The Left's Assult on Citizenship

Where illegals are citizens, and the President can summarily execute anyone.

When, to our appalled horror, the TV news announced that Barack Obama had won re-election, we immediately knew a great many of the bad things in store for America over the next four years.  Our "Things to Come" series almost wrote itself.

There are the occasional silver linings, however, such as the really remarkable new openness and honesty by leftists about their true goals.  When was the last time we had even Democrat politicians dare to say, yes, they really do want to confiscate your guns, as New York Gov. Cuomo did?  It's clarifying to read progressives openly arguing, as we discussed last month, that the Constitution needs to be scrapped and that you have no right to keep your own property if there's someone else out there whose food or medical care needs paying for.

Today's startling new revelation from the Left?  That U.S. citizenship has nothing to do with what's good for U.S. citizens.  No, it's all about helping everybody else in the world.

A Club Where Everyone Is A Member?

Robert Reich, a former Clinton official and current professor at UCal Berkely (naturally), addressed America's ongoing debate over illegal immigration on his blog:

On one side are those who think of citizenship as a matter of exclusion and privilege — of protecting the nation by keeping out those who are undesirable, and putting strict limits on who is allowed to exercise the full rights of citizenship.

On the other are those who think of citizenship inclusively — as an ongoing process of helping people become full participants in America.  [emphasis added]

These issues... are pieces of the same larger debate: Are we more fearful of “them” out there, or more confident about “us”? Is our goal to constrain and limit citizenship, or to enlarge and fulfill its promise? 

It’s an old debate in America. The greatness of our nation lies in our overriding tendency to choose the latter.

American schoolkids have been taught for years that America grew by accepting anybody who wanted to come here.  "Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..."

Except, that's a lie!  Yes, America accepted the poor, but it didn't accept just anybody.  It didn't accept criminals, the sick, or the disabled, who were likely to become a burden on the nation.  It didn't accept Communists, revolutionaries, or anarchists.

In 1913, Popular Science magazine ran an article on Ellis Island:

The law divides physically and mentally defective aliens into three classes. Class A includes those whose exclusion is mandatory under the law because of a specified defect or disease. In this class are idiots, imbeciles, epileptics, the feebleminded, insane and those subject to tuberculosis, or a dangerous or loathsome contagious disease.

When a medical diagnosis has been made of these conditions, that person is automatically excluded. In Class B are conditions which are not mentioned in Class A, but which make the person affected liable to become a public charge or affect his ability to earn a living. Class C includes defective and diseased conditions not included under A or B but which must nevertheless be certified for the information of the immigration officials.

The article goes on to discuss various sorts of immigrants and how they helped or harmed the United States.  Some came to build the country; others only to send money home and return themselves someday.  Some brought diseases that the U.S. Public Health Service doctors had to detect and exclude.  Many of the problems discussed are every bit as relevant today, a full century later.

What has changed since then is the perspective and purpose.  Popular Science of 1913 argued about the wisdom of various immigration policies, but there was never any doubt as to the rightness of the goal: the benefit of the United States.

Robert Reich's view could hardly be more different.  His desire has nothing to do with what's good for America, but how we can help the people of other countries not lucky enough to be Americans by birth.

So Good, It's Bad

This sounds like a mighty noble sentiment.  Hasn't America always been suffused with missionary zeal?  Our Founders envisions this land as "a shining city on a hill," a beacon to all mankind if not a worthy goal and destination. 

The trouble is, there are limits to all things.  Back in 1913 there were large sections of America with very few residents where uneducated immigrants could go to make a productive new life.  Not so much today.

In 1913, Henry Ford was just getting started, and the vast majority of work involved manual labor which could usefully be done by uneducated illiterates.  Not so much today.

In 1913, if an individual wasn't able to support himself, he might be able to get voluntary help from a charity or church, but if not - well, the government wasn't considered responsible to give cash handouts to the poor.  Today, it seems like the Obama administration thinks that's the only goal of government, never mind the oppressive expense to the poor citizens who have to pay the taxes!

It is not the job of America or our American government to take care of everybody in the world, or to provide everybody in the world the opportunity to come here and make a life at our expense.  It is the job of the American government to, quite simply, do what's good for Americans.

Dr. Reich and his fellow lefties are now openly arguing against that.  They vehemently maintain that our government should intentionally not do what's good for Americans, not put Americans first, not be the least bit choosy about what foreigners should be granted the great gift of American citizenship.  They want America to be the welfare nation for the world.  The scummier the immigrants, the better they'll fit into the Democratic party!

