Somewhere during the past couple of decades, our national attention span shrank to zero, and what used to be debates were reduced to frantic exchanges of pithy slogans and calculated sound bites. It reached its zenith when proponents of abortion rights realized the inherent power of the word "abortion" and wisely steered clear of it. But it got so bad that they had to contort themselves by referring to their philosophical opponents as being "anti-pro-choice."
Now, all of a sudden, it has been discovered that a whole lot of people living here shouldn't be (or, depending on your point of view, should be, and we shouldn't be), and the dirty little secret is out in the open. Alas, public discourse on the subject has quickly degenerated. Here are some of the sound bites in what passes for a "debate" on the immigration issue.
We are a nation of immigrants. --countless talking heads
Technically, only about 10 percent (a surprisingly hefty number) of the people currently residing on American soil are immigrants; the other 90 percent were born here. Certainly, almost everybody in this country is descended from immigrants, but all that does is make us a nation of people who are descended from immigrants. That's not all that unique. Unless you live between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and can trace your lineage back 2.8 million years or so, everybody's ancestors came from someplace else.
This is not an amnesty plan. --President George W. Bush
Oh, it's an amnesty plan. It's pretty much the same one that President Ronald Reagan disappointed his core constituency with 20 years ago, and it's the same one at which President Jon Bon Jovi will shrug at and then sign into law 20 years from now.
I don't know what the big deal is. They used to own this land. --Anglo woman being interviewed by KOLD Channel 13 during a rally at Sen. Jon Kyl's Tucson office
The woman appeared to be too old to have gone to a charter school, but her tenuous grasp of history was shocking. I'm not really sure what her statement means. Parts of Italy once belonged to Africans who rode in on elephants. Do modern-day descendants of Carthaginians therefore have a right to show up in Florence and demand citizenship and a full slate of rights? For that matter, "we" used to "own" Cuba. Can we just show up in Havana and make that argument? Probably not.
Humanitarian aid should not be a crime. --sign at a rally
No, it shouldn't. But how about giving a ride to someone you know broke a law that's on the books (even if you don't like that particular law), because that person was really, really thirsty? Should that be a crime? If everybody gets to decide each case on their own, just throw open the border, cut out all the hypocrisy and start a shuttle service. But if you're going to willingly engage in civil disobedience, you should at least be willing to spend that night in the Birmingham jail.
I'm doing this for my country --high school student featured in front-page Tucson Citizen column
Um, yeah, exactly which country is that?
How would you like to pay $1.50 for a head of lettuce? --activist warning of "severe" price spikes if the cheap migrant labor source dries up
What are you talking about?! I paid $1.29 last night at Albertsons. When's the last time you went shopping for food? Personally, I'd be willing to kick in that extra 21 cents for the knowledge that a head of lettuce hadn't been picked by some foreign guy who risked his life to get here just so he could be dicked over by some giant agribusiness corporation.
This is no man's land. --several protesters gathered at the federal building
At first, I thought they were referring to Aztlan, the mythical land consisting of that part of the United States that used to belong to Mexico and/or Spain. But after I asked a few of them, they said that it's more a matter that man is free to roam the Earth, and that borders are artificial constructs, unworthy of recognition or respect. (I paraphrased.)
A giant has awokened. --12-year-old Phoenix resident who walked out of school to protest various immigration bills
You'd better get your ass back to school and hope you didn't miss English class.