The past week has been an odd one all around, I think – what with my dental work and the world continuing to go on in spite of a slew of tragedies, bad weather, and the usual assortment of religion, politics, and bad behavior.
In the realm of true tragedy, the migrant crisis is Europe has been moved to the forefront – where is will hopefully stay – after the horrifying discovery of 71 decomposing bodies, believed to be Syrian refugees, in an abandoned truck in Austria. This, along with the sinking of a boat carrying Libyan refugees in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Italy, which claimed at least 111 lives.
The UN estimates that, so far this year, 300,000 immigrants have fled the Middle East and Africa for the prospects of a better life in Europe. And that approximately 2500 of those have lost their lives trying to make the journey – most by drowning. And it is only August.
In the US, this crisis and its human costs seem to be largely ignored – as is most international news, but, the contrast here seems somewhat worse in this case than it does with other news we ignore. Our media here, and our presidential hopefuls, are focused not on the tragedy of human smuggling – for there are deaths here to in the crossing from Mexico in the US – but are instead focused on stopping immigration with a nearly xenophobic focus. There are even calls to undo the 14th Amendment to our Constitution to address the perceived ‘anchor baby’ problem – a statistical nonissue, but anything that keeps the haters hating is actual helpful to those that want control. At issue is Section I of the amendment:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
There is no ambiguity in the phrasing and yet I’ve heard many argue recently that it doesn’t mean what it says. No?? Personally, I’m not sure how you interpret it any other way. Born here? Citizen. End of discussion. Xenophobia is not sufficient grounds to assume that a constitutional amendment is invalid. And an extra note to the candidates pandering to this bizarre reasoning – it is not within the purview of the Executive Branch to alter the Constitution. In fact, they have no designated part to play in the amendment process at all. Any proposed amendments, which require either 2/3 majority approval in both houses of Congress, or a Constitutional Convention convened by 2/3 of the states (which has not yet happened), are required to be ratified by 3/4 of the state legislatures. It is not easy passing a new amendment under any circumstances – and with the current level of divisiveness – all of those frothing at the mouth for an end to birthright citizenship might want to revisit their old civics texts.
On a slightly smaller scale, there was the fatal shooting, on-air, of a reporter and cameraman in Virginia by a disturbed former coworker. An interviewee was also injured in the shooting, and the shooter committed suicide after the shooting. Is it too soon yet to talk about gun control? The father of the slain reporter, Alison Parker, thinks not. Andy Parker has made it clear that he wants to see the loopholes that allowed an obviously mentally disturbed individual to own a gun. And of course, there are already conspiracy nuts claiming that the shooting was a hoax. Because of course people make this stuff up just to have an excuse to come after your guns. In my opinion – those that seriously believe that these gun related incidents are hoaxes are already too mentally unstable to be in possession of any weapons.
And on a very small-scale, a pilot was killed in a crash on Friday, very close to where I live, while practicing stunts for an airshow. As I’ve been writing this post, the fighter jets have been doing their maneuvers overhead (loudly) – I assume to a cheering crowd, so the airshow, and its tragic start is gnawing at the back of my mind.
And, so another week starts…
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
― Mother Teresa
Image borrowed from house.gov