Saturday, August 16, 2014

The great deceit

"Ye must distinguish. The action of Pity will live for ever: but the passion of Pity will not. The passion of Pity, the Pity we merely suffer, the ache that draws men to concede what should not be conceded and to flatter when they should speak the truth, the pity that has cheated many a woman out of her virginity and many a statesman out of his honesty - that will die. It was used as a weapon by bad men against good ones..."  C.S. Lewis - The Great Divorce
It is an unfortunate truth that our better natures are often used as weapons against us. The political class has refined manipulation to an art form. When people that personally have nothing but contempt for Christianity ask "What would Jesus do?" in response to a political issue, it isn't really that they care what Jesus would do. It's nothing more than a crass attempt to shame Christians into supporting a particular side of a political issue. It's shallow, it's manipulative, it's cynical, and it works - very well. The long running myth that democrats are for the poor and republicans are for the rich is just one example of the prevalence of this type of manipulation.

In recent weeks it's become popular for progressives to assert that Jesus wants us to open our borders to the diaspora of the world's desperate nations. We would certainly be better off if more politicians were truly concerned about what Jesus wanted of them personally, but I'm pretty sure that reducing American influence and enabling Latin American nations to engage in mischief, corruption, and exploitation isn't on Jesus' top-ten list. The most compassionate thing we can do as a nation is protect the long term exceptionalism of America. A strong America operating under the principles that she was founded upon, and pursuing a corresponding foreign policy is a force for good in the world. The only metric our elected officials need to determine what is in the best interest of desperate people in our hemisphere is what is in the best interest of America.

The current proposals for legalization pathways for illegal immigrants represent the most cynical of potential open border approaches. Our ineffective border security demonstrates the irony of political pity as few things can. For decades now we have seen politicians from across the political spectrum enable border policies that entice desperate people to illegally immigrate to the United States. The number of reasons are probably as varied and numerous as the politicians that allowed border lawlessness to persist over the years, but one reason that will not stand up to scrutiny is pity.

Much of the southern U.S. border is a harsh desert. It is an under-reported fact that illegal immigrants routinely die attempting to cross our southern deserts. It is also well known that illegal immigrants are commonly abused by the coyotes that they hire to bring them into the country. For some illegal immigrants exploitation continues even after they make it into the country to essentially become slaves of one sort or another. Then there is the calamity that foreign drugs wreak in the lives of many Americans. The same politicians that have been enabling the policies that create these hardships are those that now seek to browbeat compassionate Americans into supporting a political agenda in the name of pity.

The cliche about not letting the best be the enemy of the good should not cloud our discernment about letting our goodness become the enemy of the best. The best solution for desperate people in Latin America is to use U.S. influence to improve their conditions at home. Importing vast numbers into the United States does nothing to solve the problem at its source. But it does hold out a promise of moving America leftward over time. The lie that pity is at the root of these efforts is clearly demonstrated by the lack of interest in transforming the source of the suffering.

The United States spends billions of dollars in various forms of aid in Latin America every year. The corruption in some of these countries is legendary. Narco-terrorists have killed over 50,000 Mexican citizens in the past few years. The leadership of Mexico and Guatemala have publicly conspired to facilitate illegal immigration into the United States. There is not even a pretense of holding these nations accountable by the Obama administration. Exactly what is the intended return on the investment that we have made in these countries, and what influence has that investment provided us? The U.S. government’s betrayal of the public trust, and the tepid response by the American people are both staggering. Yet those that do speak out about the opening of the illegal immigration flood gates are met with efforts to shame them into silence for their “lack of compassion”, and the most cynical claims that they are somehow disappointing Jesus.

The world is not helped by fundamentally transformative efforts of defeating American exceptionalism. Tragedies that we see around the world or at our southern border will not be remedied by submitting to the passion of Pity, the Pity we merely suffer, the ache that draws us to concede what should not be conceded. We must not allow ourselves to be beguiled and cheated out of what is exceptional about America by silver tongued devils that would take advantage of us by stirring the passions of pity for the targets of their false compassion.

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