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...trying to benefit politically from racial polarization...
August 9, 2005 6:34 AM   Subscribe

Neo-Nazis and Minutemen --What's going on, of course, is that the Minutemen provide an ideal opportunity for white racists to "mainstream" their agenda, using the relatively benign "average citizens" that Lou Dobbs exclusively observes in their ranks as just so much cover. "Illegal immigration" has become a hot-button wedge campaign issue for the GOP in 06, and the latest incarnation of their "Southern Strategy" (now called "wrong", but still very much in evidence)
posted by amberglow (118 comments total)

 
more from Orcinus, who's been talking about this for a while: ...Even more noteworthy, perhaps, has been the mainstream embrace of the far-right extremists operating the Minuteman Project, and the extent to which they are being portrayed both by media and officialdom as jes' plain folks. ...
Mr. DeLay: No. I'm not sure the president meant that. I think that they're providing an excellent service. It's no different than neighborhood-watch programs and I appreciate them doing it, ...

posted by amberglow at 6:39 AM on August 9, 2005


While I'm not sure of the whole story here, seeing that flag and the rebel flag flying along side the Stars and Stripes makes for a very disturbing image. I guess this is one image you won't be seeing on tonight's broadcast of "Lou Dobbs Hates Foreigners."
posted by [expletive deleted] at 6:46 AM on August 9, 2005


The minutemen and Nazis protesting together.... AWKWARD!!!
posted by DougieZero1982 at 6:49 AM on August 9, 2005


That illegal immigration in quotes is confusing. The author of the first link, for clarification, is seeing illegal immigration as a code word for hispanic immigration.
posted by Captaintripps at 6:50 AM on August 9, 2005


Heaven forbid a nation defend its borders.
Heaven forbid citizens take charge when the government fails us. (That sounds un-American.)
posted by keswick at 6:54 AM on August 9, 2005


Now one of the leaders of this movement from Goldbar, WA is talking about taking his roadshow to the Canadian border.

What for, to keep 'muricans from defecting to Canada?
posted by mk1gti at 6:56 AM on August 9, 2005


I guess this is one image you won't be seeing on tonight's broadcast of "Lou Dobbs Hates Foreigners."

The presence of the neo-Nazis SUCKS. White Supremacists need a metaphorical beating with a pipe.

But Lou Dobbs doesn't hate foreigners. I catch his segment every now and then and it's the only show on CNN I'm willing to watch. Like me, he can't stand people who won't play by the rules. If other wannabe-Americans are going through all of the grief of applying for legal status, what makes the illegals so special that they can sidestep it? The rules don't apply to them? Bullshit.

Kick the illegals out and make them get in line like everyone else. And the people who help illegals get across the border, whether it's with supplies or by distracting the border authorities, should be thrown in jail for aiding in the commission of a crime.
posted by caporal at 6:57 AM on August 9, 2005


Heaven forbid a nation defend its borders.
Heaven forbid citizens take charge when the government fails us.


Dude. It's a NAZI flag. I can think of nothing LESS American than that.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 7:03 AM on August 9, 2005


Dude. It's a NAZI flag. I can think of nothing LESS American than that.

Don't be so sure.
posted by caporal at 7:07 AM on August 9, 2005


going through all of the grief of applying for legal status

I think you've provided your own retort. I'm not sure 'making them wait in line like everyone else' is either practical or the solution to the problems of economy Dobbs is so concerned with addressing. Hence the administration's solution of temporary but legible foreign workers (essentially 'guest workers'- strikingly similar to the program employed by the Saudis). Sadly, the country wants and needs illegal labor to keep prices down. It loves the ends but hates the means (or at least the people providing them with those ends).
posted by Dr_Johnson at 7:09 AM on August 9, 2005


It's a simple fact that if you deported all of the illegal aliens out of this country, and restriced access to new ones, our economy would be destroyed and this country would cease to exist... also, dining out would be a bit boring...
posted by cusack at 7:10 AM on August 9, 2005


And sadly, that is just the tip of the iceberg concerning US business investment in the Third Reich, caporal.

Well, nothing should be less American than that, at the very least.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 7:11 AM on August 9, 2005


Please, trying to discredit someone because Nazis happen to agree with them for completely different reasons is one of the lamest tactics in the book. Nazis believed in building roads, do this mean all good, non-Nazis Americans must oppose the interstate highway system?

There are plenty of people out there who oppose illegal immigration for reasons that have nothing to do with racism. I, for one, hate the idea of allowing people to remain in this country whose very presence is an affront to the idea that we are a nation ruled by law. These people are criminals and they should be treated as such. I'm fine with legal immigration, I'd even support expanding the number of people we let in, but if you are unwilling to abide by our laws we should find you and deport you. Period.

We can all agree that Nazis suck, but you don't have to be a Nazi to want to see the law upheld.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:14 AM on August 9, 2005


It is not about how Nazis might agree with them. Rather it is why they allowed the Nazi to fly that flag at their rally. In my mind, that shows at least acceptance.

By the way, don't the Confederate and the Nazi flag have a certain harmony together?
posted by caddis at 7:18 AM on August 9, 2005


I think you've provided your own retort.

Not at all. If letting in illegals is the answer, why do we bother we the current process of naturalization at all?

Hence the administration's solution of temporary but legible foreign workers

This solution came about because the current administration doesn't have the political backbone to Do The Right Thing. What they've done is snubbed all of the people who made the effort and invested in the expense of immigrating legally.

Sadly, the country wants and needs illegal labor to keep prices down.

And it's a short-term solution at best. We're so busy slapping band-aids on gunshot wounds that we can't see how fast our blood is draining out.

The U.S. will go through some major upheavels in the next twenty-five years, including a significant drop in our standard of living. The power elite, however, will remain comfy, and will continue to munch on bon-bons while the common man and woman dig through the mud.
posted by caporal at 7:19 AM on August 9, 2005


It's a simple fact that if you deported all of the illegal aliens out of this country, and restriced access to new ones, our economy would be destroyed and this country would cease to exist...

Which doesn't make what is happening right. We need to rejig our economy so this doesn't happen. Why are we rewarding people for breaking our laws? What message does that send?

also, dining out would be a bit boring...

Cute, but that doesn't wash either. There are plenty of ethnic
"minorities" that have entered the country legally.
posted by caporal at 7:21 AM on August 9, 2005


Suddenly all this emphasis on law and order... Bulgaroktonos says that their presence is an affront to the idea that we are a nation ruled by law. Caporal can't stand people who don't play by the rules...

I would like to remind you that the legislature makes the laws, and that the legislature is an elected body, answerable to its constituents- the citizens of this country. We make the laws; we make the rules. At least in principle, we decide how open we want to be about immigration, and whether or not we choose to let people in. It is a simple fact, whether you would like to admit it or not, that at the very least American agriculture would collapse without the help of illegal labor. Ask any farmer whether or not they could hire farm workers at minimum wage, and I will guarantee you the answer will be a resounding no. Our demand for the commodities produced by illegal labor, coupled with our reliance upon it for economic stability, suggests to me that we are effectively breaking our own rules.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 7:22 AM on August 9, 2005


We need to rejig our economy so this doesn't happen

How in God's name do you propose we do this? Contrary to what the Fed might occasionally imply, the economy is not a car engine where one can simply replace parts. You can't just 'rejig' this one. The cost of living is simply too high for legal citizens to sell their labor at the cut-rate prices needed to keep the agricultural economy going, and Americans are sadly unwilling to pay $3 an orange, but don't want farm subsidies that are going to raise their taxes either.

And for all those who believe that the GOP is actually going to do anything about this, wait until 2008 and see what comes from all their talk.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 7:27 AM on August 9, 2005


D. Boon is turning in his grave.
posted by gwint at 7:30 AM on August 9, 2005


How in God's name do you propose we do this?

I'm fully aware of how our economy works, at least at the macro level. When I said "rejig" it was a kinder euphemism for "we should prepare to suffer." We as a nation have been living on borrowed money for so long that we're just about at the point where we're going to be screwed no matter what. Prolonging the crash by undermining our own laws seems pointless to me.

As a result of the second-term election of Bush and his rich fat pigs, I've changed my lifestyle dramatically. I don't eat out anymore and I've traded in my old V6 van for a 4-cylinder econobox, among other things. All of us need to do this to protect ourselves, and if we don't, we deserve what's coming to us.
posted by caporal at 7:41 AM on August 9, 2005


Of course, if this were all about "playing by the rules", we wouldn't have vigilantes marching around in the desert, would we?
posted by gimonca at 7:45 AM on August 9, 2005


Suddenly all this emphasis on law and order...

Rest assured it's not sudden. I've been an advocate of law and order for a long time. I believe in social contracts where everyone plays by the same rules, and if you step outside of that contract you're punished for it.

Our demand for the commodities produced by illegal labor, coupled with our reliance upon it for economic stability, suggests to me that we are effectively breaking our own rules.

I suggest it's time we learn to suck it up. We as a nation aren't entitled to living high on the hog. If we don't learn that soon, and implement, we're screwed.
posted by caporal at 7:47 AM on August 9, 2005


Of course, if this were all about "playing by the rules", we wouldn't have vigilantes marching around in the desert, would we?

