Monday, August 13, 2007

Justified Illegality?

"The judge is condemned when the criminal is absolved." ~ Publilius Syrus

In response to my last post, Dan Trabue made the point that the American and Mexican governments are partially responsible for aliens entering our country illegally, to which I replied that Dan is using that reasoning to justify giving illegal aliens a "pass".

Dan replied thus:

"I said nothing about "giving lawbreakers a pass." I said that if WE make poor decisions, we will have to deal with those consequences.

As a matter of personal responsibility, I am opposed to NAFTA. It gives corporations greater legal standing than local sovereign states.

We are obliged to live in a responsible manner with our neighbors. NAFTA hasn't done that. Poverty has increased in Mexico as a result of NAFTA (as will no doubt happen in other Central American nations because of CAFTA).

Is it personally responsible to live in such a way that you take away your neighbor's job and home to make you wealthier, Mark? This is exactly about personal - as well as societal - responsibility."


Here in this post, I reply.

My apologies, Dan. You are right. You aren't giving illegals a pass. You are making excuses for them.

Let's assume you are correct that the American government and the Mexican government together are responsible for forcing illegal aliens to take desperate measures to assure themselves and their families a better life. For the record, I don't necessarily disagree.

What difference does that make, really? They are still illegal. There are legal ways to immigrate into this country. Admittedly, it is more difficult to immigrate here that way, and it takes much more time to jump through the hoops and fight their way through all the red tape, but it is nevertheless the legal way. They make the choice to do it legally or illegally. If they choose to enter America illegally, they are, by definition, illegal.

Thus, they should rightfully be punished.

Doing it the legal way is called taking personal responsibility.

If they choose to break our laws simply because they are too impatient to do it the legal way, is that America's fault? Is it Mexico's?

You don't like that? Then write your Congressmen, and/or elect people who will work to reform the law. Personally, I think the process by which aliens in this country become legal is needlessly complicated and lengthy.

But that is still no excuse to break our laws.

This is indicative of another of the problems with Liberal thought infecting America. When the Judicial system in America allows itself to be distracted by irrelevant facts, Justice is often set aside.

The Menendez brothers killed their parents. Their attorneys attempted to get them off, and indeed, got them a lighter sentence, by suggesting the murders they committed were somehow justified. They were not. There are other legal ways to stop abuse.

We see this trend over and over. OJ got off because a police officer used inappropriate language. What does Mark Furmans bigotry (if indeed he is a bigot) have to do with whether OJ is guilty? Nothing. This was a classic case of an unscrupulous lawyer manipulating a jury by distracting them from the actual facts of the case.

An abused woman set her husband afire in his bed in retaliation for the beatings he administered to her over the course of their marriage. Yes, she was abused, and yes, he undoubtedly deserved to be punished for what he had done, but did she really have the right to take the law into her own hands and kill him?

Of course not. As my mother continually reminded me, two wrongs don't make a right.

The way justice should be dispensed in this country is to address the crime only. The reason why is not important. Motive is never necessary to prove guilt. Why must it be necessary to prove innocence?

This is the way the crime of illegally entering this country should be prosecuted:

1. Did he enter this country illegally?

2. If yes, he is guilty of a crime.

3. If not, he is to be adjudged not guilty.

Extenuating circumstances should not even enter into the question of guilt or innocence. That is a criteria for determining punishment, not guilt or innocence.

Entering this country illegally, regardless of motive, is still a crime.

55 comments:

Francis Lynn said...

Dan said, "if WE make poor decisions, we will have to deal with those consequences." I love the psycho-babble. First, Dan's definition of a poor decision is not necessarily the correct one. I assume Dan is saying NAFTA hurts the poor Mexican & so they stream to the USA, so we have to live with that cuz Nafta was a poor decision in his mind.

Even if he was right about NAFTA, illegal immigration was here long before it. A perpetually corrupt Mexican goverment has been around for decades & has a tad more to do with Mexican poor than NAFTA. There are complex dynamics at play in relations with other countries that go a bit more beyond the poor decisions of the USA.

There are illegal aliens in this country from virtually every other country in the world. Was it our poor decisions that brought them here? Or maybe, just maybe it had to do with the corrupt, oppressive regimes in the world that they flee from.

That "poor decision" crap puts the onus on the USA a little too much. It's great for HR pep talks or counseling, but that's about it.

And by the way, when Dan asks, "Is it personally responsible to live in such a way that you take away your neighbor's job..." I assume he's addressing the Mexican workers, because a lot of US manufacturing is going there.

Dan Trabue said...

Thanks for giving this some more thought. A few responses. You said:

What difference does that make, really? They are still illegal.

Is there a difference between the man who steals bread to keep his child from dying of hunger and the politician who accepts a bribe so he can buy a second jet for his mistress?

Legally? No. Morally? Yes. Most people would agree, I suspect you would.

Circumstances matter.

Having said that, I will note that I had as of yet made any judgement call on the illegal immigrants. I said, "If WE make poor and irresponsible decisions, then WE would have to deal with consequences."

That is not a commentary - favorable or not - about illegal immigrants. It is a commentary about OUR policies. About OUR responsibilities.

Your mother was right. Two wrongs don't make a right.

We've enacted some wrong policies with regards to our neighbors to the south. That doesn't make their breaking the law right. But neither does that make us imprisoning them right. It was at least partially our own policies which caused the oppressive policies in Latin America in the first place.

The Bible tells us to remove the log from our own eye before we complain about the speck in our neighbor's eye.

I think that you and I both know that there are some laws that are unjust. And, I suspect that you probably agree with me that if there is a law that is unjust, then the Right thing to do may not always be the Legal thing.

The civil rights protesters were Right to break laws in the 50s. They were breaking laws to do so, but to let the laws go unchallenged would have been the wrong thing to do.

I suspect that you agree upon this principle, even if you're not prepared to say that you think these particular policies rise to that level of oppression or wrong-ness.

In the book of James, he writes, "But you dishonored the poor person. Are not the rich oppressing you? And do they themselves not haul you off to court?"

