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If there’s one thing both sides in the nasty Arizona immigration debate can agree on, it ought to be this: If the federal government had not been so monumentally incompetent, if it had done its job in the first place, no one in Arizona would have dreamed of coming up with a state law to try to control illegal immigration. And with no law, there would have been no threats of boycotts to punish Arizonans. No talk about yanking next year’s Major League Baseball All-Star game from Phoenix. And most of all, no shameful comparisons between Arizona and Nazi Germany.
In the United States of America – a country where anybody can say or do just about anything – it’s probably not a good idea to make comparisons between what goes on here and what went on in Germany under Hitler. It’s not just tiresome, it’s stupid.
Liberals crossed a very bright line when they routinely compared President Bush to Hitler. And some conservative Tea Party people have crossed the same line when they hold up signs showing President Obama with a Hitler mustache.
And now we have more dumb Nazi comparisons. The new Arizona immigration law is dubbed the “show me your papers law” by opponents. Get it? Arizona in 2010 is Germany in 1939.
The fake newsman on Saturday Night Live wants to know, “Can we all agree that there’s nothing more Nazi than ‘Show me your papers?’”
But Linda Greenhouse, who covered the U.S. Supreme Court for the New York Times, wasn’t going for cheap laughs when she wrote an op-ed for the paper, in which she called Arizona a “police state.” From there, it was an easy step across the line, right into Arizona is reminiscent of Germany under Hitler.
"Everyone remembers the wartime Danish king who drove through Copenhagen wearing a Star of David in support of his Jewish subjects," Ms. Greenhouse wrote. "It’s an apocryphal story, actually, but an inspiring one. Let the good people of Arizona — and anyone passing through — walk the streets of Tucson and Phoenix wearing buttons that say: I Could Be Illegal."
And before you can say, Sieg Heil, everybody was seeing Nazis in Arizona. Lillian Rodriguez Lopez, the president of the Hispanic Federation said, “When I heard about it [the new law] it reminded me of Nazi Germany.”
Liberal icon Phil Donahue said, “The last administration turned its back on the entire Bill of Rights and now we’re walking up to people and say, ‘Oh let me see your papers.’”
Seth MacFarlane, who created the Family Guy TV show said, “Nobody but the Nazis ever asked anybody for their papers,"
Political scientist and historian Joy Behar said on the View, “Doesn’t it feel like sort of Nazism, a little bit?”
Conservative Republican Congressman Connie Mack issued a statement saying the law “is reminiscent of a time during World War II when the Gestapo in Germany stopped people on the street and asked for their papers without probable cause.”
And liberal Democratic Congressman Jared Polis of Colorado told Politico that, “It is absolutely reminiscent of second class status of Jews in Germany prior to World War II when they had to have their papers with them at all times and were subject to routine inspections at the suspicion of being Jewish.” Polis, by the way, is Jewish.
Now, you would think that a Jewish congressman with a degree from Princeton would understand that when a cop in Tucson stops somebody for running a red light and asks for his driver’s license and (maybe) his green card, it’s not the same as when a stormtrooper in Berlin stopped a Jew and asked for his “papers.” The worst that could happen to an illegal immigrant under the Arizona law is that he would be turned over to federal authorities and sent back to his homeland. The worst that happened to Jews in Nazi Germany is that they got a one-way ticket to Auschwitz.
Reasonable people may disagree on the wisdom of the new Arizona law. But does it turn Arizona into a “police state” reminiscent of Germany under Hitler? No serious person would answer yes.
So what to do? Here’s an idea: Until the federal government decides to get serious about protecting our borders, let’s make Arizona’s illegal aliens (or undocumented immigrants, if you prefer) an offer they can’t refuse. Let’s give them free transportation to San Francisco. And New York. And to all the other places where sensitive folks think those poor undocumented immigrants are being treated like victims in Nazi Germany. Let them live there. Let them put their kids in school there. Let them go to hospitals there. Let them commit their crimes there and if they get caught let them be put in jail there.
Talk is cheap. All that other stuff, not so much. It’s easy to be compassionate. From a distance.