Sanc­tu­ar­ies, for goose and gan­der, too

Lib­er­als may learn that cities sup­port­ing school prayer or are anti-abor­tion could also be­come ‘sanc­tu­ar­ies’

The Washington Times Daily - - COMMENTARY - By An­gelo M. Codev­illa An­gelo M. Codev­illa is a pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions at Bos­ton Univer­sity.

Since the be­gin­ning of this cen­tury, of­fi­cials in states and lo­cal­i­ties con­trolled by the Demo­cratic Party have in­creas­ingly dis­re­garded laws, ref­er­enda and court de­ci­sions that af­front their “pro­gres­sive” sen­si­bil­i­ties. That amounts to nul­li­fi­ca­tion, and it’s hard for the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to im­pose its will on them. But now the pro­gres­sives are go­ing to learn that two can play at that game.

To­day, some 200 lo­cal ju­ris­dic­tions are nul­li­fy­ing fed­eral law on im­mi­gra­tion, claim­ing the sta­tus of “sanc­tu­ary cities.” Colorado is for­mally nul­li­fy­ing fed­eral law on mar­i­juana, while Ore­gon and oth­ers are do­ing it in­for­mally. The State of Cal­i­for­nia has an ex­ec­u­tive depart­ment to iden­tify the ways in which the na­tion’s big­gest state can ig­nore or stiff what might come out of Wash­ing­ton that is not to pro­gres­sive tastes. Pres­i­dent Trump wants out of a cli­mate ac­cord, but Jerry Brown’s Cal­i­for­nia wants in. The Fed­eral gov­ern­ment raises no ob­jec­tion.

No ob­jec­tion then, the­o­ret­i­cal or prac­ti­cal, should stop cities or states that are gov­erned by solid ma­jori­ties of “de­plorables” from declar­ing them­selves “sanc­tu­ar­ies” for what­ever they want. Sup­pose that the gov­ern­ment of North Dakota, or of Texas, were to de­clare the state a “sanc­tu­ary” for prayer in schools and other pub­lic places, or­der­ing state em­ploy­ees to do noth­ing that might hin­der any such prayer by any­one.

The states need not con­test any of the law­suits that would be brought against it, since they can ig­nore even­tual court or­ders con­fi­dent that Wash­ing­ton could not and would not de­ploy forces to places like Wil­lis­ton and San Marcos to ar­rest peo­ple in prayer any more that it de­ploys forces to Den­ver or Port­land to ar­rest pot­heads. What if any state were to de­clare it­self a “sanc­tu­ary” for the un­born and out­law abor­tion within their bor­ders? Would Wash­ing­ton send the Army to keep the clin­ics open and to free per­sons who state courts had con­victed of vi­o­lat­ing the state laws?

Amer­i­can so­ci­ety to­day is di­vided as never be­fore. Pro­gres­sives look upon those un­like them­selves with ig­no­rance, con­tempt and a sense of en­ti­tle­ment to rule. Michael To­masky in­formed the New Repub­lic’s read­ers, whose pri­mary moral/so­cial fea­ture is re­jec­tion of Bib­li­cal au­thor­ity, that the rest of Amer­i­cans “go to church. Not tem­ple. Church. God and Je­sus Christ play im­por­tant roles in their lives.”

As Elie Mys­tal wrote in on Jan­uary

30, “Amer­i­can cos­mopoli­tans,” “elites who think Amer­ica is bet­ter than that,” have the right to pre­vail against the “big­oted base” which elected Mr. Trump. Un­der­stand­ably, “the rest of Amer­i­cans” take in­creas­ingly strong ex­cep­tion to that.

This di­vide’s depth means that any ef­fort by either side to shove its pref­er­ences down the other side’s throat can only end badly. Hence, such pos­si­bil­i­ties for peace and co­he­sion as the Amer­i­can polity has left in it de­pend on both sides’ will­ing­ness to abide the other’s pe­cu­liar­i­ties in the places where they are ma­jori­ties.

In fact, the United States’ fed­eral struc­ture, de­signed ab ini­tio to ac­com­mo­date the dif­fer­ent choices that a free and di­verse peo­ple might make, of­fers count­less op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple in dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties to go their own way. Yes, over the past half-cen­tury, fed­eral judges have ex­er­cised ex­ec­u­tive au­thor­ity over cities and school dis­tricts. They have over­ruled state ref­er­enda. Agen­cies have ex­er­cised in­tru­sive au­thor­ity merely by de­mand­ing ad­her­ence to agency pol­icy as if it were law. To­day, some district judges take it upon them­selves to im­pose na­tional pol­icy on the pres­i­dent. But in the end, in Amer­ica, real power rests with elected of­fi­cials and, prac­ti­cally even more than the­o­ret­i­cally, the po­lice power re­sides in the states. De­spite the fed­eral agen­cies’ re­cent ac­qui­si­tion of SWAT teams, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is not in a po­si­tion to gov­ern re­cal­ci­trant states or even cities. The state of Texas may pre­vent Austin from be­ing a “sanc­tu­ary city” on im­mi­gra­tion but Wash­ing­ton will not. That is as it should be, be­cause it opens the pos­si­bil­ity that peo­ple in pro­gres­sive and non-pro­gres­sive ju­ris­dic­tions can live as they wish with­out mak­ing war on one another.

The old­est of po­lit­i­cal re­al­i­ties is that peo­ple are most tol­er­ant of those who dif­fer from them­selves when they live among those who do not dif­fer, and when they do not fear hav­ing alien ways pressed upon them. This recog­ni­tion is what en­abled his­tory’s great ec­u­meni­cal em­pires to sur­vive in peace.

In to­day’s di­vided Amer­ica, nei­ther the pro­gres­sive rul­ing class nor its “coun­try class” an­tag­o­nists have the power to de­feat the other and to rec­on­cile the de­feated. The best that all sides can do is to rec­og­nize that the great moral/so­cial/po­lit­i­cal sort­ing-out that has been oc­cur­ring in Amer­ica in this cen­tury is the de­fault path to peace.

The old­est of po­lit­i­cal re­al­i­ties is that peo­ple are most tol­er­ant of those who dif­fer from them­selves when they live among those who do not dif­fer, and when they do not fear hav­ing alien ways pressed upon them.


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