Notice, it doesn't say that the rich didn't have the legal right to haul them to court - no doubt they did because the poor had been put in such a situation that they were faced with breaking laws or starving (or at least that's a possibility, given the language that James uses).

======
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and you garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days.

Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud cry out; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have killed the righteous man; he does not resist you.


No, I haven't excused our poor latino brothers and sisters for breaking the law. I'm just not very eager to place myself in the wealthy oppressor role and jail them for a situation that we helped create.

Dan Trabue said...

Or, in short: Yes. There is very much such a thing as justified illegality.

I suspect you agree, at least in some circumstances.

Marshall Art said...

Absolutely.

Trader Rick said...

You tell 'em, Mark!!

Lone Ranger said...

This whole controversy could be resolved with some well-placed land mines.

Francis Lynn said...

Wow - Dan is, well....waaaay out there. So there's no point really in trying to reason with him.

He's not very eager to place himself in the wealthy oppressor role and jail them for a situation that we helped create? Yup - no hope for Dan.

Wealthy oppressors - ah, yes, throw the poor, little brown-skinned invaders into jail, after we've exploited their cheap labor of course - sounds like a front page story in Socialist Workers Daily.

Dan just doesn't get it & never will. Just another in the open-borders crowd. He seems to equate the Civil Rights movement with the plight of the poor illegal alien. That is a false comparsion. I have a Catholic friend who is so far out that he reminds me of Dan. My friend rams Bible quotes down my throat whenever we discuss immigration. If it were up to him, he would welcome 5 billion of the world's oppressed into this country - & he quotes the Bible to back him up. Yup - far out there.

And let's not forget Dan, not all the illegals are coming here a la the steal-bread-for-dying-child- analogy. Middle class people are coming here also. And yes, MS-13 & the gangs & perverts & thugs come here also. But I forgot - we're the oppressors of the little brown-skinned people & our policies helped to drive them here.

All I hear from Dan is about OUR policies, OUR responsibilities. I haven't seem his unequivocal stand on illegal immigration one way or the other. It's nice of him to take a position...without taking a position.

Timothy said...

I really get tired of the "man needing to steal to feed his family" excuse. It's still stealing.

Mark said...

Actually, Dan, every day you can see poor men who choose to stand on the side of the road and beg rather than steal bread or anything else for their families. Begging, although borderline disreputable, is not yet illegal.

Furthermore, I don't believe jailing illegal aliens is the proper punishment. I strongly suggest deporting them.

Dan Trabue said...

"Even if he was right about NAFTA, illegal immigration was here long before it."

But the existing problem (and be sure to understand me - it IS a problem) was exacerbated by NAFTA. See here or here.

In the early NAFTA period the U.S. was "swamped by an unprec- edented wave of illegal immigration" crossing the Mexican border. In the first year, Arizona officials reported more than 80,000 arrests of illegals attempting to enter the U.S. That was an increase of 53% over the pre- NAFTA level.

Dan Trabue said...

Francis Lynn said:

All I hear from Dan is about OUR policies, OUR responsibilities. I haven't seen his unequivocal stand on illegal immigration one way or the other.

Mark was talking about personal responsibility. And rightly so.

So, MY personal responsibility is for me, my family and community and, by extension, my nation. And so where there is a problem where I bear at least part of the blame, the personally responsible thing to do is to address MY part of the problem.

Imagine your neighbor saying:

"We have a problem with that neighbor. I took away his house and got him fired from his job. Then I stole his dog. Now he's coming on my property demanding I help him! Why doesn't he act personally responsible??!!"

Would you get the irony?

If I were a Mexican, I would be harshly criticizing my gov't and community for going along with NAFTA and other actions they may have taken that have hurt Mexico.

But you know what? I'm not Mexican.

Responsibility begins at home.

Dan Trabue said...

"All I hear from Dan is about OUR policies, OUR responsibilities."

Sue me - I thought we were talking about Personal Responsibility.

Another way to look at it:

When I was a youngster, I had a younger brother. My parents taught us not to fight and so I wouldn't fight him. BUT, I would taunt him and tease him to the point where he got outraged and hit me.

Then I'd whine to my mom, "He's fighting! That's not right!" in a pique of moral outrage.

For the longest time, I failed to see how it was first and foremost MY fault for setting up conditions that encouraged him to take wrong actions.

Does that mean I think my brother was right for hitting me? Certainly not.

But my parents eventually helped me to learn a bit about personal morality.

It's not "personal morality," to whine about the Other Guy's actions - and especially if the Other Guy's actions were at least partially MY fault.

First, remove the log from your own eye, then you can see to help your brother remove the plank from their's. First, deal with OUR responsibilities - our wrong policies and laws. THEN AND ONLY THEN do we begin to have some room to complain about the other fella's actions.

Erudite Redneck said...

Sorry. Didn't get pas this:

"Doing it the legal way is called taking personal responsibility."

Not it's not. Not at all. That's called surrender to the authorities, which is only the right and moral thing to do if the authorities, or the laws they promulgate and enforce, are right and moral.

Sometimes breaking the law is the right and moral thing to do -- and you know that. The Underground Railroad is only the first thing that comes to mind as an example.

Dan Trabue said...

Mark, let me pull together two separate conversations, if I may.

As I understand you, you're saying here that there's no gray. If it's illegal, then it's wrong and if it's legal, then it's okay. "Doing it the legal way is called taking personal responsibility," you said.

If you truly think that, I would ask you again what you think about the bombing of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Dresden? All of which were civilian targets.

You DO know that targeting civilians is against the law? It's against international laws, the Geneva Convention and it's against our US laws, as well as being counter to Just War Theory.

[Section II, Chapter 1, Article 25 of the Hague Convention, signed into US law 1910: "The attack or bombardment, by whatever means, of towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings which are undefended is prohibited." Among many other laws that we broke.]

Given that, do you still think that all those who break the law ought to be jailed, plain and simple? Would you hold the US on trial for war crimes for these attacks?

