What Fresh Hell Is This?

June 27, 2006

Another Conservative at odds with Rick Santorum

This time it's my buddy Jerry Bowyer.

Jerry's conservative credentials, for those of you who don't know, are solid. Go ahead and google him (I'm sure he won't mind). No weak-kneed mamby-pamby liberal there!

Anyway, he wrote an interesting pair of columns one for each end of Pennsylvania - in this Sunday's P-G, and Monday's Philadelphia Daily News. I'm not sure why they're different yet so overlapping. Maybe some day Jerry will explain it.

He begins (at the Philly paper) with this:
I'VE BEEN interviewing Rick Santorum for almost two decades now. One thing that always struck me about Rick was his willingness to speak openly about his belief in Christianity.

That's why I was surprised when the senator recently sent an e-mail to me in which he bragged about his tough position on immigration and slammed Bob Casey for his soft one.

As I read the e-mail, I thought, "Has Rick ever read what the Bible actually says about immigrants?"
Some of us wonder if Rick's ever read the Bible at all (Matthew, 7:1-5 and all that), but that's another column for another day. He begins the Pittsburgh piece like this:
President Bush has proposed an immigration reform plan. It toughens border enforcement, but also creates incentives for illegal immigrants to come forward, pay a fine and apply for legal citizenship. Hard-line conservatives call this approach amnesty and oppose it. Among them is Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who is attacking Senate candidate Bob Casey for taking an approach that seems pretty much spot on with the president's.

As certain elements of my party struggle to get in touch with their inner Pat Buchanan, I've spent a lot of time reflecting on what the Bible says about immigrants.
Inner Pat Buchanan - haha! But take a look at something the Santorum ad doesn't have the guts to say. Casey's taking an approach (right or wrong) that "seems pretty much spot on with the president's." So when Lil Ricky is ranting about Casey - he's also ranting about our AWOL president. When will someone on the right other than Jerry Bowyer be pointing that out?

Now the two pieces converge.
The biblical case against abortion is inferential. The Bible doesn't speak directly to the topic. It lays out some principles -- sacredness of life, humanity of the unborn -- that lead to the conclusion that abortion is not permitted. It's the same with stem cells, child tax credits, faith-based social service provisions, etc.

Immigration is different: The Bible is explicit. In the Torah, Moses commanded, "Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt." The Bible is unabashedly pro-immigrant.
I didn't realize that The Bible had anything to say about faith-based social services, but that's just me.

Let me say that I'm definitely NOT a fan of having The Bible or any book deemed sacred by any faith as the arbiter of secular law. We're not a Christian Nation but a secular one - if you have any doubts, just read (perhaps for the first time) the 1st Amendment. But when an openly religious candidate is so obviously at odds with his own scripture, that's an interesting story.

Jerry makes a point later in both pieces:
I understand that on the surface, the current argument is not about immigration per se, but about illegal immigration. I also understand, from nearly a decade of hosting talk radio, that almost every time I run into someone who wants to take a tough approach on illegal immigrants, they also turn out to dislike legal ones as well.
Remember, this is Jerry Bowyer talking - not me. Then there's this:
The president wants to create a program in which illegals can come forward, pay a fine and apply for legitimate citizenship. What do the hard-liners want? My hard-line talk radio callers want deportation. I have two words that I'd like for them to contemplate for a moment: "concentration camp." There is no way that you move 10 to 20 million people from one nation to another, against their will, without concentrating them.
"No amnesty"= deportation = "concentration camp." Are we comfortable with that?

When he was on the air at PTT, I think I agreed with Jerry about 3% of the time. On the other hand, he was unique among local conservatives in the sheer amount of stuff crammed into his brain. Everyone else in town is either a kook (Jim Quinn, Jack Kelly) or needs to do their homework (Ruth Ann, Fred Honsberger).

It's raining in Pittsburgh today. Surprise, surprise!


EdHeath said...

Not to just babble about every issue (well, ok, maybe I am), but immigration is particularly interesting to me. For one thing, I wonder if the current system is the most efficient economically, if not sort of bankrupt morally. Would as many guest workers be employed as illegal’s are now, if the amnesty program were set up? Legal workers would involve all sorts of costs that may not be assessed on illegal’s, like vacation time or sick pay. Because US employers are not prosecuted for hiring illegal’s if they appear to be obeying the rules, taxes are taken out for many illegal’s, paid using whatever bogus Social Security number the illegal provided for his/her I9 form. That means the illegal is making payments into a medicare and social security systems that they can never collect benefits for (generally). From my point of view, its like shopping at Walmart; I feel some moral ambiguity but I appreciate the bargains galore. Do try to keep in mind the to a large number of illegal’s of being employed …

I think the comment about our not being a Christian nation is a bit selective. We’re not real big bible readers anymore because there are so many romance novels to read and sitcom re-runs to watch, but historically Christianity was the shared language of dialogue and political presentation. Quite apart from the current fella, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton found room for religious iconography in their political lives. The separation of church and state protects individual sects and denominations (and whole religions rather accidentally), but there is no escaping the direction of our history…


zak822 said...

"...almost every time I run into someone who wants to take a tough approach on illegal immigrants, they also turn out to dislike legal ones as well."

The fact that bigots embrace a tough position against illegal immigration does not change the fact that it is a serious problem. Not all liberals, maybe not even most liberals, want to throw open the border.

We can't solve Mexico's employment problems. Nor Guatamala's, Peru's, etc. The problems that drive illegal immigrants to risk their lives to come here are intractable. And America simply can't take in all of the Central and South Americans that want a better life.

It's impossible.

And it is only an assumption that the "guest workers" will even embrace the program, which will cost them money to participate in. There's nothing in it for them. What is the US going to do, track them down? We can't even track people here legally who overstay their visas; believing that we will develop an effective tracking system for guest workers is a pipe dream.