The Corner

The Road to Lawlessness

The Dream Act — giving de facto amnesty to illegal aliens who serve in the military or who seem promising students — sounds noble. But the logic breaks down and leads to chaos and a sort of legal anarchy.

If we establish the principle that good deeds in one sphere trump illegality in another (we are not talking about offering citizenship to aliens abroad, but to those who are presently residing in the United States illegally and so far have not rectified that infraction), why not extend the concept to others in violation of the law as well? Perhaps four years in the army allows you to be exempt from being held liable for not filing 1040s; straight A’s at UCLA means that the city won’t call in all those traffic warrants; having built that addition without a formal building permit can be offset by joining the Marines. In some sense, we now have an immigration version of Al Gore’s notion of carbon offsets –t he medieval idea that penance paid here means sins absolved over there.

In a larger sense, this administration, in the way it adjudicates established law — whom the attorney general goes after, the Chrysler creditor mess, the Sebelius threats, the arbitrarily determined $20 billion BP fund, the failure to enforce immigration law, etc. — seems to weigh social utility, perceived egalitarianism, and raw politics as mitigating circumstances that outweigh the sanctity of written laws. Enforcement is a relative construct depending on situational ethics and political advantage. And that leads only to anarchy.

Victor Davis Hanson — NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.

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