I mean, if illegal is illegal and ought to always be prosecuted every time, you don't really have much choice but support our prosecution.

Abouna said...

There is nothing wrong with our immigration laws if those in charge would just obey them. Dan id right in one aspect, and that is the fact that NAFTA does give corporations, businesses and banks more rights and power then we the people. Having said that, that does not give the illegals from Mexico or any place else to enter this country illegally. For any body to sneak into some one else's country and then demand rights and demand that the people of that country owes them free medical and dental care, free education, low income housing, food stamps, etc., is just plain wrong.

When some sneaks into this country, for whatever reason, they have broken the law and are therefore criminals and they should be deported, not given sanctuary at the taxpayers expense.

The whole argument is NOT about IMMIGRATION it IS about ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION and there is a difference. The United States is a SOVEREIGN nation with legal borders. It is the illegals who have made a "poor decision" by sneaking in, the United States.

If you feel that our immigration laws are unjust, then please show in what way they are unjust.

Francis Lynn said...

Dresden was pay-back pure & simple for the German bombing of British cities. Hiroshima & Nagasaki were a different call. Those souls were sacrificed in hopes of ending the war so that even more souls did not die from an invasion of the mainland. There is a distinction between Dresden & Japan & I do not call the atomic bombings war crimes.

Technically Dresden was a war crime in that the USA was a signatory to the Convention.

And to answer Dan's question, all those who break US law ought to be judged & if found guilty punished in the manner proscribed by law, jail or otherwise. And if a country had issues with the bombing of Dresden, then it was up to them to bring the case of Dresden before the Convention.

Dan Trabue said...

Francis Lynn said:

There is a distinction between Dresden & Japan & I do not call the atomic bombings war crimes."

Why? Just because? At Hiroshima/Nagasaki, we targeted for horrible destruction all the men, women and children of two civilian centers. Two undefended towns.

It's a war crime, plain and simple.

Technically Dresden was a war crime in that the USA was a signatory to the Convention."

So, why would we wait for another country to try to bring charges against us? Why wouldn't we red-blooded US citizens who HATE war crimes (I do, as I'm sure you do), why wouldn't we denounce it in the strongest terms possible and even seek some prosecution.

Although now, at least in that case, all the players are probably dead. But we did the same in Nicaragua in the 1980s. The US mined the harbor at Corinto. That is laying attack on an undefended city. We actually WERE charged and convicted of war crimes in that case by the World Court. You know what happened don't you? The Reagan/Bush administration blew it off.

"We don't acknowledge that Court," they said. It's not a matter of dispute that we did the deed, some are pretty proud of it. It's that we just chose to ignore that war crime conviction. We were told to pay Nicaragua something like $17 billion after we were convicted of the crime. Blew that off, too.

I bring this all up because those who support a hardline charge on crimes committed by poor Latinos have little to no - zero - credibilty if we ignore our much larger crimes.

Again, I quote Jesus: "If you want to complain about the speck in the eye of your neighbor, first remove the plank from your own eye."

When I see y'all supporting the US honor its debt to Nicaragua and acknowledge our guilt in committing war crimes, when I see y'all begin to advocate better foreign policy that doesn't devastate the already weak economies of our neighbors to the south, THEN I will consider joining you in calls for dealing realistically with the immigration problem.

D.Daddio Al-Ozarka said...

""If WE make poor and irresponsible decisions, then WE would have to deal with consequences."

You mean...like the failure to enforce immigration laws?

D.Daddio Al-Ozarka said...

""We have a problem with that neighbor. I took away his house and got him fired from his job. Then I stole his dog. Now he's coming on my property demanding I help him! Why doesn't he act personally responsible??!!"

Sorry dude...it wasn't "I" who took his house and got him fired.

It was a corrupt government in Mexico who refuses to address it's social ills.

Your gripe is with Mexico, Dan...not the USA.

D.Daddio Al-Ozarka said...

But then a gain...you'll overlook any fact as a way of supporting your shallow-thought agenda, won't you?

Mark said...

Whether the US committed war crimes is irrelevant to this situation, but I'll answer the question.

I guess, to be fair, a strong case can be made that the United States committed war crimes as defined by the world court.

However, if the end ever justifies the means, The decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki probably saved more innocent lives than it took. While researching a question about whether apologies were ever made to Japan over those bombings, I discovered that Japan had over 400,000 prisoners at the time, with orders to execute all of them if even one American foot touched Japanese soil. Add to that figure the possible millions more that would likely have been killed if America had had to invade. Since we didn't have to invade Japan because the strategy of nuking them worked, we most definitly saved more lives than we took.

As to whether we owe anything to Japan in apologia, we have more than made up for the bombings in all kinds of economical and military support since WWII. I think, with that in mind, we have more than atoned for our role in any war crime against Japan.

Now, as to the following statement:

"When I see y'all supporting the US honor its debt to Nicaragua and acknowledge our guilt in committing war crimes, when I see y'all begin to advocate better foreign policy that doesn't devastate the already weak economies of our neighbors to the south, THEN I will consider joining you in calls for dealing realistically with the immigration problem."

Why do we need to acknowledge guilt for percieved war crimes or advocate a more Globally-friendly foreign policy before you will stand up for American security?

What does the one have to do with the other? Do you really mean we need to grovel at the feet of the rest of the world, before we are allowed to protect our borders? Why? Why can we not do both or neither?

Francis Lynn said...

Truman faced the conundrum of killing civilians in 2 cities in hopes of a quick surrender by Japan or not pursuing that & going forward with a massive mainland invasion. Which was the more moral path - kill civilians to save even more lives or save those civilians & bring on even greater death & destruction? Tough times bring tough decisions, Dan. You have the luxury of Monday morning quarterbacking. You weren't there.

Mining a harbor is not a direct attack on the citizens of that area. It is a method of controlling egress & access to a port. It is not a war crime. As for the World Court - ya - the same folks who sit on the UN Civil Rights Commission - folks like Syria, Libia, Iran, & all those neat countries that squash human rights in their own countries.

