Monday, April 10, 2006

A number of hot-button isms mix and mingle in the current immigration debate. Anything but simple, it’s an issue custom-built for cognitive dissonance. On the right, it’s free marketers versus cultural conservatives . On the left, civil rights and ethnic advocacy groups versus environmentalists and job protectionists. And everyone wants cheap goods and services, no matter what. It’s no wonder Congress couldn’t manage to do anything with it in an election year.

Ism-wise: first off, you’ve got your terrorism, of course. Groups like the wonderfully crotchety have proposed a “fence” along the Southern border, “based on the highly effective Israeli fences in the West Bank and Gaza... consisting of six parallel physical barriers…40 yards wide at minimum.” Puts the “Great Fence of China”—a pathetic 18 feet wide—to shame, doesn’t it? Whatever happened to the word “wall” by the way? I mean, this isn’t exactly white picket we’re talking about. But the really interesting thing here, on many levels, is the heavily implied comparison of Mexicanos to Palestinian terrorists. Is it hyperbole or flat-out hysteria?

Then you’ve got a little “compassionate classism,” sprinkled with some old-school , 19th Century patrician-style “benevolent racism” in that catchy slogan “they do the jobs Americans won’t.” This clever line briefly unseated “it’s the media’s fault for only reporting the bad news” as the GOP meme of the week. The infallible Mr. Bush proclaimed it in speeches as if it were obvious and indisputable. But the truth is, the assumption that illegals “do the jobs Americans won’t” is obnoxiously imperious, not to mention that it rationalizes employment practices that are unethical at best, and at worst out-and-out immoral.

This is, again, not about workers, legal or illegal, or their humane treatment. It's about a class of people in America who don't want to pay living wages for labor, and another class that has no choice but to suck it up. Illegals “live in the shadows” cast by American businesses and consumers who benefit from the cheap labor only illegals can provide. And the argument against a legal living wage is compelling, particularly for a nation addicted to retail therapy. It takes the form of an insidious threat, and goes something like this: if we pay more for labor, you’ll pay more for goods. Furthermore, if the cost of goods goes up on account of the cost of labor, the living wage will have to increase, too. A raging cycle of exploding costs. Retail terrorism. Let’s build a fence.

For variety, there’s also the comically absurd notion that the grossly incompetent Homeland Security Mafia could round up ten million illegals and send them home, should they decide to do so. Congress was right to throw up its arms, and scurry off to spring break. And our ADD President has moved on as well. With his numbers in the toilet and congressional elections looming, how can he hope to fix immigration? Mr. Bush has finally acknowledged it’s time for regime change… in Iran.


Post a Comment

<< Home