Arguing for Obama, Dr. Kenneth White, an assistant professor of criminal justice and political science, said on the topic of immigration, Obama is the better choice.
“Obama fought to protect the sovereignty of the United States when Arizona passed its radical immigration law, SB1070,” White said. “Obama took that law to the Supreme Court and won. Three of the four issues were struck down.”
As for the fourth part of that law, it too will be struck down once it makes its way through the Arizona court system, White said.
“Romney argues for self-deportation as a strategy,” White said. “He wants to make 12 million people so miserable that they’re going to move voluntarily. Some of those people have family here. They grew up here, and when they go abroad they’re not going to be welcomed as insiders. To me, that’s just a cruel policy.”
Arguing the side for a Romney presidency was Dr. Melvyn Fein, a professor of sociology at KSU.
Fein said it’s apparent to him that Obama has his own policy when it comes to self-deportation as well.
“It’s called recession,” Fein said. “If there are no jobs, then people go home, and that’s what they’re doing.”
White went on to argue about what it means to be an illegal alien.
“First of all, it’s not a crime to be in this country without paperwork,” White said. “Deportation is a civil proceeding. So an immigrant without paperwork is as illegal as somebody who didn’t call code enforcement when they switched out a lamp at their house, and they’re illegal in terms of code. Those are the facts.”
White’s argument prompted Fein to stutter in astonishment, saying, “this, this, this word play. This, this sophistry. ‘Oh, they’re not going to be illegal because it’s not a crime blah, blah.’ They’re breaking the law. Call it what you like. They are breaking the law.”
One student, Michael Zeman, vice president of KSU’s College Libertarians, asked, “Why should we vote for either candidate when both of them support negating our civil liberties by the National Defense Authorization Act, the Patriot Act, the Defense of Marriage Act?
“Why don’t they have a cohesive plan, either of them, for saving the economy?” continued Zeman, who is studying economics and finance at KSU and plans to vote for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. “Why must we continue to support the military-industrial complex and other departments of the federal government?”
Fein was first to answer.
“Why do we support our military and the industries that support the military? Because if we didn’t have those, and we couldn’t defend ourselves against our would-be enemies we would not be free in the long run,” Fein said. “This is not a peaceful world. Look around you. If we dismantle our Army … within a decade we’d be speaking Spanish because the Mexicans would be marching north.”
With this response the crowd broke out in laughter, but Fein continued.
“If you think this is just a talking point, you haven’t seen the maps of the Latino groups in the Southwest which show California and Arizona and Texas and Colorado as parts of Mexico,” he said. “If we could not defend our borders, they would be coming over here almost immediately.”
Another student asked Fein why he didn’t mention Canada.
“If you don’t know the difference between the Mexican culture and the Canadian culture, then you can’t answer that question,” Fein said.
Shaddi Abusaid, a senior majoring in journalism who graduated from Kennesaw Mountain High School in 2008, asked “Does it not concern you that Israel’s oppression of millions of Palestinians perpetuates terrorism?”
Fein gave a history lesson.
“If you know something about the history and not just Arab propaganda, you know that Jews were moving into Palestine in significant numbers in the 19th century, and they were buying the land from the local folks who were not called Palestinians because they were ruled by the Turks.”
When Jews declared independence, the Mufti of Jerusalem, a friend of Hitler, took up arms against them, yet the Jews survived against massive odds, Fein said.
“Well now that they have won and preserved their nationhood, now they’re the bullies,” Fein said. “Now they’re the oppressors. The folks that tried to kill them are now the good guys because they have managed to remain in poverty lo these many years. If these folks had pulled themselves together and created a modern state, they wouldn’t need to destroy Israel and they wouldn’t need to make Israel into a scapegoat for their own misery.”
White took up the question by saying Obama is a friend of Israel.
“What Romney has shown is that on his trip— for example, when he went to Israel — he has shown a certain mindset that again I think is out of touch,” White said. “He suggested sort of what Dr. Fein just suggested now, which is that somehow the Palestinian culture is deficient. And I can’t imagine something more insulting to the people there that you would suggest that your culture is deficient as a matter of its culture.”
Fein said as a sociologist, culture is at the heart of what he studies.
“Calling it ‘culture-deficient’ is harsh, but you know what? Cultures matter,” Fein said. “If you have a culture that’s dedicated to democracy and to the free market, why you know what happens? That society tends to prosper. If you have a society that’s dedicated to something very different, I think there’s a real sense that there is a medieval spirit in many of the Muslim countries in the Middle East. That didn’t bring prosperity to Europe. It’s not going to bring prosperity to the Middle East. It doesn’t work. And if you don’t recognize that and if you don’t realize that there needs to be cultural changes in the Middle East, then you don’t know what it’s going to take to fix it.”
Fein referenced a friend of his who recently moved back to Egypt where his wife was forced to have her head covered.
“She was not allowed to live the way she lived in the United States,” Fein said. “These things matter. And if you want to ignore them and you want to ignore the way women are treated in the Muslim world, you go ahead, but the consequences are going to be negative whether you agree with me or not.”
KSU student Desiree Delcid, a 2008 South Cobb High School graduate studying modern language and culture, said she was undecided about who to vote for before the debate because she needed to do more research. After the debate, she said, “It’s leaning me towards Obama more because of the education issues and immigration and women’s rights.”
Delcid also declared White the winner.
“More people here were agreeing with what he was saying,” she said.
Joey Shaw, a sophomore studying exercise and health science, and his girlfriend, Sarah Besterci, a junior studying psychology and criminology, said they started their relationship while students at Kell High School. Although the couple both intend to vote for Romney, they said the winner was also White.
“He came across better to people,” Shaw said. “More people seemed to agree with him. The whole crowd. While the crowd was laughing and booing when they were talking about how if we didn’t have an Army how Mexico would invade, they didn’t hear the part that the Latinos do have in their maps, and I don’t know much about this, but I have heard this before that they do have land extending up into the California region and New Mexico, and if we didn’t have an Army what would happen.”