Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Claiming The Moral High Ground For Himself

The Boston Globe reports

Governor Deval Patrick strongly defended his plan to provide temporary shelter for up to 1,000 children who have crossed the US-Mexico border illegally and said he had identified two possible locations for them, one in Western Massachusetts and another on Cape Cod.

The facilities are Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee and Camp Edwards in Barnstable County, which housed evacuees from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The bases are being submitted for federal approval, and only one will be selected, said Patrick.

It appears to be a sound, sensible, and (as Bush 41 would have put it) prudent decision. But the Massachusetts Governor wants you to know it was a moral decision- and the only moral decision.

Staff writers Levenson and Ortega note that the Governor

reiterated that the shelter will be managed, paid for, and staffed entirely by the federal government. It would be ready for up to 1,000 children ages 3 to 17 and remain open for up to four months, he said. The children, aides said, would receive health screenings and vaccinations before entering the state. They would not attend local schools, but remain on the base while federal officials give them food and schooling and schedule them to appear before federal immigration judges.

In other states, the average stay for children was 35 days, he said. Ultimately, Patrick said, the migrants will either be deported or reunited with relatives in the United States.


Speaking at a news conference, the governor sought to move the issue beyond the caustic national debate over immigration and used the Bible to frame the problem as a moral one. He seized on the influx of migrant children in a way that other governors have not, showcasing the sort of oratory that helped propel him to office in 2006....

“My faith teaches that, if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him, but rather love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt,” he said.“I believe that we will one day have to answer for our actions — and our inactions,” Patrick said, choking up as he was flanked by religious leaders, including Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Boston.

“Every major faith tradition on the planet charges its followers to treat others as we ourselves wish to be treated,” he added. “I don’t know what good there is in faith if we can’t, and won’t, turn to it in moments of human need"....

At his press conference, Patrick said he had “searched my own conscience,” and decided to shelter the children in Massachusetts for two reasons: “love of country and lessons of faith.”

Spare me.  The right wing tells us Jesus opposed abortion, same-sex marriage, and requiring employers who claim a religious exception to offer contraception to employees without the same religious beliefs.  And now we have a liberal Democrat, one of President Obama's most loyal supporters (somehow, not surprising), lecture us on his consultation with Jesus Christ to discern the latter's political will.

It was made all the more dramatic because the Governor was

flanked by religious leaders, including Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Boston...

O’Malley said the Archdiocese of Boston, though already struggling to help the needy, will do what it can.

“I ask my faith community and the wider public to understand compassionately the extreme circumstances these children are facing,” the cardinal said. “As a country and a church, we are capable of providing crucial assistance.”

Cardinal O'Malley is willing to provide "crucial assistance" (though not the facilities of his diocese) to the young refugees and immigrants.  To women, however, not so much assistance, given we read fourteen months ago in The Huffington Post that he

won't attend Boston College's graduation because the Jesuit school's commencement speaker, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, supports legislation to permit abortion.

The bill allows abortion if a doctor authorizes it to save a women's life. Opponents say the bill would lead to widespread abortion by also allowing it if a woman threatens suicide.

In a statement Friday, O'Malley said abortion is "a crime against humanity" and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has asked Catholic institutions not to honor officials who promote it. Kenny is set to receive an honorary degree from BC at the May 20 commencement.

O'Malley said that since Boston College hasn't withdrawn its invitation, and Kenny hasn't declined it, "I shall not attend the graduation."

That wasn't abortion on demand the Belfast government was considering.  Nor was it to permit abortion beyond the point of viability (determined by the US Supreme Court to be 24 weeks), or when complex fetal brain activity begins (approximately the 25th week) or when a fetus starts to breathe (week 32).  It was abortion to save a woman's life. (Legislation passed; Kenney spoke. Courage prevailed.)

A scriptural argument can be made against abortion or same-sex marriage or as Governor Patrick has, in favor of children who have illegally entered the country. Or against or for anything, even reproductive freedom, for  "the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature," suggesting that life begins at birth. Perhaps Patrick's critics might refer to Romans 13: 1-7, Titus 3:1, or 1 Peter 2:13, each of which counsels individuals to obey duly-constituted authorities who, in this country, have over the years established immigration law.

So Patrick and O'Malley may be right, though the Church is not under the same duress as the residents of Chicopee, Massachusetts and Bourne, Massachusetts.  A civic leader arguing his case on behalf of "faith," the Bible, or Jesus Christ may find that this door swings both ways (bringing to a disorganized mind Herman's Hermits, below), and sometimes right into the backside.

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