A couple week’s ago at a Washington Nationals baseball game was absolutelythe last straw for me. My family and I were at Nationals Park with about 20,000other people, enjoying a Stephen Strasburg start on a pleasant afternoon.Strasburg had pitched five innings and batted for himself in the bottom of thefifth when it happened. First a young man, then a young woman, then two moreyouths ran onto the field, interrupting play. The game was stopped for at least10 minutes long enough to pull the star we came to see, Strasburg, from thegame as overweight security guards tried unsuccessfully to apprehend theelusive young people. The disruption was all part of a planned protest.
The Nats, you see, were playing the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Yes, that Arizona.The state that had the nerve to pass a law saying it was OK for their policeofficers to apprehend people who had broken the law. Sundays Nats game wasdelayed because a handful of people thought making a political statement was anappropriate thing to do at a baseball game. It wasnt. And if I were sitting onthe fence on this issue, it would have made me less sympathetic to their causerather than more.
I am personally tired of people on the left and the right resorting to demagogueryon hot-button political issues. The name-calling and demonizing comes from bothsides on issue after issue. Though one may be pro-life, iro-choicers shouldnever be called baby killers. In the lead up to the Iraq war, those whoraised doubts about the wisdom of military action were labeled unpatriotic.
But in recent years the left has made an art of demagoguery.Delegitimizing those who dare to voice opinions that run contrary to the gospelaccording to the left is favored tactic number one. Why debate the facts especially when many pesky truths get in the wayof your favored position when you can simply shoot the messenger? Thus,those who oppose gay marriage are hateful and intolerant. Those who are against illegalimmigration, even if they favor greatly expanding legal immigration, are calledxenophobic and racist.
The rhetoric surrounding illegal immigration, the hottestcurrent topic, is especially infuriating. Getting lost in the name-calling isthe fact that this is a really complex issue that crosses many politicalboundaries. Thus, though they wont say so publicly, many owners of businesseslarge and small rely on the cheap labor that illegal immigrants provide.(Minimum wage laws have done away with the supply of cheap, legal labor.) Conversely,an awful lot of Democrats in Arizona, who have been personally affected by theswarms of people crossing illegally into their state, side with RepublicanGovernor Jan Brewer on this topic.
It is possible to have a civilized conversation on this andother issues, but the name-calling makes it more difficult. I personally thinkthat legal immigration is what our country was built on and it is essential toour future. We absolutely need people from all over the world with all levelsof skills and education coming into America, giving us a fresh infusion ofperspective. But, in this age of terror and murderous bombings, I also believethat national security is the most important issue and the primary purpose ofgovernment. We must be able to control who comes into our country for securityreasons.
But security is not the only reason that I believe illegalimmigration is wrong. Its also an issue of fairness. Why do some people haveto play by the rules, while others dont? To allow people from Mexico or Guatemala or Honduras freeaccess to America but deny that access to people from Nigeria or China orPoland is discriminatory and its wrong. Whatever happened to diversity? Isntit better to have a multicultural society rather than a bicultural one?
So, agree with my views or dont. Love the Arizona law orhate it. Lets talk it out. But leave the demonizing and the name-calling onthe playground and dont bring it onto the baseball diamond ever again.
The writer iseditorial page editor and managing partner at the Alexandria Times.