And it's pure cop-out by Dan when he says he will consider joining calls for realistically dealing with the immigration problem when we stop ignoring out larger crimes - like he can't chew gum & talk at the same time. He can play the same game with jaywalking, bank robberies, & whatever other petty issues that need to be dealt with, because, after all, we have zero credibility for ignoring our much larger crimes. Geesh, give me a break.

Funny thing about the liberals, they hold the USA up to impossible or pristine standards while igmoring the real crap in this world committed by dictatorial, authoritative & terrorists nations. It's like the double standards of the liberal feminists - they are quick to denounce a court decision as an assault on women, but say virtually nothing about the honor killings throughout the world or the bondage & abuse of women in Muslim countries.

They are hyprocrites.

Dan Trabue said...

"What does the one have to do with the other?"

You, Mark, made the case that the law is the law and ought to be obeyed. If someone breaks the law, then they ought to be tried and, if found guilty, punished.

I'm asking you if you truly believe that?

That's what one has to do with the other. If you're NOT saying that the Law Must Always Be Obeyed, then you're saying sometimes it should be obeyed and sometimes it shouldn't. Right?

I would think in THIS immigration case, where we have a relatively minor crime of seeking a better life/keeping your family from starving by breaking the law and entering the US illegally would be one where we would err on the side of grace.

For the record, I don't think all laws are created equal. Laws that deal with life and death issues (war crimes, for instance) ought to be prosecuted strongly. Laws such as jay-walking, riding a bike on the sidewalk or illegal immigration are laws where some grace makes more sense to me.

Make no mistake, I think we have a horrible immigration problem. I just don't think prosecuting millions of people, or even deporting millions of people, is the best solution.

But, then, I'm not the one advocating that broken laws ought to always be prosecuted, you are, Mark. So, are you still in favor of prosecuting every broken law?

Dan Trabue said...

"Do you really mean we need to grovel at the feet of the rest of the world, before we are allowed to protect our borders?"

No, I mean we need to truly stand for law and order before we SAY we stand for law and order. It's about personal responsibility. About integrity.

You're about both of those things very much, Mark. I'm not sure why you wouldn't agree with me on at least this point.

Marshall Art said...

It's always risky reading the links offered by a lefty. But, I'm compelled to read them for the sake of keeping an open mind. Then of course, I find that I wasted another little piece of my life. It is my hope that one day, a link will be offered that makes a real difference in my thinking.

So I read Dan's links about NAFTA and found that they don't support even the argument offered in the link, much less Dan's.

First of all, the first link stated without equivocation that NAFTA was a smashing success when viewed through the lens of what it was intended to do. In fact, according to the Asst. Sec. of Commerce, in an interview with Medved, NAFTA increased the Mexican economy by 40%. (I don't recall if he said trade, revenues, or whatever. Once again, I was driving. It was today or yesterday. I'm sure one could find the interview in his website archives.) The linked piece had a similar stat. So, NAFTA has HELPED the Mexican economy.

The question is, what did Mexico do with the changes brought about by the policy change? Apparently it made few, if any allowances. No exit strategy, I guess.

But the links also go on to say that immigration, both legal and illegal, went up in the first year, and uses that as evidence of the negative impact of the policy. How goofy is that? Within the first year it goes up, just like that? The second link even spoke of such surges from policies further back before NAFTA. My point is that the policy likely had little, but possibly some, effect, but more like a complication to an already f'd up situation. That's a far cry from saying the WE bear responsibility and should in some way forgive illegal invasions.

This brings me to the next nutty line of reasoning, that they are in some way breaking a bad law and in doing so are justified. Nonsense. The policy accomplished its goal of helping Mexico's economy, so that wasn't a bad law or policy. Our immigration laws aren't bad law just because it doesn't allow for free flowing immigration. And those poor and hungry Mexicans can just as well steal from other Mexicans in Mexico, couldn't they? Surely they have greedy and evil corporate people there, don't they? No. The fact is that the large majority are not coming here illegally to further some noble purpose. They're coming here to satisfy some personal ambition for which they feel is too important to obey laws. So the moral law over civil law angle is not appropriate here, though how typical that Dan uses it when it works for HIS position.

Finally, I was shocked to see that I agreed with Dan about anything, since his positions are so goofy 99% of the time. Then I realized that I was a victim of "comment moderation". My first post said simply "Absolutely" and it looks like I'm agreeing with Dan, when in fact there were no comments actually posted yet when I submitted the comment in direct agreement with Mark's final statements. That being said, Dan's post listed right before mine does constitute that 1% when Dan says something that isn't goofy. There are times when one is justified in breaking a law, but usually a judge and/or jury is required to make that determination. We can know full well that one was justified, but until it's official, arrest is also justified.

Dan Trabue said...

francis lynn said:

"They [liberals] are hyprocrites."

So, standing in support of enforcing war crimes laws is hypocrisy, but saying that you are a supporter of law and order, but if we commit war crimes by wiping out hundreds of thousands of civilians, it's okay because our heart was in the right place is NOT hypocrisy?

Someone help me out here. I'm being consistent: Saying that not all laws are justifiably supported, but I DO think that more serious crimes - especially those involving killing thousands of innocents - ARE to be enforced vigorously. That's consistency.

On the other hand, others here are saying that THE LAW MUST BE ENFORCED. BUT, when it's the US committing WAR CRIMES, well, we'll give it a pass??!

I usually avoid name-calling, but when some folk walks like a Hypocrite, talks like a hypocrite and whose poop STINKS like a hypocrite, well then those folk ARE hypocrites. That's not name-calling, that's speaking the truth.

Lord have mercy.

[And "mining a harbor" is not a war crime?! Supporting terrorists who kill civilians (Contras) is not a war crime?!?? Let me drop a few mines and terrorists in your front yard and you can tell me if you think it's a war crime or not. sheesh, you people are sometimes so full of excrement...]

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall, you read the links poorly. YES, NAFTA did what it set out to do, but what it set out to do was strengthen corporations. Studies show that the workers of Mexico AND the workers of the US have both lost out because of NAFTA - not to mention the national sovereignty that is usurped in favor of corporations! - but, yes, corporations have fared better.

