By: Byron York
Chief Political Correspondent
e last few days have seen an extraordinary outburst of criticism of Arizona’s new immigration law. In the nation’s elite media outlets, its most respected commentators are portraying the law as an act of police-state repression. Many, if not all, of the specific criticisms can be refuted simply by reading the law itself, but others are more generalized criticisms of immigration enforcement. In any event, it’s hard to choose the most over-the-top and wrongheaded commentary on the law, but here are ten choices, in no particular order. (If you don’t know why a particular statement is wrong, you can check here, and here, and here, and here.)
1. “The statute requires police officers to stop and question anyone who looks like an illegal immigrant.”
– New York Times editorial
2. “As the Arizona abomination makes clear, there is a desperate need for federal immigration action to stop the country from turning into a nation of vigilantes suspicious of anybody with dark skin.”
– Dana Milbank, Washington Post
3. “I can’t imagine Arizonans now reverting to German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques whereby people are required to turn one another in to the authorities on any suspicion of documentation.”
– Cardinal Roger Mahony
4. “This law creates a suspect class, based in part on ethnicity, considered guilty until they prove themselves innocent. It makes it harder for illegal immigrants to live without scrutiny — but it also makes it harder for some American citizens to live without suspicion and humiliation. Americans are not accustomed to the command ‘Your papers, please,’ however politely delivered. The distinctly American response to such a request would be ‘Go to hell,’ and then ‘See you in court.’”
– Michael Gerson, Washington Post
5. “In case the phrase ‘lawful contact’ makes it appear as if the police are authorized to act only if they observe an undocumented-looking person actually committing a crime, another section strips the statute of even that fig leaf of reassurance. ‘A person is guilty of trespassing,’ the law provides, by being ‘present on any public or private land in this state’ while lacking authorization to be in the United States — a new crime of breathing while undocumented.”
– Linda Greenhouse, New York Times
(Greenhouse’s “trespassing” allegation was based on an early version of the Arizona bill that was not the bill that became law. Her mistake was later removed from the Times site, but you can see original version here.)
6. “Federal law treats illegal immigration as a civil violation; Arizona law criminalizes it by using the legally dubious mechanism of equating the mere presence of undocumented immigrants with trespassing.”
– Washington Post editorial
(This editorial makes the same mistake as Linda Greenhouse’s “trespassing” column above.)
7. “I am saddened today at the prospect of a young Hispanic immigrant in Arizona going to the grocery store and forgetting to bring her passport and immigration documents with her. I cannot be dispassionate about the fact that the very act of her being in the grocery store will soon be a crime in the state she lives in…An immigrant who is charged with the crime of trespassing for simply being in a community without his papers on him is being told he is committing a crime by simply being.”
– Bishop Desmond Tutu, Huffington Post
(Tutu is perhaps relying on the erroneous information in the New York Times and Washington Post above.)
8. “It harkens back to apartheid where all black people in South Africa were required to carry documents in order to move from one part of town to another.”
– Cynthia Tucker, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, on ABC’s “This Week”
9. “You can imagine, if you are a Hispanic American in Arizona…suddenly, if you don’t have your papers and you took your kid out to get ice cream, you’re going to be harassed.”
– President Barack Obama
10. “This week, Arizona signed the toughest illegal immigration law in the country which will allow police to demand identification papers from anyone they suspect is in the country illegally. I know there’s some people in Arizona worried that Obama is acting like Hitler, but could we all agree that there’s nothing more Nazi than saying ‘Show me your papers?’ There’s never been a World War II movie that didn’t include the line ’show me your papers.’ It’s their catchphrase. Every time someone says ’show me your papers,’ Hitler’s family gets a residual check. So heads up, Arizona; that’s fascism. I know, I know, it’s a dry fascism, but it’s still fascism.”
– Seth Myers, “Saturday Night Live”
From Zombie at Pajamas Media
The television network Comedy Central has once again this month shown its cowardice and hypocrisy by censoring all images of Mohammed from Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s cartoon “South Park.”
