Debate Forum Left 08/18/10

Benjamin Tompkins Benjamin Tompkins
Benjamin Tomkins Benjamin Tomkins

A Derogatory Idea

By Benjamin Tomkins

Benjamin Tomkins

I love children. They are born innocent of the crimes of their parents and wholly defenseless against the evils of the world. As such, I consider it our social duty to care for and protect them. Realistically I understand that we simply can’t let everyone in, but if we really “hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, (and) that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” then I find it both reasonable and proper that we should extend that birthright to all those who are created within our borders. Unless that child is Mexican, in which case it should be post-knockered back into the fetid womb it tumbled out of and deposited directly in the worst gang-ridden area of Juarez, because obviously we only mean the porcelain skinned babies of upper middle class white immigrants. Seriously, nobody in their wildest dreams actually interprets the 14th Amendment, much less any of the Constitution, to apply to anyone who’s poor and gross. Eeewww.

If you have any shred of decency I hope that last bit offended you, because as far as I can tell that’s what the argument to change the jus soli clause of the 14th Amendment is forwarding. This “anchor babies” bilge is not only derogatory; it’s being used as an excuse to perpetrate racism…against children. To support that statement, I submit the following:

1) The notion that a child can anchor an illegal family here is total crap. He/she can’t sponsor their family’s immigration attempt until age 21, and if they are too young to stay without their family they leave too.

2) We aren’t talking about illegal Canadians, just Mexicans. And we all know it. Generally speaking, the Constitution frowns on this, ARIZONA. Due process is extended not just to citizens but to anyone in our JURISDICTION, and you’d know that if you’d bothered to read the very next sentence after the jus soli clause, you intellectually lazy worms.

But that’s what a lot of short-sighted people do. They declare themselves the gatekeepers of all morality and constitutional rights, but as soon as they are forced to back up those beliefs by extending things like the 14th Amendment to people they don’t like, they pinch off that overzealously patriotic turd of self-evident truth and grab a handful of the Bill of Rights to swab the deck.

Now there is a branch of thought regarding this topic that makes a somewhat more sophisticated argument in favor of eliminating jus soli. The basic principle is that, because the jus soli clause was only intended to quell post-slavery discrimination, the current international climate renders the language too broad for a functional contemporary definition of citizenship. Now I submit to you that this is, in fact, a load of bollocky nonsense. See, the reason we passed this amendment in 1868 in the first place is because the citizens of the United States (white people) decided that, even though the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery heavily implied that slaves were entitled to citizenship, this could easily be skirted by saying they were actually African immigrants and never Americans in the first place. Crap. That was crafty. The 14th Amendment puts the final nail in that coffin by saying that everyone born here is American so Southerners can go screw, but more interestingly than that it touches on the core of the issue of what being an American actually means.

This country is a melting pot. Always has been, always will be. This is not a European nation with a thousand years of ethnic identification upon which to base claims of national affiliation. For instance, in Italy they will welcome you in if you can demonstrate that your family has ties to Italy even if it’s been 100 years. In France they measure the length of your nose and see how many snails you can eat while a pack of German Shepherds chases you across the Seine. That’s funny because it’s true, but the point is that being “French” has some objective criteria which can be used to determine who has some claim to citizenship. We don’t have that here. Being American is and will always be more about a belief in our ideals than any physical or historical requirements. Look at the Statue of Liberty, it’s all there:

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

That is the most idealized spirit of inclusion I can possibly imagine. If a child is born in a house that has that sign on the door, then as far as I’m concerned that child is as American as anyone who’s already here.

Benjamin Tomkins is a violinist, teacher, journalist and critically acclaimed composer currently living in Denver, CO.  He hates stupidity, and generally believes that the volume of one’s voice is inversely proportional to one’s knowledge of an issue.

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