For the duration

I’ve been a little out of touch with current events for the last few days but I understand that President Bush plans to give us “The Talk” tonight. Not that talk. The talk about immigration and border security. Long overdue, I must say.

This morning on the news I heard one person being interviewed who said that there’s no emergency situation at the U. S. border. I guess I agree. Five years ago securing the border might reasonably have been considered an emergency. After very little more than lip-service for five years I’m not sure what the correct word is but “emergency” doesn’t seem to cover it.

Just to make my own opinion perfectly clear one more time: I’m really pretty unconcerned about immigration, legal or illegal. There have never been any laws here which required immigrants to assimilate but IMO the vitality and power of American culture virtually assures that, especially if the barriers to assimilation are removed. Barriers to assimilation include housing segregation, teaching languages other than English as the primary language in the public schools, social acceptability of languages other than English, and the formation of communities with a “critical mass” of immigrants from the same countries of origin. Hey, the Supreme Court of the United States believes in critical mass, who am I to argue?

But I am concerned about securing our borders and other points of entry into the country so I’m interested in hearing if the president has finally decided to tak the issue seriously or whether he’ll continue to try to assuage the American people without actually doing anything about it.

I think the concern about immigration, generally, has been brewing for a long time (since 1965 when the old quota system was abolished). Median income hasn’t been rising much in the last 30 years. Although the rate of immigration was high during the 90’s there wasn’t as much concern about it because real median wages were rising for the first time in a long time. That hasn’t be true since the 90’s.

But I genuinely think that the issue of border security has come to a head perhaps as part of the rising general level of anxiety, perhaps due to enhanced concerns about security. Consider the statistics on U. S. civilian casualties during war:

War Civilian casualties
World War I 200
World War II 11,200
Korean War 5
Viet Nam War ?
War on Terror >3,000

If you exclude the deaths of those serving in the Merchant Marine from the civilian death statistics for World War II, the number during that war, too, becomes very small—probably less than 100.I think Americans have accepted the notion that we’re in a war without a clear front but they still believe that reasonable measures should be taken to minimize domestic casualties. We’re currently arguing about the meaning of “reasonable”.I have always found the idea of a long, possibly generations-long conflict in the War on Terror very troubling for any number of reasons. For good or ill that’s the path we’re embarked on. But if pollitical elites in the United States think that a long, possibly forever war in which there civilian casualties in numbers taken within our borders will be tolerated by the American people without changing the essentially open borders we’ve had throughout our nation’s history, they’re going to be bitterly disappointed.

13 comments… add one
  • Devil's Advocate Link

    So, now we have to secure our Southern borders, to prevent the hordes of Mexicans and Central Americans to cross over to wash our laundry, clean our pools, watch our children, deliver our fast food, bus tables in our restaurants, etc… Scary invasion indeed!

    Meanwhile, 98% of the containers entering the US go unchecked. We can only hope that no dirty bomb comes in with a shipment of garden hoses from China.

  • You need to read more closely, Devil’s Advocate. Let me repeat the relevant section for you:

    I am concerned about securing our borders and other points of entry into the country

    That includes ports (and container inspections) and airports.

    And, no, I’m not particularly worried about Mexicans and Central Americans. I eagerly await your plan for preventing radical Islamist terrorists or anybody else with a grudge against us from entering via Mexico without securing our southern border.

  • But we already have our plan in place to stop terrorists from entering our borders – doing exactly what they want. Run a pointless war we can’t afford in a country that had nothing to do with terrorism, and spend our way into our own downfall.

    The terrorists can’t possibly do a better job of destroying this country than the current adminstration is doing, and they darn well know it. Why would they bother?

  • Devil's Advocate Link

    Last time I checked, the 9/11 terrorists and other Qaeda-wannabes did not come springing through the Southern border. There is no evidence whatsoever that the Mexican border is a port of entry for terrorists.

    What there is, however, is plenty of evidence of xenophobic and racist rhetoric against “brown people ” being spouted about by Republicans trying yet again to drive a wedge among Americans ahead of an electionthat they are terrified they will lose.

    Worse for this country, there is ample evidence of the Bush Administration’s monumental failure in the so-called war on terror, not the least of which being that our bridges, tunnels, ports, chemical and nuclear plants are woefully unprotected.