Don't miss the point.

There are times when one is justified in breaking a law, but usually a judge and/or jury is required to make that determination. We can know full well that one was justified, but until it's official, arrest is also justified.

Well, all right then, let's start arresting Bush I, Negroponte, Abrams, North and that whole terrorist-supporting gang. No judge ever "justified" our war crimes in Nicaragua and, in fact, a judge found us guilty of breaking OUR OWN LAWS. Are you going to stand for law and order or you going to support hypocrisy in the face of war crimes?

Don't answer that, it'll just be sad and pathetic.

Gayle said...

Hi Mark. It's a good post and an interesting comment thread. I'm not going to argue with Trabue on this post. Some of your other readers are doing a fine job already. All I want to say is that I agree with your opinion, but you probably already know that. The border situation and illegal immigration is one of my biggest pet peeves. As Marshal Art said, those who feel they have to steal in order to stay alive can just as easily steal from wealthy Mexicans. There are plenty of them down there! Of course it's easier to steal from us and break the laws here because we are so idiotically tolerant. If we were to go to Mexico and do what they are doing here we'd be either jailed or shot.

Mark said...

Dan, those socialist countries that you and your Liberal friends so admire have committed infinitely more war crimes than America ever even thought of committing. Why do you not cry out for judgement against them?

This morning I was listening to NPR and they played a tape of Fred Thompson saying, "More blood has been shed by Americans for people of other nations than by all other countries in the world combined. I'm tired of people apologizing for America."

So am I.

Dan Trabue said...

Mark said:

those socialist countries that you and your Liberal friends so admire have committed infinitely more war crimes than America ever even thought of committing. Why do you not cry out for judgement against them?

Did you read me say several times in my posts that I'm not advocating socialism nor defending everything socialists do?

Why do I talk about MY country, then? Because it's MY country. It's about personal responsibility. I can complain about another nation's policies, but I can't SET another nation's policy. I can only influence MY country's policy and so as a matter of personal and civic responsibility, I advocate that our nation obey its own laws.

Why am I in the position of defending the notion that we ought not break our own laws and we ought not commit war crimes??!! This is like a bizarro world, here sometimes.

If you all WANT to advocate that we change our laws so that the US can commit war crimes, feel free. I don't think you'll get the rest of the nation to buy into your ideals, but you may try to change the laws if you want.

In the meantime, the rest of us will insist that we obey our own laws and not commit war crimes.

Come on, Mark. You're a personal responsibility, integrity, law and order kind of guy. You should join me on this front.

Francis Lynn said...

Just because Dan says something is a war crime does not make it a war crime. Sorry Dan. But beyond that, this is what the libnuts do, they shift arguments to another or greater issue, then parse & argue points that are unresovlable, leaving the original issue in a cloud of dust. Or they play the moral equivalance game.

But as Mark said, the libnuts say nary a word about the war crimes committed by other nations or groups. They are given a pass or we get the "yeah but" qualification from the libnuts to justify their silence or lack of condemnation.

There is no public outrage from them for the beheading of school girls by Muslin radicals & all the other atrocities committed by them. Instead they put all their misplaced outrage into Guantanamo & equate it to gulags or torture chambers, when in fact the detainees at Guantanamo are the most well-treated prisoners in the world - all Dan has to do is check out the prisons in Iran, Syria, China, et al. But Jesus Christ himself couldn't convince the libnuts of that.

It's just so hard to reason with irrational people. No, Dan, supporting insurgents (terrorists a la Dan) is not a war crime. Show me where it is? Huh, huh? Bet ya can't.

The libnuts just have so much hate for the likes of Bush or the Iraq War or whatever the issue is on their hate list that they lose all rationale & sink to rationalization for their screwy arguments.

Dan Trabue said...

"Show me where it is? Huh, huh? Bet ya can't."

Probably not, because you've appeared determined not to see anything that we do wrong as wrong. It's a crime and a sin to attack innocent people UNLESS the US does it, then it's okay, seems to be the morally relativistic answer you hold for every point raised, Francis Lynn.

Is there nothing in US history that is worthy of criticism in your eyes, Francis Lynn?

But for an objective person interested in truth, we see that is against US laws to attack civilians (undefended cities, villages). The US gave money to Contras so that they could do just that. That IS a war crime. Attacking undefended citizens IS a war crime by US law. It doesn't matter if WE did the attacking or if we gave the money and training to the Contras so they could do it for us. It IS a crime. We were found guilty of this in a court of law. We broke our own laws. Shame on any one here who continues to defend the indefensible.

Bet ya can't show me where that's not a war crime! Huh, huh? Betcha can't.

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

As I stated on ELAshley's blog regarding war crimes, the link you posted there suggests you may be mistaken regarding whether our actions were crimes based on the terms of the convention. Have you found a list of signatories? I haven't yet. It will make or break your case regarding "crimes" committed by our people based on our laws. I'm less concerned about int'l law these days considering who some of the countries are who make such determinations.

Dan Trabue said...

Man, what a spineless case of looking for loopholes so that we can commit war crimes! It is against the law to target civilians for death and destruction.

By your definition, then Japan didn't commit war crimes at Pearl Harbor because they were not a signatory to the required conventions.

Is that your argument? That Japan did nothing illegal in that attack? I'm sure it's not.

According to wikipedia, which I'm sure you'll dismiss, Japan was not a signatory to the Geneva Convention, but they were a signatory to the Hague Conventions, which is the law I cited.

Your problem is with the law, Marshall, not with me. You're advocating war crimes and looking for loopholes to say why we ought to be able to commit them. You appear to be advocating an anarchist state, where we can pick and choose which laws to obey.

You're welcome to that world in your own life, but I repeat that the rest of us will demand that the US obey the law - OUR laws - and we will attempt to prosecute those who commit war crimes. Neither morality nor the law is on your side. Just fear and horror.

Dan Trabue said...

