Friday, October 19, 2007

In Defense of Gray

I ran across an interesting little blog post today, entitled "Why Illegal Immigration is not Simple", from Called As Seen. I don't have much time for strictly political blogs these days, or much interest, to be entirely honest. This post explains a big part of the frustration that has led to my growing apathy toward politics in general and American domestic politics in particular. Our society is increasingly incapable of dealing with subtlety in its issues. Everything is being reduced to soundbite politics, with the MSM to the fore, of course, but the blogosphere is hardly better. All too often, the rise of the New Media has given people the opportunity to insulate themselves in communities of like-minded people who can then pull out their broadest brushes to paint those holding opposing viewpoints. This is, needless to say, also not healthy.

The immigration 'debate' (to give it far too much credit) is possibly the single most frustrating example. I've been asked where I stand on the immigration issue. This is of course the modern iteration of the classic yes-no question, only now it's pro-anti. Is there really no space left for people to admit that immigration is a phenomenally complex issue? National identity, balancing majority and minority rights, economics, moral considerations; with so many angles, how could a person's opinion ever fall even on a single spectrum, much less a dichotomy? Where do I stand on immigration? The short answer? I don't know. There's compassion involved: who wouldn't break the law if he thought he could free his family from utter despair and hopelessness? There's fairness, too: what about the American dreams of millions far worse off around the world who were unlucky enough to be born across an ocean, rather than across the Rio Grande? There's constitutional worries: what is the state of a nation whose states rule it illegal to enforce federal law? Don't forget economic and social concerns: exactly how many immigrants do we need to keep this country's engines running, and how many can our society manage to successfully integrate? Each of these questions, if it can be quantitatively answered at all, is only one topic in the whole sticky mess. So why can we not admit this!?

The second issue that burns me on this is Israel/Palestine. Being an international issue happening very far away, people are even less-informed of the realities and even more prone to sweeping black-and-white statements of allegiance to one party or the other. I understand that any given person will come down on one side or the other, judging one side's position more valid than the other's. I lean towards Israel, and it's a pretty mixed sentiment. I cannot abide, however, a position that casts either side in the role of insatiable aggressor and the other as the hapless victim. This is rather bold, but I simply cannot recognize as valid any position that doesn't admit some level of sympathy for both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, as well as some disgust for the actions of the Israeli government and extremist Zionists alongside those of the Palestinian terrorist movements. Bulldozing someone's house is not equivalent to blowing him up in the marketplace. But simply that they are not equally wrong does not make one of them right.

So what's the answer to all of this? Are there forums where people are still bold enough to step back and say, "hey, maybe this is complicated enough for there to be multiple reasonable positions toward it"? Few come to mind, and those are hardly major players in our modern society. As usual, I find myself fearing for the future. At least that's not new.

1 comment:

elephantschild said...

"I don't have much time for strictly political blogs these days, or much interest, to be entirely honest. This post explains a big part of the frustration that has led to my growing apathy toward politics in general and American domestic politics in particular.

I've been feeling this way, too, especially on the immigration issue. I'm glad it's not just me. I feel guilty when I mark off my BBC feed as read without even skimming... (hangs head in shame.)

I blame the weather. It's getting cooler, and I'm turning inward to house, home, family, church.