A continuing series of discussions of Mark Levin’s new book,
The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic
(Discussion #27 – Take back the language)
When it comes to ideas, watching Conservative “leaders” is often as sad as watching a guy who keeps stepping on his own necktie while walking up a steep staircase. This is because Conservatives, despite their amazing capacity to deliver real results in the physical world, are often lost when it comes to the realm of ideas. Progressives live in the world of ideas. From the college-bound, to the world of academia and then into government service or the media, Progressives are rich on ideas, but extremely thin on real-world understanding or accomplishment.
Yes, that’s a broad brush. No, I’m not going to fine tune it.
Discussing a philosophical idea with a Conservative can be an exasperating experience. The very tools that enable Conservatives to build things in the physical world are often the same ones that make it incredibly difficult for them to start back at the beginning and move into new realms of thinking. (This can happen even when discussing time-honored ideas that most Conservatives hold to be true.)
What Conservatives do is take existing materials and build things with them. They are incredibly good at it, too, thank God, or we’d all still live in caves; watching Progressives dance, with no way to change the channel. But rare is the builder or craftsman who comes up with new materials.
Before you raise your objections to the way this state of affairs has been described, let’s give this situation a name: Concept Impedance. Concept impedance is something even Progressives deal with from time to time. It takes many forms:
- The Grandfather or Uncle many of you grew up with, who seemed to use scripture as his only filter on perception (hey, if you’re only going to have one such filter, that’s the best one to have).
- The postal worker who has just told you that you filled out your name incorrectly on those ten packages, because you used an initial for your first name.
- The school administrator who insists your kid is lazy, when you know he’s bored waiting for the other kids to catch up in the school’s lame, one-size-fits-all curriculum.
Those are ordinary, everyday forms of concept impedance. When you deal with ordinary concept impedance while discussing an issue—for example, self defense—you frequently end up with serious frustration. I’m sure many of you have had the joy of explaining to people that you are not required to wait for the other guy’s bullet to penetrate your shirt before you are legally entitled to fire your own weapon.
When you try to tackle something more difficult, like the origin of ethics in society, you find that Conservatives are the ones with whom you have the most difficulty getting past the initial premises. On the other hand, Progressives merely need some phony textbook from a leftist with an axe to grind (just kidding, they all have axes to grind), and suddenly “ethics” becomes subservient to the evil designs of the heteronormative patriarchy (or some other vacuous concept), with no questions asked. Just keep spinning that propeller, baby!
It’s not that Conservatives are slow. Quite the contrary. Conservatives are productive people. Producers are used to making quick decisions. Quick decisions make concept impedance a hazard to be avoided. So they tend to avoid it, rather than continually tackle it, head on.
Speaking of quick: rather than waste more time justifying the thesis that Conservatives struggle with concept impedance, let’s leave it instead as an exercise for the reader by asking a question about Ayn Rand’s life’s work: Why else would she have gone to so much trouble to make her ideas into powerful stories? (One clue to consider is that she wasn’t targeting her work toward the hapless fools who vote for people like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.)
But here’s where we’re going with this: Concept impedance is something the left uses against Conservatives. They know you are adept at taking up tools and materials, and working with them to make stuff. So they make sure they are the ones creating lots of bogus tools and materials for you to find. They know conservatives aren’t constantly busy developing new ideas, so they make it “easy for them” by handing them the vocabulary to use. They use your respect for education as a way to prevent you from examining the ideas yourself. If it’s already the language being used by academics, and the framing is the one academics have created, then that’s the right set of concepts that “everyone” is using.
That’s the template, and you’re stuck with it.
That’s the trick, anyway. For example, the left came up with the completely meaningless term, “Social Justice.” Because it’s used in the media—a lot, you just might assume it’s a real thing. So if you aren’t paying careful attention, you suddenly might find that you’re using the term yourself.
Another step on the old necktie; bang your head on the steps.
And so it goes with things like, “Immigration Reform,” and, “War on Poverty.” The worst conservative leaders are always falling for the left’s trick of framing of the issues, defining the language used, and portraying your language as code for something nefarious (racism, homophobia, and hatred being old favorites of theirs). When we repeatedly see this happen with our leaders, it begins to feel like despair is our constant companion. We feel like Mitch McConnel and John McCain have stepped on their own neckties so often that hitting their heads on the steps has gotten good to them. No brain, no pain.
