My history classes always taught me that the Roman empire didn't fall to any one enemy attack. Instead, it was destroyed from the inside due to an influx of Germanic ("barbarian") invaders from the North — many of whom simply oozed into the Empire and stayed. Eventually, of course, they simply outnumbered the Romans themselves, and they took over. I was reminded of this when I read Heather MacDonald's pithy analysis of the rationale behind the illegals' protests, a rationale that does away with borders, boundaries and national identity:
With last month's mass demonstrations of illegal aliens, the United States has entered the era of postmodern rights. The protesters looked like conventional rights demonstrators, with their raised fists, chants, and banners. But unlike political protesters of the past, the illegal-alien marchers invoked no legal basis for their claims. Their argument boils down to: "We are here, therefore we have a right to the immigration status we desire." Like the postmodern signifier, this legal claim refers to nothing outside of itself; it is, in the jargon of deconstruction, a presence based on an absence.
The consequences of this novel argument are not insignificant: the demise of nation-states and of the rule of law. Remember: The only basis for the illegals' demands is: "I am here." The "I am here" argument could be made by anyone anywhere — a Moroccan sneaking into Sweden could make the same demand for legal status. In one stroke, the border-breaking lobby has nullified the entire edifice of American immigration law and with it, sovereignty itself. None of the distinctions in that law matter, the advocates say. The conditions for legal entry? Null and void. The democratically chosen priorities for who may enter the country and who not? Give me a break! In other words, the United States has no right to decide who may come across its borders and what legal status an alien may obtain upon arrival. Those decisions remain solely the prerogative of the alien himself. The border no longer exists.
The American legal tradition has until now assumed that it takes a congressional enactment or a judicial ruling to overturn a duly enacted law. With the ubiquitous chant, "No person is illegal," first popularized by Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahoney, that tradition is over. Pace Cardinal Mahoney, under existing immigration law, a person may in fact be "illegal," if he has broken into the country without permission or has overstayed his visa. Mahoney and the hordes who have taken up the "No person is illegal" slogan beg to differ. No law has the power to confer illegal status on an alien law-breaker, they say. Therefore, the existing laws are void — simply because the illegal aliens and their supporters do not like them, not because Congress has decided to withdraw them. This alleged power to overturn laws based on sheer presence is a remarkable new constitutional development.
It took the Roman Empire several hundred years finally to vanish, and for the Dark Ages to begin. I'm selfish enough to hope that we're at the beginning of such a long time line too, because I want my children to live in a world closely akin to mine, not completely alien from what I know (and what I'm educating them to face). My sense of responsibility doesn't extend as strongly to those several generations removed from me.
Talking to Technorati: Immigration