The Oberlin Review
<< Front page Commentary September 15, 2006

The Right Stuff: A Healthy Dose of Realism

I was rather disappointed last year when an anonymous student or group of students at Oberlin began voicing their opinions on weighty issues by way of vandalism and property destruction. Surely you must remember the spray-painted messages that appeared on sidewalks and buildings all over Oberlin: “No Human Is Illegal,” “Castrate the State.” and perhaps most repulsive of all, “Stalin is My Homeboy.”

That the spread of vandalism on campus is objectionable probably requires no exposition. After all, just take a look at your tuition bills. I certainly don’t feel the need to cope with even greater costs to finance the cleansing of defaced sidewalks all over campus and I suspect that my peers share this sentiment. The vandalism itself aside, however, it often seems as though the content of these messages is welcomed with open arms by Oberlin students (and by some faculty members too) and this is extremely troubling.

The most indefensible of the vandals’ slogans, such as “Stalin is My Homeboy,” are so absurd and denigrating that they fail to merit any reasoned discussion here. Yet even the ones which are ostensibly more innocuous, like “No Human Is Illegal,” call for a healthy dose of realism.

This latter motto began to sprout up around the time that America’s immigration debate began raging last spring. A new coalition was formed on campus and an official statement lamenting “unjust” immigration laws and asserting that “no human being is illegal”  was soon issued. This statement was signed by almost 20 student organizations, two academic departments, at least 13 individual faculty members and the president of the College.

I recognize, of course, the great attraction of the notion that we might all just live happily ever after on this beautiful old planet of ours. But the trouble is that this utopian reverie and the “One World,” open borders fantasy it insinuates are all too often regarded as viable policy options by my peers. This is the point at which such dreams become downright dangerous.

Five years ago, 19 terrorist henchmen of the fascist militant group al-Qaeda hijacked four American passenger jets. They slammed two of these planes into the World Trade Center in New York and one into the Pentagon outside of Washington, D.C. The fourth plane, intended for the White House or the U.S. Capitol, crashed in rural Pennsylvania after a small group of heroic passengers fought back against the terrorist hijackers. Almost 3,000 innocent civilians were murdered in total — not just Americans, but also citizens of countries from every inhabited continent on earth.

If there is one reality about that terrible day that too many people have chosen to ignore, it is that all 19 of the hijackers violated U.S. immigration laws in one way or another. Does this mean that all illegal immigrants and residents are terrorists? Of course not, and it certainly does not mean that immigration itself is a negative phenomenon. On the contrary, legal immigration has enriched our country and we would be fools to discard the openness of that American tradition. The sobering fact that all of the hijackers violated immigration laws should demonstrate, however, that such men are willing to risk a great deal (including, obviously, their lives) to reach their ends. The open borders approach advocated by the far left would certainly be no match for killers like these.

Under such a regime there would quickly appear on U.S. soil (along with a vast majority of good, peaceful people) a pack of killers bent on making terrorism and replicas of 9/11 a monthly, weekly or daily occurrence. The unfortunate reality is that for as long as the world remains home to murderous fascists like bin Laden and his cohorts, the liberty of everyone else remains at risk.

And we ignore this risk — for example, by allowing “No Human Is Illegal” to trump national security — at our own great peril.


Powered by