For those with short memories, the “once again” part of that sentence refers to the previous time — back in 2006 — Stone and Parker tried to depict Mohammed on “South Park,” and had the episode censored by network executives afraid of Muslim violence.
Which only goes to show that terrorism works. Because Mohammed had already appeared, with no controversy, on a “South Park” episode called “Super Best Friends” back on on July 4, 2001. Note the exact date carefully. If that episode has been scheduled to appear three months later, it almost certainly would have been canceled or censored too. Tellingly, that original 2001 “Super Best Friends” episode has itself now been removed from Comedy Central’s site and is no longer available for reruns.
he difference between July, 2001 and now is that these days, Muslim extremists threaten to kill anyone who draws or displays an image of Mohammed. Actually, that’s not true: Muslims have for centuries threatened to kill anyone who draws Mohammed; it’s only that now, since 9/11, we in the West are aware of the threats. Before, the warnings and prohibitions were distant bleats which didn’t scare those few artists who even heard them. But with 9/11, the murder of Theo van Gogh, the fatwas against and attempted murders of the Danish cartoonists, and global riots over the mildest of caricatures, the atmosphere has changed: Suddenly, the threats by Muslims are widely publicized and feel quite real indeed.
What mystifies me is the Islamic fundamentalists’ unaccountable obsession with television and newspapers: It is only when Mohammed appears on a TV screen or is printed in a newspaper that the extremists go berserk. But when he appears elsewhere, such as in museums, books, or the Internet — all of which feature innumerable portraits of Mohammed on essentially a permanent basis — there is a general silence. But why? Why does it cause a cultural explosion when a simplistic drawing of Mohammed appears on a TV screen, when anybody can walk into a museum, or open a book, or simply turn on a computer, and see hundreds upon hundreds of Mohammed portraits whenever they want?
I think the answer is simple: Neither the Islamic extremists nor the general public are aware of just how commonplace and numerous Mohammed depictions really are.
Back in September of 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten started the recent wave of controversy by publishing 12 (mostly innocuous) Mohammed cartoons as a commentary on the absurd dilemma endured by a Danish author who was having difficulty finding any artist willing to illustrate his upcoming book about Mohammed. To everyone’s astonishment, the publication of the cartoons sparked worldwide outrage on the part of Muslims, who apparently thought that there were no images of Mohammed in existence, and thus these 12 Danish cartoons were breaking some kind of taboo.
Within hours of that story hitting the American media nearly five years ago, I began (out of curiosity) to poke around the Internet looking for other pictures of Mohammed, aside from the Danish cartoons. It didn’t take long before I found one, then two, five, ten, forty! On a whim, I downloaded them all and quickly posted a page on my site zombietime which I ambitiously titled: “The Mohammed Image Archive.”
And at that moment my life changed.
The page was an instant hit in the blogosphere, and by day’s end was linked far and wide. And I discovered that I was not the only one curiously poking around the Internet looking for Mohammed pictures: My in-box was quickly flooded with submissions from readers who had discovered this or that unusual Mohammed portait in some forgotten corner of the Web.
So I updated my page. And then updated it again. And again. And then I had to split it into two pages. Then three. Before long the Archive had 13 different themed sections, ranging from respectful and scholarly Islamic Depictions of Mohammed in Full to the outrageously blasphemous Extreme Mohammed, and everything in between. Updating the Archive practically became full-time job — unpaid, needless to say, since I have no ads or other income-generating widgets on my site. The page design was (and still is) minimalistic; my excuse is that the simple design helps the pictures load quickly, but the real reason is that my HTML skills are rudimentary at best.
Within a few months, the Archive had grown to become far and away the largest assemblage of Mohammed imagery anywhere in the world. And since that time, it has quadrupled in size, at least. I now find myself the curator of a global resource, mankind’s only repository of every known image of Mohammed, “the 7th-century founder of Islam” (as I carefully describe him with studious neutrality). This is the curse of perfectionism: once you start on a project like this, you can’t stop until you have every single Mohammed picture ever created, regardless of era, quality, style or intent. Several examples from the Archive’s massive collection are featured throughout this essay.
