John Derbyshire Reports Fear and Loathing on Long Island
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June 09, 2004

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From: John Derbyshire [email him] readers will be interested, though not surprised, to read of a June 8 debate in the legislature of Suffolk County, Long Island.  There is a full report in Long Island Newsday. [Immigration resolution defeated  By Sumathi Reddy, June 9, 2004]

Our county legislature meets once a month or so, largely to authorize line-item resolutions spending federal, state and local revenues.  There are also, however, a few "Sense Resolutions" on offer to the legislators, in which they can express a collective opinion about something or other.

On June 8 one of the items before the legislature was Sense Resolution S-042: "Memorializing resolution requesting Federal government to enforce immigration laws."  This resolution was hotly debated before being rejected for want of a single vote.  Legislator Elie Mystal, who represents a district largely populated by African-Americans (but who himself hails from Haiti) said: "I am an immigrant and this bill is hatred."

My own representative, Republican Legislator Paul Tonna [email him], added:

"The fact is that in the history of the United States there's been a lot of unjust laws, this being one of them.  I don't want the enforcement of this law because I think these laws are bad laws. They don't work."

Told that a certain gentleman maintained the doctrine that there is no intrinsic difference between good and evil, Dr. Johnson said: "Why, sir, when he leaves our house, let us count our spoons."  Since Legislator Tonna believes that laws he does not like should not be enforced, I suggest that anyone inviting him to a dinner party should count spoons afterwards very carefully.  Knives and forks, too, I should think.

[ comments: Dr. Samuel Johnson was a very wise man, (for an anti-American foreigner,) but we plain Americans would like to point out that when American sage Ralph Waldo Emerson said "the louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons," he was talking about the same thing: corrupt politicians.]

"If a pickpocket intrude into the society of gentlemen, they exert what moral force they have, and he finds himself uncomfortable, and glad to get away. But if an adventurer go through all the forms, procure himself to be elected to a post of trust, as of senator, or president,—though by the same arts as we detest in the house-thief,—the same gentlemen who agree to discountenance the private rogue, will be forward to show civilities and marks of respect to the public one: and no amount of evidence of his crimes will prevent them giving him ovations, complimentary dinners, opening their own houses to him, and priding themselves on his acquaintance. We were not deceived by the professions of the private adventurer,—the louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons; but we appeal to the sanctified preamble of the messages and proclamations of the public sinner, as the proof of sincerity."

—Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Conduct of Life VI. Worship

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