On Sunday morning in northern Virginia, a drunk illegal immigrant -- who had previously been convicted twice on DUI charges -- allegedly crashed head-on into a car full of nuns, killing one, Sister Denise Mosier, and injuring the rest.
The Benedictine Sisters have since come out to say they are "dismayed and saddened" that the crime "has been politicized and become an apparent forum for the illegal immigration agenda."
USA Today religion writer Cathy Lynn Grossman picked up on that angle of the story yesterday, asking readers if they could forgive a drunk driver who killed a loved one of theirs, a perfectly legitimate query for a blog called "Faith & Reason." But Grossman then gratuitously threw in a loaded question that confuses anger over lax federal enforcement of immigration laws with xenophobia, asking:
Do you care about the nationality of the drunk who kills someone you love?
Suspect Carlos A. Martinelly-Montano is an illegal immigrant from Bolivia and a repeat DUI offender -- two convictions, one in 2007 and one in 2008 -- with a revoked license. He doesn't belong behind a wheel on Virginia roads and should either have been in jail or deported to Bolivia.
There is plenty of blame to go around to both the Bush and Obama administrations and there's also a legitimate concern by the Benedictine Sisters that this tragedy not be crassly politicized.
But isn't it politicizing the tragedy for Grossman to suggest that it's bigotry that informs the average person's anger over the government's failure to deport Martinelly-Montano? Isn't it possible to grieve for Sister Mosier while simultaneously seeing her death as an event that would not have happened had Martinelly-Montano been deported two years ago?
It's entirely possible for a Christian to extend forgiveness and pray for Martinelly-Montano's immortal soul while also expecting the government to do justice by enforcing immigration laws, particularly against illegal immigrants with two DUI convictions.
Surely Grossman, a religion reporter, has to understand that.