Detail of Mohammed riding his magical steed, from a miniature in the illuminated manuscript called The Apocalypse of Muhammad, written in 1436 in Herat, Afghanistan (now in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris).
Why do I maintain the Archive? Do I hate Islam? Am I a Muslim? Am I trying to start a war? No, no, and no. The reason is simple: The Archive is an unambiguous declaration of my devotion to the principle of free speech, and free thought. No one can tell me what I can or cannot say. The very fact that millions of people are trying to impose a ban on something is motivation enough for me to shout it from the rooftops.
I fully admit that I am no scholar. I don’t have a PhD in art history or theology. But neither am I some ignorant Internet troll. The Archive is not just a collection of gorgeous medieval Islamic paintings of Mohammed; nor is it just a compilation of the most obscene and insulting Mohammed cartoons ever drawn; nor is it just a museum of the astounding variety of both respectful and satirical Mohammed-themed images that have been created throughout the centuries; it is all those things and more. No restrictions. No censorship. That’s the whole point.
And 70% of Americans agree with me.
(I had originally planned to mention in this essay Draw Mohammed Day, an anti-censorship event dreamt up by Seattle artist Molly Norris. But after her post received massive media attention, Molly backed down and said it was all a joke, admitting her retraction was partly out of fear. Booooo! No matter. Because at the Mohammed Image Archive, every day is Draw Mohammed Day!)
The Archive’s reputation continued to grow, and links from major media portals, blogs, and other Web sites kept coming in, and I soon got what every webmaster craves: A top-ten Google search ranking for a common term. Now, if you do a Google search for the simple word “Mohammed,” the Mohammed Image Archive is the #4 result on the first page, right after Wikipedia, The Catholic Encyclopedia, and a Christian site called Bible Probe.
If you’ve ever gotten a top-five Google listing for a common word, you know what this means: A continuous uninterrupted stream of visitors, day in, day out. If you have ads, this makes you happy; if you don’t have ads, all it means is that your site is constantly burdened by excess traffic, which is one of the reasons why zombietime often is slow-loading or overwhelmed. Even on a slow-news day, people looking for Mohammed arrive by the thousands to view the Archive.
Hate Mail and Death Threats
Not all of those visitors are happy with what they encounter at the Archive. In fact, a substantial percentage of them are Muslims out looking for info about their favorite prophet, completely unaware that any pictures of Mohammed even exist, naively assuming that Islam has always banned portraits of its founder (not true), and also assuming that other societies obey Islamic laws (also not true). What happens when they first lay eyes on the Archive is a cultural collision of epic proportions that often as not causes immediate head explosion.
In the Archive I include a page called Emails From Readers on which I reprint a selection of my Archive correspondence, both pro and con. In truth, it generally runs about 10% pro and 90% con, but the page would quickly grow out of control if I posted every email I get, since I get dozens every day. And about half of those are fatwas or death threats or demands that I shut the site down immediately. It’s gotten so bad that these days I generally just hit the “Delete” button without even reading half of them; if I see a subject line that says “Remove all pictures NOW!” or “Allah throws you in hellfire,” I pretty much know what to expect. Reading death threats can get wearisome at times, I do admit.
Many people have told me, to my great surprise, that “Emails From Readers” is not just their favorite page at the Archive, but their favorite page on the entire Internet, and they re-visit it again and again because of the incongruous amalgamation of base emotions they get from reading the emails: hilarity, fear, outrage, mockery, disgust, anger, and stupefaction.
by Dr. Ronald L. Trowbridge
The health care bill that Congress passed recently is now being challenged by 18 states to date. The constitutionality of the bill will be a close call, with strong arguments on both sides. As former staff director of the bipartisan Commission on the Bicentennial of the U. S. Constitution, I wish here to present – as impartially as possible – both sides of the case, believing along with John Stuart Mill that “he who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that.”
