Quote: “What part of illegal does the Senate not understand?” Rep. Brian Bilbray
Figure of Speech: metallage (meh-TALL-uh-gee), the getting all medieval figure. From the Greek, meaning “making a swap.”
The metallage takes a verb or adjective and uses it as the object of a sentence. Rep. Bilbray, chairman of Congress’s Immigration Reform Caucus, gets all medieval on aliens by using the adjective “illegal” as an object.
He’s talking about ambitious legislation worked out between Senator Ted Kennedy, some congressional Republicans, and the White House. The bill would provide a way for illegal immigrants to gain citizenship in America; they’d have to pay a $5,000 fine, and the head of the household would have to return to the home country first. The legislation also toughens border security and makes it harder for companies to hire illegals. And its chance of passage in its current form is slim to none.
Why? Because the backers are trying to solve a problem (how to deal with 12 million invisible residents) while opponents are arguing about values. (Illegals are bad and should be punished; or they’re stealing jobs from real Americans.) The goal of values rhetoric isn’t to solve problems but to make us feel good about ourselves.
If Figaro is beginning to sound preachy, it’s because he’s right and everyone else is wrong.
Want to see how President Bush uses tribal language? Click here.