Kellmeyer : State of Emergency
By Steve Kellmeyer
Imagine living in an area your whole life, and your father before you, and his father before him, when you suddenly began to notice new people in your neighborhood. First just a few, but then it changes. More come in, most from another country. First one stranger, then several, then dozens, the friends and relatives from the old hometown arriving in an ever-increasing flood, buying the houses and land near yours and setting up housekeeping.
The governing authorities notices the influx of newcomers and takes steps to limit the inflow of people. They pass laws, step up border enforcement and try to keep the flow to a manageable level.
It doesn’t help. Due to the problems in their home countries, more and more of the foreigners come in every day. None share your religious faith, which is the religion of the region, many are lawbreakers, some are even terrorists. These newcomers begin to insist they want to set up their own state, a new state that governs itself and doesn’t recognize the lawful authority in the area. Eventually, they succeed.
Does this story sound familiar? Of course it does. It is the story of the formation of the state of Israel.
Due to anti-Semitism in Europe, a group of secular Jews in the late 1800’s became convinced that they should establish a Jewish homeland in the Palestine area, then a part of the Ottoman Empire. Following WW I, Britain gained control of Palestine. Even though Jewish land acquisitions were perfectly legal, British authorities recognized the influx of Jews created flashpoints with the native Ottoman Arab population. They attempted to limit immigration.
This was not only unsuccessful, it was radically unsuccessful. The growing anti-Semitism in Europe coupled with the restrictions on Jewish immigration to Palestine created Jewish terrorist cells, bent on overthrowing British rule at all costs. These Zionists were, in fact, allied with the Nazis prior to WW II, since Hitler had his own reasons for encouraging a weakening of British control in the region. Even during the war, Germany always encouraged its Jews to emigrate to Palestine and the flag of Israel was the only one permitted to fly on the same flagpole as the German Swastika.
Eventually, the combination of increasing population, unending violence and world shame over the Holocaust did the trick: Israel became a nation, formed in Palestine.
Now, of course, at this point some readers are feeling a little cheated. You may well be thinking, “You deliberately mis-led us by your opening. You wrote so as to make us think you were describing events in North America, but you pulled a fast one. That is grotesquely unfair.
And you would be right. I was being unfair. I deliberately wrote the opening story in order to remind you that this is how the United States annexed Texas and California.
In the early 1800’s, the area that comprises Texas and California was ruled by Mexico. Protestant Americans rode across the borders and settled Mexican territories. Despite laws that required all immigrants into Mexico to convert to Catholic Faith, many of these settlers either did not do so, or did so in name only. Worse, many of the immigrants from the United States had criminal records. In short, many of the American settlers had either violated laws in their homeland or in the land of Mexico. They were lawbreakers.
After colonizing the area, often illegally, these immigrants successfully fomented rebellion and formed their own state, the state of Texas. Unfortunately the boundaries of the state were never clearly defined. When Texas was absorbed by the United States, the boundary disputes continued. President Polk sent troops into the disputed area to establish a military outpost. While deliberately attempting to militarize an area that had been controlled by Mexico, American soldiers were fired upon by Mexican soldiers. Several were killed.
Polk insisted that “American blood has been spilled on American soil” and thus began what would become the Mexican-American War, in which Mexico lost over half its territory, and we picked up Texas and California (just in time for the gold rush). This is the war Abraham Lincoln publicly railed against (he voted for supplies for the troops, but against the war), demanding to know how anyone could claim the place of battle was even remotely American soil. This is the war that Henry David Thoreau went to jail over, preferring imprisonment to paying taxes to subsidize such a grossly unjust conflict. This is the war Ulysses S. Grant, architect of the charnel house battles of the Civil War, publicly proclaimed himself ashamed to ever have participated in.
What’s that? I’ve switched subjects again? You thought I was talking about the waves of Mexican Catholics coming into the United States? Hmmm… I wonder why?
Most conservatives are (as I am) four-score behind Israel and against the Arabs, even though the Arabs made the same complaints seventy years ago about Ashkenazi Jews that many of today's American conservatives make now about Mexican Catholics. Why don't America's conservatives feel the Palestinians' pain?
But liberals are no better. Barbara Streisand, Alec Baldwin and the like promote the anti-Semitism of the Palestinians while denigrating the racism of the Minutemen, even though self-described terrorists like Menachem Begin were merely early versions of the radicals amongst the Hispanic population.
Much as I hate to say it, of all the popular political voices on the spectrum, Pat Buchanan is alone in being logically consistent on these points: he opposes both Hispanic immigration and support to Israel. But that is the beginning and end of his consistency. After all, how can an orthodox Catholic be opposed to pro-life, anti-homosexual Catholics immigrating into Protestant America? Why preserve a culture of death?
In my last post, I pointed out quite a few logical inconsistencies with liberals and conservatives as regards thinking about sex, contraception and abortion. With this post, I have given you another set of inconsistencies.
Next week, I will discuss a set of facts that are clearly inconsistent, but which I cannot seem to form into a sensible story. I'm hoping you will be able to help me out.
September 5, 2006
The following comments were left on this column by reader, Mark L. We have chosen to make this a permanent part of the record. Ed.
September 5, 2006 - Much of what the author says is technically correct but incomplete in ways that bias the results. Early 19th century Mexico may have owned Texas similar to how the US owned Louisiana, but the Mexican government certainly did not effectively control the area. Many people came and went from Texas for several decades almost at will looking for cheap land. In fact, Mexico was so eager for people to help develop the territory at one point that they openly invited Americans to come and settle.
To continue, the situation in the holy land was in many ways even more wide open in the early 20th century. Palestine was not even a country but merely a territory in a dying empire taken over by yet another empire. The Arabs governed the region only on a localized basis and were completely incapable of keeping Jewish refugees from entering in numbers. Instead they put diplomatic pressure on the British to do their dirty work for them at a time when Jews were experiencing great persecution.
To summarize, both the independence of Texas and the Arab-Israeli wars were not the forgone conclusions the author makes them out to be. Both the Mexican government and the Palestinian Arabs could have made certain concessions to their respective populations of settlers allowing for the differing groups to live peaceably and avoid war. Both instead pridefully chose to fight under circumstances where neither was truly capable of effectively combating the problem, and both subsequently lost.
© 2006 Steve Kellmeyer
About the Writer: Steve Kellmeyer is a nationally recognized author and lecturer who integrates today's headlines with the Catholic Faith. His work is available through Bride Groom Press. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.