“Immoral And Ineffective”

Hmmm. I have now, in a single day, heard two Congressional Democrats, in the course of discussing the so-called government shut down, describe the Trump border wall as “immoral and ineffective.” Does this mean that the phrase is an official, focus group tested Democratic talking point now, issued to the troops to be relentlessly repeated over and over again to end debates rather than illuminate them? I assume so, and thus it joins “comprehensive immigration reform,” “sensible gun laws,” and others. If I am right, it is a remarkably dishonest catch phrase. It’s also internally hypocritical.

Simply put, if the wall is ineffective, why is it immoral? And if the wall is immoral, why is being ineffective an indictment of it?

Arguing in the alternative like this is a red flag that signals that the advocate just wants to defeat the proposition, and doesn’t care how he or she does it.  The device originated in the legal profession, as a strategy to advance several competing and often mutually exclusive arguments with the goal of showing that regardless of interpretation there is no viable conclusion other than the advocate’s. Most often, the trick is used in criminal law: My client didn’t know the victim, and if he did, he was too far away that night to kill him, and even if he was the last one to see the victim alive, the evidence against him is circumstantial. In criminal law, the approach is justifiable, for the accused must be convicted beyond a reasonable doubt, and any doubt will do. The criminal defense lawyer isn’t seeking justice, or the best result for the community, just the best result for his client, as his (or her) clients defines it. It’s a better device to use in court briefs to other lawyers and judges than to a jury, who are likely to think, “Wait, does this lawyer care what the truth is?” The answer to that question is, of course, “no,” as long as the end result serves the interests of the lawyer’s client. If the client is Jack the Ripper, and the lawyer  arguing in the alternative allows him to escape conviction to kill again, the lawyer did the job required by his or her profession. The consequences of freeing the client literally is not the lawyer’s concern: if it is, then he or she is in the wrong profession.

Elected representatives, however, do not have clients. They are obligated to seek the best result for the American public and the nation. Their arguing in the alternative regarding border security signals that these Democrats actual loyalty is to illegal immigrants and their supporters in the U.S., and their objective is virtual open borders to the extent possible.  Arguing in the alternative is no-integrity tell in policy debates. “Women have a right to choose, and fetuses aren’t human beings, but even if they are and abortion is murder, there’s no way to enforce a law against it” is a similar argument, and it signals a policy-maker who wants a politically expedient  result than has nothing to do with effectiveness, morals or ethics.

How can  elected officials call an effective border wall “immoral” without meaning that border enforcement itself  is immoral, and that foreigners should have the right to enter the U.S. at will when they are “in pursuit of a better life for them and their family”? They can’t. How can the same officials object to a means of enforcement as “ineffective” when they don’t want effective enforcement? Easy question: they can do this because they are posturing, lack integrity, and can’t be trusted.

31 thoughts on ““Immoral And Ineffective”

  1. It’s just the 21st century version of Newspeak. If they can change what the words mean, they can control the dialogue.

    • A.M. Golden wrote, “It’s just the 21st century version of Newspeak. If they can change what the words mean, they can control the dialogue.”

      I’ve been complaining for quite a while about how the political left has been bastardizing the definitions of terms/words to control the discussion. Even Merriam-Webster Dictionary has jumped on the bandwagon and has been virtue signaling by changing word definitions to better support the arguments of far left totalitarian extremists in and effort to rhetorically disarm the political right. Here is a blog and comments talking about it, Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/3/2018: Hypocrisy, Exploitation, Fake Definitions And Fake News

      The political left does the same switcharoo thing when they talk about abortion.

    • If my brain were Gabby Douglas I wouldn’t be able to figure how stopping human trafficking is immoral. But I’m not a Democratic politician, so this burden is not mine.

      • If my brain were Gabby Douglas I wouldn’t be able to figure how stopping human trafficking is immoral…

        If the transatlantic slave trade had been stopped early in the eighteenth century, or before, it would have caused a net increase in human suffering. That’s because the customary West African slave raids took women and children to strengthen the captors’ tribes but killed any men as a worthless bycatch, too dangerous to let live (see the “Grand Custom” of Dahomey). Overseas markets changed that. However, at some point, certainly by John Newton’s time, the tail started wagging the dog and the export trade started driving even more raids, so it was causing net harm by then (that didn’t stop apologists from using that newly obsolete argument, though).

  2. Jack, I think this is possibly the best, most trenchant, and needed post of yours I’ve ever read. Thank you. Brilliant.

  3. Ok Jack I have moral objections to the wall but more so our president’s immigration policies, due too my religious beliefs. Ones that less gospel based Catholics do not all agree with. I also have seen that there are ways to circumvent the wall that make it a much less effective deterrent then people believe. It is also much more costly then we should be sinking cash into. The wall is good optics for the president ‘s base. Spending the money on optics I see as counter productive. To our countries real needs. The opioid crisis for one, which got out of hand under the Democrats watch. These are all separate issues should not be grouped together. And used as sound bites. It seems both parties to me. Are using propaganda tools that could make Gobles smile,and Orwell shake. That to me is the scary bit. sound bites and optics are effective political tools, but they really are hurting those of us that want problems dealt with. You know I am all over the board on views much like you, but I do not like the rhetoric of either party right now,

    • Absent enforcement of the laws penalizing citizens for hiring illegal aliens, the wall is a minimum we will take, politically speaking, given how the left has lied about border security for decades to get their way, like during the Reagan amnesty.

      Your logic here seems a bit like saying “a door can be kicked in, and windows broken, so you should not lock them since they are ineffective.”

