2018-07-18 / Opinion

In My Opinion

Zero Out
BY RON HOUSTON, Lexington

A phrase that is in common usage lately is “Zero Tolerance.” It is being applied as a reaction to illegal immigration across our southern border from Mexico. In itself, it does not imply the separation of parents from children, the warehousing of people in dehumanizing cages, nor selective deportation based on a person’s “worth.” It states that we will not allow any people coming into our country illegally. Quite simply it is a jingoistic cover up to the present regime’s targets. All faults of this program are covered up with this “branding” by imperial decree. It sounds good as a decisive direction of the government, yet it is not as it portends. It is an excuse not to think about what we are actually doing.

This Hispanic immigration comes as an attempt for a better life or life itself. A lot of it is illegal because the legal method is lengthy, complicated, and often unjust and unsuccessful. Sanctuary is not guaranteed. My own Irish ancestors came here in the 1840’s simply to be fed. They came to Canada and my great-grandfather came to Saginaw to work, marry, and raise a family. My German ancestors came to America to avoid conscription as cannon fodder for German military ambition. These reasons are not that different from what Central Americans face today. “Zero Tolerance” is a slap in the face for this country’s compassion, understanding and justice for all peoples. It says “I don’t care what the reason (is)” and “I don’t want to care.” Individual directed “zero tolerance” invalidates itself and makes it “intolerance.”

This is not the first time I have pondered this term. Zero tolerance has been the dictum for many schools in this country for over forty years. Any infraction was dealt with swiftly and frequently severely. Due process was forgotten. Validity of the rules not questioned. Very often the principal’s reply would be “My hands are tied.” Thus all were captive of this stupidity. The irony of this coming from an educational entity is staggering. The end does not justify the means.

Our Executive division of government prides itself on “branding.” Very frequently insufficient thought is placed on direction or effect. Perhaps this come from the restrictions of conveying intelligent thought in a 140-character missive. Brevity isn’t necessarily the soul of wit. Perhaps a bit more concern would help. I definitely would appreciate that Zero Tolerance would disappear in thought and deed.

Perhaps positive thoughts might encourage a positive solution to the immigration “problem.” If we showed more concern with curing the conditions that cause people to leave their homeland might that be more economical? Perhaps being a better world neighbor rather than putting ourselves above others might encourage world growth of our standards. Perhaps if we pick our own fruit, cut our own meat and wash our own dishes there would be no jobs for them. Alright, scratch that last idea (totally impractical).

The present negative approach is leaving these people as victims of unscrupulous smugglers, avaricious employers, and border police unable to practice decent humanity because of a faulty directive. Our great country was built in part by our ability to assimilate many peoples of various ethnicity, religions, and economics. Perhaps the whole world might benefit from our good example (and leave out the bad parts).

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