Who Hijacked Our Country

Monday, December 10, 2007

Property Rights vs. Keeping Them Icky Brown People Out

Cognitive Dissonance is that uneasy feeling you get when you have two deeply-held beliefs that conflict with each other.

Tens of millions of Americans will reflexively yell out “Property Rights!” whenever an endangered species needs to be protected or a business owner has to comply with safety regulations. And a lot of these same people also think illegal immigration is the root of all of America’s problems, and the government needs to do whatever it takes to keep THEM out. Mass searches and deportations, building a huge fence along the U.S.-Mexican border — whatever it takes to keep those slimy ethnic creatures out of our country — do it!

Here comes the cognitive dissonance. This could be a wedge that splits conservatives into two bitterly divided camps.

The Homeland Security Department wants to complete 370 miles of border fencing by the end of 2008. A lot of property owners in Texas and Arizona don’t want this fence running through their property. And Homeland Security is threatening to confiscate the property of any landowner who doesn’t cooperate.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said "vee can do ziss zee easy vay or zee hard vay The door is still open to talk, but it's not open for endless talk.”

Juan Salinas, the county judge of Hidalgo County, Texas, said: "I tell you, on this one issue, the Farm Bureau, the United Farm Workers, Democrats and Republicans, white, black, brown, everybody is against the border fence. It just doesn't make sense. We've been trying to talk to them about using other ways. It's a disappointment that, again, the Department of Homeland Security is not listening to local taxpayers.”

Local people are opposed to the fence for cultural, economic and environmental reasons. The Rio Grande is the only source of fresh water for a lot of ranchers and this fence would cut off their access to it. And the local economies depend on cross-border traffic. It doesn’t just flow one way — many Americans do volunteer work south of the border and lots of extended families live on both sides of the border. Twenty years ago we were urging the Soviet Union to tear down the Berlin Wall; now we’re planning to build one.

OK, Righties — which is it? Which side are you on — the KGB Homeland Security Department, or the “property rights” and “local autonomy” that you’re always screaming about? Well???

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Blogger Jenn of the Jungle said...

"Mass searches and deportations, building a huge fence along the U.S.-Mexican border — whatever it takes to keep those slimy ethnic creatures out of our country — do it!"

Well now I agree with the first two. Enforcing laws already on the books and beating the holy hell out of the companies that continue to hire these criminal invaders would do the trick. We've seen it. In places where searches and mass deportations have occurred, the illegal invaders are departing.

With no jobs, no free social services and nowhere to live, you'd never need a fence.

In fact so many have left certain places and now fled to Canada that Canada has started bitching (oy vey the irony). Or back to their sweet ass ranchero's they've built by sucking the US governments teet.(True story)

Of course my suggestion was to build a moat and stock it with sharks, with frickin' laser beams. That'd work well too.

And in the end Mexico, because let's not beat around the bush, South America, primarily Mexico and Guatemala and Brazil are the main problems, they will be forced to turn their third world countries around and take care of their own people.

December 10, 2007 at 12:55 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

So I guess you're on the opposite side from the "property rights" and "local autonomy" conservatives.

I'm not sure myself which side to be on. I mostly did this post because the story highlights two burning conservative issues, and they're clashing in this case. This might drive a wedge between them. (I can dream, can't I?)

December 10, 2007 at 3:22 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

The conservatives who tend toward libertarianism would probably be against the fence if it might result in someone's property being taken. The neocons and the neocon sympathizers/apologists would probably be fretting and moaning... "But... what about the terrorists getting in?"

I get pretty tired of the Property Rights Whiners, but then again, if someone was taking away my property or devaluing it somehow, I would whine too. What is sad about it is that it seems to me this is one of the issues the conservatives have used to cement their stranglehold on rural America. Rural America still has, in many cases, a kind of toned-down frontier sensibility about it, in which people have been programmed to look out for themselves and for their own survival. They may not really have to work at it so hard these days, but it is a sort of traditional attitude. That's fine, but it does tend to preclude thinking about "the greater good". And using mind viruses like "the government will take away or devalue your land" and "the environmentalists will take your job away", the Republicans have wisely played on the tendency toward this attitude in rural areas. Add to that that quite a few rural Americans are conservative Christians, and play on that too... and you get a population you can count on to vote Republican by a 2-1 margin or worse.

