Members of the Obama administration, who soundly condemned Arizona's new immigration law, are now admitted that they have never even read it. Could President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderón find themselves in the same boat based on comments they made today at their joint appearance on the White House lawn?
Let’s review. The first person who had to admit he had never read the Arizona law Attorney General Eric Holder made his admission last week. On Monday, it was Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's turn. On Tuesday, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley revealed that he, too, had not read the bill, despite commenting on it. Given how inaccurate these officials have been in their descriptions of the law, maybe members of President Obama’s team simply had no option but to plead ignorance.
After all, how do you take a law that clearly states the following: "A law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, or town or other political subdivision of this state may not consider race, color or national origin,” and then claim that it is racist or could lead to racial profiling? Not only that but other parts of this very short law also include additional safeguards against racial profiling. For example, the law requires that the police may only ask for ID if they have “lawful contact” with “lawful stop, detention or arrest” and that authorities must have "reasonable suspicion" that a suspect is an illegal alien.
Failure by members of President Obama’s administration to read the four page text of Arizona's law is no a small matter, since some on his team managed to create quite a stir in various appearances on Sunday talk shows by bringing up concerns about racial profiling and racism.
Take, for example, Ms. Napolitano's warning on "This Week" on May 2: "Unfortunately, I think it [the law] does and can invite racial profiling." If these various "news" shows had been doing their job, they would have challenged Napolitano and other officials on these claims. Even just reading parts of the law -- verbatim -- to Ms. Napolitano or other administration officials during their appearance on the program would have been enough to force them to admit their ignorance.
In Ms. Napolitano's case, her admission did not come until Sen. John McCain asked her several questions when she appeared before the Senate Homeland Security Committee. One gets a sneaking suspicion that the administration might just be feigning ignorance about the law rather than admitting to knowingly making outrageous statements about racism.
But how are other administration officials’ statements different from Obama's claim today: "I think a fair reading of the language of the statute indicates that it gives the possibility of individuals who are deemed suspicious of being illegal immigrants from being harassed or arrested and the judgments that are going to be made in applying this law are troublesome." He also warned might make American citizens "subject to suspicion simply because of what they look like."
And then there’s Calderón's claim that the law is "discriminatory."
President Obama keeps asserting that Americans risk being harassed because of the Arizona law. But he never explains how this could happen given what appears to be the extremely straightforward language in the law.
And then there’s this. It now turns out that the Obama administration has even been apologizing in private to foreigners for Arizona's law. “We brought it up early and often. It was mentioned in the first session and as a troubling trend in our society, and an indication that we have to deal with issues of discrimination or potential discrimination,” Those are the words of Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner, who led a U.S. delegation in talks with the Chinese, speaking to reporters this past Friday. -- Someone needs to ask Mr. Posner if he actually read the law before he started denigrating America to the Chinese.
Over the weekend, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer had the guts to portray the consequences of these false attacks when she said, "Our border is being erased, and the president apparently considers it a wonderful opportunity to divide people along racial lines for his personal political convenience." Yet, it isn't just the president and his administration or President Calderón who are practicing such racially divisive politics. The media is just as irresponsible and they owe all Americans an apology.
John R. Lott, Jr. is a columnist for FoxNews.com. He is an economist and was formerly chief economist at the United States Sentencing Commission. Lott is also a leading expert on guns. He is the author of several books, including "More Guns, Less Crime." His latest book is "Dumbing Down the Courts: How Politics Keeps the Smartest Judges Off the Bench" Bascom Hill Publishing Group (September 17, 2013). Follow him on Twitter@johnrlottjr.