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What If Conservatives Behaved Like San Francisco Liberals?
I wonder if our liberal friends have picked up on the irony that some of their trendiest progressive values, especially now that Donald Trump has been elected president, have a pedigree they’d rather not acknowledge – a pedigree that goes back to the bad old days of slavery and segregation.
Let’s start with their efforts to secede from the union. Yes, there are efforts, meager as they may be, to secede from the union. There was a short-lived ballot proposal in Oregon called the “Oregon Secession Act” which was drawn up as a response to President-elect Trump. As one proponent explained it, “Oregon values are no longer the values held by the rest of the United States.”
Then there’s The People’s Republic of California, where liberals opposed to Donald Trump have taken to Twitter to register their unhappiness, using supposedly witty hashtags like #Calexit and #Calleavefornia – and where a venture capitalist says he’ll fund “a legitimate campaign for California to become its own nation.”
If there was Twitter in 1861, the confederates might have used it too to express their discontent over the North not sharing their Southern values: #GoDixie!
Ah, but there’s a big difference, our progressive friends would tell us. We’re good people who have values and ideals that simply don’t fit in with those of less enlightened folks in the rest of America. I’m pretty sure that’s what the die-hards in the Old South would have said too.
(For the record, conservatives can be just as annoying. After Barack Obama was elected president, detractors in Texas and several other states also filed petitions to leave the Union.)
And I’m pretty sure progressives don’t see any historical connection between their noble sanctuary cities policies and the segregationist policies of the American South of the 1960s.
Today, liberals in hundreds of cities have decided that “unfair” federal immigration laws don’t apply to them; that it’s their moral obligation to “protect” illegal immigrants from federal agents who might deport them.
Sound familiar? George Wallace and other segregationists thought they were upholding morality too when they tried to “protect” white southerners by keeping black Americans permanently ensconced as second-class citizens. Keeping the races segregated is the moral thing to do. If we don’t want them to vote or eat at our restaurants or go to school with our children that’s up to us, not the federal government.
Today we have sanctuary cities in America. Not that many years ago we had entire sanctuary states.
But sanctuary cities are helping people, progressives would say, and segregation was hurting people.
Fair enough. Sanctuary city progressives don’t inhabit the same moral universe as slaveholders. Nor are they as malevolent as the segregationists of more recent history who disregarded what they considered unfair federal laws in order to keep black people “in their place.” The differences are both obvious and important.
But even after we acknowledge the obvious differences, there are inconvenient questions that won’t go away: Do we really want local officials to pick and choose which federal laws they like and which ones they don’t? Which ones they’ll enforce and which ones they’ll ignore?
“What would San Franciscans do if conservative counties and towns followed their lead?” is what Victor Davis Hanson asks in a piece for National review. “Perhaps a rural Wyoming sheriff can now look the other way when he spots a cattleman shooting a federally protected grizzly bear or predatory timber wolf — or at least shield the cattleman from federal officials. Should public schools in Provo, Utah, start the day with school-wide prayers?”
And remember that evangelical county clerk in Kentucky who wouldn’t issue marriage licenses to gay couples, despite the Supreme Court decision declaring that laws against gay marriage were unconstitutional? Is that OK with progressives? After all, like sanctuary city liberals, she was only doing the right thing – as she saw it.
While we’re on the subject, that’s something conservatives who tried to turn that woman into a national hero might also want to ponder. If a conservative in Kentucky can do what her conscience dictates why can’t a liberal in San Francisco do the same?
Proponents of sanctuary cities – and even backers of the loony notion of modern day secession – are free, of course, to make their case. But opponents ought to remind our progressive friends that they’re not the only ones who have been certain in their convictions when it comes to matters of right and wrong.
Every day I hear some liberal somewhere expressing fear over the soon-to-be Trump presidency. Who knows what he’ll do, they say. What if he decides that he only wants to follow the laws he happens to support?
What if, to pick just one example, he decides that “unfair” federal environmental laws are bad for business and just plain ignores them? You can’t pick and choose which laws you’ll obey, they would scream. You can’t decide which laws are “fair” and which are “unfair.” What kind of country would we have then?
Bingo, my progressive fellow Americans.