It is sometimes saddening and discouraging to be right. Yesterday, immigration attorneys at Fong & Aquino in Los Angeles cautioned in our blog that immigrants would be used to score points in the health-care debate. Last night (Wednesday, 9 Sept 2009), almost like a pavlovian response, a republican Congressman, Joe Wilson, heckled and insulted President Barack Obama during the President’s speech to a joint session of Congress on the question of health-care reform, using immigrant access to health care as the excuse.
During a speech describing his plan for health-care reform, the President clearly stated that no Federal money would be spent providing “illegal immigrants” with government-subsidized health care under his proposed plan. Wilson, a representative from South Carolina, shouted out, “you lie!”
It is sad that the debate has sunk to this level. Here’s why:
– The republican congressman transmits the message that it’s OK to heckle anyone, even the President, when you disagree.
– When a Congressman calls the President a liar, right in the Capitol, it gives everyone else permission to say what they like, where they like, to whomever they like, regardless of how disrespectful or unhelpful the statement may be.
– It reduces the level of discourse and debate in this country to all-or-nothing politics, and it encourages people to think that this is the best way to address the nation’s difficulties.
– The charge of “you lie” says that no matter what one says, no matter what evidence one has, no matter what the facts show, you can simply discount and disregard something someone has to say by saying “you lie.” This means that people don’t have to engage, they don’t have to look at the facts, they don’t even have to listen — they can just say, “I don’t believe you,” and that is the end of discussion.
Finally: we can see that certain factions of the USA will begin to use immigrants as a wedge, to delay or even halt all kinds of legislation needed for our nation, simply by saying that immigrants will gain some kind of benefit. They will even try to prohibit immigrants from using their own money to purchase health insurance on the open market. What’s next? Will they prohibit immigrants from buying gasoline? Toilet paper?
Keep in mind that the debate over comprehensive immigration reform has not yet even begun in Congress. It becomes urgent that as the irrational attacks on immigrants escalate, people who know the truth speak out. “Call out” the nay-sayers. –jcf