Monday, September 27, 2010

Placing blame

Mark Shea on illegal immigration:
I don't get the panic over illegal immigrants. They are thoroughly woven into our economy, so it's cloud cuckoo unrealism to imagine we are going round up 12 million of them and send them back. And they are, largely, Lazarus--doing back-breaking work that we need them to do and getting crap wages for it. I've never understood the menace they allegedly represent: hard-working, largely Catholic, with a strong sense of family who have shown repeatedly that they want to make a better life for themselves and their kids. Yeah, sure, they've ignored US immigration law: a human system. Not ideal, but not the end of the world either. The reality, though, is that large segment of our economy would collapse without them. So since we have already made it clear we are willing to exploit them, I think the real onus is, as ever, on the powerful rather than the powerless. Weak and hungry people who fudge on a human law are guilty, it seems to me, of a venial sin at best. Powerful people who exploit the poor and the alien and deny the worker his wages are guilty of three of the sins that cry out to heaven for judgement.
1867 The catechetical tradition also recalls that there are "sins that cry to heaven": the blood of Abel, the sin of the Sodomites, the cry of the people oppressed in Egypt, the cry of the foreigner, the widow, and the orphan, injustice to the wage earner.
Such is the fractured nature of American politics that the first two sins are sacred rights defended as "freedom of choice" and "the right to gay marriage" by the Left, while the latter three sins are solemnly defended pillars of any conservative worth his salt. We'll take the powerless migrant's labor, denounce him for doing it and then defend the guy who pays him crap wages. Any sympathy for the poor and powerless laborer is bleeding heart liberalism and (naturellement) incipient socialism.
Read the whole thing here.

I think that any attempt to solve the problem of illegal immigration is going to have to be clear about why it's a problem in the first place: that is, we have to identify the powerful corporate interests that entice (and even bus) immigrants into our country to do the jobs that these corporations won't pay Americans to do. And before we start punishing the illegal immigrant, we need to punish American businesses that insist that in order to maintain the level of stockholder profit they've become used to, they can't afford to hire Americans.

Because I don't believe there are jobs Americans won't do. I do, however, believe that there are plenty of companies out there who won't pay Americans to do the jobs their companies depend on. Let's make sure that the proper share of blame gets placed where it belongs, on the issue of illegal immigration.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Philippines, at least, gets it right

Filipino pro-life groups see no conflict between opposition to abortion and opposition to torture. They see that both are necessary to promote the dignity of human life. Therefore, pro-life groups there gladly stand with other anti-torture groups in proposing more humane legislation.

The world is not divided between Democrat and Republican. At most, it's our United States of America. And hopefully, that dysfunctional bipolarity won't continue much longer even here.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Should this woman be executed?

Even if you support the death penalty in theory, I think it's rather difficult to support it in this case:

WASHINGTON — Barring a last-minute reprieve from the US Supreme Court, 41-year-old Teresa Lewis will on Thursday become the first woman to be executed by the state of Virginia in almost 100 years.

Abolitionists paint Lewis as a classic example of why capital punishment is flawed, saying the mother and grandmother has diminished mental faculties and was taken advantage of by smarter accomplices.

But with an IQ hovering at 70 or above, Lewis is considered fit for trial in Virginia and she pleaded guilty to hiring two men to murder her husband and stepson to pocket their 350,000-dollar life insurance policy. [...]

Lewis met Rodney Fuller and Matthew Shallenberger in a Walmart superstore. Soon she began an affair with the 22-year-old Shallenberger and encouraged her 16-year-old daughter to get together with Fuller, who was 19.

Lewis admits she left the door of the family trailer in rural Pittsylvania County open in 2002 so the two young accomplices could enter and shoot her husband and his 25-year-old son, who was in the military.

All three pleaded guilty. The triggermen got life in prison, but Lewis, who was deemed fit to stand trial, was sentenced to death as the mastermind of the killings, or in the words of the judge "the head of this serpent."

His summation is far from the portrayal that Lewis supporters offer -- that of a borderline mentally disabled woman, who struggled with a behavioral dependency disorder and was addicted to prescription drugs. [...]