So Bad, It's Good

This devaluing of American citizenship works the other way too.  Not only do Democrats want to treat everyone like American citizens, they want to treat American citizens like everyone else - i.e. summarily executing them if their President feels like it.

In a rare and inspiring display of old-fashioned filibustering, Sen. Rand Paul seized the processes of the Senate and the attention of the media by expounding for 13 straight hours on his horror at Obama's contention that he can kill anyone he pleases.

Earlier this week, the noisome Attorney General Eric Holder, being unusually honest, admitted to a Senate committee that, in his opinion, the President "has authority to use drone strikes to kill Americans on US soil."  Now, in a sense he's right: Abe Lincoln killed (mostly Southern) Americans on American soil, and George Washington was willing to when he marched to put down the Whiskey Rebellion.  And police shoot down armed criminals every day, not nearly as often as we'd prefer actually.

But these are very specific situations of active, imminent, armed violence.  If Mohammed is standing in a cafe wearing a suicide vest with his finger on the button, we're all in favor of him being shot down by whatever means is most appropriate, even if he happens to technically be an American citizen.

If Mohammed is sitting at a table in the cafe drinking a cappuccino, though, it doesn't matter if his black heart is contemplating how to murder his fellow citizens.  That's reason for him to be arrested, interrogated, tried, convicted, even (as we've argued) for his citizenship to be stripped by a court of law.  It is not legitimate for him to be gunned down without warning.

We may be in a Global War on Terror, and the fight may take place all over the world, but it doesn't mean that every place in the world is equally a battlefield.  America has unwisely granted massive powers of confiscation to our police forces with the idea that they'd be used against evil drug dealers, only to discover that those powers can be used just as well against ordinary citizens who've done nothing wrong.  It's bad enough that police can summarily confiscate your belongings on "suspicion" of a drug crime; do we really want them to be able to blow you to flinders without warning on "suspicion" of involvement in terrorism?

To his credit, Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden supported Sen. Paul's concern, as did a handful of Republicans; any Senator that didn't has no right to call themselves an American.  Yes, to their eternal shame, that includes war heroes like John McCain.  Even some on the left have noticed, with noted liberal John Cusack plaintively asking where his supposed progressive heroes are.

Where are they?  In the tank with Barack Obama, destroying the very concept of American citizenship, the better to destroy the rights that go along with it.  We've always thought they felt this way, and it's a relief to see them finally come right out and say it - and now America is starting to notice.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Law.
Reader Comments

The "assult" on citizenship?

Obama has been a major letdown for public school teachers, who now consider him to be one of the worst presidents ever -- arguably worse than George W. Bush. The man is a DINO, the "D" next to his name enabling him to have pushed through schemes like Race to the Top that no Republican would have been able to.

Because of him, we are on the road to handing over school funding to the for-profit sector. I can already hear you applauding the defeat of those evil teacher unions, but stop a moment and ask yourself if putting investors in charge of education will really result in anything better. In the end, the interests of the teachers dovetail with the interests of the students far more often than the interests of wealthy investors do.

And along the road, we've federalized even more than we were before. To the accompaniment of applause from conservatives, of all people. Huzzah, I guess.

March 7, 2013 1:38 PM

"stop a moment and ask yourself if putting investors in charge of education will really result in anything better"

And the answer is a loud and immediate YES.

March 7, 2013 1:43 PM

"And the answer is a loud and immediate YES."

Can you incorporate an analysis of the standardized test scores of union vs. non-union districts into your proof? I'm in the mood to be entertained.

Please, let's not play semantic games with the word "union". You know very well what I'm talking about.

March 7, 2013 2:07 PM

Not quite sure what education has to do with this particular article... But the reason why private-sector education will inevitably improve it has nothing directly to do with unions. It has everything to do with COMPETITION.

If parents can choose which school their kids attend without the massive, life-altering differential between free public schools and insanely expensive private ones, then many of them will choose the better schools, causing more money to flow to them and justly shrinking the failing ones. Same reason old stores die and new ones grow - they give people more for their money.

The proper comparison is private schools (chosen by parents) vs public schools (assigned and you're stuck with it) - and on that, there is no doubt. Private schools destroy public schools, and homeschools even more so.

March 7, 2013 2:11 PM

Surely you jest, Ron. In just about every study of private vs. public test scores, the private schools are ahead.

