Liberalism can be a lonely philosophy in Kansas, where the office-holders usually run the gamut from moderate Republican to conservative Republican, and even the Democratic politicians feel obliged to pretend that they’re not liberals, but the psychic rewards of liberalism are therefore even greater here than elsewhere. There are more people for a liberal to feel morally and intellectually superior to, one of the primary appeals of liberalism, and the state also provides an ample supply of people that a good-hearted liberal can happily hate.
Half of the Koch brothers live in the state, which should be sufficient to keep a Kansas liberal constantly seething with a satisfying scorn, but it also has Gov. Sam Brownback, an abortion-hating budget-cutter whose squeaky-clean small town persona drives the local Democrats to a state of self-righteous hysteria, and adding to the embarrassment of right-wing riches is Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
Kansas Secretaries of State usually keep a low profile and inspire little passion in either their supporters or opponents, and they’ve never had the slightest bit of fame outside the state, but Kobach has become a nationally-loathed figure because of his outspoken opposition to illegal immigration. Before winning office he had served as an immigration adviser to Attorney General John Ashcroft, which was more than enough to earn the enduring enmity of liberals everywhere, and then he had the audacity to write tough immigration laws for Arizona and Alabama and the help defend them as a lawyer and essayist. Since taking office he has persuaded the legislature to pass a law requiring photo identification for voting, which the local liberals regard as far more frightening assault on civil liberties than anything the National Security Agency or Internal Revenue Service might be up to, and otherwise taken steps to ensure that only eligible voters are allowed to vote.
The only explanation the liberal imagination can conjure for this bizarre stand is that Kobach must really hate Mexicans, a theory that also handily justifies the local liberals’ red-hot hatred for Kobach. So it was that on Saturday a group of about 300 protestors from something called Sunflower Community Action, sending out the call on the Tweeter “hashtag” of “#KingOfHate,” descended on Kobach’s home to drop a bunch of old shoes on his lawn. The protestors wore t-shirts proclaiming their “Kansas Values,” and chanted for “Kris Kobach come on down, see what Kansans are all about,” and generally seemed to think it the very height of Kansasness to for an angry mob to trespass on someone’s front porch.
Although the tactic has been employed from time to time by some of Kansas’ more militant anti-abortion activists, we can assure you that it is not characteristic of the state’s politics. The state’s media seemed to take it in stride, though, certainly with less indignation than was discernible in the reports of those gatherings on the front lawns of abortionists, and no one seemed to find anything hateful about it. Over at The Kansas City Star our erstwhile newspaper colleague Judy L. Thomas, usually an even-handed sort, even accepted the protestors’ claim that “the majority of Kansas support immigration reform” without question. We would certainly question it, based on our wide sampling of Kansas opinion as well as Kobach’s comfortable margin of victory in the last election, and even if it were true it would not justify a mob trespassing on a person’s home.
Illegal immigration is a vexing issue, and requires an honest debate. Beginning with the assumption that anyone who believes that Mexican nationals should not be allowed to vote in American elections is hateful does not further the dialogue, and it certainly does not excuse the hateful tactics employed by the likes of Sunflower Community Action no matter how good it feels. The protestors are no doubt pleased with themselves, but if the opposition starts showing up at their doors things could become ugly.
— Bud Norman