Are You an Enemy of the State?

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By Maria Fotopoulos

Maria is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow who focuses on the impacts of growth on biodiversity. Find her on Twitter | in | FB.

The writer’s views are her own.


October 29, 2010
In an interview with Spanish-language network Univision that aired this past week and focused on “immigration reform,” President Obama said, “If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, ‘We’re going to punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us,’ if they don’t see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it’s going to be harder and that’s why I think it’s so important that people focus on voting on November 2.” While some might write this language off as just “politicking,” I’m not so sure. Apart from the “get out the vote” bit, there are some troubling words here from the President. That part about “punish our enemies” had the haunting familiarity of George Bush’s “If you’re not with us, you’re against us.” Lines drawn in the sand, them & us, the good guys & the bad guys, etc. … these are words which are not particularly useful in real life for finding solutions to real problems. While the majority of illegal aliens in the United States are from Mexico, we know that American citizens of Hispanic background are not the Borg. I’m not Latino, but, if I were and were opposed to illegal immigration and to an amnesty (essentially what the Obama stance is on immigration), I think I’d be insulted by that statement from Obama. What should be troubling to everyone is that the President seems to be saying that any American citizen who is opposed to illegal immigration and amnesty is The Enemy. As an American citizen and someone who believes in the rule of law – which includes enforcing our borders and immigration laws – I’m not too happy about being labeled an “enemy.” I have to wonder how we’ve become such a Kafkaesque country where the wants and demands of people who have entered our country illegally – people who have broken the law – are placed above those of the citizenry. In the interview, Obama also compared immigration reform to the African-American struggle for civil rights. Again, I’m not African-American, but, if I were, I think I’d be offended to any comparisons. So, what say you, “enemy” or “friend”? More on this interview is at The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times (both Oct. 25, 2010). Check out the comment posts too. --- References: New York Times post: Los Angeles Times story:

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