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs reported that its counsel opined that the individual mandate requiring all to purchase health insurance is constitutional under the commerce clause. True or wishful thinking? The nub of the controversy seems this: Will the Supreme Court, citing the commerce clause, permit Congress to regulate inactivity – that is, the absence of commerce – by forcing citizens to buy a certain private-sector service or product?
But to this argument, defenders of the bill will counter that the aim of the commerce clause is not to regulate economic inactivity but to regulate health insurance and health care – an altogether different focus.
In response, opponents of the bill will argue that health insurance is a 10th Amendment states’ right, not a federal government right. States currently regulate health insurance.
As if matters aren’t confused enough, the Supreme Court has taken polar positions on the commerce clause. In Gonzalez v. Raich (2005), it ruled that the commerce clause can be used to regulate home-grown marijuana even if only for personal use. But in U. S. v. Lopez (1995), it ruled that the commerce clause does not authorize federal law banning guns in local school districts.
The constitutionality of the individual mandate will also be tested under the 16th Amendment, which grants Congress the broad “power to lay and collect taxes on incomes.” Opponents of the individual mandate will argue that the mandate is not a tax, but a premium to insurance companies or a fine. Defenders of the mandate will counter that this premium or fine amounts to a tax, falling under the jurisdiction of the 16th Amendment. Also cited will be the enumerated power of the “general welfare” clause.
Opponents of the individual mandate will argue that the 16th Amendment, if used to permit the mandate, discriminates against freely choosing citizens who don’t want health insurance. But defenders will counter that the 16th Amendment already discriminates broadly: a graduated income tax is discriminatory. Mortgage deductions or deductions for children are discriminatory. We see a host of other discriminatory taxes whenever we file our yearly taxes.
Defenders of the individual mandate will argue that there are well established precedents for government coercion. Few people these days think that coerced social security payments or withheld Medicare premiums are unconstitutional. Car insurance is often cited, though that analogy fails: such is a mandated liability insurance for driving on roads and possibly getting into an accident – quite different from a mandated health insurance for simply living and breathing on American soil. And car insurance is a 10th Amendment states’ right, not a federal government right.
There is another unknown that could well enter into the matter of the constitutionality of the health care bill. The Supreme Court may elect not to meddle – on such an enormous, radical scale – into the domains of two constitutional branches of government: the presidency and Congress. Marbury v. Madison established the court’s power to rule an act of Congress unconstitutional, but the court in the health care matter might opt for recommending legislative relief.
Defenders of the bill will argue that the Constitution’s supremacy clause states explicitly that federal law shall be the “supreme law of the land.” Opponents will counter that federal law cannot be the supreme law of the land if that law is found unconstitutional, as in Marbury.
If any part of the health care bill is found unconstitutional, the whole bill fails because it contains no severability clause. Consensus holds that it will take two years for the constitutional challenge to progress through the federal district court, then the appellate court, and finally the Supreme Court. In the meantime, it is possible that an injunction from the district or appellate courts could put the entire bill on hold until the injunction is lifted or the case finally resolved.
My own view is that the Supreme Court will rule the health care bill unconstitutional because never in the history of jurisprudence has the court required a citizen to buy a certain private-sector product or service and never has it defined an insurance premium or resulting fine as a tax.
Ronald L. Trowbridge, Ph. D. is a Senior Fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a non-profit, free-market research institute based in Austin. He served as chief of staff to the late U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger and to the Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution.
As a national debate flares up over Arizona’s new immigration enforcement law, local leaders in some communities across the country are clashing with their police departments over whether those departments should be working closely with the federal government in targeting illegal immigrants.
As a national debate flares up over Arizona’s new immigration enforcement law, local leaders in some communities across the country are clashing with their police departments over whether those departments should be working closely with the federal government in targeting illegal immigrants.
Among the places where such battles are being or have been fought are Washington, D.C, Morristown, N.J., and Maricopa County, Ariz. The tension centers on two of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s major programs enlist the help of local law enforcement officials to identify and deport illegal immigrants.