Like ACT scores? Okay here:

Rather have a study from the DoE? Okay here:

The differences in test scores is universally superior - so much so, that it's an afterthought.

Oh, but you wanted "union" comparisons! Well, every public school (pretty much) uses union teachers and every private school uses non-union.

You were saying?

March 7, 2013 2:17 PM

Patience and lfon,

I could have told you that private schools would beat out public schools. I will assume that you were not trying to be devious in bringing them up. Instead I will patiently explain that comparing the two is like comparing apples and oranges. Private schools do not draw from the same pool as public schools.

Patience says that the "proper comparison" is private vs public schools because you are "stuck with" your public school but can shop around for a private school. Conversely, a public school is "stuck with" its clientele, while a private school can and does choose who it allows in and who it allows to stay. Therefore there is really no way to fairly compare the two. I attended a private school where troublemakers and those with severe issues were shown the door; I teach in an urban public school where we have to take all comers regardless of behavior, disability, proficiency with English, etc. If you seriously mean to argue that this does not account for a major difference in achievement, I will leave you to your ignorance.

lfon, there are many public schools that are non-union (unless you play semantic games with the word "union"). My brother in law teaches public school in Raleigh, North Carolina, where there are no teacher unions.

As you may already know, the unionized public districts routinely score higher than the non-union public on tests like TIMMS and PISA. Why do you suppose this is? If unions ruined everything, wouldn't you think that the union districts would produce LOWER average standardized test scores?

Again, please, let's not bog this down in semantics games over the word "union".

March 7, 2013 2:34 PM

"Private schools do not draw from the same pool as public schools"

Which is the whole point - how it's funded and what the investors' expectations are. Private schools are funded by individual parents.

You cynically refer to "investor" schools as if they're Evil Hedge Funds, but all schools have investors.

The problem with public schools is that the investors (taxpayers) have no say over how their funds are used and no ability to remove their investment. School-teacher unions don't care about the parents' opinions, and in fact tend to consider parents an obstacle to the teachers' goals.

In the case of the (VERY few) non-union public schools, the parents still have very little, if any, control. State or district mandates prevent teachers from imposing discipline on students and incentive teaching to the lowest common denominator.

"I attended a private school where troublemakers and those with severe issues were shown the door; I teach in an urban public school where we have to take all comers regardless of behavior, disability, proficiency with English, etc"

And yet you still, somehow, don't see the problem. WHY are you required to "take all comers" regardless of those problems? WHY aren't they ALSO shown the door?

Answer those questions, and then you'll be getting somewhere.

March 7, 2013 2:42 PM

Ron exposed his contempt for achievers with his statement " In the end, the interests of the teachers dovetail with the interests of the students far more often than the interests of wealthy investors do.' Tell me Ron,why does it matter if the investor is weathly or not? Quite frankly a wealthy investor can better fund the school than the non-wealthy. Quit worrying about what a person has achieved and what you have not achieved and we'll be glad that you don't call the shots. Ron's type never allows facts to enter into his arguments.

March 7, 2013 7:48 PM


Interesting that you mention hedge funders. Seems like you do have some idea of what is going on behind the scenes in education.

I have no problem with private schools, and never did. Neither do I have any real issue with homeschoolers (I wouldn't choose that route for my own kids, but people should be more or less free to do so if they feel it is right for them). I am good friends with the "principal" of a homeschooling outfit in Texas, and think she does a wonderful job.

I asked if you could explain why unionized school systems scored better on standardized tests such as TIMSS and PISA than right-to-work school systems (such as the public schools of North Carolina). You have attempted to divert the conversation from this question enough times that I can assume you have no answer.

I am curious, though, as to your suggestion that public schools be allowed to kick out troublemakers, the disabled, ESL learners, etc. That seems like what you were doing, anyway. Care to elaborate? I know that any public school teacher who made a suggestion like that would be inviting volleys of rotten fruit.

March 8, 2013 9:09 PM

I didn't divert the conversation. Scroll up and re-read. I gave you several links. Public and private schools show a clear contrast between union and non-union systems. I don't know why you're stuck on it having to be non-union public. Those are rare and have a different set of problems, but a clearer distinction is with public versus private.

