May 17, 2006

You Wouldn't Like Him When He's Angry

You know, I used to think of Jack Cafferty as a slightly conservative moderate who was, far more importantly, a mean old curmudgeon that couldn't be happy with anything. Well, while a guy like that may seem tedious when things are going well, they sure seem like a breath of fresh air when things are going badly, and ever since, oh I'd guess when the Iraq war started, he's been at the top of his game. Besides Lewis Black, I don't know if there's anyone in the media that captures seething anger like Jack does.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure we still disagree on lots of issues. He seems a little more concerned about "sealing" the borders than I am, though in the context he used it in he may have meant something more related to national security than immigration, which I would agree with. More on immigration below the fold.

This immigration fluff is one of those issues that I really miss the media on. I guess I should say, I miss having a vigilant media. Before I get too into this, I guess I should say that I don't actually think that most of the people jumping on this border security bandwagon are full on racists. But just as racism can be perpetuated by people that aren't conciously racist in ideology, public policy debates can have racial undertones even if there are only a handfull of actual racists pushing the policy. This sudden interest in our borders is precisely an issue like this.

Much of the debate has been cloaked in the guise of national security. "Terrorists could cross into the country through our weak boarders" the argument goes, "and then bomb us" or something. As Orcinus points out, however, the border with Canada is significantly longer and more porous than the border with Mexico. Also, unlike the Mexican border which is composed of plenty of hard-to-cross desert, the Canadian border is fairly temperate and easy to cross. If you were a terrorist, where would you get into the country. This is ignoring the virtually non-existant port security of course, where you could simply ride in a shipping container and almost certainly be delivered uninspected.

So, why all this sudden focus on Mexico? About the only things it seems to have that the Canadian border doesn't are lots of Mexicans. Now again, I'm sure that most of the people jumping up and down about our Southern border don't actually hate Mexicans. I'm sure that some of their best friends are Mexicans, or something like that. But the racial component is the only one I can think of that makes that border the primary concern.


Jason said...

Of course it is racism. The Canadians are pretty and white and the Mexicans are dirty and brown, and all the brown people are equal so Mexican=Arab=terrorist.

I never really understood the whole hub-bub behind the illegal issue. To quote Vicente Fox: "They do the job that the blacks won't do." It is not like they are coming over here and taking the good jobs. They are picking crops, cleaning houses becoming nannies. Other than the health care system, I really do not see a strain on society, and if the governement got their collective heads out of their asses and had national health care, this would not be an issue.

Drew said...

I think the immigration debate follows a very specific and dangerous vector. It starts with out and out racists. But then the cleverer racists find race-neutral arguments to use to promote their racist agenda, and that eventually trickles into the mainstream.

What's nice about conservatives is that their masks aren't on very tight. So get comments from people like John Gibson and Bill O'Reilly who specifically acknowledge the white vs. brown nature of the debate.

But then you get somebody like Lou Dobbs. Dobbs has bought hook line and sinker all of the race-neutral arguments that have been propogated by racists specifically to convince people like him. He's doing the work of racists by obsessively demonizing legal and illegal immigration alike based on phony statistics and fraudulent argumentation.

Nevertheless, and whether he knows it or not, Lou Dobbs is pursuing a racist agenda.

Noumena said...

There's a somewhat legitimate class-based argument for limiting immigration: more unskilled and manual labourers in the job market drives down the price per hour that unskilled and manual labourers can charge, and the better employers are able to circumvent unions, thereby harming the working class. Call it the Home Depot effect: why hire members of the carpenter's local to build your new deck when you can pick up some illegal immigrant day labourers for a third the rate at Home Depot?

The obvious solution -- at least to me -- is not to hermetically seal the borders and crack down on the guys standing in front of Home Depot, but instead improve the conditions in countries like Mexico, so that standing in front of Home Depot 360 days a year or picking fruit isn't a significantly better than their old life.