Since when were the Minutemen vigilantes? Or are you just parroting talking points?

There has never been a single reported case of vigilianteism involving the MM as far as I know. If there are any, I'm willing to bet that all you'll see are the exceptions and not the rule.

The MM observe and report to the proper authorities. The people who want illegal immigrants to cross the border just hate it when the playing field is made a little more level.
posted by caporal at 7:50 AM on August 9, 2005


We as a nation have been living on borrowed money for so long that we're just about at the point where we're going to be screwed no matter what. Prolonging the crash by undermining our own laws seems pointless to me.

That first sentence is the gospel truth. I do wonder why you think that "undermining our own laws" will make the problem worse; the laws and policy we have had foisted on us over the last 25 years (gibber take) are what got us into this horrible debt in the first place.

I mean, to me, employing illegal immigrants is not on it's face any morally worse than legally employing factory workers at slave wages overseas. The legality of things like this is often orthogonal to the real-life economic impact.
posted by sonofsamiam at 7:51 AM on August 9, 2005


I believe in social contracts where everyone plays by the same rules

That's well and good (and laudable), but I think that we would be far better served by focusing less on protecting our borders (probably impossible or at the very least outrageously expensive- certainly not going to be accomplished by the minutemen thugs) than on facing up to certain domestic economic realities that stopgap protectionism can hardly solve. Rather hard, however, since democracies tend reenforce the belief that one can have his cake and eat it too.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 7:53 AM on August 9, 2005


But Lou Dobbs doesn't hate foreigners.
Yes he does.
Like me, he can't stand people who won't play by the rules.
RULES RULES RULES. It dosn't matter if the rule makes sense, follow it anyway. Everyone knows how smart and capable politicians are, if the come up with a rule, it must be a good idea. If it just seems asinine it's only because you're not smart enough to figure it out!
If other wannabe-Americans are going through all of the grief of applying for legal status, what makes the illegals so special that they can sidestep it? The rules don't apply to them? Bullshit.
What makes these niggers think they can eat at white restaurants and go to white schools, is it so much grief to sit at the back of the bus? They think the rules don't apply to them? Bullshit!

What makes these Jews think they can skip out on the concentration camps? Is it so much grief for them to go? The rules don't apply to them? Bullshit!
There are plenty of people out there who oppose illegal immigration for reasons that have nothing to do with racism. I, for one, hate the idea of allowing people to remain in this country whose very presence is an affront to the idea that we are a nation ruled by law.
Again, what is up with this fetishization of "The rules". I'm sure there are rules that you break all the time. Why, exactly, is illegal immigration worse then speeding, for example? Would you say that you also hate pot smokers as much as Illegal Immigrants? What about gay Texans before the Supreme Court overrode the law that banned homosexual Sodomy? If not, what makes Illegal immigrants so much worse.
And it's a short-term solution at best. We're so busy slapping band-aids on gunshot wounds that we can't see how fast our blood is draining out.
Yeah, okay.

The U.S. will go through some major upheavels in the next twenty-five years, including a significant drop in our standard of living. The power elite, however, will remain comfy, and will continue to munch on bon-bons while the common man and woman dig through the mud.
Wow, you really do watch Lou Dobbs.

Just a bunch of insipid fear mongering based on nothing at all. The truth is you're afraid of illegal immigration, clearly, so afraid that you think it's a good idea to put thousands of farmers out of business.

The only thing that would accomplish would be skyrocketing prices for fresh fruit. If you really think paying $5 for an orange would be an improvement, I'm sure you're local organic coop would like your business.

Even if the farmers were paying minimum wage, they would never attract native born workers at that rate.

There are 600,000 unemployed people in the United States. There are six million undocumented migrant workers. You really think America could lose 5.4 million workers without a major economic impact?

There is simply no logical reason for not allowing Mexican citizens freely into the country to work.

By the way, would you people who oppose illegal immigration because of your love for the 'rules' support changing the law to allow Mexican citizens to work in the united states in the same way citizens of EU member nations can work in any other EU member nation?
posted by delmoi at 8:02 AM on August 9, 2005


Mexican immigrants, foreign H1b holders, offshoring, similar yet different.
posted by nervousfritz at 8:04 AM on August 9, 2005


I'm fully aware of how our economy works, at least at the macro level. When I said "rejig" it was a kinder euphemism for "we should prepare to suffer."
So I should suffer to sate the desires of Xenophobes? Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Bite me.
Rest assured it's not sudden. I've been an advocate of law and order for a long time. I believe in social contracts where everyone plays by the same rules, and if you step outside of that contract you're punished for it.
The fact that a majority can cram "social contracts" down the throats of powerless minorities does not make it right. You think segregation was a "social contract"? Mexicans can't vote in US elections, why should they have to follow our rules if the rules are not, in and of themselves, moral?

Anyway, I take it you'd be fine if we allowed free travel and right to work between the US and Mexico then, as it wouldn't be against "the rules".

You can't, IMO, take following the rules as a guiding principle unless you also show that rules themselves are right.
posted by delmoi at 8:08 AM on August 9, 2005


The MM observe and report to the proper authorities.

Vigilantes are vigilant. Hence the name. Taking criminal investigation into your own hands is less wrong, and more legal than taking punishment into your own hands, but they're both vigilantism. The Minutemen, Batman, and lynch mobs are all vigilantes, they just cause different degrees of damage to the societies in which they operate.
posted by queen zixi at 8:12 AM on August 9, 2005


What about Neighborhood Watch organizations?
posted by caddis at 8:18 AM on August 9, 2005


well, thank heavens Delmoi was willing to introduce the level of vitriol I had been holding back, although he stole my damn fruit comment.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 8:18 AM on August 9, 2005


Vigilantes are vigilant. Hence the name. Taking criminal investigation into your own hands is less wrong, and more legal than taking punishment into your own hands, but they're both vigilantism.

Once again everyone's interpretation of English words is faulty and needs to be upgraded in order to show support for new policies and methods of governance. Nothing was wrong with the criminal justice system 5 years ago. People have too much free time, and I guess idle hands employed in criminal justice are free from the influence of the grate subverter.
posted by nervousfritz at 8:18 AM on August 9, 2005


Wow, delmoi. Talk about reactionary bile. You come across as quite an ass. Not a particularly interesting one, but hey, you're trying.

Yes he does.

Because you said so!

RULES RULES RULES. It dosn't matter if the rule makes sense, follow it anyway.

Of course not! But if a rule doesn't make sense CHUCK IT OUT. Why are people still forced to apply for residency when it's clear all you have to do is sneak in? My issue here is with the double-standard, and the message being sent to all of the people who did play by the rules to get into the country.

What makes these niggers think they can eat at white restaurants and go to white schools, is it so much grief to sit at the back of the bus? They think the rules don't apply to them? Bullshit!

That isn't a parallel to my argument. Go bite yourself, ass.

I am not xenophobe, although I am sure you'd love it if I was one. That way you can hurl invective and demonize me rather than debate intelligently.

The truth is you're afraid of illegal immigration, clearly, so afraid that you think it's a good idea to put thousands of farmers out of business.

No. I don't like double standards. I'm certainly not afraid. The farmers are a different story.

Contrary to popular belief, most farms in the US are owned by huge conglomerates. And they still get massive subsidies. It isn't ma and pa farmer anymore.

Additionally, if our economy is so screwed up that we're in a position where an orange is going to be $5, maybe that's what we need to face full-on to wake up the people of this nation. We aren't entitled to cheap food if we live like kings on pauper budgets.

By the way, would you people who oppose illegal immigration because of your love for the 'rules' support changing the law to allow Mexican citizens to work in the united states in the same way citizens of EU member nations can work in any other EU member nation?

Yes. You can take both feet out of your mouth now.
posted by caporal at 8:32 AM on August 9, 2005


Vigilantes are vigilant. Hence the name. Taking criminal investigation into your own hands is less wrong...

Yes, but the MM don't take criminal investigation into their own hands. Just as another poster pointed out, using your definition the local Neighborhood Watch deserves to be lumped in with other groups that damage society.
posted by caporal at 8:34 AM on August 9, 2005


Oops, that's what I get for not reading the link.

In summary, keswick is for strong borders and against Nazis.
posted by keswick at 8:38 AM on August 9, 2005


But if a rule doesn't make sense CHUCK IT OUT

Precisely! Let's follow Delmoi's suggestion and expand the Goddamn social contract to include those who are really affected by it. But adherence to rules for rule's sake is more than silly- it's alarming.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 8:38 AM on August 9, 2005


If you've ever played Call of Duty, you know that no matter how many Nazis you take out, there's always more.
posted by Balisong at 8:41 AM on August 9, 2005


So if it's all about the rules, we should just adopt a migrant worker program that legally allows as many workers enter the country as necessary, right? Sounds pretty simple to me.
posted by belling at 8:41 AM on August 9, 2005


What the minutemen actually did at the border was not really the problem. They watched for and reported illegal border crossings - nothing wrong with that. What bothers many people are their motives. Listening to them give interviews and discuss the operation I got the distinct impression that they really did not like the type of person sneaking over the border. The photos linked today reinforce that perception.
posted by caddis at 8:41 AM on August 9, 2005


but the MM don't take criminal investigation into their own hands

HOW can you simultaneously support the MM (which are crypto-racists, no matter what they say) and Delmoi's proposals? Are you that willing to support enforcing current immigration law- even if it is blatantly wrongheaded and if enforced would fuck everything up- just to fulfill your view of rule following?

