22 September 2003
Who Shall Depart Next?
Over a century ago, the fortunes of Standard Oil, and some other industries, built mansion after mansion on Millionaire's Row, on Euclid Avenue, in Cleveland, Ohio. Some of that money also built a tony, and impressive, cut sandstone, English Gothic church with beautiful paneling, and painted, and gilted mahogany beams, and walnut pews. With the motorcar as the access to the first suburbs, the rich left Euclid Avenue. The Anglican congregation of St. Paul's moved east with them, and a new larger church was built in the Heights. The old building remained, and was sold, at the beginning, of the Depression to the Catholic Diocese, and by whimsical irony was sanctified, and dedicated, as the Conversion of St. Paul. A monastery was soon built for the somewhat, newly arrived, Austrian nuns whom came to Cleveland, for the perpetual adoration of the Sacrament. There now resides there: three orders of St. Francis. The second order is the Poor Clares.
The Poor Clares are a contemplative and cloistered order. They are there every weekday at the noon mass, and Sunday at ten, behind a screen and they participate at mass, as you may at the polished walnut benches. They also pray and sing the Liturgy of the Hours five times a day. Sisters Mary Cecilia, and Mary Catharina, are there now. They have come from Korea. Immigration wants to deport them. The paperwork submitted does not fulfill the requirement, that, they can prove they have worked, for the same employer, for two years.
The vocation of the Clares is to pray to God unceasingly. They do this in the belief that is efficacious and necessary for the world. They do so separated from society and in poverty. They have done so since the thirteenth century, this particular order since 1856 France.
Now, we all know that Republicans always campaign they are against big government and bureaucracy, so they created the Department of Homeland Security, originally Office of Home Defense, and gave it the concern of immigration. I was worried they might have called it the Committee of Public Safety. This along with the orwellian Patriot Act sounded an ad hoc fearsomeness that might be used to squelch liberty. Walter Cronkite speaking, to David Letterman, came close to saying something similar, immediately, after this governmental response to Osama's aerial assassins; an excuse to exercise fascism.
Bureaucracy loves to make itself officious, its sense of self importance is, always, something to marvel at. It is characterized by being rigid, and defined by inertia. The functionary, petty or grand, feels he does his job by saying 'no'. and not 'yes'. This bureaucracy is part of the administration, but essentially bureaucracy is the fourth branch of government. What ever disagreeable act they do, they justify with the plea, that, they are doing their job, or it is the law! Remember the apt words Charles Dickens had Mr. Bumble say, in Oliver Twist, "the law is a ass, a idiot."
These possible, enemy, foreign nationals may be here on some nefarious adventure, that, is why laws were passed in the nineteenth century to inspect nunneries, even in states that had none. And in case a few needed to be burnt down to the ground, that was also done. Excuse me, that was pre-civil war xenophobia and paranoia. This is merely a chain of idiot Barney Fifes following procedures.
As ridiculous as all this is, it is only an incident among many. There are many long term resident foreigners with green cards and visitors with visas that the Fifes, Ashcrofts, Ridges, Bushes and their ilk have fingered or made to jump through hoops to satisfy conflicting, changing and silly demands. This is done to protect America?
Bernadette MacAlisky [née Devlin] was roughly detained by immigration officials at O'Hare airport, Chicago, in February and deported on "national security" reasons. In 1969 she was elected as the youngest person to serve in the British Parliament. She represented occupied Ireland, and is noted as being a peace activist, she is a tiny, middle-aged woman, who has visited America many times. I don't think that made the evening news, too, many places.
And there are many people anonymous, and invisible, to all but their families, that have encountered such treatment or worse. Some people have been arrested, secretly, and deprived of all rights. Osama's bandits were very distinct, and they were ignored. These governmental actions neither correct previous errors, nor prevent future ones from occurring. Rationality is scarce today; brusque action is not.
postscriptum: This has bee resolved in the women’s favor.