Border patrols, militiamen, and “left”-“right” misunderstanding

Current reports over the controversial vigilante decision to patrol the US-Mexico border offer a perfect example of the right getting it wrong and the left not getting it, to borrow from the title of a book I haven’t read.


(N.b.: I plan to read the book, but the “why” in this kind of formulation often turns out to be theory about a nonexistent phenomenon. Most liberals still need to read David Brock’s book on the “noise machine” and to quit denying that 30 years of paid propaganda have taken their toll. Of course, “liberal” pundits or writers who timidly knuckled under to a nonexistent rightwing groundswell won’t be eager to admit it. Envy and competitiveness take their toll, too.)


Meanwhile, back at the ranch – when I wrote, last year, about the open entrance of “OTMs” – “Other Than Mexicans” along “Arab Road” into Arizona, after a report about them in the Tombstone Tumbleweed, the article drew numerous responses, mostly favorable. But if you believe that the Democratic Party and “liberal” commentators immediately seized upon those reports to demand an investigation, and to point out that the so-called “War on Terror” is a sham, then I have a bridge in Arizona to sell.


Predictably, the only political action was by rightwingers in Congress wanting to halt the entrance of minority populations into this country, and reporting on the local action – which is NOT exclusively by white supremacists – has been dominated and characterized by the emphasis on racism.


As I said, a perfect example of the “left” not getting it and of the “right” getting it wrong.


That numerous Middle Easterners, intriguingly nicely dressed and showing no sign of having trekked through the desert, are among those coming into the US illegally through Arizona of all places, is a sign:


It is a sign of utter neglect by the Bush administration of the most elementary security measures. (Probably, genuine border patrolling ranks low among White House priorities partly because it doesn’t generate corporate contracts on a scale with Iraq and Afghanistan.)


As such, it is a sign that the “war on terror” is a sham. An administration genuinely concerned about domestic security would have taken on-the-ground measures first – even at the risk of offending corporate donors in the chemicals and transportation sectors.


As such, it is a sign – yet another sign — that the invasion of Iraq is not a “war on terror.”


As such, it is a sign that the White House is not interested in warring on terror; it is interested in goosing up terrorism into a world war. The envious and insecure George W. Bush, brought up to be resentful of American great families including the Roosevelts, thinks he’s another FDR, on the right instead of on the left. Another Yalta awaits – with Bush, the Saudis, and China in the key positions.


But the purported intellectuals in media, in academia and in government who have turned a blind eye to this horrendous picture have little vested interest in exposing it. In exposing it, after all, they also expose their own blindness, but even more of a chilling effect is the insidious pressure exerted by status. To be engaged by genuine public health and public safety issues is low-status. (The WashPost, having reported the release of Plague virus to several thousand labs, backpedaled and ran a ridiculous article saying, in effect, No cause for alarm, folks; nothing to worry about – but very skimpy on details.) To this day, even the best of the Post’s commentators – William Raspberry, Colbert King – have not forcefully opposed incarceration under the vile and cowardly policy of “indefinite detention.”


It’s as though they cannot see that the White House is deliberately (1) inflaming global tensions and (2) attempting an inappropriate degree of control over this country’s political and judicial system.


We all engage in denial at times. But remember back when Miss Lewinsky was the big news story? – The WashPost ran an entire pull-out section on her, titled “The Presidency in Crisis.” (After opinion polls showed differently, the title appeared in smaller print; then the section became part of the front section; then it disappeared altogether. That editor then took leave to spend more time with her family.) We will know that our national press, and democracy, are thriving when the Post starts running an entire pull-out section on the indefinite incarceration of prisoners: when the prisoners’ families get entire pages devoted to their relatives; when the fact that the prisoners are not being allowed lawyers gets front-page and full-page attention; when the fact that the prisoners are not even being told the charges against them gets lengthy full-section rehashing — with experts weighing in from every point on the political spectrum — the way Miss Lewinsky did.


Meanwhile, I doubt whether any individual, regardless of how ignorant, sincerely believes that the US would be endangered by prisoners being told the charges against them. Bush and his team must themselves be bemused at the extent of their control over the national political press.

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