May 07, 2013
Medicaid v. Religious FreedomBrandon Dutcher and Jonathan Small blog on Oklahoma reactions to the HHS mandate.
May 03, 2013
"Alien:" pejorative or descriptive
The Texas Law Review recently published my essay, "Stirring the Melting Pot: A Recipe for Immigrant Acceptance," reviewing "The Immigration Crucible: Transforming Race, Nation, and the Limits of the Law" by Philip Kretsedemas.
In his book, Kretsedemas suggests that structural-institutional conditions produce immigrant marginality. My response: "Structural–institutional conditions can exacerbate or mitigate immigrant marginality, but they do not produce it. Immigrant marginality is a reality, inherent to the human condition. Believing that institutional or structural changes can eliminate it is simply fanciful utopian thinking."
Within the immigration law professors community, the word "alien" has taken on such a perjorative cast that it is even avoided by casebook authors despite being a statutory term of art. One of the leading casebooks begins with “[T]he word ‘alien,’ even when not adorned with the modifier ‘illegal,’ has always struck a disturbing chord. Many feel that the term connotes dehumanizing qualities of strangeness or inferiority (space aliens come readily to mind) and that its use builds walls, strips human beings of their essential dignity, and needlessly reinforces an ‘outsider’ status.”
I respond that "[e]ven if the term “alien” is in some sense pejorative in labeling an immigrant, in a very real sense “alien” is an appropriate term for describing the relationship between the immigrant and his new country" because "[l]anguage, culture, history, and tradition often create a wide gulf between the migrant and the native. They do not yet belong to each other." The Oxford English Dictionary defines "alien" as “[b]elonging to another person, place, or family; not of one’s own; from elsewhere, foreign.”
This reality is grasped by Wendall Berry in Jaybar Crow. Jaybar migrated a couple of miles from the town of Goforth to Port WIlliam. Crow says:
If you have lived in Port William a little more than two years, you are still, by Port William standards, a stranger liable, to have your name mispronounced. . . . [T]hough I was only twenty-two when I came to the town, many . . . would call me ‘Mr. Cray’ to acknowledge that they did not know me well. . . . Once my customers took me to themselves, they called me Jaybird, and then Jayber. Thus I became, and have remained, a possession of Port William.
Therefore, I conclude:
The government will assign the nonimmigrant an identifying number but will not learn the nonimmigrants name much less how to pronounce the name. The government will not take a personal interest in the nonimmigrant’s family, culture, or history. Immigrant marginality recedes and immigrant integration begins at the backyard barbecue, the pub, and the church as families celebrate births, graduations, marriages, deaths, and holidays together. The migrant will not be at home in her adopted country until she is known and loved in her new community. And, that takes time.
May 01, 2013
The Church and the Usurers
My colleague Brian McCall has a new book out - "The Church and the Usurers: Unprofitable Lending for the Modern Economy." Calling the book one of the top three written on usury in the past two hundred years, Anthony Santelli II, CEO of AES Capital and Founder and Board Member of the Catholic Finance Association says this about the book:
Usury is not a simple topic to understand. It is like completing a sudoku puzzle. ... Professor McCall does a lot of that hard work for the reader. This book remains intellectually challenging because the topic is new, or at least new to the modern reader.
In fact, the topic is very old. There is a significant body of literature that extends over a thousand years discussing usury, what it is and what it is not. Professor McCall siphons that massive literature down to the few key points that distinguish an immoral loan from an investment. Some of the fine points also raise the issue of a just price.
April 30, 2013
It's Baja Oklahomabut it's Texas in my soul! Happy 80th birthday Wille Nelson.
Yes, God, please help us!
Bob, you have problems with your "argument" at more than one level. First, you assert that the Pentagon has good reason to consult with Mikey Weinstein, who you label as "rhetorically adolesecent" because he is upset "by a problem that appears to be real," but Patrick undermines the mission of MOJ by citing to Breitbart, "of all places" because ....?? Second, you are engaged in a classic argumentum ad hominem against Breitbart and against Patrick for linking to Breitbart rather than engaging Patrick's argument.
