Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I’m Sure We Would be Horrified

I just took a look at 32 of some 44 anti-migrant bills introduced by far-Right Republicans in the AZ legislature.

The merry band responsible for these measures shows thoroughgoing contempt for the Constitution and Bill of Rights, no comprehension of the actual operations and costs of state government, and all the demonic zeal of the long-term, unmedicated insane. And when you stop to consider that the "crisis" being addressed here is 80% hype, the extent of their madness and the scope of our slack-jawed gullibility begin to be revealed.

Collectively, these 32 measures would deputize every public servant and a good many private citizens as untrained, uncompensated immigration officers; fine or imprison those who let a peasant into a public school; prohibit Arizonans from marrying non-US citizens; create a new class of indentured slaves without rights or recourse and a bunch of babies without countries; construct a 360-degree continuous harassment zone around every non-white in the state, and plunge AZ even further into fiscal catastrophe. Go. See for yourself.

And for what?

Hype. What's real is that immigrants are coming in growing numbers. Otherwise, ALL the indictments recited by Lou Dobbs, Tom Tancredo, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Ann Coulter, Pat Buchanan, and the rest against undocumented workers have been concocted and orchestrated by one guy. These claims have been disproved time and again by every reputable immigrant study conducted in the US in the last ten years.

This goes for healthcare utilization, public education impact, and "welfare" utilization, crime rates, general economic impact, resistance to assimilation, infectious disease, and all the rest. Except for the fact that growing numbers of economic refugees are coming across the border, everything you think you know about immigration is pretty much wrong.

So then WTF is going on? My name ain't Alan Greenspan or George W. Bush so I can only speculate.

One, the banking/finance, multinational, domestic corporate, and government pirates who've delivered us huge, life-threatening problems at home and abroad need to find a place to hide. Immigration hype, like terrorism hype, contains a kernel of truth and a saving facade of plausibility, which make it a very effective diversion.

Two, so-called "fair trade" agreements and the pandemic of shock-doctrine capitalism being visited on Central, South, and North America are indeed causing a growing tide of economic refugees, native and foreign. How an already teetering domestic economy, which is outsourcing its jobs as fast as possible at the same time that it is reeling from the costs of the Iraq occupation, the housing/mortgage/lending meltdown, and the astronomical rise in gas and food prices can absorb all the native unemployed and a growing wave of desperate immigrants, and employ eligible workers at all levels and provide retirement for the Boomer generation is not clear to anybody.

Detention centers—many and huge—must be built to stave those incoming migrants off, but first, Americans have to be fed plausible reasons, prepped for a brutal, primitive anti-immigrant backlash. These have been scripted and we are being fed. All the better if prison privatization lays on blessings of riches to salve the consciences of the corporate pirates, state and federal lawmakers, and media tools who are either causing the economic implosion or making the hype and the cover-up come together. When CCA and Wackenhutt are reimbursed on a per capita basis, what incentive do you suppose is created for detaining and incarcerating as many "capitas" as possible?

That's my take. Of course clucks like Arizona GOP state Rep. Russell Pearce aren't intelligent or powerful enough to devise such things. But they are clever enough, and as Republicons, positioned well enough to know how to capitalize on recession and terrorism fears, and unscrupulous enough to do so. I use the word "capitalize" for a reason.

All that's at stake for a Pearce or a Sheriff Joe Arpaio is merely re-election. They don't give a rat's fanny whether what they say is true, or fair, or right, or decent, so long as it appeals to enough voters and works to undermine the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. When these guys get to beat up on demonized people of color, they're playing to type. It's an easy gig if you ask me, fit for a bunch of puking cowards.

Pandering to worried, angry average Joes who see the border crossings at the same time as rising bills dwarf their paychecks or SS benefits are sitting ducks. They're easy prey, particularly in this high-tech era where testosterone and bull strength aren't much called for anymore. Plenty of core masculine self-esteem issues here, and plenty of pent-up rage at pert' nigh everybody—women, people of color, and all those high-talkin' libruls who abandoned blue collar whites in the Reagan union-busting years, whatever. Their world view is delivered ready made by Fox, and they figure somebody up there must know something they don't. But hey, call me "elitist."

In some other contexts, many of these guys are decent people, and most of them aren't idiots—they do see who's been driving the bus lately. Nevertheless, they've got themselves in a dark, small hole of their own devising: If it's "treason" to criticize 'Murka or the Presnit, their anger has to find another outlet, somewhere where there'll be negligible consequences. This is easily arranged. Happily too, gilded by the luminous back story of the Old West, all this high-decibel racist, xenophobic "law 'n order" rhetoric and the promise of gunfire on the border makes for a new hyper-masculine heroic epic. That is, if you don't look too closely at the rationale or at the soldiers.

The "enemy" isn't Santa Ana's army, after all, and the white guys aren't Davy Crockett. The "enemy" this time is just a scraggly bunch of desperate peasant furriners clinging to the peculiar convictions that hard work is a virtue and that people have a right under the common law of human dignity to go where they need to go to survive. Hell, even caribou do that.

Plus, they aren't armed and they have no high-powered Washington lobbyist to defend them. What could be better for a pony-tailed, fanny-packed RV militia? At some level for them, this is just a theme park, a new kind of "psychodrama," if you'll forgive the pun; just another variation on Paintball. After all, they don't risk a thing and they don't get hurt.

For us and the migrants dying in the desert answering the summons of a gigantic multinational bait and switch, it's not theatre at all. Mindlessly cruel and brutal things are happening here in Arizona, on the border, on our city streets, in our jails, and in our for-profit detention centers. If only we weren't so busy playing our assigned role as audience for the Great Republicon-Job, I'm sure we would be horrified enough to do something.