Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Mortar of Assimilation

Jason T. Ready, an anti-immigration activist who recently ran for Mesa, Arizona’s City Council, is displeased with a local police detective who investigates racially motivated crimes:

Speaking about his 12 years of undercover work, Browning said illegal immigration has become a lightning rod for violent skinheads who randomly [!] attack Mexicans.

Browning's testimony raised the ire of Ready, whose e-mail says: "All border activists, constitutional study groups, and tax protestors, and especially any White Heritage Club members, have been labeled ‘domestic terrorists.'"
If so, they join a good percentage of the country, from environmentalists, to the National Education Association, to advocates of media reform, to Democrats. If you haven’t been labeled a terrorist, or a terrorist sympathizer, in post-9/11 America, you probably don’t get out much.

That said, "border activists" do tend to have larger weapons caches than the average Democratic senator or pacifist vegan. Take, for instance, the Alabama militiamen who allegedly planned to kill them some Mexicans.
Adam Nesmith, an agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, testified that the five men planned an attack on Mexicans in a small town just north of Birmingham, and went there on a reconnaissance mission April 20.

Nesmith said one of the men told an informant that the group, which calls itself the Alabama Free Militia, saw government agents as "the enemy" and had a standing order to open fire if anyone saw government agents approaching.
And rightly so. As Ronald Reagan once observed, the thirteen most frightening words in the English language are “I’m from the government, and I’m here to prevent you from murdering darkies.”

I use the latter term advisedly, since anti-immigrant vigilantes have never shown much ability to tell Mexicans from, say, American Indians, or legal immigrants from illegal ones (cf. Steve Boggs, who murdered three fast-food workers in Mesa, AZ in an attempt to "rid the world of a few needless illegals").

Meanwhile, an arson fire at a day-labor camp near Gaithersburg, Maryland seems likely to have been the work of anti-immigrant forces. However, one member of an anti-immigrant group has an surprising alternative theory:
Brad Botwin, director of, reiterated his belief that the center be shut down and suggested the fire might have been started by one of the workers.

"We don't know who these workers are," he said. They could have done this."
Very true. I suspect it’s only a matter of time before this form of asymmetrical warfare spreads, and immigrants start beating themselves to death in order to make anti-immigrant groups look bad.

Don’t put it past ‘em. After all, as the appalling Georgie Anne Geyer reminds us, illegal immigrants don’t respect America’s laws.

Of course, neither do the companies that hire and exploit them. Or the anti-immigrant groups and media personalities who think that murdering them in cold blood should be legal. Or the vigilantes who don’t believe that gun laws apply to them.

Neither does the Bush Administration, for that matter. Indeed, Geyer herself decries the existential threat posed by “the Mongol Khan-style disdain for the Geneva Conventions shown by Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, and…their ambitious, amoral neocon minions.”

I believe that illegal immigration is a serious issue (a serious humanitarian issue, to be precise), but I don’t accept that it’s a more serious problem than disdain for law and morality at the highest levels of our government…especially given that our government and its cronies are enabling and profiting from this influx of disempowered, dirt-cheap workers, while pursuing policies that are calculated to turn foreign laborers into economic and political refugees. (I’d include in this group the “pro-labor” firebrand Lou Dobbs, who has an admirable ability to keep his hatred of exploitative labor practices from finding its way into his subscription-only investment advice.)

Anyway, if refusing to respect the rule of law truly makes people unfit to be American citizens, we’re going to have to deport half our population, and most of our business leaders and politicians. Failing that, we could stop demonizing “illegals," and start thinking about the central role of wage slavery in conservatarian economic theory, and the central role of politicians and the media in mainstreaming racism.

Sure, it may cost us some job growth in the indefinite detention sector. But sometimes, you have to make sacrifices in order to do what’s right.

(Illustration: "The Mortar of Assimilation - And the One Element That Won't Mix," by C.J. Taylor, 1889.)


olvlzl said...

Don’t put it past ‘em. After all, as the appalling Georgie Anne Geyer reminds us, illegal immigrants don’t respect America’s laws.

That would be the same G.G. Geyer who went on CNN the day of the Oklahoma bombing and started talking about middle eastern terrorists. The connection to the attacks on "A-rabs", and as I recall, at least one death is unknown but not out of the question.

This "issue" has all the marks and the smell of a conservative stir-up-the-haters-to-win-eletions tactic. They've been doing it, unfortunatly with great success, ever since there has been a modern conservative movement in the United States. It is increasingly difficult for them to use American citizens this way, though that continues. So they've gone on to others.

Never mentioed is that the reasons the Latinos and Hatians are coming here is in large part a direct result of U.S. policy in the originating countries. People tend to like to stay home with their families and friends. It is only when they find it impossible to live a decent life, or, indeed, to sometimes live at all, that they make the very dangerous, expensive and uncertain move to come here to find work. It is exactly the policies that conservatives have conducted in those countries that make illegal entry happen. But that fact is never talked about in the media, it's too far from the script, too close to the truth, to much of an indictment of American conservatives and their policies of enslaving those south of the border. It's a policy that goes back to the founding ouf the country, the greatest dream of the slave power.

Anonymous said...

I'm not too happy with US employers, nor with our President down to our congress reps and out state and local governments, but in reality, for those coming from countries south of us, the blame lies on the governments of their respective countries - especially Mexico. Power and resources are tightly grasped in the hands of the few - and they have no intention of sharing.

I do have empathy for these people, but we're only prolonging the problems by providing an escape valve.

..It's just too bad that those coming north haven't stood up and demanded reform within their own countries, but instead have taken the easy way out.

Phila said...

..It's just too bad that those coming north haven't stood up and demanded reform within their own countries, but instead have taken the easy way out.

I think some of them have. Two problems, though. The first is that demands for "reform" are going to be demonized as communistic or worse to the extent that it inconveniences big business.

Second, I think you're underestimating the influence of multinational business on the Mexican government. It's naive to look at the situation in Mexico without considering its position - and the position of disempowered labor - in the North American economy. As Americans, we have at least as much obligation to change that equation as Mexicans do. And more power to change it, too.

Scapegoating workers is an essential part of this charade, just as it was in the late 19th century.

Connor said...

Yes, I agree. Scapegoating is clearly happening and "illegals" are being blamed and dehumanized for a myriad of social ills affecting the disportionate areas of society.

That said, Browning did not call all who support the anti-immigration agenda "terrorists" but in fact said it was attracting the extreme among us with that mindset. It's too bad, really, because the border is a pressing issue that needs to be intelligently dealt with.

It's amazing that those, like Ready, are so quick to try and silence Browning. (btw, Ready was court-martialed twice and Dishonorable Discharged to boot. NTM the fact that he shot at an illegal immigrant and has had various non-related run-ins with the law). It really makes one start to wonder. What kind of group(s) and people is this extreme man, Ready, heading or a member of? If it looks like a duck and acts like a duck… perhaps it's a duck!?