    Another monumental failure of the Bush Administration was to let 9/11 happen. On August 6, 2001, Bush received a report that Bin Laden was planning an attack on U.S. soil using commercial airplanes. Bush went fishing!

    The Bush Administration let OBL escape from Tora Bora because Rumsfeld did not want to commit the necessary forces to insure that he would be captured.

    Then our government geniuses decided to invade Iraq instead of pursuing Al-Qaeda and OBL out of Afghanistan. And what a succes this one has been!

    The Administration’s record on the so-called war on terror is one of catastrophic incompetence, shameless duplicity, and arrogant stupidity.

    Confronted with pathetically low approval ratings, both the President and his GOP-controlled Congress need scapegoats. Illegal immigrants from Central America are the perfect target.

    The public won’t be fooled this time, though.

  • Devil’s Advocate:

    a) I’m not a Republican
    b) I don’t care much about immigration. Consequently, I don’t care much about the color the skin of the immigrant.
    c) this statement

    There is no evidence whatsoever that the Mexican border is a port of entry for terrorists.

    is simply untrue. I can produce any number of newspaper articles suggesting much the opposite. What can you produce to prove “there is no evidence”?
    d) considering that according to most opinion polls (Rasmussen, Gallup, etc.) 2/3’s of the American people support control of the border either you’re wrong or the American public are, indeed, being fooled again

  • Devil's Advocate Link

    I do not have to prove “non-existence”.

    You, however, have to back up your assertions that the Mexican border is a port of entry for terrorists. By all means, produce “any number of newspaper articles suggesting much the opposite”. I am waiting. Also, make sure that your sources are reliable, verifiable, and well-researched.

    We already have border control: the Border Patrol. We do not need the national guard at the Mexican border.

    In 2004, the wedge issues was gay marriage (designed to whip up the bigots into a frenzy). In 2006, the wedge issue is illegal immigration (designed to whip up the xenophobes into a frenzy).

  • Sure. Tell me what sources you consider “reliable, verifiable, and well-researched”.

    BTW, my point in pursuing this with you is that I think that your assertion of “no evidence whatsoever” is excessive.  A stronger position IMO would be “not worth the effort”.

  • Devil's Advocate Link

    Nice try! Come up with your sources and we’ll see…

  • I’ll have a post up in a day or so. Sources include the 9/11 Commission, the U. S. Department of State, the Associated Press, The Brownsville Herald, and The Boston Herald. I’ll see what I can come up with over the next couple of days.

    My question was not unreasonable:  I don’t know you and I don’t know what sources you’ll accept.  It’s possible that there are perfectly reasonable sources that you won’t accept.

    So far I’ve excluded the following sources:  NewsMax, The Washington Times.

  • Devil's Advocate Link

    It should be clear to any reasonable person what “reliable, verifiable, and well-researched” sources are: non-partisan, objective, and — above all — intellectually honest. And by intellectual honesty, I do not mean “balanced” news such as Fox News. Or the kind of research that pits empirically verifiable theories versus pseudo theories that would not withstand experimention.

    I know that the intellectual discourse in this country has descended to new lows in the past five years, but there are some limits to adherence to the lowest intellectual denominator.

  • Once again, DA, I’m asking reasonable questions and in response you’re giving me:

    It should be clear to any reasonable person what “reliable, verifiable, and well-researched” sources are: non-partisan, objective, and — above all — intellectually honest.

    which is self-defining snark. There are no non-partisan or objective sources. Everyone has a point of of view and an agenda. There are only more and less reliable.

    Do the sources I’ve given as acceptable to me meet that standard or not? I have no problem with excluding Fox News as well.

  • Devil's Advocate Link

    Srop dithering and provide your sources.

  • J Thomas Link

    DA, Dave has a point. You say that reasonable people would agree, but he doesn’t know you and he doesn’t know how reasonable you are.

    If it’s worth doing at all, Dave might post a collection of links and see which of them you think are acceptable. If it turns out that you don’t accept any of the sources he thinks are acceptable, then maybe the two of you don’t have enough in common to discuss the issue.

    But I’m not clear that this is worth doing at all. If terrorists are starting to have trouble getting through customs, then it makes sense they might try the mexican border. So if it’s worth stopping them from getting into the USA, then it’s worth stopping them crossing the mexican border as well as the canadian border and the seacoasts and also the drug shipments that are flown into this country. And that’s true regardless whether or not we’ve already caught any at the mexican border.

Leave a Comment