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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Wednesday, March 26, 2003



Never Say Never Again

I knew the future ain't what it used to be. Now, however, I have learned that "never" is not a very long time at all.

TAPPED tells us that "The United States has never been the most welcoming country for those seeking asylum". A typo? No, they link to an American Prospect article which opens "The United States has never opened its arms to immigrants seeking asylum."

Perhaps over at TAPPED the word "never" means, "not since breakfast", or "in my lifetime", or something else entirely. However, a quick review of US immigration policy suggests that, if "never" is extended all the way back to the formation of the United States, we have a long period where the US was quite welcoming to all immigrants, presumably including asylum-seekers. Folks who wonder about the early settlers seeking asylum from religious persecution will want to remember that much of that activity pre-dated the formal creation of the United States, although it certainly typified what some of us consider to be the "American spirit".

The Man Sans Q has suggested a field trip down to the Statue of Liberty for the staff at the NY Times. Perhaps he can include some TAPPERS.

For myself, I would just love to watch the end bit of the original "Planet of the Apes" with a TAP staffer. They will be as puzzled as any of the apes as they peer at the partly-buried statue.

UPDATE: It's TAPPED's World - I'm Just Seeking Asylum In It


A rebuttal from the fine folks at TAPPED. Oh, this blogosphere thing - TAPPED starts out writing about asylum seekers, and ends up linking to asylum leavers.

Their rebuttal is a bit of a disappointment. Kevin Drum shows how to step up to a mistake (see the UPDATE), which is what TAPPED made here. TAPPED opted for obfuscation. Fine. Their point seems to be that "asylum" has a specific meaning, as anyone should know. Thus, when we read "The United States has never been the most welcoming country for those seeking asylum", we should immediately understand that letting a person in freely is not "welcoming" them. Only a formal recognition of their persecuted status accomplishes that. Thus, anyone fleeing religious persecution before the US formally created the category of "asylum" was self-evidently not an asylum seeker.

Humbug. Even if it is true that "asylum seeker" has a specific legal meaning today, it is a long stretch to assert that, in the introductory sentence of a general interest magazine, only the specific legal meaning and not the more general usage should apply.

I can see some poor chap back in 1820, a victim of some damn persecution or other, arriving in the United States seeking a "place offering protection and safety; a shelter". Upon learning that, although he is free to enter the country, the US has no formal means of recognizing his persecuted status, does he then leave in disgust, and tell the world that America did not welcome him?

Now, I actually anticipated (and dismissed) this "asylum is not immigration" argument, which is why I wrote that "we have a long period where the US was quite welcoming to all immigrants, presumably including asylum-seekers". This time I added emphasis. TAPPED is hairsplitting. Why do they hate America? (Oh, you know I'm kidding. KIDDING!)

I don't have a copy of the special TAPPED dictionary that evidently is a perquisite for proper enjoyment of their publication. Perhaps they could send me a complimentary copy? And they might also send copies to these fine folks, all of whom seem to be as confused as I am about the connection between "asylum seekers" and the Statue of Liberty.

Pre-emptive UPDATE: NO, I don't want to hear that TAPPED said "the most welcoming", and that I have not successfully ruled out the possibility that somewhere, some country gave each asylum seeker a parade and a pot of gold. The post to which they link says"The United States has never opened its arms to immigrants seeking asylum", so I think we can agree as to their point.

And, NO again, I don't want to hear about some chap fleeing a political crime, and hoping to avoid extradition by means of a formal declaration of asylum, which the US would not provide. Many immigrants, such as European Jews, came here as a result of religious or ethnic discrimination, and found asylum from same.


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