To the editor:
Where the press is free and every man is able to read, all is safe. So said Thomas Jefferson and so says the banner of the Alexandria Times opinion page.
And rightly so. A free press is a political miracle an open forum to express our diverse opinions about the pressing challenges of our times. The best opinions are thoughtful, analytical and constructive, leaving a serious reader with new insights and a path forward.
The worst opinions simply disparage and indict, seemingly just to stir up passion, while leaving reason (something Mr. Jefferson cherished as the basis for liberty) wholly untouched. In such cases, its always fair to wonder if the publisher should have prodded the opinion giver for just a little more.
This seemed to be the case concerning Mr. Horns recent indictment of a Democratic initiative to address a path forward to U.S. citizenship for children of illegal immigrants through military or other national service. (The DREAM Act is a nightmare, September 30, 2010). Although Mr. Horn offered no proposals of his own, he did an excellent impression of Mr. Scrooge (Are there no prisons?). He also engendered fear in a remarkably reprehensible manner. (What guarantee is there that they wont turn their military-issued firearms on their own platoon?). And, fully qualifying his opinion as worst, he offered no direct analysis or path forward. In fairness, Mr. Horn, a Republican political consultant, did vaguely allude to certain Tea Party-endorsed candidates, but without stating their views.
Yes, we need to address illegal immigration. Yes, a pragmatic, fully negotiated approach will likely make all sides equally unhappy. It will forcefully address the risks of admitting criminals and those posing a threat to national security. It will address the resulting financial burdens to states and localities. To honor our notion that such a path to citizenship should be earned, it will require not only meaningful service, but also a financial burden on folks of little means. Hopefully it will not rob us as Americans of our treasured values of fairness, compassion, and justice, nor strip away the personal dignity of any person earnestly seeking a lawful life here.
In any case, there will be a pragmatic, bipartisan approach to our pressing immigration issues. The best way to begin is a more constructive public dialogue, one which (1.) accepts that illegal immigration is illegal but recognizes that conclusion takes us no where, (2.) does not bow to reckless fear or demonization and (3.) sees the immigration experience as a natural and inevitable part of our precious national heritage and bright, opportunity-filled future. So, lets get started.
Im in, Mr Horn. Are you?
– Tom Dabney