ICE’s Secure Communities program, created in 2008, allows authorities to check the immigration status of individuals they arrest, through fingerprinting. The program is operational in 168 jurisdictions in 20 states.
And the agency’s more intensive 287(g) program gives local police authority to initiate deportation proceedings against illegal immigrants linked to serious crimes. Immigration authorities say they have agreements with 71 law enforcement agencies in 26 states for the 287(g) program and have identified more than 160,000 illegal immigrants since 2006 – mostly at local jails.
Critics say the programs promote racial profiling, claims similar to those lobbed at Arizona’s newly passed law, which, when it takes effect in three months, will make it a state crime to be in the country illegally and will entrust enforcement to local police.
The federal General Accountability Office has criticized the Secure Communities program for failure to supervise participating agencies. But ICE boasts that, since Secure Communities was established in October 2008, 21, 736 matches have identified illegal immigrants charged with or convicted of serious crimes, such as murder, rape and kidnapping. And the agency says the program has not received any complaints of racial profiling.
“Secure Communities is a color-blind system and reduces the opportunity for allegations of racial and ethnic profiling because the fingerprints of every individual arrested and booked into custody are checked against immigration records, not just those manually submitted by local officers,” the agency says on its website.
But in D.C., council members are looking to prevent city police from joining the fingerprinting program.
D.C. Council members Phil Mendelson and Jim Graham are sponsoring a bill that seeks to uphold the city’s policy that local police stay out of immigration enforcement. The legislation is likely to be introduced on May 4, Graham spokesman Brian DeBose said.
Last month, Police Chief Cathy Lanier expressed support for the Secure Communities program, which takes fingerprints when inmates are booked into jail and sends them to ICE and the FBI. A police spokeswoman says the department has not yet implemented the program.
“What happened in D.C. is happening everywhere,” said Sarahi Uribe, the regional organizer for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. “No public discourse or accountability.”
In Morristown, former Mayor Donald Cresitello’s efforts to sign on to the 287(g) program was met with opposition from the police union and finally withered after he lost the Democratic primary election.
During his last days in office in December, Cresitello signed a document finalizing the town’s request to join the program, but the new mayor, who opposes the program, said the papers are worthless, The Star-Ledger reported.
“I do not support 287(g). It’s just a piece of paper. It means nothing,” Mayor Tim Dougherty told the newspaper in December. “As of Jan. 1, I am the new mayor of Morristown. Donald Cresitello is no longer mayor.”
And in perhaps the most prominent case, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Marciopa County, home of Phoenix, has made a national name for himself by pushing the bounds of local immigration enforcement through the 287(g) program, leading a dozen crime and immigration sweeps, some in heavily Latino areas.
But Arpaio’s efforts have also brought him troubles as he battles county officials challenging his crackdown on illegal immigrants.
“You don’t get more dramatic than Sheriff Arpaio,” Uribe said. “They claim they haven’t gotten complaints. What about lawsuits? Or the Justice Department investigating Arpaio? So that’s preposterous. I don’t think they understand how racial profiling works.”
Arpaio has long clashed with county authorities over his harsh anti-immigration tactics but the feud appears to have escalated recently since Arpaio stepped up his investigations of county officials amid heated political feuds over budget cuts and other issues.
The U.S. Justice Department is investigating Arpaio’s office over allegations of discrimination and unconstitutional searches and seizures – a probe that the sheriff believes was prompted by his immigration efforts.
“When one law enforcement agency becomes subject to three federal investigations in a matter of weeks immediately after a shift of political control in Washington, it is difficult not to speculate that politics played a role in the decision or that policy differences related to hot-button topics such as local law enforcement’s vigorous enforcement of immigration related crimes are being litigated through enforcement actions,” Robert Driscoll, a lawyer for Arpaio, wrote to the Justice Department last May in a letter published in The Washington Post.
Last year, Arpaio was stripped of some of his special authority to make federal immigration arrests, though he retains some federal power that allows his jail officers to speed up deportations.
He told FoxNews.com at the time that he would continue to pursue illegal immigrants.
“Nothing will change,” he said. “I’m not going to be deterred by any bully.”
Last month, Arpaio cheered the new Arizona law, telling Fox News that the people of Arizona are “fed up” with violence and the “flood of illegal immigrants” in their state.
Arapaio said the new law gives him new authority to detain undocumented migrants who are accused of committing any other crimes.
“Now if we show they’re illegal, we can actually arrest them and put them in our jails,” Arpaio said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
By GREG BLUESTEIN
Associated Press Writer
ATLANTA (AP) – Federal agents say they have arrested 596 immigrants with criminal records during a three-day immigration enforcement sweep across the Southeast.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said Friday that the operation, dubbed Operation Cross Check, was the largest ever conducted by the agency targeting foreign nationals convicted of crimes. They said the immigrants have already served their sentences and authorities will now seek to deport them.
Atlanta ICE Field Director Felicia Skinner says that “communities around the Southeast are safer than they were before” as a result. She said three of the people arrested this week had been convicted of murder and 144 were convicted on assault charges.
By Rev. Bill Shuler
The National Day of Prayer and, to a larger extent, the role of faith in America are in jeopardy.
On April 15, a U.S. District judge issued a ruling declaring the official National Day of Prayer unconstitutional. The U.S. Department of Justice soon followed by stating that the Obama administration will appeal the decision. The National Day of Prayer and, to a larger extent, the role of faith in America are in jeopardy.
The history of the National Day of Prayer can be traced back to 1775 as the Continental Congress “designated a time for prayer in forming a new nation.” George Washington proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and prayer in 1795. Lincoln called the nation to prayer at the height of the Civil War, as did Franklin Roosevelt on the eve of D-Day in 1944. The official National Day of Prayer is a rich American tradition and has enjoyed bipartisan support since it was signed into law by President Harry Truman.
The National Day of Prayer was challenged when a relatively unknown group determined to secularize America initiated a lawsuit against the government targeting the National Day Party as a violation of the separation of church and state. The Freedom From Religion Foundation has a track record of seeking to remove all semblance of God from the public domain. Their hope is that they can parlay their recent victory into a national agenda and rewrite America’s spiritual heritage.
Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) boasts a Who’s Who of atheists and agnostics on their board. This group has the right to reject God but they should not be given the right to dictate to millions of Americans the substance of their faith.
The words of Abraham Lincoln have proven to be prophetic as he proclaimed:
“But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand, which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.”
The FFRF would have us believe that the public expression of belief in God discriminates against those who do not share such beliefs and that the expression of faith should, therefore, be unlawful for Americans. If the ruling of U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb had been the law of the land throughout our nation’s history, the long list of law-breakers would include the framers of our Constitution, signers of the Declaration of Independence and the president who held our Union together. Those who would have been guilty of crimes against the Constitution would have included Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Truman, Reagan and now, Obama.
Lost in the FFRF’s version of America is the distinction between mandating and recognizing prayer, between the establishment of religion and the free exercise thereof. If it were the intent of our Founding Fathers to create a nation where the recognition of God was absent from the public arena, they would never have mentioned the “creator” within the Declaration of Independence. The fact is that the Founding Fathers never imagined an America where God would be unwelcome in the public domain. They knew the difference between freedom from religion and freedom of religion. Prayer in America appears to be at the mercy of judges but, in reality, the judges are at the mercy of God. Persecution has always strengthened and made the church grow. Prayer aligns our nation for blessing.
The role of government is to neither dictate nor discriminate against religion in America. America is not a theocracy and never should be but neither is America a nation without deep spiritual moorings and identity. The Declaration of Independence expressed the convictions of our Founding Fathers when the writers concluded the document with the words:
“with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
Today, some would interpret such words as a violation of church and state but on July 4, 1776, it was a clear recognition of a nation’s dependence on Almighty God. Our Founders took a principled stand at their own peril long before public opinion polls dictated public standards. It continues to be a principled stand today.
Rev. Bill Shuler is pastor of Capital Life Church in Arlington, Virginia. For more, visit CapitalLife.org.