      People DIE walking into our nation. If a wall saves just one life, deterring them from the attempt…

    • Rip, I respect your right to believe borders are immoral but I must disagree. First, borders are secular devices designed delineate which laws are to be obeyed. Who would agree that if I carry my firearm from a place where open carry is legal to another that bans virtually all firearms it would be immoral to be prosecuted.

      Walls are also secular devices designed to impede or prevent people from crossing a plane. They make no distinction as to who is prevented from entering. Walls are absolutely inclusive with respect to who is barred, they cannot be sway by charm, money, or emotion.

      Every barrier can be breached with enough effort. Yes they can be tunneled under, some may be able to scale them. But I can move dozens across a fenced border in mere minutes with only wire cutters and be long gone before agents arrive who then need to track my group in the brush. I only need enough time to get them into the general population where they can simply disappear.

      Walls cause groups to be prevented from entering or impeded long enough for agents to interdict them. Drones and sensors do not stop, or impede any illicit traffic. If you think opiods are an issue where do you think a significant percentage of Meth, Fentynal, cocaine and other drugs come from.

    • Protecting borders is part of the rule of law and national security, which means it is top priority over everything else. Like a lot of Christian morality, it breaks down in macro and reality. I can invite someone in my home, but they cannot legally break in because “they want a better life.”

      There is no rational, legal defense of open borders or illegal immigration. The wall? It is now worth erecting simply because it sends an unequivocal message that must be said with progressives trying to rationalize illegals as long as they are “good people.” If every sanctuary city and state agreed to enforce the laws and not encourage illegal immigration, then maybe the “wall” wouldn’t be necessary. It says “Stay out, and keep your children out. And we don’t care how much you want to come here. Follow our laws and get in line, or you are not welcome.”

  4. “Simply put, if the wall is ineffective, why is it immoral? And if the wall is immoral, why is being ineffective an indictment of it?”

    To answer this question, we can both look for similar things which are physical, immoral, and ineffective. Additionally, we can then ask why they are, and try to then link that to this slogan.

    If I plant a sign in my yard that says “kill the _OTHERPEOPLE_”, it is both ineffective and immoral. It is not likely to gain any significant support (I hope?) making it ineffective, and it is promoting violence and hate, making it immoral. Furthermore, not only am I promoting violence and hate,
    but it’s not even getting me what I want! It’s doubly so immoral then, as I’m promoting this negativity for no gain.

    If you are someone who views the border wall as A: not being able to keep illegal immigrants from crossing the border, which many on the left do, and B: you see it as promoting xenophobia (which in xenophobic communities it may well be), you see this as promoting xenophobia, and even then not even
    getting the job done (the job being stopping illegal immigration.

    Note that I am not endorsing nor condeming the wall in this or any other proposed state, but I think this question is not looking at both sides of the issue, and is not helping find a resolution.

    I am also aware that comparing putting a wall up to advocating killing people is not 1:1, but I think the comparison still holds as my argument does not depend on the physical item being intrinsically promoting evil, the wall can be seen from both sides (heh) of the issue very differently.

    • The sign is not immoral, any more than wishing someone dead is an immoral act. The sentiment may be immoral, but sentiments are never “effective.” That’s an apples an oranges comparison—the sentiment, and the means of translating it into action.

      The better one is torture, where we hear the same dual argument. But if it’s immoral, whether it is effective or not shouldn’t matter. Such an argument implies that if the act were effective, then the objection to it as immoral would vanish. And if the objection to it is that it doesn’t work, who cares whether it’s “moral” or not?

      • You’re right that’s its superfluous to point out that it’s ineffective as a means for calling it immoral, I guess it’s more that in my mind it would make it *more* wrong if it was both.

        I see most of these ineffective arguments as the same poor ones gun advocates sometimes use. Criminals are going to buy guns in spite of laws so why bother trying to keep them out of their hands, and criminals are going to cross the border in spite of laws so why bother building a wall.

        It’s all the same garbage to me, and none of it’s oroductuve.

        • I see most of these ineffective arguments as the same poor ones gun advocates sometimes use. Criminals are going to buy guns in spite of laws so why bother trying to keep them out of their hands, and criminals are going to cross the border in spite of laws so why bother building a wall.

          The argument implies that there is a cost to enforcing these laws. The cost of enforcing gun laws is freedom, by putting people in prison even though they have not been accused of violating anyone’s rights.

          the cost of a wall is of course monetary, as well as the inconvenience imposed upon lawful travelers. Some also argue it violates a fundamental right to migrate to the country of one’s choice.

          • It’s also just a bad analogy. If building the wall kept American citizens out of the country because they would obey the law and not breach the border, then it would be closer. But citizens are on the other side of the wall. Would that gun laws could effectively restrict access by criminals without doing the same for the law abiding, but they can’t. A wall, however doesn’t infringe on a citizen’s rights at all. And, of course, there is no constitutional right to cross our borders without permission.

            Bad analogy.

  5. “Their arguing in the alternative regarding border security signals that these Democrats actual loyalty is to illegal immigrants and their supporters in the U.S., and their objective is virtual open borders to the extent possible.”

    I disagree with the label of ‘supporters’. The Democrats who are elected representatives represent the voters in their districts. For their loyalty to be with foreign citizens over their own voters is a betrayal of their office and could be considered treason.

    “Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”

    (June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 807; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(2)(J), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2148.)

    • I’m not sure I’d call illegal aliens ‘enemies’. They are, of course, breaking the law and, hence, are criminals, but ‘enemies’ seems a bit of a stretch.

    • I can’t verify the things that were said or shown in the video but I do think it’s representative of the blatant hypocrisy that the political left has shown about border security and illegal immigration as it relates to Trump.

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