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05 August 2007

The Times Magazine Does Immigration

With predictable results. A friend had sent this article to me, calling it fascinating. She's fairly lefty, so I assume her fascination was closer to mine than to something else...but that explains the first line of my response to her, which I've hijacked for the blog. Read the article first (click the title of this post above); the response won't make sense unless you do so. Whether it makes sense after you read it...well...

Fascinating like a train wreck, I suppose. The racism is palpable; the reasons for the immigration go unacknowledged (in short: NAFTA); and the general program of using one part of the non-wealthy to attack another is exactly how every empire has ruled over its people: divide and rule.

The ideological limits of the New York Times Magazine are not breached (how could they be?): not a word about capital-based globalization, as opposed to globalized workers' rights, human rights, and environmental standards as well as capital. That might upset flat-worlders who profit from a slanted playing field, and who subscribe to (or advertise in) the Times.

Note the three options given in the article. Not one of them suggests an obvious fourth option (among myriad others, no doubt): a polyglot nation is a cultural boon, especially for a nation known the world over for its near-total ignorance of other cultures, other nations -- let alone geography and history. I would have loved to have been "forced" to learn Spanish. What possible harm is there in that? This nation, like any that isn't explicitly race-based, consists of a snapshot of whatever the dynamic shifting of the populations that live here happens to be when you take the picture. End of story, unless you're a racist.

The only thing anyone needs to "assimilate" to is the Constitution, and we can start that assimilation project with the ruling class, if that's the actual worry here. I don't give a flying fuck whether anyone flies a flag other than the American, or flies the American flag, or flies none. I thought, silly me, that that choice was what defined the idea of this nation, not the flag itself. But I'm "quaint" like that.

Anyway, the term "assimilation" is taken as a given, an understood and unassailable good. Funny, that. Anyway, the definition of what it means to "become American" goes equally unquestioned. (I'll also note that buried at the end of the article is the tiny fact that crime has actually decreased by 50% in this town.) The unquestioned nature of what "being an American" means is typical of totalitarian, or authoritarian-nationalist (pick your label), cultures.

When a country goes fascist, certain groups are canaries in the coal mine: homosexuals, immigrants -- those are two classic ones.

If people were strictly concerned with tax-dollar wastage, they'd be marching on the Pentagon and boycotting major corporations en masse. If they knew, I should say... But it's so much easier -- and more fun -- to hate the Other, especially the brown Other. Who knows, if you kowtow to the ruling class, you might hit the Horatio Alger sweepstakes someday? Meanwhile, sorry, no pension for you (the nigger over there took it for welfare; the spic took it as an illegal; etc.).

Every empire needs its two-minutes hate; Orwell got it exactly right. Sad to watch the Screwed consume each other for the crumbs falling off the table of the Screwers.

I'm so moved by the factory owner dancing away on Cinco de Mayo. That's a cheap party, considering his wage structure. But this is the Times' answer to all problems: just a more sentimental form of capitalism and everything will be just peachy! Just ask Tom Friedman. Spielberg for President!

Anyway, the noblesse oblige that the "good guy" in this article exudes is typical, and, one must presume, the position the Times editors would like to promulgate. He's the "personalized" stand-in for the Bush admin's immigration position (with Democratic support, to its everlasting, and ever-increasing, shame).

Oh, yes, please let's do return to the days of the company town! That was just lovely! In a nation full of people who know almost nothing about their own history, and who are mired in a morass of childish sentimentality, well, this is just the kind of fairy-tale white knight who'll make everything all better. Maybe he can teach those dirty Latinos not to pee on their trees, too. That's just terrible, but buying sweat-shop clothes from Latin America, among other places, that's fine. Nothing immoral there: the lawn still looks nice. That such thoughtless purchasing supports a system that actually encourages immigration of all kinds -- call it "wage-slavery population pressure"; further, that the Demz and Rethugz agree on the "Washington consensus": well, none of that matters. You can tell because it is not mentioned in a long article. Guess that wasn't fit to print.

Just keep the urine off the trees, and create a Gastarbeiter class (works so well for Palestinians in Israel, Turks in Germany, etc.), and all will be well. For the owners, that is.

(Interestingly, "deportation by attrition" is exactly the kind of "softer, gentler" ethnic cleansing the Israelis have practiced ever since 1948, and especially in the OTs since '67. Lovely.)

Anyway, that's my reaction to this article. It reinforces why I don't bother reading the Times. I already know about the ruling-class prejudices -- and those of the managerial class that apes it. I'm more concerned with changing that mindset.

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