The issue of immigration hasn't taken hold as a major concern in this rural area of NE Oregon, although the Hispanic population is increasing in our valley and I am hearing a lot more jokes about Hispanic people. Because of our stubborn rural traditions, people in areas like this tend to not handle change particularly well. I can see how in about five or ten more years, as more Hispanic people move in, people in this area will be making all kinds of angry statements about immigrants, forgetting that just 125 to 150 years ago many of their ancestors moved here to this valley and claimed land that Native Americans from various nations had been living on... and using on a more-or-less communal basis for centuries.

So I think I have NE Oregon figured out anyway... conservatives around here would side against the big bad government because it was threatening to take away somebody's land. Their only quandary might be "But what about going against the Republican party? Can I do that? If those damned liberals are against building a fence, can I be against it too?" Of course a number of them might just think "Oh well, that's down there on the border where somebody is losing their land. It isn't my land. It can't happen here!" Heh.

It would be fun to hear some rightwingers' takes on this issue. My guess is they would be totally flummoxed.

December 10, 2007 at 3:23 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

I might add that I would be more on the side of those opposing the fence. I don't think illegal immigration would be as big a problem as people make it out to be as long as we did a better job of enforcing our immigration laws. Because I don't tend to worry about it so much, and because I know a number of landowners in this area, I would have to go with the "property rights" crowd and say "no" to the fence. I think there are better ways to control the flow of illegal immigrants than wasting time and money building a fence.

But if illegal immigrants are such a problem and if our border with Mexico is like a sieve anyway, how about bringing our troops home from Iraq and stationing some of them along the border? It can be a "War on Illegal Immigration"! We have "The War On" everything else, so why not on illegal immigration too?

There are what, 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq now? How long is our border with Mexico, something like 3,000 miles? If we put about 60,000 of those troops on the Mexican border, that's twenty troops per mile, or one every hundred yards or so on average. I think that ought to do it. Of course they would have to work in shifts, live bivouac style, etc. but let's say they worked in three 8-hour shifts per day. You could still have enough troops per mile with high-powered-enough surveillance equipment that it would be extremely difficult for people to sneak in. If people were seen trying to sneak in, there would be enough troops around any particular area to come round them up and escort them back into Mexico. Troops who weren't stationed on the border with Mexico could work in our ports doing security inspection.

Nah. We need to keep fighting the turrists over there so they don't follow us here... Heh! Really, all the turrists have to do to get into the United States is go to Mexico and sneak into our country. I'm sure hundreds of them have already done just that.

December 10, 2007 at 3:37 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Snave: The Republicans have over-used this "property rights" mind virus (great expression) and now it might come back and bite 'em. I sympathize with property rights too, but every time a developer has to scale back a huge project or an endangered species needs more protection, the usual drones yell out "property rights!" And now this is conflicting with the neocon view of "Homeland Security Uber Alles!" Poetic. I hope the two sides beat the shit out of each other.

I can see the viewpoint of the locals in South Texas not wanting that fence on their property. I've been to El Paso and some of the small towns outside of it. The Mexican border is there, officially, but there's so much interaction across the border, it really would be like a Berlin Wall if that fence goes through.

December 10, 2007 at 5:21 PM  
Blogger Mauigirl said...

Trying to put up a fence is ridiculous. I'm not in favor of illegal immigration but there has to be a better way than putting up a fence. And let's face it, illegal immigrants are just trying to get a better life for themselves and their families. Maybe if we worked with Mexico to make their lives there better there wouldn't be so many trying to come here.

December 10, 2007 at 9:08 PM  
Blogger LET'S TALK said...

This comes down to one thing Tom Harper. You already said it; "Twenty years ago we were urging the Soviet Union to tear down the Berlin Wall; now we’re planning to build one."

That was a fact then and a fact now! What gives?

December 10, 2007 at 10:44 PM  
Anonymous rockync said...

