicting goals – and hence wind up accomplishing neither.
During the superb film “Patton,” the general gives a particularly colorful speech to his troops. His aide remarks, “General, sometimes the men don’t know when you’re acting.” Patton replies, “It’s not important for them to know – it’s only important for me to know.”
General Patton knew very well when he was serious. He was serious about defeating the Germans, which he did with extraordinarily success. Does President Obama know when he is serious? Is he successful in dealing with the problems he faces, or does he attempt to talk them to death? Does he deal with one problem, then move on to the next, or does he flit from one to another, hoping to distract the voters and make them believe he is actually doing something instead of just talking?
Historian Will Durant remarked, “It may be that you can’t fool all the people all the time, but you can fool enough of them to rule a large country.” And even worse – especially for a person in a position of great responsibility – you can fool yourself.
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