I was trying to be sympathetic to your position, but the Minutemen are really beyond the pale.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 8:44 AM on August 9, 2005


I'll go along with the "follow the rules" for poor illegal immigrants when I see Ken Lay and Karl Rove from marched off to a life in prison. Never happen you say? Probably not.

The crux of the problem has to do with "free trade" versus fair trade. Remember how NAFTA was supposed to address this immigrant problem from south of the border? Well, the end result is that the wealthy got wealthier and the poor still struggle to exist. Sometimes capitalism, as it is practiced, just sucks.

The racist fucks that call themselves minutemen can commit a physically impossible act.
posted by nofundy at 9:07 AM on August 9, 2005


HOW can you simultaneously support the MM (which are crypto-racists, no matter what they say) and Delmoi's proposals? Are you that willing to support enforcing current immigration law- even if it is blatantly wrongheaded and if enforced would fuck everything up- just to fulfill your view of rule following?

Try this: One or the other has to happen. We need to either remove the entire facade of entering the country legally or bolster our borders. If it's the former, fine, but I sure don't want to be the one that has to deal with people who just spent thousands of dollars getting into the country with the proper papers etc.

If it's the latter, we need to be serious about our borders and that includes finding ways to make it easier for border patrol to catch, punish and eject border jumpers. This goes for the Canadian border as well, although we seem to have fewer problems there.

I'm not an advocate of blind law; rather, I'm an advocate of equitable social contracts. They have to apply evenly without exceptions or they're just bullshit.

Haven't you ever been in a long line-up in the cold rain for hours, only to see a handful of people jump the line at the front? Doesn't that incense you?
posted by caporal at 9:07 AM on August 9, 2005


Well, the end result is that the wealthy got wealthier and the poor still struggle to exist. Sometimes capitalism, as it is practiced, just sucks.

More than sometimes. In the end the divide between the haves and have-nots is a chasm.

Ken Lay and Karl Rove belong in a federal prison for life, no question.

I still believe the concept of the MM, watching our borders to inform the authorities of illegal immigrants, is laudable. I don't like people who jump the line.

As an aside, I'm not familiar with the character of some of the MM. If they are indeed racists in citizen's clothing, then the individual should be denounced, not the concept or program.
posted by caporal at 9:11 AM on August 9, 2005


but I sure don't want to be the one that has to deal with people who just spent thousands of dollars getting into the country with the proper papers etc

Now you've moved the goalposts. As NF said, "Mexican immigrants, foreign H1b holders, offshoring, similar yet different." You want to lump them together, go ahead. And if you advocate equitable social contracts, you should support reducing the costs and difficulty of legal immigration, not the thuggish ouster of those who could never in a million years afford legal immigration, but who nonetheless are as vital to the economy as physicians and programmers coming from India.

finding ways to make it easier for border patrol to catch, punish and eject border jumpers

Suggestions besides a giant fucking wall? Seems as problematic as 'rejigging' the economy.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 9:25 AM on August 9, 2005


Please, trying to discredit someone because Nazis happen to agree with them for completely different reasons is one of the lamest tactics in the book. Nazis believed in building roads, do this mean all good, non-Nazis Americans must oppose the interstate highway system?

I don't think this is the same thing. This isn't one of those grade-school warblog-level "Hitler was for gun control, what does THAT tell you, LOL!!!11!1" non-arguments. There's a difference, for example, between the KKK writing a check to a candidate's campaign and the candidate showing up at a campaign appearance in a hood. This isn't about the Minutemen being supported by Nazis- it's about the fact that Minutemen ARE Nazis.

This isn't the same as simple embedded elements of long-standing groups- I'm well aware that KKK members make up their local PTAs, anti-government anarchists have their own book clubs, and there are probably pedophiles in your bowling league- but none of these indicate the long-standing activity is a breeding ground for a hateful element- they're just daily elements of life members of these groups participate in on the side. In contrast, the Minutemen aren't a national pastime or a centuries-old community organization- this is a movement created for the specific purpose of opposing immigrants, that more or less developed less than a year or two ago, and already has made active members of groups that advocate the murder of minorites prominent figures. Whether or not you support various levels of "immigration reform," that element of the story should be a concern to anyone.

If you want to defend the fact that members of this so-called movement "happen to" be members of a violent hate group, that's your call, but saying that we're the ones ducking a serious issue makes you a really bad arbiter of "lame tactics."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:38 AM on August 9, 2005


What's with the five dollar oranges? The last time Illegal Immigrants were an issue here, shawnj suggested (and was not refuted) that doubling farm wages would cost American households would about fifty dollars a year more for food.
posted by IndigoJones at 9:40 AM on August 9, 2005


Now you've moved the goalposts.

Indeed I haven't, although I could be fairly faulted for not making that point clearer at the beginning.

And if you advocate equitable social contracts, you should support reducing the costs and difficulty of legal immigration...

And I do. Where did I say I didn't?

not the thuggish ouster of those who could never in a million years afford legal immigration

This is where the bullshit is. No one is entitled to immigrate here. And there are enough legal back doors to allow for those who don't have money to get in.

but who nonetheless are as vital to the economy as physicians and programmers coming from India.

They are vital to this economy as it presently exists because we built it that way without caring about the future. Our short-term avarice is paying off with long-term pain.

Maybe we need a collapse. We're surely deserving of one.
posted by caporal at 9:46 AM on August 9, 2005


I for one suggested $3 an orange (somewhat hyperbolically, though I already pay $1 an orange in MA), but doubling wages would make farm labor less terrible, though hardly choice, and hardly enough to constitute a living wage in most places in the U.S.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 9:50 AM on August 9, 2005


No one is entitled to immigrate here.

Refuse them at your peril.

They are vital to this economy as it presently exists because we built it that way without caring about the future

But keeping them out is not going to solve this.

And there are enough legal back doors to allow for those who don't have money to get in.

Open the front door! Isn't this what you claim to advocate?
posted by Dr_Johnson at 9:53 AM on August 9, 2005


XQUZYPHR, the Minutemen are a kind of unsavory lot to be sure, but they are not Nazis. They specifically attempt to exclude that sort from their activities. Rather the neo-Nazis, seeing a cause they think they agree with(like you, they think it is a cover for racism), the neo-Nazis are using it to make an attempt to mainstream their movement.

This says nothing about the organization as a whole, and nothing about their ideas. Furthermore, even if they were avowed Nazis, taking your arguments no further than saying "Look! Nazis!" is always a "bad tactic." If you think these people are bad because they are racists, then give more proof than the fact that some people who are racists agree with them for racist reasons.

Personally, I find the Minutemen to be a little over the top and as a fan of "rule following" I dislike vigilantes. Still, they are making illegal immigration an issue, and you are ducking that if you just respond by saying that they're racist Nazis.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:57 AM on August 9, 2005


Open the front door! Isn't this what you claim to advocate?

Not necessarily. I advocate equitable social contracts, and want people to abide by them.

If the best answer is opening the front door, then so be it! But let's stop with all of the mixed messages bullshit and people's "entitlements." Everything needs to be earned.
posted by caporal at 10:00 AM on August 9, 2005


WTF is wrong with letting in illegals? America is a nation of "illegals". If you don't like the idea, move back to Ireland or wherever your ancestors came from.

"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
posted by glider at 10:08 AM on August 9, 2005


Bulgaroktonos, it is a question of motives, and I suspect that a right good percentage of Minutemen members have racist ones.

O.K., I went with you on this for a while out of respect for Rousseau and Michael Sandel, but I have got to ask you, what do you mean by an equitable social contract? Written by whom, equitable for whom, and who is going to be included and who excluded?
posted by Dr_Johnson at 10:10 AM on August 9, 2005


The "illegal immigration" situation won't change unless the problem is tackled the only place where it matters -- on the demand side. Just like eradicating coca fields in Columbia won't affect the demand for drugs, making it marginally more difficult to enter the United States to find work won't affect the number of "illegals" here.

Fight to increase the risk of hiring those not legally allowed to work in this country if you want to have any real effect on "illegal immigration".

I advocate equitable social contracts, and want people to abide by them.