So those of us who have been working with ideas directly have to keep telling those Conservative leaders: We DO NOT have an “immigration problem” in the United States. We have an “illegal alien” problem. Please take back the language and control of the ideas, or the left will play you like a mark.
If you’ve made it this far, some good news: a high degree of Concept Impedance explains why Conservative philosophers are the ones who create ideas that last. For example, few people in the world of philosophy have had as much impact on the positive future of mankind than John Locke. When a conservative thinker gains control of the tools of philosophy, he or she tends to build things that are difficult to tear down. They do so because they respect the tools of reason as the method for combating the impedance that makes new ideas difficult to assimilate. They know the struggle involved, and they find powerful ways to overcome the barriers to understanding. This is what Locke did in his two Treatises on Government. It’s also why Ayn Rand’s books are still bestsellers.
The deconstructive ideas of the Progressives have killed millions of people. But The United States of America is still the home of the Liberty that was greatly inspired by Locke’s writing. The enshrinement of Liberty as the root principle of our Constitution is still the best the hope for mankind, so long as we fight to preserve it. This fight means we must not allow the left to turn millions of illegal residents into voters.
We cannot afford the luxury of weak concepts. We need to understand the meaning of the terms we use, or we cannot use them in rational thinking.
In the US, the only amnesty granted to illegal aliens as a large population was in 1986
It was called an “amnesty” at the time by Congressional leaders and by leading members of the Reagan Administration. It was called an amnesty bill by news reporters and pundits during the time the bill was under consideration. It has since been referred to as an amnesty bill by most accounts. Thus the law represents a “stake in the ground” when it comes to defining the legal implications of the word amnesty, even though the term does not appear in the text of the Act.
The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 granted specific amnesty from prosecution to the estimated three million illegal aliens residing inside US borders at the time. This amnesty provided those illegal aliens a specific means to become legal residents.
However, the law did not automatically confer amnesty to every resident here illegally: it empowered the Attorney General of the United States to “adjust the status” of illegal aliens. The process was for the AG to first adjust them to “temporary” status, and then for the target group to follow a pathway to “permanent” status, also to be determined by the AG.
According to research by the Cato Institute in 2012 (emphasis added):
IRCA was a tremendous change in U.S. policy toward unauthorized immigration in several ways. It was the first—and so far the only—large-scale amnesty in U.S. history. Nearly 2.7 million people legalized their status via two programs, one for long-term U.S. residents and another for seasonal agricultural workers. The number legalized far exceeded expectations, in part due to widespread fraud in the agricultural workers program.
But when it comes to defining the word “amnesty” this law went well beyond simple legalization. The Act included provisions for background checks (no felonies or multiple misdemeanors), fines, back taxes paid in full, return to country of origin to begin the citizenship application process, and the potential for deportation all along the way if one failed to comply with provisions of the law (or simply ran afoul of the agencies charged with prosecuting and enforcement).
In other words, it was fully larded up with many of the provisions that modern, “Immigration Reform” proponents assure us are NOT the same thing as “amnesty.” Humorously enough to those of you who are daily confronted with the drain illegals place on our infrastructure, the law also included provisions that the newly legalized residents not be eligible for federal assistance programs (for five years). You can read a decent summary at the Library of Congress website, and see for yourself.
So when you hear from your Conservative leaders about their planned “Immigration Reform,” and they tell you that such things as “having to go to the back of the line,” and “paying a fine”, and “paying all back taxes” means that this would NOT be the same thing as “amnesty.” Please refer them to the 1986 law, and remind them that it was called an amnesty bill when it was under consideration, and has been called that by nearly every political leader since.
The fabric of society in the United States has been hugely affected by the two “immigration” laws mentioned above. Next week will be the third installment in the Amnesty Papers, where we bring things all together, showing how much we have been affected, and how much we will be harmed if Congress passes another amnesty bill or accedes to Obama’s likely attempt to pardon illegals. Until then, I’ll leave you with Michelle Bachmann’s warning about barack’s probable response to any legalization:
The last five Articles in the overall series:
Discussion #26 – Amnesty. What does it mean?
Discussion #24 – (but really #25) Can We Really Do This?
Discussion #24 – No, Not The Hamburger Chain
Discussion #23 – Because the Internet, that’s why
Discussion #22 – Just the Video