Yesterday the President delivered his much-anticipated address on immigration at the Chamizal National Memorial Park, a landmark that commemorates the settlement of a century-long border dispute centered around the Rio Grande, which has traditionally served as the demarcation line between what is Mexico and what is the United States.
Unfortunately, Barack Obama used the occasion to yet again smear honest opponents of his administration’s immigration policies, obfuscate what the White House has actually done to secure the border, ignore the catalog of horrors occurring in Ciudad Juarez-El Paso’s neighboring city across the border-and engage in boilerplate rhetoric intended to stoke one of the Democratic Party’s key constituencies in the upcoming 2012 presidential election.
National Review has published a pretty devastating refutation of almost every word uttered by the President, which takes the form of an NRO symposium that includes luminaries on this subject such as Heather Mac Donald and Victor Davis Hanson. Although not much can be added to the thorough dissection submitted by NR, I will address one issue raised by President Obama’s speech that is of particular importance. That subject being the subservience he once again showed towards our southern neighbor.
In an incisive article about the President’s speech, The Washington Times described the symbolic representation of this genuflection, which takes the form of a 300 foot-tall Mexican flag that spans half a regulation-sized football field and dominated the optics of Barack Obama’s highly-publicized speech. Perhaps the choice of this venue-along with the unsettling visual of a Mexico figuratively dominating an American state that had obtained its independence from a military dictatorship over a century and a half ago-was unintentional. However, you have to bear in mind that this is the same president who allowed the Mexican head of state, Felipe Calderon, to lecture Congress about its responsibilities to Mexico. The same speech that, need I remind you, was lustily applauded by Mr. Obama’s friends on the Democratic side of the aisle, as well as the two cabinet members charged with enforcing American immigration law, Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
Yes, Mexicans do have the right to take pride in their country in any manner they see fit, even if others might deem it a gauche display of jingoism and a figurative thumb in the eye to American yanquis. Yet, just as the former Mexican president believes that his country is a “sovereign nation,” so too do the vast majority of American citizens, even if their president and his cabinet officers do not share that view. That’s why President Obama’s speech was so disappointing on such a fundamental level. Beyond the lies, beyond the refusal to admit that his administration is not doing all it can to enforce the law-which would include punishing states and localities that refuse to abide by federal immigration law-there was a disconcerting willingness on the President’s part to cede a vital part of our American heritage in order to placate domestic political constituencies and foreign countries which do not feel any reciprocal obligations to the United States or American citizens.
The words of Rick Melendrez, a Texan who is both Hispanic and a Democratic activist-presumably, someone whose opinions President Obama would at least entertain, if not value-are instructive in this regard. His work to construct an American flag to rival that of the garish Mexican standard shadowing the border is not simply a fit of pique, or chest-beating American bravado. It is a reflection of a deep and abiding patriotism that many Americans-even those Americans whom President Obama condescendingly believes do not value their citizenship-share and want to express publicly.
The men who stood up to defend the Alamo, and who fought and died in order to obtain independence for Texas from a brutal, military autocracy-many Tejanos among them-shared Mr. Melendrez’s sense of pride. Barack Obama might not realize this, but his speech yesterday was not only an insult to those Americans who listened to it-with the exception of the shills and cronies that were his intended audience-but an insult to the memory of those who sacrificed everything in order to achieve a Texas which is wholly independent of Mexico. That perhaps, is the most galling aspect of the President’s speech.