What's Missing From the Fury Over Arizona's Immigration Law

I am the last person to object to the notion of ideology. We need ideologues. Both Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan are wonderful examples of pragmatic ideologues.

Both men charted out bold courses of action from the Right and Left and we are all better for having had them in our midst. Their ideological visions help us to better understand our own beliefs.

But watching events play out in and around the state of Arizona in the wake of the state's recent immigration law makes me more and more wary of blind allegiance to ideology and wary, too, of the emergence of a whole class of people who strike me as being immune to logic, reason, analogy and thoughtful debate, trapped in a Never Never Land in which conclusions are reached and then held on to, just because.

I see this in our attorney general and our head of Homeland Security,  both whom, to their credit, have admitted that though they are dead set against the Arizona law, they haven’t actually read it.

I see it too, in an e-mail I received recently from a promoter who tells me my artist’s scheduled date on a major music tour in Phoenix has been cancelled because of the law. When I remind him that 17 other states are poised to pass similar laws he writes back “unbelievable.” When I remind him that it’s actually a restatement of federal law and wonder aloud if he’ll be extending the boycott to the rest of the 49 states in the union -- to be consistent -- he falls silent.

The Arizona law and other things have me wondering if we are now so in the throes of an ideologically polarized era that we are actually unable to consider ideas on their own merits. Depending on who proposed the idea or who is for or against it, we make our choices to support of oppose, just because, or even worse, we don’t read or expose ourselves to ideas we have decided we should be against.

When it comes to the Arizona law, a bit of common sense is in order. I’m no expert on immigration law but I have spent nearly half of my life living abroad and in most countries I’ve visited, as a foreigner, I’m well aware that I can be asked at any time for any reason for my “papers.” And yes, that request is often based on my race.

It does complicate life, but only slightly. When I go out I make sure I have my papers with me. If I’m halfway to the train station and realize I don’t have them, I’ll take the extra ten minutes to retrieve them because I respect the nation I’m visiting, am grateful that they allow me to be there and out of respect for their sovereignty and my foreign-ness, am happy to abide by such reasonable restrictions on my freedom.

Then, there’s poor Arizona, going out of its way to make sure that even a reasonable thing like racial-profiling isn’t allowed in its legislation and that people can only be stopped if they’re in the caught in the act of committing a crime and they still catch hell.

Come to think of it, I object to the Arizona law as well, I’ve decided, but only because it doesn’t go far enough. And maybe the action of the Arizona legislature will be a kind of Waterloo for millions of Americans who will say, “enough.”

Enough to a kind of blind, faith-based allegiance to leaders and ideologies, enough to the suspension of the common sense and quiet wisdom of the American people. Enough pussy-footing around and catering to those who glory in their perceived victimization.

Perhaps Arizona and other states will reach the point where they’ll decide to set aside ideology and consider practical solutions that abide by our constitution even as they demand that visitors to America behave in roughly the same manner that I, an American citizen am expected to behave when I am in their countries.

Arizona most certainly have the right to ask for proof of citizenship from those who are in the act of committing a crime. But based on my experiences with societal norms abroad, if a particular nation is having a particular problem with illegal immigration from a particular country, say, Mexico or Sweden, it’s entirely reasonable for police officers to ask to see the identification of those who in the judgment of those officers look Swedish or Hispanic, just as I am pulled aside when traveling abroad in Asia and asked for my “papers” a request to which I am more than happy to oblige.

If all of this is done in concert with federal and state laws, and in a manner consistent with the Constitution, then common sense will have prevailed over mindless adherence to ideological agendas and led by their renegade brothers and sisters in Arizona, Americans may be ready for a new era of practical, common sense

Mark Joseph is a producer, author and editor of Bullypulpit.com. His next book "Wild Card: The Promise & Peril of Sarah Palin"will be published later this year.

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