Why should public school teachers/principles/officials be subject to the abuse of children from which there is no recourse? Teachers should have clear and obvious AUTHORITY in their classroom. Don't like corporal punishment? Ok, at least kick the little bastards out. Let their parents figure out how to homeschool them. Yes, yes, I know - poor inner city types "can't do that". Oh well, the parents will have to figure out what to do or let their brats end up in jail. And guess what? They'll probably end up in the jail ANYWAY regardless of whether they stay in school or not.

March 9, 2013 8:20 AM

I agree with Ifon about the necessity of authority / consequences in schools. As a practical matter, you can't force anyone to learn anything, but you can motivate them to want to learn.

In the old days, schools were declared "in loco parentis" and could inflict corporal punishment to reluctant learners. Every kid knew this song from 1907:

School days, school days
Dear old golden rule days
Readin' and 'ritin' and 'rithmetic
Taught to the tune of the hickory stick

It was well understood that learning was enhanced in many cases by applying the board of education vigorously to the seat of learning, repeat as needed. You'll find the lyrics on a government web site!

but we can't harm their deal little egos by holding them back. Without sanctions, there's no reason for kids to do the work. Management requires a judicious mixture of carrots and sticks. American schools have neither.

March 9, 2013 3:33 PM


Surely you can see how comparing unionized PUBLIC schools to non-unionized PUBLIC schools -- and there are a lot of non-unionized PUBLIC schools out there unless you play cute semantics games to deem schools without any local union membership to be "unionized" -- is more valid than comparing unionized public schools to non-unionized private schools. If you refuse to see this, then I am afraid you are willfully lost.

As for "kicking the little bastards out", know that your comment made me laugh quite a bit, and not derisively. What you express is felt by many public school teachers, which should come as no surprise. However, we know we would be pilloried for expressing it. The attitude also begs many important questions, such as what to do with the kids might get kicked out of public school. In China, students who do not fit into public school are given a choice -- the farm, or the factory. I suspect our society would have some serious problems with this.

Also, not every "problem" student is a troublemaking hoodlum. Many special education students really want to learn, but lack the ability to do so in a standard classroom. Would you be so quick to throw these out in the cold? Private schools routinely screen these kids out because they lack the facilities to handle them; public schools have to take them.

Your statements are refreshing, but impractical.

March 11, 2013 12:07 PM

The department of education, an oxymoron if I've seen one, is determined for all kids to be the same upon graduation. All are to be treated alike regardless of the circumstances. Well the bottom line is that kids are different. Some belong in school and some don't. Some want to learn and can't, some don't want to learn and can, and some like school. Do they really want rocket scientists digging ditches? I'm sure that they would figure out a way to dig it faster and better but then you would have the lower skilled guy out of a job because he couldn't keep up with the rocket scientist digging the ditches. A lawyer buddy of mine told me years ago that if a guy could read, write, add, subtract and multiply to a degree he could become a millionaire. I agree with him. I have seen all kinds of guys with money. A friend of mine who cane up the hard way, he has a roofing business was at the University attending his daughter's being accepted to a prestigious sorority. While drinking punch with some of the blood bloods they asked him where he went to school. He promptly answered H&K. When asked where that was he said, "The streets, I've got a PhD in the school of Hard Knocks". I say all of that that yes, we should kick the little tykes out of they won't behave. Put them to manual labor with basic skills up to the age of 16 or17 and then put them out to pasture. They'll do better than many college graduates if the government will stay out of the way and not give them anything. They will at least have the pride of being self sufficient which they are being robbed of today by our government. It would be a huge fight but everyone with walking around sense knows that that is true. I discount the 10% of liberals that believe otherwise as they refuse to acknowledge facts. All they know is how they think how things should be done and how they feel. We must elect common sense people to DC and it has to start sometime.

March 11, 2013 1:26 PM

Growing up in a communist country, after eighth grade everyone took a "standardized" test that "qualified" each student for a vocation or a specific line of work. Those who did well went on to college and became engineers or doctors, those who didn't have the aptitude for higher learning were sent to trade schools and became technical or blue-collar workers. Now of course all industries were controlled by the state and jobs were assigned to each individual once school was completed, but this ensured that people had some sort of a skill and labor needs were filled as necessary. Although I don't recommend this, I do think too much money is wasted on college in this country. Not everyone needs to go to college, and with less demand tuition costs will go down and make it more affordable for those who really should go to college as opposed to only those who can afford it. Unless we want to continue having indebted students for life.

March 11, 2013 1:41 PM
Add Your Comment...
4000 characters remaining
Loading question...