Breitbart links to Weinstein's Huffington Post rant ("rant" doesn't do it justice). Weinstein starts: "Ladies and Gentlemen, let me tell you of monsters and monstrous wrongs. And let me tell you what these bloody monsters thrive on." Who are these monsters? "[I]ncredibly well-funded gangs of fundamentalist Christian monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity..." He says that the Southern Poverty Law Center correctly labels the Family Research Council and the American Family Association "hate groups."
He continues: "We should as a nation effusively applaud Lt. Col. Rich for his absolutely correct characterization of anti-gay religious extremist organizations as "hate groups" with no place in today's U.S. military. But we are compelled to venture even further. We MUST vigorously support the continuing efforts to expose pathologically anti-gay, Islamophobic, and rabidly intolerant agitators for what they are: die-hard enemies of the United States Constitution. Monsters, one and all."
Bob, please tell us WHY the Pentagon ought to consult with this particular individual who seems so hell bent on demonizing his enemies rather than engaging in reasoned argument. And, could Patrick be right - could it be that there is a developing pattern of government hostility toward Catholics and Evangelical Christians? Bob, is his thesis at least worth considering?
April 23, 2013
Former Texas Chief Justice, Jack Pope, turned 100 recently
After law school, I had the pleasure of clerking for Chief Justice Jack Pope, a man of profound integrity and intellect. A great mentor, he recently turned 100. Happy birthday!
"Pope served on the Supreme Court from 1964-85, with his final two years as chief justice, and at 100 is the longest-lived state chief justice in U.S. history and appears to be the first to reach the century mark, said Osler McCarthy, staff attorney for the Supreme Court."
April 19, 2013
April 19 - We Will Never Forget
The Murrah Bombing occurred 18 years ago today. Maria Ruiz Scaperlanda reflects on that day at her blog, Day by Day.
April 03, 2013
Providence College Professor Reflects on Pope's Embrace of His Disabled Son
Paul Gondreau reflects that
our culture often looks upon the disabled: as weak, needy individuals who depend so much upon others, and who contribute little, if anything, to those around them. Pope Francis’ embrace of my son yesterday turns this logic completely on its head and, in its own small yet powerful way, shows once again how the wisdom of the Cross confounds human wisdom. Why is the whole world so moved by images of this embrace? A woman in the Square, moved to tears by the embrace, perhaps answered it best when she to my wife afterward, “You know, your son is here to show people how to love.” To show people how to love.
The lesson my disabled son gives stands as a powerful testament to the dignity and infinite value of every human person, especially of those the world deems the weakest and most “useless.” Through their sharing in the “folly” of the Cross, the disabled are, in truth, the most powerful and the most productive among us.
March 29, 2013
What is the Purpose of Lent in the New York TImes' Room for Debate
My wife, Maria, along with Eve Tushnet, Rod Dreher, and a couple of others were invited by the New York Times to write about the purpose of Lenten sacrifice. Here is a taste of Maria's response:
In so many ways, the Camino is a metaphor for our whole lives: I can’t anticipate what struggles today will bring, but anything is doable one step at a time. Every uphill has a downhill. Hardship becomes manageable with a friend. Every single thing that I carry weighs me down, so I must choose wisely.
In our culture, pain, suffering, worries, difficulties and grieving are all things to conquer — and to anesthetize as quickly as possible. Each of us is an addict looking for a quick fix. Drugs. Food. Exercise. Sex. Shopping. Disposable relationships. Whatever it takes to not feel bad, sad, hurt.
Thus the question for me is not whether there’s a point to giving things up during Lent, but whether I should ever stop fasting from all that numbs, dulls and deadens me to life, all of life, as it is today — the good and the bad. Fasting makes me willing to try.
March 22, 2013
The sole aim of our life: to be love
Some, including the New York Times, want to perpetuate left/right divisions in the Church. Recovering Lawyer, Heather King has a profound response on her Shirt of Flame blog. Her is a taste:
To kiss the feet of AIDS patients and drug addicts, as Pope Francis has done,
comes from an entire being that has been formed, has been disciplined, and has
as its sole aim love. You don't have charity in one area and not in another. You
don't offer up one part of yourself and keep another. You offer it all. You lay
down your life.
Broken, stumbling, poor as we are--that's what we do best.