Race and Immigration
I have been talking about the idea that the United States has entered a phase of social division akin to historical periods associated with civil war. With the Left’s victory over health care reform, I think they showed their hand by attacking their opposition after the historic vote, instead of celebrating and shaking hands with the vanquished. They have revealed that they intend to forge ahead with their radical social agenda and in doing so, are also planning to smear their opposition relentlessly, threatening to further polarize the nation.
The bulk of the Left’s attacks on the conservative opposition and the Tea Party has been confined almost solely to race. Where they have not been able to find evidence of actual racial violence, the Left has concocted it and spread the accusation as if it was the truth anyway. Alarmingly, many of Obama’s supporters have blatantly lied about these charges or misrepreseneted the facts on national television-almost as if they are intentionally antagonizing the American public. On Fox News, Rev. Al Sharpton claimed that he saw a tape where that verifies some of these charges, even though many have concluded no such recording exists. Also on Fox, journalist Juan Williams made the completely spurious charge that the Gadsen Flag know for its “Don’t Tread on Me” was actually adopted by the Tea Party because it was used by Timothy McVeigh.
So, what’s going on here?
Because race has gained such power in American political discourse in the past forty years, the Left has seized upon it and is using it as both a sword and a shield in its present war on the American way of life.
Charges of “racism” or evidence of racial bigotry generally are enough to destroy political careers and obliterate fledgling movements of the Right. That is the sword.
But race can also be used as the justification to change every institution in America. The notion of “institutional racism” which has been around for three decades in academia, allows the anti-racists to paint the whole infrastructure of American politics, law and economics as racist, no matter if they are actually so or not. Thus, in the logic of the progressives, anyone who opposes their anti-racist redesign of social institutions, can justifiably be smeared as a racist, even if the charge itself cannot be proven. That is the shield.
It is clear that the Left, the Democratic Party and Obama have all adopted this outlook and will be using it in order to get the rest of their domestic agenda passed. Barring a major victory in the 2010 elections by Republicans and conservatives, the United States will probably continue to get a good dose of this perspective at least until the 2012. But will it ever go away? I’m afraid not. The resentments over identity and ethnicity never really go away; do they? And as both a sword and a shield, the question of race is too powerful a weapon for progressives to ever give up.
The coming debate on immigration reform will be an ugly one, as it will be based on attacking those opposed to amnesty for illegal immigrants as racists. It will also be filled with the, by now, tired attempts by opponents of amnesty for illegals to confirm that their position is not based on race at all, but the rule of law. Typically, progressives will refute this and then look for evidence that some poor white person somewhere actually feels racially threatened by immigration and will highlight that person in the media. If they can’t find an appropriately ethno-concerned white, they will concoct false charges against one, just as they have been doing in the health care debate. Think I’m kidding? They have already written the template:
At the immigration rally, you saw a wide spectrum of races and ethnicities. Those attending were mostly Latino, but the rally also welcomed the participation of Whites, Asians, and Blacks who support a path to citizenship, reuniting families, and providing opportunities to students and veterans.
At the Teabagger rally, the monochromatic masses were spitting and yelling racial and homophobic slurs at Black, Latino, and openly gay congressional reps.
At the immigrations rally, the participants were expressing hope – hope that reform would reunite them with their families. Hope that they would be given the opportunity to fully contribute to society, and the hope that their sacrifices, including the sacrifices of those who have served in the military or have lost their lives defending this country, will not be in vain.
At the Teabagger rally, the participants were expressing fear – fear of a socialist nation, fear of some type of take over of individual rights, fear of some conspiracy involving the democratically elected President and a democratically elected representative majority. They punctuated their expression of fear with threats of violence.
I highlight these opposing images because soon enough, these two groups will collide. The national debate on immigration reform will come soon, and if the Teabaggers act as they have against health care reform, we can expect more vitriol, fear mongering, harassment and acts of violence. These so-called “Americans” will feel even less restrained against people they consider to be “foreign” or “illegal,” deserving even less respect than they gave to our elected officials.
I think that this article makes it clear what the approach will be by progressives to the immigration reform debate. Armed with the great trump card of race, they will hold that over the debate at all times. This will allow them, they believe, to gain the moral upper hand as the pro-amnesty bill that is now in Congress emphasizes fast track citizenship for the “productive” and “patriotic.”
In the bill, an analysis of which I have included below, several provisions are made for the amnesty of illegal aliens and it also includes a massive expansion of legal immigration. Through the Dream Act, the AgJobs Act, and other provisions in the bill, illegals would have numerous paths to legalize their status. To be eligible for legalization the bill requires that the illegal must be contributing in some way to society; either through employment, education, military service or community service.
The bill also massively expands legal immigration. It does this by increasing the caps on family members allowed into the country and expanding the definition of “immediate family members.” The bill also raises the allowable limit on immigration from certain countires and expandsthe number of visas to be granted by the government.
