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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Kurt Waldheim was a Nazi; Oscar Ayala-Cornejo is an illegal immigrant

by folkbum

On the other hand, Kurt Waldheim was also a revered statesman, and Oscar Ayala-Cornejo was, by all accounts, a good cop.

In many ways, I feel that the whole immigration debate is ginned up by Republicans to rile the base. There seems little doubt that we don't do a good job at the borders. And something is certainly screwed up in the world that has led an estimated 12 million people to sneak in here for a better life.

But I think the case of Oscar Ayala-Cornejo shows exactly where the immigration debate moves from commonsense discussion of real problems into frothy insanity. If all you knew was the conservative Cheddarsphere, you'd think that Ayala-Cornejo was the anti-Christ and his presence on the Milwaukee Police Department--let alone the country--is a sure sign of the apocalypse.

Michael S. Murphy doesn't have enough exclamation points to express his displeasure. Fred has the same problem, but with capital letters. Michael Caughill compares Ayala-Cornejo to the Jude cops and pedophiles. Jessica McBride thinks she's making a point about something. McBride's protégée is basically demanding a tax refund.

But Kurt Waldheim's death last Thursday brought an inescapable and impressive reminder of something that all of us would do well to keep in mind: Austrians learned that Waldheim had been a Nazi--and had lied about it--and elected him president anyway. The revelations did nothing to diminish the respected work he did for the world as a two-term Secretary-General of the United Nations or his other service to the world community. Was Waldheim's time as a Nazi something to celebrate? Of course not. But it did not--and should not--stop us from forgiving him and allowing him to keep serving.

Similarly, if ever there were a case for "amnesty" for illegal immigrants, I think Oscar Ayala-Cornejo is it. He was a child when he was made to take on the identity of his dead cousin. He finished school, he made a conscious choice to serve the community. He was productive, helpful, valuable. His spending time in jail is a far greater waste of taxpayer dollars than our paying his salary has been.

This is why the dialogue as it's currently happening on immigration is absolutely stupid and unhelpful. Mike Plaisted this morning--in a post that reminded me to finish this one, finally--correctly diagnoses the issue as the GOP's
hail-mary pass to get traction with their deep, back-woods base. [. . .] This led to the declaration of a "crisis" in immigration. Apparently, there were just too many brown-skinned, foreign-languaged people showing up for work all across America. The trumped-up "crisis", not coincidentally, led to the first increase in years for membership in the Klu Klux Klan and other "organizations" who know how to make the most of xenophobic hysteria.

Again, the GOP candidates have heard the siren sound of their nut-base and, instead of volunteering for the next Habitat for Humanity project, will be out there with the suddenly-enriched private contractors (check for Minutemen to make the most of their opportunities here), building giant double-fences to keep Them out.
It's absolutley astounding to me that George W. Bush and Trent Frickin' Lott (of this quote) are the ones making sense on the issue, and are leaving their nut-roots further and further out in a frothy, angry right field.

And paying the price? Good cops like Oscar Ayala-Cornejo.

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