Here's another interesting opinion on the matter:

The Hague and Geneva conventions are a reflection, but not necessarily the source, of the laws of war. International law has evolved out of the customs and practices prevailing among civilized nations, and the rules of war as laid down in the conventions are but one expression of this common heritage. The conventions declare that all nations are bound by basic rules of warfare, whether or not they are signatories to the treaties and whether or not they attempt to withdraw their ratification.

Dan Trabue said...

So, to the others here, are you advocating changing our existing laws or just ignoring them when we want so that we can commit war crimes? A simple, "Yes, I think we should change our laws and, in the meantime, I'll support obeying them..." or, "I don't think we should obey our laws if the situation seems like war crimes would be the best solution."

And if you hold the second position, who gets to make that call? The soldier in the field who thinks, "Screw this! I'll be much safer if I just shoot first and care whether or not they're unarmed later," or the General who decides a little targeting of civilians for death, destruction and beatings will be best, or only the President?

And do you understand that those of us interested in law and order will try to prosecute anyone who commits war crimes? - our people or theirs.

And do you know why? Because war crimes are wrong. Different circumstances don't suddenly make war crimes okay.

War crimes are anti-American - antithetical to who we are and what we stand for as a people. And we, the people, will not abide by them.

Mark said...

General Tecumseh Sherman is often quoted as saying, "War is Hell".

In that context I would say that the term, "war crimes" is an oxymoron.

War, in itself, is a crime against humanity. Civilian deaths are an unfortunate reality in war. There are even official terms for them. "Collateral damage" and "acceptable losses".

Dan Trabue said...

I apologize Mark, but I'm not sure of your point. Are you saying the US should ignore war crimes if it's us committing it? What if others commit war crimes, should we ignore that?

What is the rule you're measuring legality and morality by? Because it sounds as if you're saying we can pretty much do as we wish, which is not a hedonism that I would expect from you.

Dan Trabue said...

I notice, Mark, that you didn't answer the question: Are you suggesting we change our laws or ignore them? And who gets to make the call as to when we ignore them?

Francis and Marshall I believe have indicated that they favor just ignoring our laws, but since your whole point of this post is that there is no such thing as justified illegality, I rather expect you to join with me in opposing the US in breaking our own laws. You with me?

Mark said...

OK, Dan. I admit the United States may have been guilty of war crimes in the past.

Now, do I have to join the "Blame and hate America first" crowd of which you and the other Liberals are so proudly part?

Or can I just acknowledge that America has had to do what needed to be done sometimes to free oppressed peoples in other countries?

You know, one thing my father used to say often, that I promised myself I would never say myself, is this: "If you don't love America, leave it". And let me just add: "And don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out."

Mark said...

By the way, Dan, I like the way you phrase the question. One could easily ask the same question about Biblical Fundamentalism:

Are you suggesting we change the Bible or ignore it? And who gets to make the call as to when and what we ignore?

A question I have been trying to get certain moral relativists to answer but they never do.

Marshall Art said...

Nor will they Mark.

The point here is clear: Dan puts law above the live of his own countrymen. It is this that provokes my fear and horror. That anyone could maintain such idiocy as logic and feel he's reached a higher place.

Crimes have to be placed in the context of the situation in which the given act is committed. When Japan, unprovoked, bombed Pearl, they committed a crime. When they savaged Chinese civilians, they committed crimes, when they threatened hundreds of thousands of POWs to prevent attacks on their soil, crime. When they persisted in their quest for domination, crime. When we bombed their sorry asses for not quitting the war they began, no crime committed.

You are at least consistent in your lunacy, Dan. You insist an action to be moral no matter what (gosh, what an absolutist!), but even the courts don't view law that way. Nor does God. Intent, Danny, is everything. We don't INTEND to commit war crimes. If there's no sin for which God won't grant forgiveness, where do YOU get off being so strict regarding actions for which you are not privy to every piece of intel? What pompous and self-righteous arrogance! Sorry if you don't like it, but I'll worry about the law AFTER I've eliminated the risk to those I love. There's a saying regarding self-defense that goes this way: I'd rather be judged by twelve men, than carried in a box by six. This is the law by which I believe our leaders need to abide. If we're doing our jobs as voters, we greatly reduce the chances that we'll get leaders with poor judgement. I am SO glad you are not a leader in this country. You'd rather see your people murdered than to risk breaking a law. No thanks.

Dan Trabue said...

MA said:

The point here is clear: Dan puts law above the live of his own countrymen.

The point of Mark's post is that we ought to obey the law, regardless of circumstances. I wanted to verify if Mark meant that or not. Apparently he does not mean what he said. It appears the majority of folk here don't believe Mark's posit, myself included.

So, in that regard, I'm relieved that Mark does not believe what he said in his original post. That sometimes, there comes a time when we might need to act against a law, IF the law is unjust.

But, the further point is that I do not believe that by committing war crimes, we can make ourselves safer. Rather, I think engaging in war crimes makes us LESS secure, not more. For one thing, the US has set the standard, saying, "YES! You CAN engage in war crimes, you can bomb civilians and it can be okay if the cause is just."

Today's terrorists are just walking in your steps, in that regards. They have taken you at your word and agreed with you and the standard you advocate, bombing civilians when the cause was "just" and that has made us LESS secure, placing the lives of your own countrymen in danger.

MA also said:

When we bombed their sorry asses for not quitting the war they began, no crime committed.

You can say that, Marshall, but your declaration that no crime was committed does not mean that no crime was committed. Rather, it indicates your willingness to ignore war crimes as defined fairly clearly by our law and by common sense.

Most of us are not willing to embrace that particular anarchy. That particular, "America, right or wrong!" sort of thinking. God forbid!

Fortunately, you aren't a leader in this nation. You don't get to make that call. Rather, we the people can insist our lawmakers obey the law - especially when it comes to war crimes. We can also insist that some laws be changed or not enforced if they are not just.

