It's Not Amnesty - It's Entitlement

Steve Deace
By Steve Deace | June 20, 2013 | 5:15 PM EDT

What is amnesty?

Amnesty is an act of mercy. It's a means of receiving a benefit, or the benefit of the doubt, you most likely don't deserve - from the person(s) providing it who believe "mercy triumphs over judgment."

Such acts of mercy typically inspire a reaction from their recipients. Reactions like humility and appreciation. That reaction comes from a recognition that someone has done something on your behalf they didn't have to in order to spare you consequences for your actions that you deserve.

For example, very early in my career when I was a low man on the totem pole sportswriter at The Des Moines Register, I violated the spirit of journalistic integrity by winning a contest and accepting a trip to a championship sporting event. I had never been to an event of that caliber, so I took the trip and kept it to myself. Unbeknownst to me, our top reporter was working on an investigative piece about this radio station not delivering as promised on its giveaways.

Sure enough, my participation in this contest and the fact my trip went off without a hitch came up during the aftermath of the paper's investigation. The reporter handling the story had won numerous awards, but my actions had called into question his. I had clearly and irresponsibly put the paper in a difficult situation.

The paper would've had every right to fire a lowly nobody like me for risking its reputation, as well as the integrity of, perhaps, its top reporter. But, that reporter stuck up for me. He acknowledged what I did was wrong, but also said he made lots of mistakes when he was my age, too. As a result, the paper showed mercy. Had it not, it's likely none of you reading this right now would've ever heard of me and my career would've been over before it started.

I responded to this act of mercy (amnesty) by working my rear end off for the rest of my career there and, to this day, I haven't done anything that would even approach putting me in an ethical gray area. I had learned my lesson. My career had flashed before my eyes, and I was given forbearance. I would not tempt fate again.

But, that level of contrition is not always the reaction we're getting from those potentially on the receiving end of "amnesty" in our immigration policy. Instead, the reaction we're often getting now is entitlement.

As evidence for my assertion, I submit the following three exhibits:

Exhibit A

The last time amnesty was hotly debated, I interviewed an illegal alien attending college on the kindness of others in my state. When I asked him how he would respond to American citizens who are upset that he gets to attend college for essentially nothing, while they're struggling to send their kids to college without being saddled with years of student loan debt, his response wasn't exactly a model of humility.

Instead of saying, "I'm sorry about that. I wish there was a better way. The whole system is unfair. I come from a poor country and a poor family, and I'm just trying to do what I can to get me and my family out of poverty to live the American dream," he responded, "Well, you guys took this land illegally from the Native Americans and Mexicans who used to own it, so the way I see it, this is essentially payback."

Even if his flawed understanding of history was totally true, which it's not, his argument here is essentially "two wrongs make a right." He believed he was entitled to something that doesn't belong to him.

Exhibit B

More recently, the mobocracy has been hounding Congress for days now, accosting pro-rule of law lawmakers in the halls of the House and Senate. They've become so brazen they're even interrupting committee meetings in public. So much for the assertion these people "are forced to live in the shadows."

If someone is in the country illegally, that means they're breaking the law. But, rather than fearing legal consequences for those actions, they now feel a sense of entitlement to lobby, intimidate, and threaten the very government whose laws they're breaking.

Exhibit C

Last, but certainly not least, is the mobocracy that invaded the home of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach on June 17th. At least 200 Leftists were bused into his neighborhood and trespassed on his property because Kobach was the author of the Arizona law that empowered local officials to enforce immigration laws. The mob shouted what could clearly be construed as a threat: "Come out so we can show you what Kansans are all about."

They also cheered Obama's campaign slogan of "Yes, we can" - in Spanish.

Luckily, Kobach and his family (including four little girls) were not home at the time, but when police were summoned, it took them over 15 minutes to show up to disperse the crowd. "It's important we recognize there's a reason we have the Second Amendment," Kobach said. "There are situations like this where you have a mob and you do need to be able to protect yourself. The Second Amendment is the private property owner's last resort."

This unruly behavior is rooted in an entitlement mentality. An understanding of amnesty, and of the act of mercy it is, produces a humble spirit. Entitlement produces brats. And, make no mistake, bratty behavior is exactly what this is.

The last thing you do with brats is reward them with the object of their desire. You discipline them instead. But, I suppose, that's asking too much of a government that shows no self-discipline when it comes to snooping on its citizens and treats every one of them as a potential terrorist, or compiles $17 trillion in debt and counting. So, we'll just surrender America, instead.

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