So, when the debate begins, the pro-amnesty progressives will use their moral language at will and as a bludgeon. To their already overused sentimentalist and quasi-poetic “coming out of the shadows” rhetoric, they will add the idea and imagery that the people who are illegals are “productive” and “patriotic.” Their propoganda will most likely highlight attractive young people who are saving the world and especially, illegals who have fought for the U.S. military. Ideally, I imagine, the “save the world” type will be smart, female, well-spoken and will be juxtaposed against some helpless redneck she is saving from cancer or something. The illegal veteran they highlight will (ideally) have an injury from one of the recent U.S.wars, but will be diligently working to better his life regardless.
The best way for conservatives to counter this moral language is to create a moral imagery just as compelling as the one that the Left will employ. The tragic death of Arizona rancher Rob Krentz and the hands of illegals can be a starting point. Although academics and journalists will try to dilute the the impact of Krentz’ death on the debate by claiming that there are no studies that show immigrants have a higher rate of criminality than other population groups, there are some recent studies that suggest otherwise. The death of Krantz and the stories of other ranchers in that same area of Arizona who have been the victims of crimes by illegals, when conflated with the data from the studies, will be a powerful rhetorical tool. The “productive” meme of the Left can be diluted with the “criminality” meme by the conservatives.
Inevitably, the Left will try to ignore the plight of the ranchers, and say the Immigration Reform bill has provisions for enhanced border security. But advocates of immigration restriction must stick to the idea that it is people like Krantz, killed while actually trying to help illegals, who are the tragic symbols of the border anarchy and are the real victims.
This is a good moral argument against amnesty because most Americans are aware that the United States has suffered from a massive importation of crime in the past decade. Whether through increased gang violence, narco-terrorism, increased credit card scams and identity theft, the mortgage crisis, and human trafficking of all kinds, globalization and increased immigration have contributed mightily to the coarsening of American society. It is no stretch of credulity, keeping Krantz in mind, to insist the country will, indeed, be a better place if the U.S. can control its borders better and end illegal immigration altogether.
It is also important to attack the “patriot” meme that will be utilized by progressives in the coming argument on immigation reform. The first counter-argument to this is that “patriots” of all stipes should want to see the law of the land enforced. There are statistics available that show a majority of recent legal immigrants support enforcement of the law for illegals. So, in order to counter the progressive imagery of “productive” and “patriotic” illegal aliens, a campiagn can be waged showing legal migrants to the U.S. following the law and waiting in line for their citizenship.
I think a call should have already gone out to find the most interesting stories amongst America’s legal immigrants. Imagine the moral authority of a person who suffered distinct horribles in their homeland while waiting for U.S. citizenship. Additionally, it would add to that person’s moral authority if, when they first got to the U.S., they labored for years before they achieved success. Anyone seeking amnesty, no matter how “productive,” would be diminished by this person’s experience.
Inevitably, though, the ultimate argument against giving amnesty to illegals will not be debated openly by the mainstream media or mainline internet pundits, but it is one that is just as real and important. As the debate over immigration and amnesty in 2006 revealed, there are a number of latinos who sincerely believe that some parts of the United States belong to them by blood and history. If this argument winds its way through the blogosphere and becomes popular enough, it will most likely doom the advocates of amnesty, no matter how widely promoted their “patriotic” meme becomes. Now, I do not know if the so-called reconquista of America is the real purpose of pro-amnesty advocates, but there is enough proof that many believe this to be the ultimate purpose. For instance, the first comment one comes across after reading the Huffington Post article I linked to above is this:
Tea baggers and fans, this is Arturo; el chilango más chignón. The point of view of all you anti-immigrants is well taken. However, you have forgotten (so called “American Patriotic”) that even before the first European came to the Americas, Mexicans were living here? Have you forgotten ignorant “American Patriotic” that when your ancestors came to the Americas they stole the Native Americans’ territory, slaughter millions of “Indians” and forced them to changed their ways and language in the name of the BIBLE? Now YOU fairly new so called “American Patriotic” have forgotten how this land and WAS obtained by your father founders? Now you are afraid of “outsiders” who come to this country looking for a better life. YOU “Patriotic Americans” act on ignorance and nonsense fear. You should educate yourself about your own history and culture; ignorant “patriotic American”. You should go back to Europe, and tell the people of those countries that you are back because illegal aliens are taking away your jobs and “your land.” When are you going to remember that your fathers came to this land to slaughtered children, women and men, and took away their freedom in the name of the BIBLE? You should be ashamed of what you(not those who love this country) have done to People. Get on your knees and ask for forgiveness for all the atrocities that you have committed against humanity. For you, the few proud ignorant “Patriotic Americans” this piece was writing by me.
Given that this kind of thing is out there and that many people clearly believe it, is it any wonder that immigration advocates need to seize upon race before the immigration debate has even begun? They have to claim that they are on the moral high ground when it comes to race, because for them, race and demographics are in fact central to the immigration issue no matter how you cut it. Even if it is a small minority of amnesty advocates who dream of reconquista, it is best to lash out now at the Tea party and white conservatives in order to obfuscate that as long as possible. After all, since race is such a vital political tool for the Left, it is important that they begin the battle with the shield strong and the sword as sharp as can be.