Lewis's lawyers argue that new evidence, including her low IQ, has appeared since her trial that should prevent her execution.

The key piece of evidence they want considered is a letter from Shallenberger, who killed himself in jail in 2006, in which he claims full responsibility for the murder plot and suggests he pushed Lewis into it.

"From the moment I met her I knew she was someone who could be easily manipulated," he allegedly wrote. "Killing Julian and Charles Lewis was entirely my idea. I needed money, and Teresa was an easy target."

I hasten to say that the killings are not to be condoned in any way; nor should Teresa Lewis' role in them be ignored. But is there any reason why life in prison without possibility of parole shouldn't be the more just punishment for a woman with a low IQ whose partners in crime received only this punishment, and no more? Does Lewis pose an ongoing threat to society? Does executing her protect the people of Virginia in any way?

What do you think?

40 Days for Life

Though it seems to surprise some readers, we at the Coalition for Clarity consider opposition to abortion to be at least as important, if not more so, than opposition to torture. We consider both stands to be in keeping with our commitment to promoting the dignity of the human person in every circumstance.

Therefore, I'm happy to promote the latest campaign by 40 Days for Life, an internationally coordinated campaign to raise awareness of the consequences of abortion for local communities, families, and friends.

They follow a three-pronged strategy:

  1. Prayer and fasting

  2. Constant vigil

  3. Community outreach

This run of the campaign stretches from September 22 through October 31, 2010. It's easy to get involved in almost any State of the Union, and in several countries beyond the borders of the U.S.A. Click and go!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A day for prayer and penance

There are so many possible reactions to September 11, most of them embodying some flavor of anger. Anger has its place: anger moves us to work for justice.

But if we're going to commemorate September 11, I suggest that the most Catholic way to do this is with prayer and penance.

Let's pray for our nation, for all those who have been harmed - directly or indirectly - by the attacks of nine years ago.

Let's also pray for our enemies and bless those who persecute us. (As St. Paul reminds us, this heaps burning coals of charity upon their heads. He follows saying, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12.19-21) Let's pray for God's will to be done for them, especially that they may repent and find the fullness of Truth.

And let's offer whatever sufferings we bear, whether they're related to the attacks or any subsequent events or are purely personal, to God our Father in union with the sufferings our Lord Jesus bore on the cross. Let's do some act of penance today, in reparation for our own sins, and for the sins of all the world.

This suggestion goes against my personal inclinations; but one of the roles of religion is to correct and refine our personal inclinations. Today, whatever feelings arise in me, I'll try to put my remembrance into action through prayer and penance.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Do we need more nukes?

If you don't already read the Catholic Key blog--you should. Jack Smith does an amazing job.

Today, he highlights Kansas City – St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn's statement on the groundbreaking of a nuclear weapons plant in the area. Excerpt:

On September 8, 2010 ground will be broken to begin construction of a new facility for the production of non-nuclear parts for nuclear weapons in South Kansas City. In the Catholic Church September 8th is the feast of the Birth of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The confluence of the groundbreaking with the feast of Mary’s nativity provides the opportunity to pause at the irony of the situation: Mary, mother of the Prince of Peace, and the construction of a facility whose main purpose is the construction of weapons for warfare.

The Catholic tradition has always affirmed the right of a state to defend itself from unjust aggression. Implicit in that right is the need to equip a trained military force. We do not deny this obligation and necessity on the part of any state.

However, the accumulation of weapons of mass destruction – which this nuclear plant proposes to construct – constitutes a grave moral danger. Nuclear weapons are by their very nature weapons of mass destruction: their force and impact cannot be contained, and their use affects combatants and non-combatants alike. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and humanity, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation. A danger of modern warfare is that it provides the opportunity to those who possess modern scientific weapons – especially atomic, biological, or chemical weapons – to use them” (CCC #2314; cf. also Gaudium et Spes #80). Since the use of such weapons is morally questionable, it follows that the production of such weapons is also morally questionable.

Read the whole thing here.

Do we really need, at this point in history, to build more and more nuclear weapons? Is this something Catholics should generally oppose? What do you think?

UPDATE: Mark Shea weighs in here.