The struggle between bigotry and tolerance toward immigrants in America is nowhere better illusrtrated than in two recent news items in Huffington Post Latino Voices. In the first item, posted on August 2, Republican Representative Steve King of Iowa was quoted as saying that "diversity has never been America's strong suit", and that "the argument that diversity is our strength has never really been backed up by logic".
King also told the Huffington Post: "It's unity where our strength is. Our founding fathers understood that. Modern-day multiculturalists are defying that.". King is sponsoring a bill to make English the only language for all federal government communications, including voter and ballot materials.
The bill would also nullify a Clinton-era policy requiring federal agencies to provide interpreters for certain purposes. This "English Only" bill would not apply to the private sector, evidently in keeping with Republican right wing "small government" ideology. King strongly denies that his bill is racist, calling such comments "offensive", especially when talking about a "society as inclusive as America". Go figure.
In contrast, another Huffington Post Latino Voices item, dated August 1, announces that a group of UCLA ptofessors have launched National Dream University, an on line college for DREAM Act eligible unauthorized immigrants who can pay in-state tuition and qualify for federal financial aid.This program is similar to Freedom University, which was set up by Georgia professors to counter legislation in that state which threatened to place barriers in the way of unauthorized immigrants seeking an education.
While the battle between hate and acceptance toward immigrants continues to rage in America at large, there is no question about who has won the victory inside the Obama White House. Up to now, President Obama has stood by while the Syrian tyrant, Bashar al-Assad, has ruthlessly massacred tens of thousands of his own people, ruthlessly shooting down innocent men, women and children in a desperate bid to hold on to power, with the help of Russian helicopters and diplomatic support from Russia, China and Iran.
One does not have to be a neocon for the Bush-era phrase "Axis of Evil" to come to mind. The horror of the ongoing genocide in Syria has now been underscored by the resignation of former UN Secretary - General Kofi Annan, one of the world's most respected statesmen from his hopeless position of UN Special Envoy to Syria, a peace making mission which was doomed to failure from the start, in large part because of America's cowardly reluctance to provide any form of military help to the Syrian rebels.
Of course, one can argue endlessly about whether all of the rebels believe in Jeffersonian democracy themselves. Syria, after all, is in the Middle East. But the time for such arguments is after the massacres are stopped, not before. But the Obama administration, terrified that any sort of intervention might hurt the president's chances for re-election has so far stayed on the sidelines. Now, it has been announced that Obama may send some arms to the Syrian freedom fighters. Too little, too late?
Again in contrast, the Obama administration is an active participant in another type of massacre - a massacre of the hopes and dreams, not to mention due process and basic human rights of 400,000 unauthorized immigrants per year, most without any serious criminal records, and of their family ties, their right to humane treatment in our immigration gulag, which is more concerned with the profits of private prison contractors than with providing urgently needed medical assistance to detainees.
President Obama is also engaging in a form of "genocide" against his own promises. Where is "prosecutorial discretion" now ? Where is "deferred action"? They too, just as surely as the Syrian freedom fighters, are victims of the two heads of cowardice in the White House - the fear of standing up to foreign dictators abroad, and the fear of standing up against anti-immigrant hate at home.
Roger Algase is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been practicing business immigration law in New York City for more than 20 years.