Obtaining legal residency is a long and expensive process. Most farmworkers, gardeners or nannies couldn't afford it, even if they were eligible. Which generally, they're not. Consequently, your argument is a smokescreen.
posted by Slothrup at 10:25 AM on August 9, 2005


Y'know, one of the biggest failings of NAFTA was that it failed to remove restrictions on immigration. The only way that free trade can actually benefit poorer people is if they have the ability to move their capital (their labor) to where it will get the best return.
That's why all of this "strong border" bullshit is just that. I can understand wanting to protect those who have entered the country legally, but protecting a flawed system because it's the system we have is as much a flawed argument from tradition as it is an ad hominem argument to say that because Nazis support the Minutemen that they are de facto wrong. The Minutemen are, by and large, racists who are almost vindictive in their attempts to uphold a flawed law. That's why they're wrong and dangerous. The fact that they echo the Brown Shirts in tenor and tactic is concerning, but not the central issue.
Remember, folks, that one of those central ideas within democracy is that all of us are equal. Not only should someone's sex or race not be held against them, but their ancestry and place of origin are likewise irrelevant to their worth. Where you are born, and whether you are born rich or poor, is an accident of birth. The goal should be to make sure that everyone has a fair shot at making themselves successful. And, honestly, for a lot of Latin America, that shot at success comes from moving North (just as we're having problems with Mexican immigration, Mexico is having trouble with Honduran, Guatemalan, Panamanian, Columbian, etc. immigration).
posted by klangklangston at 10:25 AM on August 9, 2005


what do you mean by an equitable social contract?

The simplest sort -- a contract where each person is treated equally, and all must obey the rules without exception. It goes back to the waiting in line for hours in the cold and rain question I asked above (which you didn't answer, rhetorical thought it may have been). This is the most basic form of social order -- everyone understands that the rules are not to be circumvented by the individual, and that if a rule becomes obsolete, it needs to be changed through a codified process.

Written by and for the people -- although in this so-called democracy of ours I doubt that'll come to pass.

Allow me to add this response to glider: WTF is wrong with letting in illegals? America is a nation of "illegals". If you don't like the idea, move back to Ireland or wherever your ancestors came from.

Letting in an illegal is just that -- illegal. That's okay by you? You don't mind if I illegally squat in your back yard do you?

If you think the America of today is the same as the America of the 18th and 19th c., you have some catching up to do. And you can take your sentiment and stuff it, thank you very much.
posted by caporal at 10:27 AM on August 9, 2005


Opinion is all very well where knowledge is lacking, but when the knowledge is available, perhaps opinion should take a back seat for long enough to become informed opinion.

Historically, militant anti-immigrant groups have always been created, dominated by or heavily infiltrated by hard core racists.

Louis Beam and the Texas Emergency Reserve

The Posse Comitatus (the prototypical "All American" militia group that conceals its ties to overt racists like the KKK and neo-nazis)

Tom Posey's Civilian Military Assistance, which was the very first border watch group. CMA was also a conduit for illegal Contra aid, had overt ties to the KKK and worked with the Special Forces detachment in the Alabama National Guard (which in turn was controlled by KKK members.)

The "neighborhood watch" canard is very old and stale white supremacist cover for modern day nightriders. The militias harped on this ten years ago and there is nothing new about this line of rhetoric concealing paramilitary political violence by extremists.

Human rights groups have been warning against the use of border watch militias as fronts for hard-core racists for some time:

A year ago in Salon

Last May in Bill Berkowitz

The ADL in 2003 and 2004
posted by warbaby at 10:31 AM on August 9, 2005


Obtaining legal residency is a long and expensive process. Most farmworkers, gardeners or nannies couldn't afford it, even if they were eligible. Which generally, they're not. Consequently, your argument is a smokescreen.

But it isn't. It's a genuine position founded on the principle of "we all play fair." If the rules make it impossible to do so, then change the rules -- but recognize that there are those who did play fair and who suffered considerably to do so, and that changing the rules suddenly will be a slap in the face to them.

Immigration is not an entitlement. If I wanted to move to, say, Australia, it's well within the rights of the Australian government to tell me to get stuffed if I don't meet their requirements. That's the point of borders -- each group within those borders has to protect its own interests.

Now, if letting in migrants south of the border to work is in our interests, then fine, the rules need changing. There are consequences to pay for that, of course.
posted by caporal at 10:32 AM on August 9, 2005


Rather ugly discussion. It's a big mess to be sure, and tho you're awfully upset, caporal, you do make some good points.

However I think there are more urgent and better things we can do first to fix up the economy, before dealing with the immigrant problem, like dealing with our addiction to petroleum and reducing energy use through more efficiency and conservation.

Something to ponder: a large part of our economy is based on the development and building of new homes. Most of those new homes are being built in the Southwest, where the fastest-growing cities like Phoenix, Las Vegas and the Los Angeles area are. From just driving past the Home Depot and paint stores on my way to work, I can tell you that most of that building is being done by illegal immigrants working for probably $5 an hour. Back in NJ where I used to live, most of the house building used to be done by legal citizens who make $20, $30, $40 an hour, many of them in unions. So, if what they call "housing starts" make up a major fraction of the growth economy, and suddenly contractors in the high-growth areas would have to pay 4 times as much to their workers, I'm pretty sure building new homes would become economically unviable - and if not unviable, the price of the homes would rise to impossible levels.

And there's where Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac come in, because they finance most of those "starts" and the prospective homeowners who buy them. Between the two of them they have over a trillion dollars in outstanding loans, more than the annual Federal budget - to the point where Greenspan is recommending that a cap be imposed on their lending (see this). They in fact "have grown so large that they pose a threat to the entire financial system."

You see, everything is interconnected. Ending the use of illegals as labor has the potential of putting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into default, which could utterly decimate the US economy, destroy the value of the dollar, and ultimately effectively end the United States as a nation. And then the border dispute would get really ugly, wouldn't it?

That's not a risk that anyone wants to take. The illegal immigrant problem is one that needs addressing, but it's nowhere near the highest item on the list - except to a few racists who are worried about the Whiteness of America being "browned" from outside. If more people understood the interconnectedness and potential impact of drastic changes to fundamental market forces, they might be less vehement about single issues like this.

Besides, as long as large financial interests are making bigger profits by using immigrant labor, nothing will change.

Oh and by the way... with or without illegal immigration, Hispanics will outnumber whites in terms of population percentage in the US in something like a decade. So, don't expect the voters to decide to close the borders after that happens!

Personally I think we should make a formal special dispensation and amnesty, because there are too many of them and we can't live the way we do without them. The official population of Los Angeles is something like 3 million, but I guarantee you it's more like 5 million. Removing 2 million hard-working people from here would turn this place into a ghost town overnight. (However the traffic would improve a lot!)
posted by zoogleplex at 10:33 AM on August 9, 2005


warbaby

Thank you for the considered and informative response. I promise to read all of the links you supplied. They may indeed change my entire position.

Having said that, and assuming recognition of border watches as being negative forces, I'm still on the side of the fence that maintains double standards are a Bad Idea. I note that no one on the side of allowing for illegal immigrants is willing to tackle the question of why the group that is playing the game by the rules should be punished (via expense, time, effort, etc) while the group that is breaking the rules should be rewarded (via asylum and automatic visas). More than anything this irks me beyond belief.

I'm willing to adjust my position on pretty much anything given a preponderance of support, but shafting a law-abiding group while rewarding a law-breaking one isn't one of those things.
posted by caporal at 10:38 AM on August 9, 2005


It's a big mess to be sure, and tho you're awfully upset, caporal, you do make some good points.

Not upset, zoogleplex. Irked maybe, as I describe above to warbaby. But that irritation has been ongoing for years now. I really despise any sort of double-standard.

I appreciate your arguments and don't disagree with many of them. I also understand that the immigration issue isn't top of the pile and as always people look out for their short-term interests before long term ones. I for one am prepared for an economic collapse (or as prepared as anyone can be) and rather think it's what we deserve as a nation. I only hope it brings down the power elite of this nation as well, since they're the ones who urge us to spend so they can get richer.

I also find it highly amusing that many of my adversaries in this discussion offer a subtext that I'm white. :-) :-)
posted by caporal at 10:43 AM on August 9, 2005


If you think the America of today is the same as the America of the 18th and 19th c. you have some catching up to do

Exactly the same argument to immigration of Jews and Italians in the early 20th Century. Exactly.

Caporal, you did not answer my not-so-rhetorical question. Who's writing the contract?

One last thing on illegality. I accept that Delmoi's tone may have been a little shrill, but I take his broader point. Ghandi suggested that there are unjust laws, just as there are unjust men, and that sometimes the only way to work to change a law is to break it. It just works that way sometimes.

Illegal immigration is less a political act that an act of economic necessity, yet it is a fact, and in part a reflection of an inequtable situation in which some labor gets discounted just because the laborers come from another country. I find this unjust, but I don't think the solution is keeping this discounted labor out. The solution lies in greater openness, so that labor cannot be so easily discounted. Until then, however, I am not going to advocate following laws that increase human misery outside our borders just because they are laws, emerging as they do as part of a prior 'contract' written without the consent of most of the parties concerned.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 10:44 AM on August 9, 2005


Oh well I certainly don't assume you're white, and nothing you've written indicates a racist stance of any kind. You just don't like the double standard, which is understandable. I just think it's not practical at the moment.

And the kind of collapse we're talking about here would make the Great Depression seem like a minor blip, since the whole world's finances depend very much on ours. I wouldn't wish that on anyone, so I'd like to see sensible and rational measures taken to deal with it all and make whatever transition happens more bearable.

Not that that's ever going to happen...
posted by zoogleplex at 10:48 AM on August 9, 2005


I also find it highly amusing that many of my adversaries in this discussion offer a subtext that I'm white

Who? Certainly not me...
posted by Dr_Johnson at 10:48 AM on August 9, 2005


Personally I think we should make a formal special dispensation and amnesty, because there are too many of them and we can't live the way we do without them.

This is a very good idea. Not that that's ever going to happen either, unfortunately.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 10:50 AM on August 9, 2005


caporal, your devotion to "the rules" is quaint. People knowingly break "the rules" all the time.

1. I have a customer who regularly overloads the trucks they send on a particular route. They do this, because the fines the occaisionally have to pay are less expensive than the amount they save by regularly exceeding the weight limit.

2. Two words: "speed limit"

3. Two more words: "tax evasion"

"Rules" -- laws -- are not like physical laws. No one can break the law of gravity. They're not even necessarily like moral laws. Is breaking the speed limit immoral? Human rules are simply conventions we've come up with to promote behavior that we want, and to discourage behavior that we don't want. And in the case of immigration, "the rules" don't seem to be doing either of those things very effectively.

With that in mind, insistence on "the rules" of "legal" immigration invites one to speculate why *this particular* example of rule-breaking is such a hot-button topic? I mean, why aren't these people organizing against tax evasion? Or speeding? And that's what leads people to speculate that *part* of the answer is racism.
posted by Slothrup at 10:53 AM on August 9, 2005


Exactly the same argument to immigration of Jews and Italians in the early 20th Century. Exactly.

Oh please. That point was to illustrate how situations change over time, not to justify keeping out specific ethnic groups.

Caporal, you did not answer my not-so-rhetorical question. Who's writing the contract?

How about the citizens of this country? It would be within their rights, yes?

I accept that Delmoi's tone may have been a little shrill

A little shrill? His point was stained by the foam on the corners of his mouth. I suspect if I behaved the same way you'd be denouncing me outright. But he gets "shrill."

a reflection of an inequtable situation in which some labor gets discounted just because the laborers come from another country.

You just swept our right to dictate what happens in our borders right out the door. Nice.

If you want globalization, fine, open the doors; I'm okay with that. But you can't have it both ways. The people who spent the money (and some of these did in fact come from poorer nations south of our border) to immigrate legally should be compensated.

If we're to take responsibility for human misery outside our borders, we'd better be prepared to do it all around the world. Are YOU going to pay for that?
posted by caporal at 10:54 AM on August 9, 2005


I also find it highly amusing that many of my adversaries in this discussion offer a subtext that I'm white. :-) :-)

There's certainly no requirement that you be white in order to be racist ;).
posted by Slothrup at 10:57 AM on August 9, 2005


The fact the Minutemen have shown themselves to be exclusively after Hispanics tells you much about why Neo-Nazis would be so comfortable with them--they're both being racist.

The fact that some immigrants can walk here and others have to fly in with papers is one reason why there are such different standards. We have also overly-restricted our immigration quotas and laws, and they're racist as well, but still far too limited in the number of workers our economy needs. If most of our own families were trying legally to get into America today, they wouldn't be able to. I hope they would do as these illegals do, and get themselves in here by hook or by crook.
posted by amberglow at 10:58 AM on August 9, 2005


We need to either remove the entire facade of entering the country legally or bolster our borders.

Dr_Johnson said it better, but there's also the third option of making legal immigration easier, or creating different layers of immigration.

This country was created by immigrants, you know. Every single step of the way, good and bad.

Keep the borders open

BCC roundtable: Should borders be open?

Also, don't forget that all of us in support of open borders are dirty communists. It's true. (Be sure to click on his blog link, updated "every business day.")

A Day Without a Mexican
posted by mrgrimm at 10:58 AM on August 9, 2005


slothrup

With that in mind, insistence on "the rules" of "legal" immigration invites one to speculate why *this particular* example of rule-breaking is such a hot-button topic?

It isn't the only such topic, but it's the one attached to this news item.

You'll also note (if you've been reading any of the comments) that it's not immigration itself that tweaks me, it's the double-standard being imposed.

When rules like speed limits are broken, it's done with an implied social contract. Double standards exist there too, when a cop pulls YOU over and not the guy who was going the same speed.

And I'm neither racist nor white. I'm from Mars, and therefore speciesist. ;-)
posted by caporal at 11:13 AM on August 9, 2005


"an inequtable situation in which some labor gets discounted just because the laborers come from another country."

It's not even that, Doc, it's that as economic entities, they don't technically exist. You don't have to provide an illegal with benefits like health insurance and workmen's comp, and since you're paying them under the table you don't have to pay their payroll taxes either. Remember that an employer pays in for Medicare, Social Security and Unemployment in equal amounts that the employee does. Paying anyone under the table - no matter where they're from - means saving a huge chunk of money not only in actual wage but in benefit support and insurance.

That is the real effect - paying someone $5 an hour to hang drywall saves the contractor probably $30 an hour in total cost of labor as opposed to a union guy, and that's what's keeping the home-building economy going. The savings is less when talking about farm workers, but it's still substantial.

US citizens face a lot more risk if they work under the table, as they can be imprisoned for tax evasion. Illegals just get deported, so they're just more likely to take jobs like that.
posted by zoogleplex at 11:17 AM on August 9, 2005


In response to caporal; Letting in an illegal is just that -- illegal. That's okay by you?

Yes, it's OK by me. So is gays getting married. So is smoking pot. Plenty of things are illegal that shouldn't be.

You don't mind if I illegally squat in your back yard do you?

Well, ignoring the fact that it's not really the same thing, you're talking to a guy that's into communes, so sure, come and hang out in the empty lot behind my house.

If you think the America of today is the same as the America of the 18th and 19th c., you have some catching up to do.

Yeah, liberty is so passe. Hell, why not scrap the Constitution while we're at it. It's getting pretty old as well!
posted by glider at 11:21 AM on August 9, 2005


Yo glider

es, it's OK by me. So is gays getting married. So is smoking pot. Plenty of things are illegal that shouldn't be.

Neither of those bother me either, but they don't bring about a red-light double standard now, do they? In fact, they both knock down the pre-existing double-standard.

Well, ignoring the fact that it's not really the same thing, you're talking to a guy that's into communes, so sure, come and hang out in the empty lot behind my house.

I'm not. I like being alone, with lots of trees around me. Do you think it's okay to squat in MY back yard?

Yeah, liberty is so passe. Hell, why not scrap the Constitution while we're at it. It's getting pretty old as well!

To use your own argument against you, it's not really the same thing, is it.

Sheesh.
posted by caporal at 11:30 AM on August 9, 2005


I quite like the Constitution. This part has a lot of bearing on the current discussion:
14th Amendment Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Much of the debate about immigration attempts to strip any person of 14th Amendment protections because of their immigration status. The Constitution and Declaration of Independence attempt to make universal statements that apply to all peoples' rights. If one is under the jurisdiction of the United States of America, one is subject to equal protection of the laws.

This is the contradiction at the heart of claiming that "illegal" people are somehow less than human and do not partake of the human rights ennumerated in the Constitution and laws of the U.S..

It's not a subtle point, but it is skirted, ignored, avoided and question-begged out of the argument all too often.
posted by warbaby at 11:55 AM on August 9, 2005


Americans are sadly unwilling to pay $3 an orange

Says who? Americans will pay $8 for a bucket of popcorn at a theatre. Americans will pay $30 for some plastic flip-flop shower shoes because they have a designer label. Americans will pay $2.50 a gallon to fill up their H2, so why wouldn't they pay more for an orange?

I'd like to know though what these legal means are that caporal has in mind that are available to unskilled Latin Americans. If there is a legal process for these people to enter the US and live, please explain what this process consists of.

Further, I'd like to know how you would enforce these laws. We currently spend billions enforcing immigration laws and have about a 25% success rate, how would you secure 100% enforcement?

For all the faults of an amnesty program, at least it documents the aliens who are here at present. The alternative is massive round-ups and concentration camps. No, that's not hyperbole, we have a process of trial before assumption of guilt, so each and every one of these people would require a trial prior to deportation. In the meantime the only way to house them would be in concentration camps. Our friends in other nations are already grumpy with us at present enforcement levels, what do you think they'll be like if we start putting people in camps?
posted by Pollomacho at 12:09 PM on August 9, 2005


Further, I'd like to know how you would enforce these laws. We currently spend billions enforcing immigration laws and have about a 25% success rate, how would you secure 100% enforcement?

You got me. And on the point of practicality I will have to capitulate.

However, others here are still not addressing the entire double-standard issue. I'm rather hoping there are more people than just myself (and zoogleplex who at least recognized the validity of the complaint) who can't stand the idea that those who are making the effort to play the game by the rules are being effectively punished for doing so. Who's going to compensate them, or is it a case of "too bad, so sad, you lost sucker"?

I get the feeling no one wants to tackle this question precisely because they don't give a flying for those who did their best to remain lawful.
posted by caporal at 12:20 PM on August 9, 2005


caporal, to answer your silly and only marginally relevant question, if you have a big forested largely unused space behind your house, hypothetically I've got no problem camping out in it if I'm passing by, assuming it's not in use by you or someone else.

Neither one of us has more inherited right to it than the other.
posted by glider at 12:26 PM on August 9, 2005


It's quite relevant glider. It draws the line at how we view laws and personal rights.

if you have a big forested largely unused space behind your house, hypothetically I've got no problem camping out in it if I'm passing by, assuming it's not in use by you or someone else.

It has wire around it and signs saying 'Private Property.' I paid for it. Would you still think it's okay to camp there?
posted by caporal at 12:31 PM on August 9, 2005


the people who spent the money (and some of these did in fact come from poorer nations south of our border) to immigrate legally should be compensated.

On the other side of this coin how about compensation for the poor wages, lost taxes and other deductions that the "illegals" pay/are paid? Gonna compensate them for being ripped off too?

Look, whatever the arguments behind the immigration issue, these guys are racists and that's what they care about. End of story.
posted by nofundy at 12:31 PM on August 9, 2005


For myself, caporal, I agree with the commenter who mentioned NAFTA above, and how it doesn't make economic sense to keep a "strong border" with NAFTA in place. My stance on the validity of your complaint re "following the rules" is that the rules clearly don't function given the reality of the situation, and should therefore be addressed and changed. An amnesty and special dispensation could help there while a more formal set of new immigration rules - perhaps specific to the Mexican border - is worked out by the legislature.

So basically make the rules a lot easier, so it's more fair to everyone, so those who have been trying to get in legally don't suffer for it, and to minimize the potential economic damage.

Of course, that would make the border more permeable to drug smugglers and potential terrorists... but that's a whole other can o' worms, kids, and not in the scope of this thread.

And yeah, I agree that these vigilante types are racist, no matter what they claim. By and large the illegals do more good than harm by being here - they're not putting Americans out of work anymore, they're just doing jobs that Americans don't seem to want to do.

There is a pretty good article in last week's LA Weekly about some local California Minuteman-type groups. Worth reading if you can find it.
posted by zoogleplex at 12:35 PM on August 9, 2005


One of the main things, completely on a tangential subject, that I gathered from watching this situation develop has been the complete ineffectiveness of these groups to prevent any illegals from making the crossing.

Considering that they set up their "observation posts" along I think is was a 4 mile stretch of the border, within close access to the existing roads and habitibal lands, they kind of did about as much good as a pebble trying to damn up Niagara Falls.

There was a great peice on NPR (yes, I'm one of those leftologists who listens to NPR religiously and really likes the production and commentary) about this guy who lives on the border in New Mexico. He had this amazing gravely voice, straight out of some ominous Western, and he talked for about 15 minutes about the estimated number of human remains that are never found in a stretch of desert about 15 miles wide. You could have someone crossing 100 feet away from you in the night and neither you or they would know the other was there, just because of how harsh the environment of the desert is. And Mexicans cross those no-mans' lands by the thousands. Everyday. Every Day. Those that make it to one of the cities will hop on a bus headed north or east into a farming community or some place where day laborers are wanted. They'll make more money under the table in a month than their whole extended family back in Mexico will make in a year. And these laborers will send nearly 80% of their earnings back home to Mexico. This creates a new economic boom for those in Mexico that are in power. They don't want to borders closed. They love it. American money is siphoned off into their local economies while we pay someone to mow our lawn or pick our fruit for what we think is "cheap".

Actually, the anarchist in me liked these Minute Men, as dumb as they are (and yes, they are pretty un-enlightened individuals). They have dogmatic talking points that they pass around at their meetings so everyone is "on message" in case they have to talk to the media. Even still, you get one of them alone and buddy up with them with a beer or a smoke and they'll tell you what they're really there for. To be a citizen soldier. A militia. To kick ass for them damn 'beaners' taking American jobs. The same jobs they themselves are too good to do for such little pay. Because it's not right that you can't earn a living wage these days without a college degree or something. And they still vote Republican (golly, gee).

And no, these are not strawmen. These are actual words from the men involved. Go listen to the interviews on NPR. They were aired sometime in June or July I think (maybe May) on All Things Considered and Marketplace. Just search for the Minute Men.

I go now and sharped the pointy end of my Chair Leg of Truth.
posted by daq at 1:15 PM on August 9, 2005


caporal, you may have paid for the land, but you bought stolen property and your moral right to "own" it is questionable at best.
posted by glider at 1:19 PM on August 9, 2005


However, others here are still not addressing the entire double-standard issue. I'm rather hoping there are more people than just myself (and zoogleplex who at least recognized the validity of the complaint) who can't stand the idea that those who are making the effort to play the game by the rules are being effectively punished for doing so.

I just don't see it.

My wife is a legal immigrant. She doesn't have to be worried about being deported. She can be relatively certain about receiving the full protection of the law. She doesn't have to be worried about being turned in. In a few years, if she wants, she can become a citizen and vote.

How is she being "effectively punished" by those who have none of those things?
posted by Slothrup at 1:31 PM on August 9, 2005


So, honestly, what is really wrong with illegal immigration?

If you worry about terrorists it seems they can get here legally with little problem.

If it is that they are getting free medical benefits for our tax dollars or they crowd our clinics and schools it seems a petty concern - considering many illegals work in our homes and pick our fruit and build our homes. [And why not just require ID cards for such services]?

Is it because they are taking good American jobs?

Are the freeways too busy? Or will one of them driving an uninsured car run into us?

While I think it is generally good when people follow the rules and I would want more people to not feel the need to hop the border I have to say I don't see it as big a problem as most people do. [BTW I live in Southern California in a predominately spanish speaking neighborhood].

Protecting our borders is not a bad idea but it seems to me that there is a racial element to the Minutemen that speaks much louder than their need to protect our borders.
posted by Rashomon at 1:49 PM on August 9, 2005


caporal, you may have paid for the land, but you bought stolen property and your moral right to "own" it is questionable at best.

Unfortunately for your point of view, glider, this is not the majority opinion of lawmakers or voters in this country. We hold ownership of private property as a right rather than theft in the US. Legally, regardless of you opinion on its morality, private property in the US is indeed private and property. Unless you have some question as to the clear title on caporal's land, there is really not a viable argument there as far as US law goes.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:51 PM on August 9, 2005


Slothrup: In theory, the illegals coming in take your wife's place in the workplace and society, thus making it harder for her to get in. Or, more correctly (since she's here), take people like your wife's place in the workplace and society, thus reducing the space and/or need for people like your wife to immigrate.

Where that theory might fall apart depends on what your wife does for a living and how she fits into society. Is she a farm worker or a house painter?

We should probably do a study on how many people trying to come in legally are aiming for low-end jobs in construction and farm work. All of the people I know here in LA on work visas pending their green cards are highly skilled programmers, engineers, technicians and artists, whose jobs would pay them rather a lot above the US median family income (around $44,000/year).

And come to think of it, people like that threaten MY job a lot more than illegals working on a strawberry farm up in Oxnard - or coming by my apartment every two weeks as cleaning staff. So really, many of us are under a worse threat from legal immigrants than from illegal ones, and that's one reason why the legal ones have so much trouble getting in, I'd guess!

That's an interesting thought... people who want to immigrate legally are an economic threat, while people who come in illegally are an economic boon and asset. That there is a thought worth following, and I think it's the heart of the problem.
posted by zoogleplex at 1:59 PM on August 9, 2005


Pollomacho, I understand that my statement is supported more by ethics than by law: I'm just trying to make the point that this entire line of thinking is fundamentally hypocritical, and that saying "but that's the law" is just a whiny statement that's correct only legally -- and while one could argue that being right legally is what decides a matter, it is much harder to argue that it is what makes it right or wrong.
posted by glider at 2:55 PM on August 9, 2005


Caporal is right. I have to go now but in about 3 hours I'll be back with more to say.
posted by beth at 3:02 PM on August 9, 2005


caporal: you bore me.

Usually I try to see the point of view of the people I'm arguing with here, but either your being disingenuous, or you're an idiot.

You complain about people breaking the law, not following the rules, and act like that should be universally hated. It's not. There are many laws past and present that people don't think should be followed. Some laws are good, some laws are bad. You've made no attempt to either explain why this rule is a good rule, or refute the idea that some rules are good and some are bad.

It isn't a consistent position.

Interesting, you think everyone should follow a 'social contract', and that everyone should be treated equally by it. Yet, you claim that Mexicans don't have a right to be here, while Americans do. Thus, Mexicans are "less equal" then Americans.

Anyway, whatever.

Finally, you seem to think that Legal immigrants are being harmed.

However, others here are still not addressing the entire double-standard issue. I'm rather hoping there are more people than just myself (and zoogleplex who at least recognized the validity of the complaint) who can't stand the idea that those who are making the effort to play the game by the rules are being effectively punished for doing so. Who's going to compensate them, or is it a case of "too bad, so sad, you lost sucker"?

So, in your mind If a neighbor gets a pool in his backyard, I'm being punished. If a friend gets a promotion at work, I'm being punished. If ever anything isn't perfectly fair, someone is being punished. That's just stupid.

You're far better off being a Legal Immigrant, then an Illegal one. That’s why people do it. It hard to get a high paying job if you're an illegal immigrant, and that’s why people go through the hassle of doing it legally.

Duh.
posted by delmoi at 4:13 PM on August 9, 2005


people who want to immigrate legally are an economic threat, while people who come in illegally are an economic boon and asset. That there is a thought worth following, and I think it's the heart of the problem.
It's very true. But also goes back to the kinds of visas available and that if you're classified as skilled in tech or something we have a shortage in, it's easier, etc. There are just as many immigrant doctors working as janitors and stuff as there are immigrant doctors working as doctors.

The current annual legal quota for Mexican immigrants is 75,000. (as of 2002)
posted by amberglow at 4:29 PM on August 9, 2005




delmoi

Have you always whined and frothed like that or does that come with practice?

I've already capitulated on the main point, as others here have taken the time to help educate me, and I see their argument clearly now. I thank them for it. My stance on the border issue has now effectively changed and I intend to do some further reading on the subject.

You, however, are a perfect example of someone who -- how shall I put this -- argues loudly and belligerently because they like to hear themselves be "right" even if they're wrong.

But hey, have a nice day. It sure looks like you need it.
posted by caporal at 4:51 PM on August 9, 2005


So okay...

To me the larger point is: does a country have a right to control immigration? To control its borders? I believe it does. That's part of what a country *is* - an entity that controls a physical piece of territory. It's a basic right of sovereignty.

Some of you think we should let in all comers. Be my guest to form a PAC and lobby for your position - that's the way laws get changed in this country.

Frankly, the idea that it's somehow "okay" for people to be paid slave wages to pick our food is complete horseshit. Illegal immigrants as it stands today have absolutely zero recourse if their employer abuses them, and from what I have read, abuses are quite rampant. This situation helps nobody. If all the illegal immigrants were removed tomorrow and the borders shut tight, somehow American food growers would find the labor (at the price the market would bear) to pick the food, or they would get out of the business.

And I think it's bs to say that illegals "do the jobs Americans won't". Pay wages commensurate with the work, and plenty of Americans will line up to do those jobs. Oh but it's real cushy to have an illegal maid or nanny that you can pay pennies on the dollar, so of course our whole economy would collapse if you had to pay people minimum wage for that work. Cry me a river.
posted by beth at 6:28 PM on August 9, 2005


Either we control our borders or we don't. Illegals also get the shaft when it comes to wages, protections and are generally so scared of the police that they can't rely on law enforcement if they are being abused (google around for illegal immigrant sex slaves).
posted by melt away at 7:42 PM on August 9, 2005


delmoi, sadly I think the "idiot" hypothesis is more likely than the "disingenuous" hypothesis to be correct. Of course, I'm just a drunk Mexican so what do I know...
posted by glider at 7:43 PM on August 9, 2005


If all the illegal immigrants were removed tomorrow and the borders shut tight, somehow American food growers would find the labor (at the price the market would bear) to pick the food, or they would get out of the business.

Yup, they would airlift them in, while lobbying to get the borders opened again. It's no secret that many industries are wholly dependent on illegal labor.
posted by amberglow at 7:45 PM on August 9, 2005


Have you always whined and frothed like that or does that come with practice?

I'm not being any less shrill then you are, You're the one who said "Wow, delmoi. Talk about reactionary bile. You come across as quite an ass. Not a particularly interesting one, but hey, you're trying." After I posted a wopping two comments.

The only thing I can think you were talking about was that I said you were afraid of illegal immegrants., and I called Lou Dobbs reactionary fearmongering. But I didn't call you an "ass" I didn't say you were "unintresting". You're the one who brought in unrelated, personal insults, not me. If I'm an ass then so are you.

What I said (before you replied) could be construed as insulting, but what you said was meant only to insult and not add any information to the discussion. In my book thats much more assy.

You, however, are a perfect example of someone who -- how shall I put this -- argues loudly and belligerently because they like to hear themselves be "right" even if they're wrong.

Well, you haven't presented any evidence that I was wrong, you only loudly and belligerently asserted that it's "wrong" or at least bothersome when people break the rules. I said that this wasn't a reasonable argument, gave examples of rules that were obviously wrong. You then called me an Ass. Brilliant. So far, you have never given a good reason why rules ought to always be followed, other then that not doing so pisses you off. You can see why I'd be dismissive of that complaint.

Frankly, the idea that it's somehow "okay" for people to be paid slave wages to pick our food is complete horseshit. Illegal immigrants as it stands today have absolutely zero recourse if their employer abuses them, and from what I have read, abuses are quite rampant. This situation helps nobody. If all the illegal immigrants were removed tomorrow and the borders shut tight, somehow American food growers would find the labor (at the price the market would bear) to pick the food, or they would get out of the business.

Right, but it would be much simpler (and, as a benefit) possible to have legal protections for undocumented workers, or perhaps allow unlimited immigration from Mexico and other Latin countries to prevent that sort of abuse.

People who say they want to protect undocumented workers from abuse by throwing them in jail and kicking them out of the country are the most disingenuous.

By the way, I'm not saying we should let everyone in, I'm just saying we should let all Mexicans in. Controlling the borders is one thing, but denying reality is another.
posted by delmoi at 7:46 PM on August 9, 2005


delmoi, sadly I think the "idiot" hypothesis is more likely than the "disingenuous" hypothesis to be correct. Of course, I'm just a drunk Mexican so what do I know...

Well, you can never tell, can you. That's the problem.
posted by delmoi at 7:48 PM on August 9, 2005


Amen Beth
posted by caddis at 7:48 PM on August 9, 2005


Illegal immigrants are the ultimate proletariat since they are not citizens and thus have substandard rights. We "need" to have these slave-like workers to keep our costs down and enjoy more benefits for our pampered selves. Every one is equal, except that some are more equal than others, and the illegals are the least equal of all. We take their cheap labor, provide little or no services (despite the fact that most pay taxes through payroll deductions), treat them as third rate criminals and deport them at will - exploitation at its finest. Arguments to keep them for the low labor cost sound like a rehash of the arguments to justify slavery in the antebellum South.
posted by caddis at 8:22 PM on August 9, 2005


I'm not being any less shrill then you are, You're the one who said "Wow, delmoi. Talk about reactionary bile. You come across as quite an ass. Not a particularly interesting one, but hey, you're trying." After I posted a wopping two comments.

It looks like you agreed that one of them at least was an insulting, asinine comment. Rather than refute my points rationally you reverted to some pretty nasty hyperbole. I think you equated my argument with "niggers and white restaurants." Not very nice, was it? And it wasn't I who started walking down that path. If I get kicked, I kick back.

But heck, I can be friendly about it too and will bury the hatchet. Life is too short to fling poo at the computer screen.
posted by caporal at 8:33 PM on August 9, 2005


glider

Of course, I'm just a drunk Mexican so what do I know...

This explains a few things.

Oh relax. I mean the "drunk" part. :->
posted by caporal at 8:44 PM on August 9, 2005


It looks like you agreed that one of them at least was an insulting, asinine comment.

I said it could be construed as insulting way. Not that it was insulting. And I don't think it was Asinine at all. Sorry if you got confused. You're the one who started with the middle-school grade name calling.

Rather than refute my points rationally you reverted to some pretty nasty hyperbole. I think you equated my argument with "niggers and white restaurants." Not very nice, was it? And it wasn't I who started walking down that path.

It may not have been very polite, but I think it was the truth. Rosa Parks didn't follow the rules when she decided not to move to the back of the bus. You said you hate people who don't follow the rules. I don't see what the difference is, and you never explained what the difference is.

The point was to show you what the logical result of your "philosophy" was, not to pointlessly insult you.

If I get kicked, I kick back.

Yes, I make an argument that offends you, and you call me a whiny asshole. The truth can offend some people.

You claim that I didn't respond to your points, but you don't say what points I ignored. I think I covered most of them. And I pointed out what points of mine I thought you ignored.
posted by delmoi at 9:04 PM on August 9, 2005


*pours drinks for glider and caporal*

And thus we come full circle to the reason why the Republicans are dependent on neo-Confederates and racialists for maintaining control of the southern states electoral votes (a realignment of voting patterns that began in the 1964 presidential election): opposition to the 13th and 14th Amendments are central establishing unequal classes of people under federal juridiction.

The neo-Confederate and racialist hostility to these Constituional amendments is well known to those familar with the racist right. The Citizens' Rule Book (the most widely distributed racist literature on pseudo-constitutionalism and jury nullification) contains bizarre glosses on these amendments. See the footnote at the bottom of the amendments for an example.

So it shouldn't be suprising that the same people involved in previous outbreaks of white supremacist violence would flock to the border militias. And now they have additional political cover as one of the major parties (formerly the party of Lincoln) now openly courts subversives under the guise of patriotism. This will take more or less the same trajectory as every decade's resurgence of racist militancy has since WWI. Here we go again...
posted by warbaby at 9:08 PM on August 9, 2005


demoi, you need a drink too?
posted by warbaby at 9:09 PM on August 9, 2005


And I think it's bs to say that illegals "do the jobs Americans won't". Pay wages commensurate with the work, and plenty of Americans will line up to do those jobs. Oh but it's real cushy to have an illegal maid or nanny that you can pay pennies on the dollar, so of course our whole economy would collapse if you had to pay people minimum wage for that work. Cry me a river.


