Friday, March 31, 2006

Bad Tactics

Here's why it was dumb. They are here by sufferance. We tolerate their unlawful presence not because they are sympathetic characters, not because our economy benefits from their labor, not because we understand their yearning for the monetary opportunity found here and not in their home village, not because they are just regular hard-working family-oriented foreign but decent folks. These are all stereotypically true – that is, true when we want to make excuses for them – but they are fictions, meaningful only as statistics are meaningful: in the general, not the specific.

We tolerate them because their presence is at worst an annoyance: perhaps we hear too much Spanish, not enough English – perhaps we notice an increase in the amount of brown- but- not- because- of- Africa- and- not- because- it’s- tanned skin, and this is different than what we remember from when we were young. The mere irritation, the diffused discomfort we might feel at such frankly small-minded observations is insufficient to motivate any effective action. Such ideas are petty, and even the most mediocre of us would feel some hint of shame, to act solely because of them. For even the mediocre can hear that Spanish is a beautiful language, can see that brown skin is just skin - and our skin is brown, as it is every hue of mankind.

A more principled, but still abstract objection would appeal to the rule of law, to the need to regulate and control our borders, to preserve our sovereignty, to protect that culture which has created our success. Perhaps the idea of their not waiting their turn, but rather paying some illicit guide, some most-likely drug-smuggling coyote, to sneak them in – or the idea that they burden our infrastructure, taking housing, driving down wages, crowding emergency rooms, crowding classrooms - these are principled objections. But if we have homes and jobs and healthcare and classrooms for our children, such issues don’t affect us in a tangible and personal way. They are Apollonian, not proletarian – we will only think about them, and not act.

We might mutter, we might complain, we might enter into grand theoretical debates about notions of how things ought to be. But we wouldn’t ever do anything meaningful about it, because we understand that things change and not all change is bad, or we understand that even though they represent a gradual disintegration of what is uniquely ours into a hybrid that is partly theirs, yet the change is gradual, and an unyieldingly principled stance is tiresome. Standing, unmoving, talking and thinking about the problem is just about all we might summon the energy to do. After all, what does it really matter. They are, at worst, an annoyance. We suffer them, and suppose that they are a neutral presence.

But now they take to the streets, and act offensively and insultingly. They call us vile names while claiming their ascendancy. They mock our laws while demanding special favours. They pretend to a moral outrage that is reserved for us, should we have the integrity to exercise it. Their arrogance dishonors the vast multitude of upright immigrants who had the moral sense and the common decency to ask admittance and swear allegiance. They block our highways, more than mere scofflaws now, not just a nuisance, but a threat and a hazard. They menace young women who carry our flag as an honored thing, and on our public buildings they fly our flag, upside-down, beneath their own. Upside-down. Beneath. They think they can intimidate us by their amassed numbers, swollen beyond expectation. They think they are a force. In our nation.

We have tolerated them. They are here by sufferance. But they are not necessary. We can tend our own infants, as we always have. We have neighborhood kids to mow lawns. We have teenagers who will prepare fast food. We have young men who will do hard labor for a living wage. It has always been so, and all the illegal alien has done is lower the cost of labor, while raising the cost of healthcare and housing and education. They have caused a price war in labor that our entry-level workers cannot win. But let none delude themselves that Americans cannot work. We have transformed the world with our muscle and our sweat - the honorable toil of those born here, and those who have joined us honorably. If a germ of indolence has for a time infected us, it was bred by a policy of governmental entitlements and unearned largesse that enabled sloth and discouraged enterprise. But we can find again our pride of work and our ethic of diligence. So, no. They are not necessary.

And if they act intolerably – if they continue to do so, we will suffer them no more. We already have an alien enemy, who hates us and would destroy us. If we discover we have another enemy – arrogant, subversive, inimical to our institutions - in our very midst, well, it is our country, and we Americans have shown that we know how to protect what is ours. Their millions are as nothing, to our hundreds of millions.

That’s why these protests were dumb. They turned over the rock, and uncovered the ugliness, the selfishness, the ingratitude toward our indifference and inertia. They do not want to move us. Believe it. Because we will move in a direction they do not wish to go. They need to smarten up. They need to respect their hosts. They are guests. Unwelcomed guests. Arrogant, offensive, shameless ungrateful unwelcomed guests. Smarten up.



Anonymous said...

Too bad those that run this country (big business) want them here.

Jack H said...

And, wierdly, Big Lefty, too. Strange bedfellows. One has loyalty to profit, the other has loyalty to, um, well, to nothing? Someone will have to explain to me what they have loyalty to. How 'bout loyalty to just laws?