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(This is my most recent post on a thread on a Denver Post comment board, my participation beginning here: See Godwin’s Law Notwithstanding for the essay to which I am referring)
windbourne wrote:Do you feel that he should apologize for locking up rapists as well?
Perhaps murderers, or bank robbers as well?
I already made a distinction between crimes of predation, and “crimes” that are an artifact of trying to legislate human migration. Border control is one thing; creating a permanent underclass within our borders by ignoring the reality of how our society forms itself is another.
windbourne wrote:Or he should apologize to those that have had their lives destroyed by the drugs that gangs from Latin America bring in?

And there we have it: Guilt by membership in a race or ethnicity. Since some Latin Americans join gangs and smuggle drugs, all Latin Americans share in the guilt, and are to be treated accordingly. I’m sure that you apply the same logic to whatever group you belong to, and consider yourself guilty of every crime any member of your own ethnicity or race ever committed, and thus believe that you should be treated accordingly as well. You have chosen to illustrate for us the dimension of the similarity that I did not emphasize, between the two historical contexts I compared in my essay.

If you respond by falling back on the illegality of their presence, then please explain what the relevance of the mention of the criminal activities of other Latin Americans has.

windbourne wrote:NONE of these illegals are suppose to be here.
Many of them are DESTROYING American lives and livelihood.

Add in a hefty dose of hyperbole and paranoia, and the similarities become even more striking, almost down to the language used. You have a dehumanizing label that you apply (“these illegals”) which reduces human beings merely migrating toward opportunity to some subhuman status that you can then dismiss and revile. You can’t see it; you won’t see it. But others can and will, and America will wake up from the nightmare it is drifting toward. One of the tensions of human existence is the degree that we, as individuals and as socieities, yield to the basal ganglia of the human brain (“the reptilian brain”), rather than striving to be rational and compassionate human beings. That tension, and which of those two poles is dominant in what is being expressed on this thread, is clearly in evidence.

windbourne wrote:At what point will you show compassion for your fellow citizens that these illegals are harming??

What harm is produced is an artifact of pushing people into the shadows, and forcing them to find ways of surviving there. My compassion is for all, as the real rather than imaginary or manufactured need arises.

While I am writing for those lurkers who are not so completely lost to their hatreds and their bigotries, who recognize that we can be more or less cruel as individuals and as societies, and more or less reasonable, I also suspect that many of you who are most outraged by my posts are so outraged in part because you know, just beneath the surface of your awareness, that there is at least a grain of truth in what I am saying; that there is a disconcerting similarity between the attitudes expressed here toward our own undocumented population living among us and the infamous attitudes of Nazi Germans toward German Jews in the prelude to the Holocaust; that there is something unpleasantly familiar about the suggestion that these Latin American immigrants are somehow contaminating our otherwise pure society with the evils imputed to them as a race (as happend to the waves of Chinese, Irish, Italian, and Eastern European immigrants before them, many of whom also came here without documentation); that there is something cruel and ugly about mocking the suffering of others you’ve managed to dehumanize (“waaahhhh, waaahhhh”).

I have no ill-will toward anyone here, though I do have a feeling of disgust at what is being expressed and demonstrated. But I am a hopeful person; I remember an interview of a woman several decades ago, who had been a teenager at the time the Little Rock Nine had been escorted into their new school, a cluster of Black students accompanied by National Guard troops surrounded by whites whose faces were contorted in hatred and rage. She was in the photo as a teenager, a white girl whose face was more contorted than all the others. And she said in this interview, in all sincerity, that she now knew that she had been wrong, just plain wrong. I have more respect for her, and for people like her, than for those who never had to grapple with those particular inner-demons, for she demonstrated the wisdom and courage of someone who could triumph over her own hatred.

We can and should discuss our immigration policies, and consider the balance of interests involved. We can and should weigh our real interests (not those that are based on arbitrary beliefs mobilized in service to blind bigotries, but rather those based on considering all analyses applied to all reliable data) against our commitment to humanity, and decide how to balance the two. But we do not have to contaminate that with hatred and indifference to the longings and strivings of other human beings; we don’t have to dehumanize those we decide to exclude or even remove.

Or, perhaps, that’s precisely the point: If we don’t dehumanize them, then we have to own our choices, and take moral responsibility for how we treat those seen in the light of what they truly are rather than what we need them to be to avoid any qualms about our own brutalities.

In the end, it doesn’t matter what you think of me, or even what your opinion is about the policies under discussion. What matters is that each and every one of us strives to avoid the orgies of hatred and irrationality that have played such a prominent role in human history, and that are clearly implicated in the attitudes being expressed by some on this thread. That, at least, would be a step in the right direction.

Buy my e-book A Conspiracy of Wizards

  • More from the same thread:

    bagzzaf wrote: Not “undocumented”, illegal.