It's been a long time since we thought that wages were ever paid in a way commensurate with the work involved. That's unfortunately the exception, rather than the rule.

But I can't tell from you're comments whether you're sympathetic to the difficulties faced by illegal immigrants or not. You stress the low wages they are paid, yet advocate stronger control of the borders as if this will be a solution to the problem. For whom? Certainly not for the would-be immigrants, and perhaps not really for us consumers, since the boom-boom economy is predicted in part on cheap commodities (which is why the $3 orange does matter. It's called opportunity cost). providing more open borders with more opportunities for legal immigration solves both problems. We get to 'control' our borders, for whatever that's worth, and we put more pressure on wages to be increased (which we all seem to agree is a good thing, even if it slows things down a bit).
posted by Dr_Johnson at 9:17 PM on August 9, 2005


The point was to show you what the logical result of your "philosophy" was, not to pointlessly insult you.

I concede. You win. I do apologize if I went off the handle without justification.

I'm really not a horrid person, and I'll be the first to admit that the double-standard is one of my hot buttons. I've had people line jump on me, both literally and figuratively, and once ended up in a pretty nasty scrap because of it. I am sure these experiences colored my perspective today.

Well. What can you do.
posted by caporal at 9:17 PM on August 9, 2005


Is it right to have an economic system based upon the subjugation of an entire class of people? How many people here would refuse to buy a shoe or garment produced overseas with child labor, but are fine with paying an illegal immigrant to their own country a pittance wage so they can enjoy a cheap orange? Better for the illegal? That sounds like what they said in the South in the 1800s - the slaves are better off than their brethren back in Africa. Has the slavery economy been replaced by the illegal immigrant economy?
posted by caddis at 9:41 PM on August 9, 2005


Wow- I'm not reading all of that, but, from what I skimmed, I can honestly say that delmoi is either the biggest fuck to ever walk upright or a really great troll. My money is on "biggest fuck."
posted by mrblondemang at 10:12 PM on August 9, 2005


providing more open borders with more opportunities for legal immigration solves both problems. We get to 'control' our borders, for whatever that's worth, and we put more pressure on wages to be increased (which we all seem to agree is a good thing, even if it slows things down a bit).

Well, the importance of controlling our borders in a person's mind to some degree depends on the person's perception of our vulnerability to terrorists wanting to enter illegally.

I really don't see where this purported "pressure on wages to be increased" is going to come from, if there is an even more plentiful supply of cheap labor flooding in across the border. If anything, there would be downward pressure on wages. Supply and demand, naturally.

What I don't get is how you went from talking about $3 oranges and opportunity cost (to my mind indicating that we can't afford to pay farm workers reasonable wages), to then stating that we should allow legal status to all currently illegal immigrants - which would naturally entitle them to a minimum wage. Which we can't afford to pay them. Because oranges would be $3 a pop. So I don't get it. Could you please elucidate?

But I can't tell from you're comments whether you're sympathetic to the difficulties faced by illegal immigrants or not. You stress the low wages they are paid, yet advocate stronger control of the borders as if this will be a solution to the problem. For whom?

I am sympathetic, but only in certain ways to a certain degree. I believe I have a decent understanding of the economic and other forces at play, and I can understand why someone in a poverty-ridden village in Mexico, who sees their neighbor flee to America and send back fistfuls of cash to his family, would choose to risk illegal immigration to the US. I can understand it while at the same time thinking that it's not right.

For one thing, the conditions for many illegals working here are something I don't think anyone should have to endure. They don't have the protection of the law against unscrupulous employers. They work incredibly long hours at incredibly hard labor for incredibly tiny wages. I think it was in Reefer Madness that I was reading about farm laborers who regularly slept in the fields, not even having enough for a roof over their head. I think we should work against situations that cause people to be treated in such a fashion. It's part of basic human decency.

In the same respect, I respect the basic sovereignty of other nations, and I wouldn't dream of entering illegally unless my life were in serious danger otherwise. If I snuck my way into Europe, I'd fully expect to be bounced out on my ass, and I believe that's fair.

For every Mexican who crosses to the US, that's another Mexican who is not at home to work on improving conditions there. If everyone with the means to leave does, that seems to me a huge drain on resources available back home.

But, people say they send back massive loads of money. I have not seen any sort of report or study or story on exactly how this money typically gets used back home. I honestly don't know what happens. I just know illegal immigration is increasing every year (from what I have read, please point me to better data if that is incorrect), so evidently overall conditions are not improving there, or else people are doing what the vast majority of them are inclined to do: go for the big money.

The question I don't see even being asked is: what would best improve economic (and political) conditions for the people in Mexico so they wouldn't feel (quite as) tempted to go North? I guess the people who see illegal immigration as a boon don't have much interest in this question. As long as conditions of misery prevail South of the border, whee! More illegals to work cheaply for our benefit!

I'm just not comfortable with a vast illegal underclass in my country. I'm not even comfortable with the minimum wage as it stands, when it comes down to it. I think it should be higher, and I know I'm in the vanishingly small minority, but I would be willing to pay more for things if I knew the people who created what I buy had a living wage.

One other point - one thing that would happen if we had fewer illegal farm workers is more mechanization. Right now it's economically absurd for growers to invest in such technology when there are plenty of people willing to do back-breaking labor for pennies.

If we really care about improving lives in Mexico, I think one good thing we could do would be to find bright kids in Mexico and give them educations here, with the idea that they could take their knowledge to Mexico and work on improving the communities they came from. Or maybe they would just try to get citizenship here and make the big money like everyone else.

One question that keeps ringing in my head is this: if even Mexicans are just abandoning Mexico, how is it ever going to get better there? Maybe it never will, which saddens me.
posted by beth at 4:56 AM on August 10, 2005


Wow warbaby, what did you put in those drinks? I want one!
posted by nofundy at 6:20 AM on August 10, 2005


Green Ghost

1/2 oz Green Chartreuse
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
2 oz Gin

stir with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass

Open immigration and uncontrolled borders are two totally different things. After a couple of Green Ghosts, you will see two independent issues instead of one.
posted by warbaby at 6:56 AM on August 10, 2005


What I don't get is how you went from talking about $3 oranges and opportunity cost (to my mind indicating that we can't afford to pay farm workers reasonable wages), to then stating that we should allow legal status to all currently illegal immigrants - which would naturally entitle them to a minimum wage. Which we can't afford to pay them. Because oranges would be $3 a pop. So I don't get it. Could you please elucidate?

Well, personally I don't like the idea that these people are working for so cheap, but while an illegal might make $3 an hour now and $5.50 an hour legally. That's not too much of a difference. Americans would require at least $10 an hour, probably more if suddenly there were six million low paying jobs available and there were only 600,000 mostly white collar workers to do 'em.

It's an argument from practicality, "the facts on the ground" as it were. It would be nice if Mexico could improve conditions on their own, but that's not going to happen in the interim.

What bothers me about the whole thing is the idea that a person born in one place should have more rights then a person born somewhere else. There are some people who have to work hard to become citizens, true, but most of us didn't do anything.

Of course I think we should be able to keep out crazy islamists, but there aren’t very many of those in Mexico. A comprehensive system of protecting Mexican airports and their (small) border with Guatemala would be much more effective in preventing Terrorists from getting to North America in the first place.
posted by delmoi at 7:01 AM on August 10, 2005


One question that keeps ringing in my head is this: if even Mexicans are just abandoning Mexico, how is it ever going to get better there? Maybe it never will, which saddens me.

There are 110 million Mexicans, and six million illegal immigrants here in the US. That's quite a bit, but it's silly to say that Mexicans are "abandoning" Mexico. The per capita GDP is $9,600, which would equate to about $4.61/hr working a 40 hour workweek, which is pretty close to what an undocumented worker might make here.
posted by delmoi at 7:05 AM on August 10, 2005


Currently, it is well understood that most illegal immigrants in the U.S. live in a dismal state (awful working conditions, low wages, overcrowding, fear and distrust of law enforcement, sexual slavery, etc.); this is caused pretty much entirely by their illegal status. To me, this is the real evil of illegal immigration - that poor people must endure privation, suffering, and injustice in order to feed their families, because of the machinations of a hostile, arbitrary system that marginalizes them because they weren't born lucky. I could care less about $3 oranges.

I propose:
  1. lifting all regional caps and quotas for documented immigrants
  2. setting an annual cap of 1-2% of the U.S. population (currently about 3-6 million people) for legal immigration, to avoid an immediate overwhelming rush of settlers
  3. Nominal processing fees only
  4. requiring from prospective immigrants only:
    • a valid passport from one's country of origin,
    • no felony convictions or ties to terrorist groups,
    • no serious, contagious diseases (such as yellow fever or malaria),
    • and an offer of work from a legitimate domestic employer
Can we all agree on these policy points?
posted by skoosh at 10:12 AM on August 10, 2005


the offer of work thing is impossible to get before you're actually here, especially for unskilled people, skoosh.
posted by amberglow at 10:16 AM on August 10, 2005


Unfortunately for your point of view, glider, this is not the majority opinion of lawmakers or voters in this country.

Yes. That is very unfortunate. But things change ...
posted by mrgrimm at 11:28 AM on August 16, 2005


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