In 1776 immigration was unchecked in the American colonies. The people living here decided to form their own government and bypass the King’s tax man. Those folks wrote some rules that defined our form of Government and who was eligible to hold office. The President had to be a natural born citizen – meaning that he had to be born on the soil of America. The definition of ‘American Soil’ has occasionally been raised in our glorious political history. If anyone should have been checked for legal birth rights it should probably have been our first seven Presidents – they were of the immigrant class. That was in the day when most immigrants were white and from Europe – so no one made a big deal out of the ‘birth clause.’ Is there such a thing as group schizophrenia?
I have two nephews who were born into an American military family while they were stationed in Belgium. My brother joked that the boys could never be President because they were not born on American soil. John McCain was born in Panama to a military family stationed away from home. His birth certificate reports Panama as his place of birth. But because he was in a military family, assigned by the government to Panama, and born on a military base – the question of his nationality is not questioned. Actually, his nationality is not questioned because he is a white male with the tag of ‘Republican.’ There is no benefit to simpletons in challenging his birth right. But not all challengers are simpletons. Check this out – an Army Lt. Colonel is challenging the right of Obama to be Commander in Chief:
This guy has flipped out, well, that is my opinion. I know people like this. They are people who will grab a cause and hang on for dear life. They will use their cause to justify anger, resentment, hate, and fighting to the death. I know these people because I have been one. Anyone who has followed my writings will see the shadow of causes infiltrating my words. The difference between me and that Lt. Colonel is that I have at last become aware of how damaging causes have been in my life – and how futile it is to fight for something that is not important.
There is a strain of racism masquerading as concern for our nation. President Obama’s father was Kenyan. He was not American, did not claim to be, and did not want to be. Obama’s mother was a lily white woman from Kansas. This sort of union is offensive to many Americans. Some Americans do not believe that Jews and Catholics should be allowed to breed – but add the element of race mixing and look out below, the bombs will fall. President Obama was born in Hawaii to an American mother. We are told this by the Secretary of State in Hawaii – who has produced copies of the original birth certificate.
The big toot about immigration in 2010 America is racism masquerading as patriotism. Because a large majority of modern immigrants are darker in complexion and speak a different language than the white descendants of European immigrants – there is a scream of intolerance. These immigrants are also willing to take jobs that most proud white people would shun. The racist sees that fact as proof that they are lesser creatures and should not be allowed in our country.
The discrimination against Hispanic immigration is no different than the discrimination against the Chinese immigration of the 18th and 19th Centuries. It seems there is a strain of anger running around in a large segment of America – what, perhaps ten percent of Americans live lives of ‘quiet desperation’ – striking out, venting their frustration on abstract external fights that are mostly irrelevant to their daily lives.
These people seem to grab on to irrational ideas. Ideas like ‘death panels’ in health care reform. Ideas like immigrants are demeaning our great country. Ideas like our government is going to take our guns away from us. Ideas like discrimination against any faith system not of their own choice.
The Colonel in the video reveals something important. Right wing fanaticism is not about ignorance, is not about education, is not about color or ethnicity or creed or gender. For that matter, left wing fanaticism falls in the same category. What is it that gets under the saddle of otherwise reasonable educated people that makes them hunger for battle? The quest for a fight – to be martyred for a cause – seems to grip some people. Is there some underlying need for people to feel that their life mattered? What is this need to be right that drives otherwise reasonable people to spit the venom of hatred?
Fanaticism is not confined to the domain of politics and race. We are talking about fanaticism that becomes viral, that is so powerful that it would cause a man like the Colonel in the video to risk his career. The fanaticism that justifies threats against individual congressmen, that drives people to throw bricks through glass, to shoot holes in windows, to protest against homosexuality at dead soldiers funerals.
What is it that justifies denying an Hispanic man from working hard to send money to his family? What is it that causes someone to jeopardize their career to challenge the birth of the President? Why do people put their own lives in jeopardy, put the well being of their family in jeopardy, put our political system in jeopardy – by martyring themselves for some cause that is at best ill-defined?
What is it that drives a better-than-thou attitude?
Bill Maher has a few thoughts on this while a guest on Jay Leno: