Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Sodomites Not Welcome

I haven't blogged in a while, so I thought I'd come back with a bang, as it were, and take on a controversial topic: sodomy.

There's way too much sodomy going on in America right now, from the Arizona-Mexico border to my home town of Herndon, VA. People are sodomizing illegal immigrants with no fear of retribution. And senators such as Jon Kyl and John Cornyn are committing sodomy on the Senate floor.

Hold on a second. Now that I've written that paragraph, I realize that the goyish definition of "sodomy" has become generally accepted in the American lexicon. As a result, I probably have a lot of very confused readers who are convinced that I'm talking about sexual habits. So let's get our minds out of the gutter, and allow me to explain (and here I'm paraphrasing from a sermon my rabbi gave a couple of weeks ago)...

Remember the Biblical story of the angels who visit Lot in Sodom, and get met by a less-than-welcoming party while in Lot's tent. The city of Sdom (Sodom, to those of us reading the English version), as it turns out, was one of the richest places around. They wanted to keep their riches to themselves, so they weren't very welcoming to any strangers. They would relieve any rich visitors of their wealth, and they would harass and abuse any poor stranger who looked to share in the wealth of the city. Like a kindergartener who refuses to let his classmates play with his Legos, the people of Sodom were selfish and inhospitable.

So how is this "sodomy" being practiced today? Picture us as the rich city of the plain, and the poor stranger as the Spanish-speaking guy from the south side of the Rio Grande. Capiche?

(And so we come across the real point of this post: illegal immigration.)

We've all whined about how illegal immigrants are lawbreakers, or how they're taking our jobs, or whatever. The truth is that they are coming here to make a better life for themselves, just like our ancestors who immigrated here. America is a wealthier place than their homes, and they want to share in our wealth. Security concerns are important, but there are ways to ensure that everyone who wants to come here to make a life for themselves can do so.

But I see a more disturbing trend materializing. I see people who want to deny health care to illegal immigrants, who want to forbid governments from offering Spanish-language services, who want to keep Latino day laborers from getting work. I see people camped out along the imaginary line in the Sonoran Desert ready to shoot anyone who comes across. I see others protesting a community center for day laborers in Herndon. I see people in North Carolina who want to deny a college education to children who were educated in our school system simply because their parents came here illegally. And there are people, like Kyl and Cornyn, who want to automatically deport anyone who has come here illegally.

These are people who react with too much fear and not enough compassion. They blame the impoverished for their situation. They are the ones harassing the stranger, telling them not to come back, that our wealth is not available to them, that they are not welcome here. They are the sodomites.

Illegal immigration is a problem, but those who are serious about policy realize that the immigration system itself needs to be reformed. They advocate guest-worker programs (like President Bush), opportunities for amnesty (like Kyl's Arizona colleague John McCain), or making the immigration system as easy as filling out a piece of paper and crossing a border (me).

Personally, I think that most people would rather immigrate legally than illegally - and those who propose the preceding programs understand that. Currently, the process of getting a visa and becoming documented represents an insurmountable obstacle to those would-be immigrants of little means who wish to come here and work. Apparently, you can't get one without a specific job offer. Guest-worker programs create an annoying bureaucracy and don't make the guest workers feel welcome. McCain and Kennedy's general amnesty still creates a monetary barrier.

I, personally, feel that simple is best, so here is my proposal. a) For the next year, everyone who immigrated here, whether illegally or not, receives a green card (after a short background check to make sure they're not a terrorist). No questions asked. b) Everyone who wishes to cross the border to work must be able to do so for free, with no proof of a job offer, again with no questions asked (with appropriate terrorism screening). The visa will last for six months, and will become permanent if the immigrant finds a job or becomes a student in that time. The immigrant may reapply after the initial six months.

My plan has several advantages. First, it's ridiculously simple. It eliminates several unnecessary layers of immigration law and bureaucracy that don't really need to be there, saving us time and money. Also, it makes the process easy to follow for immigrants and INS officials alike. Second, it removes the incentive for honest people to immigrate illegally. Since those who are looking for work are welcome to come across the border for free and find it, we can now be relatively certain that those who try to sneak across the border are probably doing so for reasons that are less than above-board. Border patrollers would not have to deal with illegals who are simply looking for work and could concentrate on stopping smugglers and terrorists. Third, it would make immigrants feel more welcome in America. These immigrants would then be more likely to participate fully in American society. Fourth, it would give immigrants leverage against their employers when they are being exploited.

Also, we should all continue to refer to the espousal of anti-immigrant policies as "sodomy." It's easier to say than "xenophobia" and it's a lot more Biblically appropriate than that other definition.

There. That oughta ruffle some feathers.


Mike said...

Sodom? That bastard! I hope he fries for his crimes in I-rack!

Seriously, your plan is interesting and makes sense in a certain light, but I think its inherent flaw is that it would lead to ridiculous overcrowding. Imagine strolling down to Mexico and saying, "Hey, anyone who wants to try and find a job in America, come on down!" (or up, as the case may be). To me, it seems analogous to opening the floodgates. And what specifically happens to immigrants who fail to find a job after six months? Do we just deport them back whence they came? How do we factor in families? etc.

Still, it's a step in the right direction. We need to open up far more legal channels of immigration. We also need to allow greater flow between our country and an immigrant's home country (a master's student at Rice got stuck in China last year because he had to wait for his student visa to be renewed - which admittedly worked out well for a friend of mine who got his office, but still). Like so many issues, a lot of the fault in this one lies in the red tape and bureaucracy. So if nothing else, you're right to say simplify, simplify.

(As for that other definition of sodomy, in some dictionaries it includes oral copulation, which in essence makes like 90% of the world sodomites. Just saying.)

Ben said...

Know nothing about immigration, so I'll just make the following 2 observations.

1. 90%? Ewwwwww. Personally, I find oral copulation both "icky" and degrading . . . and we'll just end that conversation right there.

2. More to the point for Jeff's post - and perhaps this was part of his rabbi's sermon - Ezekiel 16:49 reads "Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy." Now presumably the attempted gang-rape of angels in Genesis has something to do with Sodom's bad rep, too. But either way, Jeff's right. They were pretty inhospitable.

Jeff said...

1. I don't think oral sex is degrading if neither party sees it that way.

2. Good call on the Ezekiel verse - and that would make a fairly good chunk of Congress Sodomites.

Leah said...

This is a timely post. I just read a little about the Sensenbrenner bill that the House of Reps is voting on next week. It doesn't address immigration reform, only border security, as if they were two separate issues... In this bill, they will change an "illgal presence" in the U.S. from a civil offense to a criminal felony.

Mike said...

While we're on the subject of Ezekiel, let's not forget Ezekiel 25:17: "The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who in the name of charity and good will shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you."

(Oh come on, you knew that was coming. Seriously, though, the "iniquities of the selfish" part, invented by Tarantino though it may have been, does capture the Sodomites as Jeff describes.)

As for oral sex, I just want to voice my agreement with Jeff: if both parties just see it as one of many means of sexual expression, it's not the slightest bit degrading. And it's hard to imagine any form of sex that doesn't involve a certain element of "ickiness".

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