|The Colbert Report||Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
Unfortunately, I fell asleep before Stephen Colbert interviewed Sheriff Joe Arpaio on The Colbert Report this past Monday night, but Alex and I watched a clip of their conversation online this afternoon.
Over the course of a seven minute exchange in which Colbert did most of the talking, the discussion touched on law enforcement, racial profiling, and the border wall. Sheriff Arpaio responded to Colbert’s questions clearly and professionally, and even with a certain measure of grace–especially in light of the fact that a crowd of picketers was outside the building, protesting his treatment of undocumented immigrants.
Watching the interview, it was obvious that Sheriff Arpaio possesses a great deal of knowledge, experience, and passion for law enforcement. But I was troubled by how the pragmatism of his answers glossed over the human costs of his immigration enforcement practices.
For example, when the conversation turned to racial profiling, Arpaio said that identifying undocumented immigrants on sight is “pursuant to [his and his officers’] duties” in enforcing immigration laws. And while that may seem on the surface like a logical answer to the question asked, for me it misses the point.
Arpaio’s response, though calm and seemingly logical, left unacknowledged the suffering that his methods have created in immigrant and Latino communities by spreading fear and dividing families.
We need strong law enforcement, but first we need to be sure that the laws that we’re enforcing are good–that we have policies that work. Currently, our immigration policy is overwhelmingly broken. Enforcing broken laws is dangerous as well as ineffective.
We need pragmatism in our law enforcement, but our pragmatism absolutely must be anchored in compassion and respect for the inherent worth and dignity of every human being.
Watching the interview reaffirmed my belief in how important it is that Unitarian Universalists practice advocacy. The compassionate perspective is so very important, and that’s what we, as people who value both human diversity and interconnectedness, bring to the table on issues of social justice.
What do you think? Please feel free to share your comments and reflections on the video here.