Burt Prelutsky

I got an e-mail the other day from a fellow who scolded me for being so naïve as to imagine that just because someone wasn’t a conservative, he must be a liberal. I always think it’s peculiar to find myself standing accused of saying or writing something I never said or wrote. After all, if someone wishes to chastise me, there’s all that goofy stuff I have said and written. Why bother making things up?

I am, of course, aware of the fact that, politically speaking, every single American isn’t necessarily just one thing or another. There are some people whose major concerns aren’t even political. Instead, they devote a great deal of their waking hours to promoting the virtues of atheism, promiscuity and/or marijuana, and couldn’t care less about such items as Iraq, taxes, affirmative action and the minimum wage.

However, most normal people belong to one of the two major parties. Even centrists and so-called independents tend to lean in one direction or another.

In my lifetime, the Vietnam War was the first major polarizing event that tore the nation asunder. But I don’t recall a time when so many people were convinced that so many other people were completely loopy about so many different issues. In the most basic terms, it usually comes down to those on the left who think the federal government should decide everything and should gobble up as many tax dollars as is humanly possible, and those on the right who think those on the left are boobies who should be hatched as quickly as possible, before they hurt themselves or cast another vote.

If I attend a dinner party, assuming it’s not hosted by the Minutemen, I am ready to bet that among the guests I will find someone ready to condemn me as a racist because I oppose illegal immigration. By now I don’t even care to defend myself by saying that I personally like many of the Latinos, some of them unquestionably illegal, who live and work in my Southern California neighborhood. It’s not a matter, after all, of whether I like them or not. They simply have no business being here. Whatever their contributions to the work force may be, their mere overwhelming presence is a drain on our finite resources and a catastrophe when it comes to our quality of life.

At the most basic level, while people all over Asia, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean, await their chance to emigrate to America, these chiselers -- none of whom are escaping totalitarian regimes -- are taking cuts.

One deal I’d be willing to consider is that we allow one illegal alien to stay for every ungrateful, anti-American, Hugo Chavez-loving, turncoat who’s willing to pack up and leave.