We are told that the White House and the Senate are not going to call the ‘comprehensive’ immigration deform bill what it really is, which is an amnesty program. Sure, I could get into some criticisms of it. For one thing, when all those illegals file back tax returns, they’ll probably find out that they’re eligible for substantial tax credits – so we’ll be paying them to file back taxes. It’s kind of the opposite of how it works for the rest of us, but hey, they’re just honest hard working future Republican voters, right? (Stop choking on your Pepsi, Bannion). I could go on about how the bill will almost certainly contain a hardship provision, permitting the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to waive payment of the $5,000 fine, where they determine it would pose a hardship on the illegal alien – an easy showing to make, when you’re receiving tax credits because your ass is poor, or underreporting your cash income over the last 5 years. No, I’m not going to criticize. I’m going to try to help the Administration out here.
If you listen, there have been some really clumsy descriptions of what the bill is, what it will do. Y’know, if they actually get around to drafting it before the Senate votes on it – but that’s another story. I simply can’t stand to hear them keep referring to this as the “it’s not an amnesty bill.”
This cringe-inducing phrase is not unique. In fact, that kind of phrasing has a history in surrealist art. “This is not an amnesty bill” is strikingly reminiscent of Michel Foucault’s famous book, titled after one of surrealist painter Rene Magritte’s seminal works, “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (“This is not a pipe.”)
The joke of course, is that it isn’t a pipe, it’s a print of a pipe. But it’s a pipe too. Yet the treachery of this or any other image, something the surrealists explored and played with at great length, is that any image or label conveys the reality or true meaning of a thing portrayed only with great difficulty. For Magritte, the picture is only a picture of a pipe. We all know, however, the real underlying object is still a pipe, regardless of how it’s portrayed, and the picture is as near as we can come in representational methods, to depicting a pipe without producing a full scale model of it. Yet despite our knowledge about the situation, the cognitive dissonance is still quite irritating. And I think that’s why we’re all upset about the immigration deform bill. I think that if we could find a way to more accurately describe this bill, everybody would find it more palatable.
In keeping with the Surrealist spirit of Magritte, and the surreal thought modalities of the modern Republican Party, I’d like to help the Administration and its little buddies in Congress come up with a better label for this bill to reduce that painful cognitive dissonance (best illustrated by Arlen Spector’s comments that forgiving the lawbreakers will ‘restore the rule of law;’ try thinking about that in terms of clemency for murderers and rapists, and tell me how it non-enforcement works to restore the rule of law in the small beans crimes of illegal immigration and immigration document fraud.) Yes, we need to find a substitute for “This is not an amnesty bill,” or as it’s called in its native tongue, “Esto no es una cuenta de la amnistía.”
My immediate thought was that we should call it, “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Amnesty!” But that would play into the hands of the Administration’s opponents. So we need some better terms, preferably a catchy one-word portmanteau describing what this thing is. Here are my suggestions – and I hope Captain Ed is reading this, since he seems to have piped the bill on board his ship with honors.
The sad truth of the matter is, no matter how witty I try to be, this bill really doesn’t need a portmanteau to distill its fundamental essence. There is one word that describes it well, and even though it sounds like a portmanteau, it is not. A mere simple noun completely encompasses what Congress is about to do to us in a very thoroughgoing manner. I suggest you use this term to describe the bill in the future and will email Tony Snow and suggest that it’s a good alternative word that he can use in place of the term “amnesty” in describing the bill. What is that word, you ask?
[Update: I note with admiration that George Borjas – pronounced “jorj,” I presume, not “whore,hey,” describes the bill as a travesty of a mockery of a sham. While this is excellent, he fails to use the description in the form of a noun to describe what the bill is. That’s right. It’s a Traveshamockery. Still, he gets points for raising the issue broadly.]