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For Democrats, Silence Is Consent on the Immigrant Caravan

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

It's not really a "caravan," is it?

Those thousands of desperate migrants walking across Mexico, a massive crowd that grows by the day, are intent on forcing a confrontation at the U.S. border.

This crowd can be called many things, but "caravan" isn't one of them.

The approach of the desperate thousands from Central America has energized Republicans just days before the November elections. President Donald Trump says the migrants will not be allowed to cross into the U.S. illegally.

Democrats call this fear-mongering, but among Democrats it has caused political paralysis, a self-destructive institutional passivity. Democratic leaders want their members to stay silent.

And there's one thing about silence.

"Chi tace acconsente," says my barber, Raffaele Raia. "He who is silent says 'yes.' The silence is the consent."

And so, whatever you call this, it may just be the event that finally compels Americans to think long and hard about why a sovereign nation would even bother to have borders at all.

But calling the mass of people moving through Central America a caravan is just a bit too precious, isn't it?

Depending on your politics, you've probably already called it something. Or, you may have followed the example of Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer, who've found a nice pile of warm sand and stuck their heads in there.

Wasn't it just months ago that leading Democratic presidential contenders were demanding to abolish the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency that deports people here illegally?

Those were the days when the hard left that now controls the Democratic Party made it clear that border enforcement, by its nature, was racist and lacked compassion.

And their allies in the Democratic Media Complex waxed on endlessly about families being separated at the borders, even though they were separated by law after they insisted on crossing the border illegally.

But now, it's crickets from the Democrats, a dumb, shocked silence. And the stern cries of former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama of a few short years ago, about the importance of stopping illegal immigration, and the warnings of Hillary Clinton (the centrist Hillary, not the creature she's since become,) are politely forgotten.

"We are a generous and welcoming people," insisted then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2006, "but those who enter our country illegally, and those who employ them, disrespect the rule of law. And because we live in an age where terrorists are challenging our borders, we simply cannot allow people to pour into the U.S. undetected, undocumented and unchecked. Americans are right to demand better border security and better enforcement of immigration laws."

That sounds remarkably like President Trump, although smoother and silkier, as is Obama's way. But at the time he said this, Obama presented himself as a centrist. As president, he took the Democratic Party hard to the left, opening a lane for Trump in 2016.

And now we talk of "caravans."

Doesn't a "caravan" involve camels and spices, resting at some oasis, quietly munching figs in the shade against a sweeping old-Hollywood musical score, with cymbals?

A caravan can be festive: old gypsy women telling fortunes, copper pots clanging from the back of wagons, picaresque rogues stealing into towns for adventures, stories told by campfire light, accordion music, dancing.

The Irish Travelers have had caravans. As have the Karakachani, nomads who demonstrated their horsemanship outside small Greek villages when my father was a boy.

Americans have had caravans, too, with Conestoga wagons pulled by heavy oxen across the American West, the pioneers searching for just the right spot for a little house on the prairie.

In our fiction, at least, caravans are romantic. But this seems different, doesn't it?

More insistent, hungry and recalling in form, if not scope, the wave of migrants of North Africans and Syrians into Europe.

And what we see on television is a wave of human misery from Central America, refugees so frightened and desperate that they will do anything to get to America.

Legally, or illegally, it really doesn't matter to them.

History tells us that immigration bureaucracy is a luxury that masses of desperate refugees can't afford, and whether Dorians, Goths or Seljuks, and so on through the ages, refugees will try to find a way.

Trump tells the nation he will stop them at the border. The left says he is stoking fear. Perhaps, a bit, but Democrats are equally expert in the use of fear, casting Republicans as pushing little old ladies in wheelchairs off cliffs in their TV spots.

Given how Democrats have hurt themselves on immigration issues, this mass exodus from Central America is a looming disaster.

By sticking their heads in the sand, Pelosi and Schumer tell their Democratic colleagues to simply ignore what voters are seeing on their TV screens every night.

"The president is desperate to change the subject from health care to immigration because he knows that health care is the number one issue Americans care about," they said in a statement the other day. "Democrats are focused like a laser on health care and will not be diverted."

You won't be diverted? That's your business.

While Republicans push their advantage, Democratic leaders desperately try to persuade voters to shut their eyes to the most important story of the election cycle. And they want Democrats to stay silent.

Chi tace acconsente. The silence of the Democrats is consent.

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