Thursday, October 18, 2018

Central Americans are an "illegal-alien invasion" and Europeans weren't?

The great hue and cry among U.S. Americans watching northbound Central American emigrant caravans probably resembles what the North American natives thought as hordes of Europeans from Britain to Spain started arriving some 500 to 300 years ago.

See what I just did? I turned a bunch of poor, brown, mostly Indo-American, emigrants from Central America and Mexico into peers of the august Thanksgivings' Day Puritans and the celebrated Genovese navigator Christopher Columbus.

"This was organized so that the illegal-alien invasion into the country would occur right around the elections in mid-November," exclaimed my Facebook friend Joe Tiernan in a post yesterday early morning (10/18 at 8:33 AM).

Perhaps we might envision a Native American response to the enterprises of Columbus, Purtitans and other European migrations organized without the slightest thought given to the American natives' rules.

A part-Chippewa scholar at Berkeley's essay draws on Desmond Tutu's famous words about European missionaries to offer the following reflection: "When the white man first came to this land, we had the land and they had the Bible. They taught us to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them again, we had the Bible and the white man had the land."

“Your mouth is of sugar but your heart of gall,” said more succinctly, the Abenaki leader Atiwaneto to a British official in 1752.

The caravan movement started with an original 1,000-person group in Tapachula, Mexico, this past March. Most of the caravans have been reportedly organized by Irineo Mujica, the Mexican-American director of Pueblo Sin Fronteras (People Without Borders), who sought for them asylum in the United States for Central Americans fleeing gang violence and turbulent elections.

Out of that experience, in more or less spontaneous local bursts of outrage in response to the separation in the United States of children from parents, still ongoing, in recent months others have started caravans that Mujica and a string of local migrant help centers along the route to Mexico have decided to aid as a matter of humanitarian concern.

Tiernan, a retired television news executive, posted a Reuters story announcing that the governments of Honduras and Guatemala had agreed to halt caravans of would-be Central American emigrants. The emigrants have journeyed from as far south as Honduras to, so far, Mexico — triggering a spate of nervous Trump tweets threatening dire consequences if they try to enter the United States.

One would think Tiernan was waving red flags at a happy herd of Republican bulls. However, his associates, think he is "grossly minimalizing" the politics.

They come with ready-made explanations as well. "[The emigrants] are encouraged to come to America because of our totally insane and mostly unenforced border policies, as well as the decades of dirty politics by Progressives to flood the country with Illegal Aliens," writes one Sabra Merle, from California.

Tiernan himself offers as an explanation against immigration that "European American culture will be a minority culture in America by 2050. America was 85% White in 1965." He does not go so far as to suggest, as Dana Littlefield, a self-described former IT professional at Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines, who declares: "Time to start deporting all illegal invaders, put the military on the border, and defend it at all costs."

Lost in all this is current immigration patterns from south of the U.S. border exhibit a combination of push and pull factors. The magnetism of the world's largest and most transparent economy on a per capita basis pulls would-be immigrants, while a combination of economic and political instability, high crime and corruption in their poor home countries pushes them out.

There are always transitory waves caused by events on both sides of the border. Civil war in several Central American countries the 1980s pushed emigrants to the USA. Both the Great Depression and the Great Recession caused massive departures of immigrants to south of the border.

Moreover, every study of the economic effects shows that except for slight job competition with the least schooled Americans, immigrants have a positive effect. Those without papers, moreover, leave billions in tax, social security and medicare contributions, from which they are barred from taking the slightest advantage.

One still is left with at the contrast between the great bemoaning of newcomers today and the North American natives' rumination on shore at the first arrival of Europeans at Manhattan Island.

As it was related to John Heckwelder by "aged and respected" Delawares, Momeys, and Mahicaanni, they wondered: "These arriving in numbers, and themselves viewing the strange appearance, and that it was actually moving towards them, concluded it to be a large canoe or house, in which the great Mannitto [or Supreme Being] himself was, and that he probably was coming to visit them."

Friday, October 05, 2018

Trump's Great Favor to the Republic

By becoming the obvious boil in the body politic and personifying the most venal characteristics of U.S. plutocrats, Donald Trump has done the republic the enormous favor of stripping bare the power relationships in our society. This is becoming ever clearer with every new outrage as the midterm elections of 2018 approach.

This is one reason that, rather than respond with epithets and anger, the true small-d democrats in the United States must vote against Trump's allies and work to undo the plutocracy in every way. Not for the first time, there is a broad awareness of this reality. We need to defend the civil rights won so far and expand democracy to include economic and social rights.

History teaches us that it is doubtful that the United States was ever a democracy — that is largely an as yet unrealized aspiration.

At its founding, the states, which regulated voting rights, allowed only male, free property owners to participate in electing political decision-makers. By law, this was in theory overthrown with finality by the 1965 Voting Rights Act and a 1972 Supreme Court decision (Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533); however, this is being undone by clever, largely Republican-inspired voter suppression tricks.

Moreover, even among the participating great unwashed, there existed a broad group of Americans of Northwestern European origin who lived in a near-poverty of under-education and underemployment. These Americans directed their resentment not at the wealthy who kept them down, but at the easy marks whose skin was darker and spoke with accents other than their own.

Nor has the United States honestly and deservedly been a land of milk and honey with streets paved with gold for anyone with pluck.

Sure, some younger sons of the English nobility, who inherited nothing, became wealthy thanks to slaves. Also, some landless English, German and Irish people became small farmers thanks to land theft from the natives.

Even the great American bonanza after 1945 came at the expense of a Europe mired in rubble and was merely a temporary accident — rather than the fruit of American know-how"; the broad middle class was a temporary myth, it had never existed before and it is vanishing now. Until the New Deal's and Great Society's mildly heroic soft capitalism, it was sink or swim for everyone and most sank.

The true story of American wealth is more aptly told by a famous epigram of Balzac's: "Behind every fortune lies a crime." The American crimes of slavery, land theft and industrial warmaking made a few very wealthy and these few convinced a broader less fortunate group of "whites" that they shared in the bounty, when they never did.

It's the classic Trump con.

Trump inherited money — we now know that it was more than he should have thanks to tax dodges. His own business acumen expanded that by little more than an ordinary savings account would have yielded — as shown by his now discredited feverish attempts to misrepresent his fortune to financial reporters. Moreover, he has publicly spoken of his own base as "stupid," women as something to grab and ethnic minorities as criminal escaping effective outhouses.

Thank you, Donald Trump. The scales have now fallen off our eyes and we can see the work that remains to be done to make the United States reasonably closer to its historic aspirations and goals. First, let's get rid of you and your allies.