As the debate over this whole “birthright citizenship” or “anchor baby” nonsense ramps up — notice how carefully crafted buzzwords try to set the agenda? It’s the difference between “inheritance tax” and “death tax” — I was interested to see Michael Gerson write a column I actually agreed with.
Gerson is one of those hard-right guys, formerly worked for one of the Bushes, and I agree with him about as often as I agree with George Will. His column in the wapost (here) makes some pretty basic constitutional arguments against the whole business of saying we need to change this idea that anyone born in the US is a citizen.
The idea is driven by racism, of course, and there’s a bit of political expediency around it. When the hispanics sneaking across our borders were people we wanted to sneak across, we were happy to have their children be citizens. Those children became poster children for America being better than “them.”
When was this?
Perhaps you remember an island called Cuba. Back in the 60s and 70s Cuba was the huge devil country and the people fleeing it in boats were freedom seekers who we welcomed with open arms and wallets.
I distinctly remember one of those touchy-feely stories from then involving a Coast Guard boat that picked up some Cuban refugees in a boat, one of whom was in the process of having a baby. The mother told the guardsmen that she really hoped she was within the 3-mile limit because then her child would be a US Citizen and have a bright future, and the tone of the article, matching the tone of the nation at the time, was that having that child born in America would be a good and wonderful thing, proof that we were a welcoming and free nation where anyone could find opportunity, a gift of freedom and opportunity, a future of happiness and all that crap.
This was the attitude because we wanted to stick it to Fidel Castro. Nobody in this country really gave a rat’s patoot for that kid, it was all about symbols. We were fighting the Cold War, the kid was proof we were winning.
Now, of course, that kid would be an anchor baby, a brat here to suck off the teat of American kindness and bleed us dry. Yeah I know, the Mexicans aren’t fleeing Cuba — but they are fleeing lives of poverty and suffering that are actually worse than the ones the Cubans were fleeing. Even then, people fleeing Haiti to come to America were fleeing for precisely the same reasons people would flee Cuba — still do, for all I know — and the Cubans would be welcomed while the Haitians would be shown the door.
The current birthright/anchor debate is all posturing, by the way — all this sturm and drang — nobody is going to be amending or vetoing the 14th Amendment any time soon. It sets a hell of a precedent — if a majority can change the 14th, why not the 2nd?
So all the yelling about it now is to manipulate the masses for political gain. They needed a boogy man, Hispanic babies are it.
By the way — the Coast Guard hit the gas and made sure that baby was born within the 3-mile limit. Now, I presume, those sailors would be called traitors to America who probably should have thrown mother and baby into the sea. Back then, they were American heroes spreading the dream.