You all appear to agree with me on that. You happen to think that enforcing our immigration laws is tantamount, but you've owned up to the notion that sometimes people need to disobey unjust laws. So, many of us agree with you Mark, that laws ought not always be enforced. We are not desirous that our nation try to prosecute the millions of illegal immigrants (as if we could! Talk about large gov't) because the circumstances of the "crime" don't rise to a serious level and because there are extenuating circumstances (some ownership in the cause of the problem on our part).

Dan Trabue said...

Mark said:

Are you suggesting we change the Bible or ignore it? And who gets to make the call as to when and what we ignore?

I believe that's been answered before. But if you'd like, it's a pretty easy couple of answers:

We ought to obey God's Word, those of us who believe in God and value what the Bible has to say. Who gets to make the call as to how to interpret God's Word? We all do, thank God!

Of course, we all can be wrong (and will be) sometimes, but it is our responsibility to seek God's Word in our lives and pursue following it by God's grace to the best of our ability.

Is that what you want to know?

And how does that compare to whether or not we ought to obey our laws about war crimes and/or immigration?

Part of God's Word tells us to obey the authorities. Fair enough, we ought to try to do so.

Another part of God's Word elaborates on that point, letting us know that, when it comes right down to it, we need to obey God, rather than humanity's laws. Taking God's Word as a whole, we can assume that when it comes to normal circumstances, we ought to obey the law, for the authorities can be there for our good.

And when it comes to committing murder, war crimes, rape, torture, genocide, we certainly ought to obey the law. God is not calling us to do those things. I assume you agree?

But sometimes, if the law is calling us to oppress a people, to do injustice to the poor, that sort of thing, well then, by God, we must disobey that law.

For at least some of us, our current immigration laws come closer to falling in that second category and we're more interested in finding better solutions to the real problems of immigration (recalling that the Bible tells us to welcome the foreigner, to be sure NOT to take actions to oppress the foreigner, etc) rather than strictly punitive actions towards these "law-breakers."

Thanks for asking, but how does any of that help your case that we ought to sometimes turn a blind eye to war crimes?

Oh, and seeking justice for the foreigner and for victims of war crimes is NOT the same as saying you "hate America." Far from it! It's the opposite of that. Because I love my nation and her best ideals, I will stand for them and NOT ALLOW those who'd call for us to commit war crimes to go unopposed.

Again, I'd hope that you all could join me on this point.

Dan Trabue said...

MA correctly noted that:

"When Japan, unprovoked, bombed Pearl, they committed a crime."

He correctly assumes that providing that there are laws prohibiting that action. BUT, IF we do as Marshall and Mark and others here appear to be advocating - if we abolish laws against war crimes, well then, bombing Pearl Harbor would not be a crime.

That doesn't even make sense? Is that what you're advocating??

Of course, you're not. I think what you're advocating, instead, is that it should be a law that you can't commit war crimes (ie target civilian centers for destruction, for instance, or torture) for all other nations. BUT, because we in the US are the good guys, we CAN target civilians, engage in torture and commit other war crimes on an as-needed basis.

Is that what you're advocating?

Or help me out and just tell me what exactly are you advocating.

Should we abolish our war crime laws?
Should we demand that every one else obey existent war crime laws?
On what basis?

Dan Trabue said...

I'm sorry, one more...

MA said:

Intent, Danny, is everything. We don't INTEND to commit war crimes.

???!!!

Oh really? God doesn't mind if you rape turtles, as long as your intention is honorable? God (and the law) doesn't care if you are a mass murderer, as long as you don't intend to kill people?

So, the individual who mows down a bunch of people with his machine gun because his intent was to stop criminals (not shoot innocent citizens), is not guilty of murder?

I'm glad you're not a judge and hope you're not a preacher...

The road to hell, you know...

Mark said...

Dan, the thing about the Bible was unrelated to the diuscussion. I just thought by rephrasing the question you posed, it makes a good question to ask the moral relativist I spoke of.

You ask are some laws bad laws? You will be pleased to know that I have decided you are right. America has committed war crimes. But it is God, not the UN, World Court, the Geneva convention, or the Hague that is qualified to judge America.

I will admit I was wrong in implying that all laws are just. Of course some are not.

But in the case of illegal immigration, the law is just and the illegal immigrants should respect them and if not, they should be deported. Provisions have been made to allow legal immigration to our country. If an alien chooses to disrespect our laws and sovreignty, their choice should rightfully result in deportation.

Dan Trabue said...

Mark said:

You will be pleased to know that I have decided you are right. America has committed war crimes.

Okay, so we can come to some agreement.

We agree that not all laws are just.

We agree that some laws should be opposed, IF they violate some greater sense of justice.

We agree that the US committed war crimes according to our own laws.

We can agree.

Where we disagree now (as I understand it) is that you think our immigration laws are just and should be supported and you think that our laws against war crimes should be opposed (at least in the case where WE commit the war crimes), is that fair?

While I question the morality of our immigration laws and stand in support of our war crimes laws and would like to see them applied more strongly.

You state that it is God, not the UN, or any US laws even that should judge the US, is that what you meant? Do you mean that we should not abide by our own laws? I'm not sure what you're intending by that statement.

One question that I would have on your immigration stance, is on what basis do you find our immigration laws Just? You refer to God's law as being higher than national law (and I agree), do you think God's law supports our immigration laws?

Dan Trabue said...

When I look to the Bible for matters of immigration, there is not a lot that matches up with our exact situation. What I DO find, though, are repeated passages demanding the fair treatment of foreigners.

"When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God."

-Leviticus 19:33-34


Or

You shall not molest or oppress a foreigner, for you were once foreigners yourselves in the land of Egypt. You shall not wrong any widow or orphan. If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry.

-Exodus 22:20-22


It is (at least partially) for biblical reasons such as this, that I am reluctant to support those who demand the deportation of illegal immigrants. "If ever you wrong them, I WILL surely hear their cry."

To the degree that we have some fault (not all, but some) in causing the conditions in Latin America that make many there feel constrained to break the law to try to better their situation (ie, keep their children from starving), there seems to be a strong case that punishing them for breaking that law seems unjust.

