Mildred Kneipp has raised a point that is worth considering.
"In deciding deportation cases involving Iranian activists," she said, "I wonder whether the immigration people take into account the fact that whenever we deport an activist we protect him from possible harm."
As her question worked its way through the minicomputer between my ears, I said, "You means that when an activist takes to the streets there is always the possibility that he'll get hurt, and then . . .?"
"That's right," she said. "He might be hurt by Iranians who support a different faction, or he might be hurt by an irate American, particulary somebody who watches too many violence-filled programs on TV."
"And of course millions of Americans tote guns these days," I added.
"That's right," she said. "And regardless of whether a Khomeini supporter is hurt by an Iranian or an American, you know we'll get the blame for it."
"That's for sure," I said. "Tehran would announce that the episode had been a carefully orchestrated government plot."
"An incident of that kind could be used as an excuse for committing atrocities against the diplomats they've been holding hostage for so long," Mildred noted. "That's why I wonder why we don't just ship all the activists back, even those who were legally admitted. We'd be protecting them from harm, as well as minimizing the possibility of an international incident. I don't think we have to worry about those who are really here to study. It's the activists who pose the danger."
I told Mildred I agreed with her, and we hung up.
Later, the minicomputer warned me that lawyers would probably be able to find 47 reasons why it would be illegal, immoral, impractical and fattening to deport people who had been legally admitted to this country to attend American schools.
Those whose violent "demonstrating" got them arrested are financed by foreign terrorists and take orders from them. When they are told to create disorder here, they obey their instructions. But those who are arrested hire lawyers, and I'm sure those lawyers would argue that giving support to an unpopular cause is no grounds for deportation. Somehow, they would make it sound as if Americans were denying basic civil liberties to Iranians instead of the other way around.
Let me make it clear that I do not advocate deportation as punishment for dissent.
I do advocate deportation as a natural and appropriate consequence for misbehavior by a guest.
When a guest causes a breach of the peace, it is time to ask him to leave.
Besides, most of these people seem firmly convinced that Iran is the unparalled repository of rectitude, intelligence and virtue. Helping an Iranian return to the bliss of his homeland could be an American's good deed for the day.