    Steve replied: A person can’t be “illegal.” An act is illegal. Neither is a person a “criminal” for violating a civil law (which is a civil law in order to circumvent the more stringent constitutional protections that criminal law triggers). A person who enters the country illegally, therefore, is neither an “illegal,” nor a “criminal,” but rather is an undocumented migrant (not “immigrant,” technically, because immigrant is a legal status) and undocumented resident (because a person resides wherever they live).

    bagzzaf wrote: As far as claims from you of others “fabricating” things to “discredit the poster who disagrees with your position”.

    Steve replied: The comparisons I made were specific, qualified, and perfectly accurate. The nazi comparison was to the dehumanization of a “foreign” population within a larger national population, with a large ideological, belligerent cry for rounding up and removing the members of that foreign population withint the larger nation on the basis of alleged parasitism and degredation of some form of “purity” that exists in their absence (in one case racial purity, in the other the purity of having met the formalities of immigration law, despite it being a norm of human history that much or most human migration, including to the United States throughout its history, has not met those formalities). One poster referred to Latin American gang and drug related crime as a justification for harsh attitudes toward undocumented immigrants in general, even though the vast majority have no connection to either. This is like blaming all members of any ethnicity or race for the crimes of some, and since there are individuals from every ethnicity and race that commit crimes, it as a rationalization for a blanket condemnation on the basis of ethnicity or race. That’s called “racism,” and that’s what I called it. Precisely accurate.

    bagzzaf wrote: Temporary holding facilities for families are now “concentration camps”? I read the article in full, and even did a word search, there is absolutely no mention of “making small children stand at attention for hours at a time” whatsoever.

    Steve replied: From the article:

    ‘The guards at Hutto conducted as many as seven head counts a day, during which all detainees, even toddlers, were supposed to remain in place, usually by their beds, for as long as it took to complete the count. In practice, this meant that detainees might be in their cells twelve hours a day. (When head counts were not taking place, detainees could assemble in the common area within their “pod” of cells, where there were couches and two televisions.) Last March, an immigration lawyer named Griselda Ponce testified before the U.S. District Court in Austin about conditions at Hutto, and told of an occasion when the five- or six-year-old daughter of a woman she was interviewing had to go to the rest room. The captain on duty told the girl that she could not do so during a head count. Ponce said that the girl made “six or seven requests,” and was rebuffed each time; after about fifteen minutes, the girl “smelled of urine.”’

    My point was not that we literally have concentration camps, but that we are adopting attitudes and policies cruel and inhumane enough to warrant the comparison. Those who find the above conditions acceptable, and defend them as not quite as bad as concentration camps, are missing the point.

    bagzzaf wrote: Furthermore, the referenced article is more than three years old and there have been many changes to the facility since then.

    Steve replied: Yes, after a series of exposes and law suits, launched by people like me rather than people like you, the latter of whom were busy dismissing those children as “illegals” then as now, Hutto cleaned up its act. Meanwhile, I’m probably the only person participating on this thread right now who has spent a considerable amount of time at detention centers, doing legal rights presentations and in-take interviews, and in the vast majority, conditions have not improved. One teenage diabetic detainee was denied access to his insulin for days, a life threatening form of abuse, driving his helpless mother into near hysteria. Another at a Park County facility built in order to make a profit renting space out to the feds, lost parts of limbs to a staph infection and improper treatment, due to the complete incompetence and indifference of those running the facility. I’m glad that’s all okay with you; sorry for hurting your feelings by emphasizing how un-okay it is with people who have a different sense of what it means to be a humane people.

    bagzzaf wrote: The reason the thread strayed so far off topic before is that people take exception to being compared to Nazis and suggestions that they are inhumane or racist. When those accusations (that should never be made lightly) are backed-up with dishonest representation of reality and hyperbole, it poisons the conversation even further.

    Steve replied: Just because you desparately want to dismiss it as hyperbole and misrepresentation doesn’t mean it is. Unlike your dismissals, I back up what I say with precise facts, precise arguments, and precise point-by-point comparisons, when I am making a comparison. It was not “done lightly,” but rather painstakingly, in a complete essay, including an inventory of both similarites and differences. Your contention is that carefully constructed, rational, fact-based arguments “poison” the conversation by challenging an orgy of belligerence and hatred recklessly engaged in dehumanizing millions of humble, simple people who migrated toward opportunity in the only way they could.

    The policies themselves are open to civil debate. That hateful attitude, so richly in evidence on this and other threads, merits sharp condemnation.

    bagzzaf wrote: Decent people can disagree…

    Steve replied: Yes they can. And decent people also call indecent attitudes indecent.

  • Colorado Center on Law and Policy, economic analysis of impact of undocumented immigrants in Colorado:

    Bell Policy Center, economic analysis of what undocumented immigrants in Colorado pay and cost in tax revenues:

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