Although I recognize a need to get a game plan for dealing with people who have entered the country illegally or have stayed past their visas illegally, I have been against the border fence from the very beginning. Not so much because of property rights, but because it just seems too iron curtain to me. Will it be built to keep people out or keep people in?

December 10, 2007 at 11:05 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Mauigirl: Yes, that fence seems pointless. As Republicans like to say, the federal government is always neglecting local issues and concerns. For millions of people who live along the southern U.S. border, this fence really is a Berlin Wall. There has to be a better way to combat illegal immigration.

Let's Talk: Yup, now it's us who are building a Berlin Wall. How things have changed.

Rockync: That's a good question, whether it's to keep people out or in. If there's any truth to these urban legends about Halliburton (or whoever it is) building a bunch of holding prisons for some future "emergency," that border fence will come in awfully handy.

December 11, 2007 at 12:09 AM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

They won't give it any real thought. It's like the whole brown people menace vs. jobs that crackers won't do. They'll do one of the two, then when the mouthbreathers rise up, they'll successfully pin the problem on the Dems because Dems don't fight back, they'll pass some of number two through, temporarily placating the wingnuts. Political shiny objects.

And a fence won't work. Fences don't keep fucking animals out, and they won't keep out resourceful human beings. Enforce the laws and maybe stop writing ones that only help create more potential illegals. NAFTA, I'm looking at you.

December 11, 2007 at 5:44 AM  
Blogger anna said...

Oh hell, this one gets me every time! I don't know which one to be on.

December 11, 2007 at 9:03 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Randal: The Dems won't fight back -- that's the main problem. I think both sides are to blame for illegal immigration, but the Republicans are able to spin it to make it look like those pantywaist liberals are the cause of the problem. And the spineless Democrats can't or won't fight back.

Anna: I don't really have any clearcut opinions on illegal immigration either. But most politicians don't want to solve the problem; it's more fun to point the finger at the other side and say "it's their fault."

December 11, 2007 at 10:17 AM  
Blogger Jolly Roger said...

The Chimpletons are always on the side of authoritarianism. No need to even ask.

December 11, 2007 at 11:37 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Jolly Roger: That's for sure. Underneath all their slogans about "limited government" and "individualism," they take Big Brother's side every time.

December 11, 2007 at 1:32 PM  
Blogger Praguetwin said...

This is fantastic! I can't wait to put this one to my Uncle at Christmas. He cries all day about Kelo and will not hear any argument against the fence.

Oh, this is going to be fun.

Movie quote:

"Well???! We're waiting!!!"

December 11, 2007 at 2:27 PM  
Blogger Candace said...

We already have the means to curtail illegal immigration by enforcing the laws already on the books. So who's preventing the enforcement? Lobbyists for the businesses who rely on cheap labor, of course.

Lobbyists and the people they work for have ZERO interest in border security, and even less in human rights. As long as the dollars are coming in, that's all they care about. And the politicians in their pockets are of the same mindset.

The fence is a monumentally stupid idea. It hasn't been fully funded yet, and I doubt it ever will be - not good for business, dontcha know. The IDEA of a fence might garner some votes by making the mouth-breathers feel better, is all. I wouldn't worry too much about the landowners - they have money and they vote, so they'll be fine as long as the stupid fence never actually gets funded.

All the government (the lobby-bought politicians) is doing boils down to this: Do nothing unless people start getting upset. Then, do something, just make sure it's absolutely the least effective thing you can think of, like, say, put National Guard troops on the borders, ONLY DON'T LET THEM HAVE AMMO. Oh - and make sure everyone KNOWS they don't have ammo. That part's already been done.

Just fucking brilliant.

December 11, 2007 at 3:29 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Prague Twin: Yup, the people who decry Eminent Domain abuse AND want to keep THEM out of our country -- this is gonna cause some squirming and double-talking.

Candace: A couple of years ago a rightwing blogger (I forget who it was) wrote that right after 9/11 the government didn't know what to do but they felt they needed to something, anything, and do it fast. I think that's how politicians are dealing with illegal immigration. They don't know what to do (and/or they don't want to do anything at all) but they have to make it look like they're doing something.

I didn't know about unarmed National Guard troops on the border. But nothing is surpring any more.

December 11, 2007 at 5:57 PM  

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