A Shakespearean Glance at the People and Issues of the Day.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

A Midsummer's Night Dream and the Border


A Midsummer's Night Dream features three sets of characters: fairies, including a King of the Fairies who is feuding with his Queen; aristocratic lovers (two sets of them involved in not merely a love triangle but a square), and commoners. This third group is led by Bottom, the character who is famously transformed into an ass even as Titania, the Queen of the Fairies, is administered a love potion that causes her to fall in love with Bottom's ass; that is, with Bottom as an ass, or when he is one.

And what were the commoners doing before their leader was transformed? They were rehearsing a play that they planned to present to the local Duke. Shakespeare took advantage of this extremely amateur theater group, whose play was the classical romance of Pyramus and Thisbe, to make some points about the nature of drama (By 'r lakin, a parlous fear means By your ladyship, a perilous fear):

Bottom: "…First, Pyramus must draw a sword to
kill himself, which the ladies cannot abide. How
answer you that?"

Snout: "By 'r lakin, a parlous fear."

Starveling: "I believe we must leave the killing out,
when all is done."

Bottom: "Not a whit. I have a device to make all
well. Write me a prologue, and let the prologue
seem to say, We will do no harm with our swords,
and that Pyramus is not killed indeed, and for the
more better assurance, tell them that I, Pyramus,
am not Pyramus but Bottom the weaver. This will
put them out of fear."

Bottom's instinctual desire to wink at the audience in order to reassure them that nothing they see on stage is real suggests that he could have been hired to formulate US border policy. Certainly Bottom's hand seems to be behind the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), the regulatory agency organized in 1983 to govern immigration proceedings over illegal aliens. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently said this about the EOIR system in the case of Drax v. Reno:

"This case vividly illustrates the labyrinthine
character of modern immigration law—a maze
of hyper-technical statutes and regulations that
engender waste, delay, and confusion for the
Government and petitioners alike. The inscru-
tability of the current immigration law system,
and the interplay of the numerous amendments
and alterations to that system by Congress
have spawned years of litigation, and consumed
significant resources of this Court. With regret
and astonishment . . . this case still cannot be
decided definitively but must be remanded to
the District Court, and then to the Board of
Immigration Appeals ("BIA"), for further

So while the Pyramus of the law draws a sword, the Bottom of bureaucratic regulation winks at the ladies in the audience to assure them that he doesn't really mean it. And who are these ladies in the audience? They are citizens of other countries who are planning to immigrate illegally into the US. Most of the ladies are Mexican, but some of them are Central and South American, and some are terrorists.

Snout: "Will not the ladies be afeard of the lion?"

Starveling: "I fear it, I promise you."

Bottom: "Master, you ought to consider with
yourself, to bring in – God shield us! – a lion
among ladies is a most dreadful thing. For there
is not a more fearful wildfowl than your lion
living, and we ought to look to 't."

Snout: "Therefore another prologue must tell
he is not a lion.

Bottom: "Nay, you must name his name, and
half his face must be seen through the lion's
neck, and he himself must speak through, saying
thus or to the same defect: "Ladies," or "Fair
Ladies, I would wish you," or "I would request
you," or "I would entreat you, not to fear, not to
tremble; my life for yours. If you think I come
hither as a lion, it were pity of my life. No, I am
no such thing…".

And so does the lion of arrest and deportation wink to the illegal audience that it is not really a lion but only a lamblike labyrinthine bureaucracy that will ultimately let them stay. Thus does the proposed guest worker program (hardly a lion to begin with) wink to the audience of Mexican ladies that it too is not really a lion, but a lamblike legal amnesty in guest worker clothing.

And thus do our politicians vote their citizenry out of office and usher in a new citizenry more to their liking, when in fact, that's what we citizens are supposed to do with them.

Here's a recommended post by the always recommendable StopTheACLU

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