A Teachable Moment

One of the things I find most annoying about the Left is their conceit that their positions are the only reasonable, rational ones. This tends to express itself when they are trying to make their case. How many times have we heard that they just need to properly educate us on their plans, that they just need to explain it clearly enough, and any reasonable person will agree that they’re right.

The subtle drawback is that once they’ve decided that they’ve explained it enough, then obviously their opponents aren’t acting in good faith. That leads to laughable charges that the opponents are stooges or paid operatives for the opposition. In the case of health care financing reform, it’s Big Insurance that’s pulling the strings. In the global warmening climate change debate, it’s Big Oil. For the economy, it’s Wall Street.

But it’s a seductive, tempting mindset, That it plays into those who like to think of themselves as the elite, the intellectual class, it lets them presume both intellectual and moral superiority as they work on educating the ignorant masses and converting the heathens.

So I think I’ll give it a try.

There’s a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation going on about Arizona’s new law regarding illegal aliens. I can’t help but think that if we just get the truth out there, if we explain precisely and clearly what the law says and doesn’t say, then a lot of those opposing it will realize that they have been incorrect, and come to the side of logic and reason.

Let’s start off with the mistaken notion that police will be stopping people at random and demanding they prove their legality in being within the United States. Heck, even the President of the United States has this one wrong, but I’ll cut him some slack — he’s probably trusting his Attorney General, who has announced his opposition to the law, for his information on the law, and Attorney General Holder hasn’t even bothered to read it.

But back to President Obama. He said “If you are a Hispanic-American in Arizona, your great-grandparents may have been there before Arizona was even a state. But now suddenly, if you don’t have your papers and you took your kid out to get ice cream, you’re gonna be harassed. That’s something that could potentially happen. That’s not the right way to go.”

That’s simply not true, and he ought to apologize for spreading misinformation.

If that theoretical parent is taking the kid out for ice cream and they see a police officer, then they can tip their hat to the officer or ignore them — whichever they like — and the cop will not say or do anything — no matter how brown they are.

The intent of the law is quite clear: the police can not just go up to people on general suspicion and say “papers, please.” They have to have a reason for detaining them — they have to see them breaking a law or acting in a manner that gives the officer a reasonable suspicion that they are involved in law-breaking.

And let’s dump the whole Naziesque “papers, please.” I’ve been detained by the police several times (always in relation to moving violations, and always gotten away with warnings), and the phrasing has always been variants of “license and registration, please.” In other circumstances, I’ve been asked “may I see some ID?”

So if that parent going out for ice cream can avoid littering, jaywalking, speeding, having an expired registration on their car, driving erratically, or doing something else that draws the cop’s attention, then they can treat Junior to that Chocolate Triple Dip Sugar Cone without any fears whatsoever.

Yes, there are those who make the argument that the cops can fabricate reasons to detain people. They can say they saw them littering or crossing the line on the highway or a tail light wasn’t working, and the potential for that should invalidate the law.

That’s just plain horse crap. The same reasoning can be used to attack any other law on the books. If a cop wants to detain someone, they can find or make one up. In Massachusetts alone, there are over 1300 reasons a police officer can pull over a motorist. (Just an odd bit of trivia that stuck in my head during the debates over their seat belt laws.) To cite the possibility that a police officer MIGHT violate the law and police policy in pursuit of it is a non-starter.

And it doesn’t even pass the smell test. The main thing this will do is make the cop in question have to do a ton of paperwork, and most cops hate that. The good ones see it as a waste of their time when they could be out doing “real” police work, and the bad ones are lazy. The chances of rogue cops rousting anyone guilty of “driving while Latino” or “walking while Latino” is negligible.

This was the original intent of the Arizona legislature, and they emphasized that by going back and clarifying the law. Originally, it was slightly vague about under what circumstances the police were required to verify legal status; now it’s clear that the police have to have a reason to be detaining the subjects before they ask for identification.

The next bit of wrong information is that this makes a whole bunch of people criminals.

The law does not create any kind of new legal status. It is strictly an enforcement issue of existing laws. All the law does is increase the number of law enforcement officials who can enforce existing laws.

The people who are being targeted by the new law already had to live with the ongoing fear of being discovered. The only thing being changed is how many cops they have to watch out for. Instead of having to dodge Immigration, they now have to keep their noses clean and avoid the attention of state and local cops, too.

And that must be spelled out clearly: the only people affected by this law are already breaking existing laws. They are already subjet to arrest, detention, and deportation. The only thing being changed are the chances that they will be caught and punished.

The whole reason the law was passed is because the federal government has failed miserably to uphold its duties to the states to secure the borders and maintain our national integrity. Arizona is simply saying to the feds, “look — the job has to be done. You’re not doing it, so we’re going to step up.” And the Obama regime’s answer is “no, we won’t do it, and you can’t do it, either. We’re going to go to court to fight for our right to ignore the law and pretend it doesn’t exist, and we’re going to punish you for saying it does.”

Arizonans backing the new law have made it clear, again and again, that they don’t want to take these actions. If the federal government would just do its duty, they’d gladly repeal it. And that is an eminently reasonable position.

Who could argue with that? Certainly no reasonable person. Why, the only people who could oppose such a move would have to be motivated by something else. Something sinister. Something evil and greedy and malicious. Like, say, a bigotry and a prejudice against the people of Arizona, or an irrational hatred of the United States demanding that its borders and its laws be respected, or an irrational hatred of the United States itself as a nation.

Isn’t that how the argument goes?

Misreading the tea leaves
Considering Kagan