I recently attended the presentation by State Representative David Simpson at the Maude Cobb Convention Center on his trip this summer to the Mexican border and his take on the situation there with respect to the unaccompanied children arriving. I applaud Mr. Simpson’s ability to recognize the need for compassion with respect to how these children need to be treated and the inability of our border patrol to handle that situation. His comments were a welcome change from so much of the xenophobic response voiced by many around East Texas. I hope his leadership will result in some change of rhetoric among many who seem prone to believe the outrageous and partisan comments coming from the right. But somehow I doubt it. I suppose that is the cynic in me.

One aspect of his presentation was when he proposed changes to how the government could deal with the situation. He emphasized his “Christian” values as a way for the country to reduce the role of the government in this crises. He repeatedly maintained that what was needed and what could solve the problem was more involvement by charities that could step in and take the place of the government in how these children were dealt with and his assertion that the laws we are faced with need to be overhauled so as to prevent this from happening again. Both his ideas sound good on paper and I believe he is genuine in his beliefs. At the end of it, I was finding myself asking only one question; where does Mr. Simpson his rose colored glasses?

Let’s look at this one step at a time. First, although the majority of the country may in fact be “Christian”, not all share Mr. Simpson’s interpretation of that belief. If they did, the rhetoric coming from the right would sound so different. Sorry Mr. Simpson, but the sad fact is that not all “Christians” share your interpretation. Were that the case, so many of our social problems that exist in this country today would be on such a smaller scale that we may not even be having this debate. His assertion that the compassion and good will of all people exists, is short sided and factually untrue. Rarely has the good will of the people ever been such that a crises is remedied by the voluntary intervention of society whose only objective is to do good. It has happened many times at the local level such as a natural disaster or calamity, but I can think of no situation with the exception of a military attack on the country where the entire nation responded as one.

Second, like many politicians, he criticized some policies and laws as a source of the problems without explaining that those laws were designed to address a different situation and were being manipulated by many in Central America to lure these children to the US. In fairness, Mr. Simpson, you should have at least pointed that out. Instead, you criticized a law designed to protect women who were being victimized by sex trafficking as needing to be changed and never once saying that the intention of the law needs to be maintained. If you did say that I missed it and I apologize.

Thirdly, the problem with the entire Libertarian argument is that while it sounds so good, the reality of people to step in when the situation requires it is where those rose colored glasses come in. The assumption that all people will see a situation and respond the same, be it compassion or outrage is really not based in the reality of how people live their lives. Were that the case, the whole country would be morally outraged that unarmed teens, or the mentally challenged are victimized by police, or that racial bias flagrantly exists. And we know that is surely not the case.

James Madison’s Federalist 10 is the most cogent example of why we need a Federal government. Without the protection of Law, the rights of the minority would never be protected. It doesn’t matter if it is voting rights, cultural norms, private conduct, or racial divisions. Because as long as there is a majority of one group in any location, the rights and fair treatment of the minority group will be in danger. Without the ability of a national government to intervene, anyone in a community whose race, sexual orientation, religion, life style, or general outlook differs from the majority, will reman in danger of discrimination, bias, and persecution. Sadly, that’s just the way it is. We are all much too comfortable being a part of a society that looks, believes, and acts like we do to ever be free from the innate tendency to stick with those we identify with. It is as much a part of human nature as the need to breath.

I wish that the compassion expressed by Mr. Simpson were the rule and not the exception. It would be a better world I have no doubt. But, sir, I put away my rose colored glasses a long time ago.

By Jim Cogar