There is news that Chen Guangcheng might be leaving China. If that is the case, it is a small victory for those who believe in human dignity.
It is not, however, a true victory for the United States, which has shown itself to be more concerned with diplomacy and less with the principles that are engraved at the base of the Statue of Liberty.
The poor, the sick and the tempest-tossed are now the bargaining chips for nations that care more about economies than they do about justice. The blind lawyer who risked his life by speaking out on behalf of the unborn, and then again by escaping house arrest may be coming to the United States. But if he comes, it won't be because Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama stood tall and firm and granted him political asylum.
No, they will let him come as a 'visitor,' someone with a garden-variety visa that will let him work and live in this country but that will also save his vicious countrymen embarrassment.
He won't be a political victim. He will be a welcomed 'guest' in a country that already has a problem with millions of undocumented 'guests.'
As an immigration attorney, I am angered beyond belief that our State Department would play this shell game with the laws and with the founding principles of the Human Rights Convention, the basis of our asylum law. Yes, we get the man to safety.
But we do it with sidelong glances and half-truths, so the diplomatic business-as-usual can continue in its ordinary course.
How much more American it would have been, how much more admirable, if we had given Chen Guangcheng refuge in our foreign consulate, and allowed him to leave Beijing with the power of the Department of State behind him.
Politicians play games to get results. Heros rage against the dying of freedom's light, and tell truth to power.
It looks like this country needs some real heros.