Don’t Think Of An Elephant…

I’ve been kicking around the internets for quite some time, long enough to have learned a little about how people argue or debate, and probably long enough to recognise when doing so is futile…no matter how well framed, how nicely supported by facts, or how diplomatically presented, many of us are already forming a rebuttal long before we’ve finished reading someone’s side of an issue.  Its not always done with malice, some people just like the mental exercise, and I will tolerate that to a point, especially if the issue isn’t particularly important to me at that moment.  To clarify, I would be much more patient arguing about, say, steroid use in professional sports, than I would be on  matters  like war, choice, or immigration.

Some of us, however, do not give in to cynicism, and work hard to find ways to communicate with those they disagree with.  I’m not one of those people.  John Lamb, of Hispanic Nashville, is one of those people.  Periodically, he will share something he is writing with me, looking for input on language or just in need of a sounding board.  I always appreciate the fact that he places some value on my opinion.  (Or, he stuck me in an email group long ago, and hasn’t bothered to remove my addy from it) 🙂

John recently offered two letters he was about to send to certain elected officials, (something most of us don’t do enough) and I asked him if I could share my favorite here at The Chronicles:

“I ask you to see the American in every immigrant this year, including immigrants without visas.
How can a Republican support a pathway to legal status for those who have none?
The same way Republicans live in the Constitutional and Congressional framework of bankruptcy, which sees the future paying customer in the face of penniless misfortune.
The same way Republicans live in the legal framework of statutes of limitations, which see the future upright citizen in the face of every crime.
I know you have traditionally emphasized enforcement first.  I ask you now to see the other side – what good there is in these potential Americans who live among us.
And I ask you to do something with that vision – this year.
Please support an immigration reform measure that rewards good behavior even in the face of bad.  Focusing only on the bad in people would return us to debtors’ prisons and worse if we applied that approach outside the context of immigration.
By the way, if you want to help the most deserving immigrants without visas, the successful high school students are a good start.  The Dream Act is for dedicated kids who have no individual culpability but have demonstrated tremendous personal responsibility – like becoming valedictorian of their high school class.  And they have no adult identity other than being an American – and that’s not an exaggeration in the case of kids who haven’t even been told of their legal status, or lack thereof.  Surely you can see the future Americans in these kids.  Maybe you can even see the future Americans in their parents.
If your thought is that they can be Americans if they leave here and try again, think of Anne Frank – her father Otto tried to get here legally twice and was denied.  For some people there is no legal route, so please do something about that, too.
One last thing – the Constitutional grant of authority to Congress in the areas of bankruptcy and citizenship are in the same corner of that precious American document.  Maybe our citizenship laws could learn a thing or two from our bankruptcy laws.  If you would be a part of that, I would be grateful.
Thanks for taking the time to read this letter.
Sincerely, your constituent from Nolensville, Tennessee,”


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5 responses to “Don’t Think Of An Elephant…

  1. democommie


    Do you think Mr. Lamb can stand the notoriety of having his letter used, as is (with attribution) , to be sent to other congresscritters? It really should just go viral on the web, too. It’s well written and in the words of your post on handcannons, might force some folks to “man up”.

  2. Demo, ha, well, John is a craftsman, of sorts. I mean he really takes his time tweaking the language to be effective. I appreciate that. But I’m pretty sure notoriety isn’t something he would handle well.

  3. Thanks for the kind words, democommie and Mack. If people want to use my letter as a template to write their elected officials, that’s fine by me. Anyone blogging or writing about the letter should include a link back to this post.

    Anyone who wants to pow-wow on immigrant-related framing can drop me a line via the contact link at

    And Mack, you’re right, there are audiences (individual and otherwise) with whom a reasonable discussion cannot be had. I don’t think you and I are too different in being aware of that fact, except you may realize it more quickly than I do.

  4. democommie

    John Lamb:

    Thanks. I will put a link in anything I might send out. I will also put your blog on my blogroll (if I can ever figure out how to do one!). I know I’ve seen some other stuff by you, but I can’t seem to find any of it at the moment. Is Hispanic Nashville the only place you post?

  5. The age-old pesky U.S.-Mexico border problem has taxed the resources of both countries, led to long lists of injustices, and appears to be heading only for worse troubles in the future. Guess what? The border problem can never be solved. Why? Because the border IS the problem! It’s time for a paradigm change.

    Never fear, a satisfying, comprehensive solution is within reach: the Megamerge Dissolution Solution. Simply dissolve the border along with the failed Mexican government, and megamerge the two countries under U.S. law, with mass free 2-way migration eventually equalizing the development and opportunities permanently, with justice and without racism, and without threatening U.S. sovereignty or basic principles.

    Click the url and read about the new paradigm for U.S.-Mexico relations.

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