The Racist Assault on the 14th Amendment
One of the many racist jokes I heard in the 70s during my time in the military starts with two white soldiers on the rifle range. One soldier asks the other how he learned to shoot so well. “I like shooting cans right off the fence,” the other soldier says, “Af-ri-cans, Por-to-ri-cans and Mex-i-cans.”
The joke came to mind when I heard Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina saying, “birthright citizenship is a mistake,” followed by his GOP cohorts’ claim that immigrants have “anchor babies” as a way to tie themselves to the benefits of U.S. citizenship. Graham says he’s considering introducing a bill to rescind Section 1 of the 14th Amendment, which generally guarantees U.S. citizenship to those who are born within U.S. borders.
That is not all it does. The section reads:
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Also called the “due process” clause or the “equal protection” clause, this part of the 14th Amendment is the very foundation of U.S. civil rights law. The new nullifiers who talk of getting rid of it thus signal the nature of their purpose and the intrinsic unity of those they hold in contempt, like so many cans on the fence.
“Anchor babies” makes for better headlines, and it’s diverting. “People come here to have babies,” says Graham. “They come here to drop a child. It’s called, ‘drop and leave.’ To have a child in America, they cross the border, they go to the emergency room, have a child, and that child’s automatically an American citizen. That shouldn’t be the case.”
“Drop a child.” It’s as if he were talking about animals.
Graham is not up for re-election, but his child-dropping potshot is designed to appease a right wing that is angry because he’s “too liberal,” he’s “no Jim DeMint,” saddled up with the Tea Party and the likes of Ollie North and Tom Tancredo. A Greenville County Republican committee even voted to bar Graham from future meetings and events, censuring him “for his cooperation and support of President Obama and the Democratic Party’s liberal agenda.”