Saturday, November 25, 2006

Un nuevo nacimiento de la libertad

»   The first half of a two-part series   «
Liberty ahead

Among the many pleasures of writing in a public setting such as Jurisdynamics is the immediacy with which writers and their audiences can connect. The audience doesn't always approve, of course, which puts an even higher premium on the value of that immediate connection. This is my fancy way of saying simply this: Some of you don't like what I've written, and this is my response.

In the past two months, especially with Born in the U.S.A., Yo soy peregrino fronterizo, and Soy hispano, y yo voto, I've turned the spotlight on immigration. Lawful and otherwise, immigration from Latin America and the rest of the world is fueling the demographic and cultural transformation of the United States in a way not seen since the height of European immigration in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

On this much, I think, the entire Jurisdynamics readership agrees. But there are some further complications, all of which seem traceable to some emotional precommitments on my part and on the part of certain readers. To wit:
  • I am one of those immigrants.

  • I do not hide my enthusiasm for immigration to the United States and for the immigrants themselves in particular.

  • Women at Ellis IslandAs the image at the top of this post demonstrates, I don't hesitate to use black-and-white and sepia images from the age of European immigration, a period of American history whose romantic appeal rivals or (in my aesthetic judgment) eclipses that of the Founding. For good measure, here's another image.

  • All of this sits very poorly with readers who (1) disagree with me on the merits of immigration policy and (2) chafe at my admittedly opportunistic exploitation of the visual iconography of what now seems a distant, less politically contested period in the history of American immigration.
To all of which, I will respond in the second half of this two-part series. Watch this space for the forthcoming publication of El nuevo corazón de las tinieblas. Till then, I offer the readership a familiar speech from an even older period of American history, when the very idea of the United States of America hung in the balance and the idea of liberty and union seemed done and severable, then and forever -- rendered, in this instance, in an idiom that is rapidly becoming what John Dos Passos would call "U.S.A. . . . the speech of the people":

El discurso de Abraham Lincoln del 19 de noviembre del 1863Hace 87 años, nuestros padres fundaron, en este continente, una nueva nación cuya base es la libertad y la proposición de que todas las personas son creadas iguales.

Abraham LincolnAhora estamos envueltos en una gran guerra civil, probando si esta nación, o cualquier otra nación así fundada, puede ser duradera. Estamos reunidos en un gran campo de batalla de esa guerra. Hemos decidido dedicar una porción de este campo, como lugar de descanso final para aquellos que dieron aquí sus vidas para que esta nación pudiera sobrevivir. Es por tanto apropiado y correcto que lo hagamos.

Pero, por otra parte, no podemos dedicar, no podemos consagrar, no podemos santificar este terreno. Los valientes hombres, vivos y muertos, que pelearon aquí, ya lo consagraron, más allá de nuestras pobres facultades para añadir o quitar. El mundo notará poco, ni mucho tiempo recordará lo que decimos aquí, pero nunca podrá olvidar lo que ellos hicieron aquí. Somos nosotros los vivos los que debemos dedicarnos aquí a la obra inconclusa que aquellos que aquí pelearon hicieron avanzar tan noblemente. Somos nosotros los que debemos dedicarnos a la gran tarea que tenemos ante nosotros: que tomemos de estos honorables muertos una mayor devoción a la causa por la que dieron su última cuota de devoción, que tomemos la noble resolución de que estos muertos no han de morir en vano, que esta nación, protegida por Dios, nacerá de nuevo en libertad, y que este gobierno, del pueblo, por el pueblo y para el pueblo, no perecerá jamás.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd take issue with the claim that the late 19th-early 20th century immigration was less politically contested. It may be NOW, when everyone seems to assume that Italians, Irish, Eastern Europeans, and Mayflower WASPs are of the same ethnicity --- but it certainly wasn't at the time. Just read US v. Holy Trinity for screed that sounds a lot like Rep. Tancredo.

11/25/2006 7:25 PM  
Blogger Jim Chen said...

Dear A. Nonny Mouse:

I agree with your assessment of the politics of Ellis Island-era immigration. I've added three words to the post -- "what now seems" -- in order reflect this reality. And yes, Holy Trinity is an eye-opener, though in fairness to Justice Brewer, it remains a classic in legislation and statutory interpretation.

Jim Chen

11/25/2006 7:39 PM  

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