Reflections on a House Divided

Point of Balance:
Peggy Noonan takes on the current debate over immigration, and
gets it just exactly right

Ms. Noonan admires immigrants, and for all the right reasons: their courage and dedication to hard work, family and faith. She admires them to the point of love. And amongst all of them she loves Mexican immigrants the most, as their deep Catholic piety makes them feel like family to her.
none of these sentiments, strong and genuine as they are, prevents her from insisting to the effect that:
we fully enforce our immigration laws and residency requirements.
Fore - concerning the recent marches and demonstrations - she observes that:
"While the marchers seemed to be good people, and were very likable, the march itself, I think, violated the old immigrant politesse--the general understanding that you're not supposed to get here and immediately start making demands. It would never have occurred to my grandparents to demand respect. They thought they had to earn it. It would never have occurred to them to air mass grievances, assert rights, issue a list of legislative demands. Especially if they were here unlawfully.

I happen to think America in general has deep affection for immigrants, knows they are part of the dynamic, a part of our growth and our endless coming-into-being. But when your heart is soft, and America's is, your head must be hard.

We are a sovereign nation operating under the rule of law. That, in fact, is why many immigrants come here. They come from places where the law, such as it is, is corrupt, malleable, limiting. Does it make sense to subvert our own laws to facilitate the entrance of those in pursuit of government by law? Whatever our sentiments and sympathies as individuals, America has the right, and the responsibility, to protect the integrity of its borders, to make the laws by which immigrants are granted entrance, and to enforce those laws."

In other words, Ms. Noonan does something here that is becoming increasingly rare, and even suspect, amongst our class of journalists, social scientists, and educators - she puts her sense of duty well before her sympathies. Which action is particularly hard when the objects of ones' sympathies are deserving of them. But this kind of strength used to be very much part of our national character in times past. As only one illustration of this amongst so many, between battles, soldiers of the Union Army, and the Confederacy, whence on picket duty would commonly, chat, and trade across the lines, and sometimes they even got up a game of baseball or two. Some were actually friends, some even family. And, they all considered themselves to be, in their own ways, Americans. But, in battle, they went at each other with almost unparalleled ferocity - firing at virtually point blank range before falling to with rifle-butts, knives, fists and teeth. Units often stood firm after suffering levels of casualties that have, and do, normally make strong men break and run during other conflicts before and since.

They were able to act in these ways because, in this matter, they had subordinated their more personal feelings to their convictions as to what is right and wrong and, because only weak people need  to hate, or feel superior to, those against whom duty alone requires hard measures to be employed.
And they were not weak people.

At the Immigration Rally
Having an open heart doesn't mean supporting open borders.
by Peggy Noonan

(C) David Aronin 2006