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Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Bizarre World of Rep. Ed Emery (R-Lamar)

In the strange, twisted world of state representative Edgar Emery (R-Lamar), there is no color gray, and he'd just as soon there were no brown either. Like many Republican legislators, he believes in the simple rule of law, right and wrong, cause and effect - there is a simple response to every action.

Emery, a staunch conservative who does little to hide his disdain for undocumented workers, currently serves, ironically enough, as chairman of the House Special Committee of Immigration Reform. At a recent hearing in Joplin, he spent the day listening to a host of Hispanic educator/advocates plead their case on behalf of immigrant workers.

During the afternoon session, several immigrant activists spoke quite eloquently about the plight of undocumented workers in the Ozarks - how Mexican agriculture collapsed after the implementation of NAFTA, how Mexican farmers were forced to look elsewhere for work in order to earn money to support their families - you know, family values.

Another immigrant advocate observed that most workers were taking on jobs that the vast majority of American workers didn't want. Yanking chicken guts eight hours a day at a Tyson plant is not considered a viable career choice for most white folks. One speaker pointed out that the human hand is the only device that can perform that particular task.

Emery, in his infinite wisdom, countered by proposing that perhaps immigrant workers were to blame for the lack of technological advances in the chicken-gutting industry - that a robotic hand may have already been invented to perform these tasks if it weren't for those pesky immigrants.

Emery and other panel members actually took up more air time than the speakers at the forum, which was unfortunate, since most who testified were far better versed in American history and economics than the panel members. Instead, Emery used the hearings as a bully pulpit for espousing his own cracker barrel ideas on American patriotism and ideals.

"You know, our immigration laws are in place to protect Americans, not Mexicans," Emery chided one speaker. "Mexico has their own immigration laws to protect their people."

And then, without provocation, an inexplicably emotional Emery spoke with quivering voice about the depth of his own patriotism, implying that immigrants were a underlying threat to America.

"I feel so strongly about maintaining our own American freedom, our love of liberty, that I would even be willing to sacrifice my own children in the defense of those ideals."

The room went silent. I wanted to ask him how many of his clan were currently serving in the military, but I was just an observer, and it would have spoiled a poignant moment. I did, however, take the opportunity to talk with Emery just after the meeting adjourned.

I asked him if he really thought that state laws would do anything to help solve a national problem. "Are you just wanting to establish some kind of state law that would push immigrants into Arkansas and Kansas?"

"Hopefully," Emery said with a smile. "And you know, this whole immigration problem would not even be an issue if it weren't for Roe vs. Wade."

"Excuse me?"

"Twenty million potential workers have been needlessly killed. We would not need any immigrant workers at all if those twenty million aborted fetuses were contributing to the economy."

So there you have it. The World According to Ed. In a perfect world, there would be no abortions and all those saved fetuses would be gleefully yanking chicken guts and picking vegetables in service to the American economy.

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