In other words, I find biblical support for acting with compassion and justice towards foreigners, but nothing about building walls and exporting those who sneak across their borders.

That isn't to say that I don't think a logical case can be made in favor of limiting immigration. I just don't see the first biblical support for the notion of immigration laws such as we have.

Do you see some biblical support for our immigration laws? If not, then on what basis do you think our immigration laws fall under the Just-and-to-be-obeyed category (and, conversely, on what basis do you think that our war crime laws fall under the Unjust-and-must-be-disobeyed category)?

Mark said...

Our immigration laws are just because they allow immigration as long as the immigrant follows the proper procedure. If they don't, they are subject to the penalty for circumventing the law. Immigrants are given an opportunity to obey the law and enter this country legally. They have a choice. What is more fair than offering one the opportunity to immigrate to this country legally? If we just refused to allow them to immigrate here at all, that would be unfair. But we give themn a choice.

Perhaps one distintion is the fact that in committing war crimes, the offending party does not give it's victim a choice. That cannot be fair. thus war crimes are unjust and immigration laws are just.

Now. I'm tired of being on the defensive. What about you, Dan? How would you prosecute America for war crimes and how would you administer pounishment, and how would you insure the punishment is executed?

Don't you agree that God is the ultimate judge?

Would you mete out punishment in the same measure to other countries who are equally guilty? Or would you be harsher on America just because we are the stronger power? Would that be fair? Would being harsher on America for any reason be fair?

I think we have to consider the results of our war crimes compared to other countries. For instance, Was our purpose for dropping the A bomb purer than Germany's purpose for exterminating Jews? Doesn't killing to prevent more killing warrant a lighter sentence than killing to exterminate an entire race of people if it warrants a sentence at all?

Dan Trabue said...

"How would you prosecute America for war crimes and how would you administer pounishment, and how would you insure the punishment is executed?"

I'm not sure of your intent here. We'd prosecute in a court of law. We'd accept the punishment that was doled out to us because we are responsible and moral people.

Yes, God is the ultimate judge. Does that not mean that we ought not prosecute any crimes - especially the more severe? I'm sure you think we ought to, so again, I'm unsure of your point.

And yes! Yes, we would prosecute other countries for their war crimes. That's the point. If we refuse to abide by the law ourselves, we have no moral ground to prosecute other nations and I want to be able to prosecute ANYONE guilty of war crimes.

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

You are purposely missing my point regarding war crimes, intentions and the following of laws. You like to believe that you are standing on a higher principle trying to, once again, comparing apples and oranges.

Now let me clear up one or two things:

When the subject of war crimes was stupidly brought up, it was in the context of the Hiroshima event. If you want to add other things like rape, torture etc, you are then changing the dynamic of the conversation by switching from "crimes" by a government (Hiroshima type bombings) and crimes by individuals. How cheap, or maybe it's that you're not bright enough or honest enough to stick to the point. The idea that a prez or other nation's leader might feel compelled to initiate a devastating action on behalf of the lives of his people being in any way comparable to a few soldiers raping or committing some other atrocity is rank stupidity.

The intention of defining war crimes is too "civilize" an uncivilized behavior. We are killing and destroying during war and it was hoped that all killing and destroying had a civilized component, for example, that no more killing than necessary to achieve a military goal, not killing for the sake of killing, etc. The intention of such conventions don't take into account the fact that in too many cases the agressors would never care about such "rules" and those who care about such "rules" would never be an agressor. Thus, such "rules" leave peace lovers vulnerable to the desires of the savage. Dan, like those well-intentioned arbiters of all things non-criminal in war, wants to draw a line that shouldn't be drawn if we're talking about the preservation of out culture and people. I don't want my armies to commit atrocities. I don't want my armies to be prohibited from doing what is necessary to prevent our destruction. What about this distinction don't you get? I say again: laws won't stop the scumbags from breaking conventions regarding warring like civilized people, and laws shouldn't stop the just from doing what is necessary to stop the scumbags.

The laws regarding immigration into this country are not "unjust". That they don't allow unfettered numbers of immigrants does not make it "unjust". That immigrants have to wait their turns to enter does not make it unjust. If you want more people allowed to enter, appeal to your representatives.

There is a huge difference between invaders ingoring our sovereignty by illegally crossing our borders, and the CIC deciding that in order to preserve the lives of as many people as possible, a strike on a major city of our enemies is necessary. It is dishonest and/or stupid to pretend this distinction doesn't exist.

Mark said...

What do you mean, you're not sure of my intent? It's pretty simple, Dan. I asked you how you would prosecute and punish America for war crimes?

You, Dan.

America is a whole country. This isn't like prosecuting a few felons in a criminal court. Even all of Nazi Germany wasn't tried at Nuremburg. Only several members of it's government.

Add to that, most, if not all the principles who made the decision to nuke Japan are no longer living, so what do you propose, Dan? Executing their ancestors?

Oh that's right. Killing is murder in every concept and never justified.

Who are you goimng to get to sit in judgement of America, Dan? Do you really think you would find an impartial judge anywhere in the world besides America? Do you think there are American judges that would voluntarily prosecute America for war crimes? Can you imagine the cries of righteous indignation that would arise from Americans? Do you think any American judge would agree to be forever hated for turning against his own country?

As I said, Let God be the judge. If He hasn't already, Maybe He is on America's side.

Mark said...

Perhaps you should appoint yourself Judge, Jury and executioner.

Oh wait. You aren't impartial.

Do you understand the problem now? You will never find an impartial judge to judge America for war crimes unless you go to God Himself.

Dan Trabue said...

Oh, okay. Well, that's why I brought up a more recent case where we committed war crimes - Nicaragua.

I advocate that our leaders apologize for committing the war crimes in the first place - to Nicaragua and the world - and then that we honor our debt to Nicaragua. The world court fined up a few billion dollars.

I say it's time we honor our debt and begin to show the world that we DO mean what we say and that we ARE opposed to war crimes.

It's a national security, national honor and societal responsibility thing to do.