Schwarzenegger's Gambit in Gringo Nation

Post 9/11 Doctrine Heads South

By Greg Moses

To paraphrase Forrest Gump: Gringo is as Gringo does. When for instance a row of 92 percent neo-Europeans unfold their lawn chairs in the Arizona desert to spy on Mexicans, things are beginning to look Gringo. When Schwarzenegger praises the work of that vigilante border patrol as it expands into California, that’s looking very Gringo too. But when nobody around you is able to express the least bit of concern, you know you’re living in Gringo Nation for sure.

Yes I know, Schwarzenegger and the border watchers share a language of legality. All they are doing, Schwarzenegger agrees, is assisting in the job of law enforcement because government has failed to do a proper job. But the plain word for this kind of activity is vigilante — not volunteer. And I shall explain why I say this.

When you volunteer for something like border patrolling, you go to the border patrol and say, may I volunteer? Either they have a volunteer program or they don’t and if they do have one, you get yourself coordinated with the proper authorities. The Minutemen showed up to the border independently and announced they would be performing border patrol activities.

If we take Schwarzenegger’s lead in adopting Minuteman language and collapsing the distinction between vigilante and volunteer, how do we stay straight at the same time with his claim that he approves of immigration so long as it is done in a legal manner? As soon as you’ve worked your way into this conceptual pocket, where legal order is most easily recognized in vigilante practice, well, you’ve made it official for the world. We are running a vigilante assisted immigration program.

Not only is Schwarzenegger exercising severe lapse of judgment in confusing his role as terminator with his role of Governor, but he is at the same time underestimating the racist antagonism that underlies the vigilante movement. We hope he does not have to see hugely ugly consequences in order to learn his lesson, but he is taking such an obvious risk in that direction that he can be fairly blamed for gross negligence if this little game he’s playing spills off the board into the streets.

Let me address the underlying racism of the Minuteman movement in a moment, but first let’s be sure we have this vigilante business nailed down, because in Gringo Nation, the vigilante nature of the Minuteman action is not easy for many to perceive. For instance, here is a fresh email:

You are one of many who has repeated the lie that the Minutemen are “vigilantes”. If watching the border and reporting illegal crossings to the border patrol makes one a vigilante, then there are neighborhood watches all across the country that need to be broken up. Given that nobody in the Minutemen has been charged with any crime, taking the law into your own hands is illegal, and that the Minutemen have been under extreme scrutiny, how are they vigilantes? Please explain. If you can’t, then please advise on whether you are stupid, ignorant, or simply incapable of telling the truth.

Okay, if I’m going to go around using Gringo language, then I guess I have to accept accusations that I’m a stupid ignorant liar. Touche. My chickens also come home to roost. But let me try to address the neighborhood watch question.

Here are two web pages. One for the City of Austin Neighborhood Watch Program and one for the Civil Homeland Defense of Tombstone. City of Austin Neighborhood Watch. Civil Homeland Defense of Tombstone. Do you see any difference here? Notice how the webpage for the Neighborhood Watch Program has been posted by the Austin Police Department with a city contact number. And yes, the Tombstone servants of the “sovereign citizens of these United States” also provide a contact phone number, but you can see that one group is coordinating their activity under law enforcement supervision while another group uses language that has a contemptuous vigilante tradition.

The MinuteMan Project offers plain reasons for their invitation to join their voluteer corps and seek training under the Civil Homeland Defense:

the men and women volunteering for this mission are those who are willing to sacrifice their time, and the comforts of a cozy home, to muster for something much more important than acquiring more “toys” to play with while their nation is devoured and plundered by the menace of tens of millions of invading illegal aliens.

Future generations will inherit a tangle of rancorous, unassimilated, squabbling cultures with no common bond to hold them together, and a certain guarantee of the death of this nation as a harmonious “melting pot.”

The result: political, economic and social mayhem.

Historians will write about how a lax America let its unique and coveted form of government and society sink into a quagmire of mutual acrimony among the various sub-nations that will comprise the new self-destructing America.

Or as a Texas correspondent writes today, Mexican immigrants are “averaging us down.” He taunts: as editor of a Texas Civil Rights Review, I must be calling for a nation of “garbage collectors” that will put me out of business because none of them will be interested to read my work. That’s the gist of his argument in so many words. I wonder when his trash is not picked up, how long does he usually wait to complain about that?

Another correspondent with a Texas Tech email address sends me an article by Frosty Wooldridge, a smiling fellow with a spiffy eponymous website who says the USA is like the Titanic about to go down if we don’t steer clear of a cultural iceberg:

From stem to stern, our English language is under assault and our schools are drowning in ethnic violence, rapes, drugs and gang warfare. In California, Texas, Florida and Arizona, our hospitals suffer bankruptcies from non-paid services for 350,000 annual ‘anchor babies’. Ten million illegal immigrants displace jobs from America’s working poor and depress wages for many others. Leprosy, tuberculosis, Chagas Disease, hepatitis and other diseases ‘pour’ into our country within the bodies of illegal immigrants who avoid health screening before coming on board the United States. Even worse, clashing cultures with religions that celebrate ‘female genital mutilation’ and subjugation of women are growing in enclaves around our country. As Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself can not stand.”

These are the sentiments cresting in the MinuteMan Project. How is Schwarzenegger going to play nice with this movement and promote the immigrant ideal? Is Schwarzenegger’s immigration initiative something like Nixon’s China? Is he going to be able to open doors with this nationalist enclave and bring it out of its isolation? As I say, the risk he takes here he should well enough know. Having stirred this pot, he must be prepared to swallow the consequences.

Some of the MinuteMan sympathies come from self-described “pro-labor pro-environment progressives” who argue that, “If there were no illegal Mexicans, employers would raise wages to attract legal Americans to work.” And I have said from the very beginning of my work on Gringo Vigilantes that there is some force behind this labor analysis. But how much weight do we give to illegal aliens when we assess income tendencies in America? Or to put the question another way, do you know what a scapegoat is?

Real income (adjusted for inflation) has been stagnant for decades, unions have been falling apart, corporations have been seeking third world wages wherever feasible, and we have a plentiful border patrol already. Stories of crossings are not cakewalk stories. So with widespread secular trends that cut across all cultural groups and with law enforcement making things pretty
difficult already, how in the world does a “pro-labor pro-environment progressive” wind up sending ME the email of rebuke when I denounce my solidarity with Gringo Vigilantes?

May I remind my esteemed correspondent that I live in a Right to Work State? Do I see MinuteMen taking their binoculars into the galleries of my legislature? No the MinuteMen pay no attention to economics, unions, corporations, border patrols, or law making because all these things are felt to be out of reach. But they can spy on Mexicans. Their move taps into widespread frustration because people feel that things are slipping away from democratic control, a feeling that Schwarzenegger must admit that he has not been able to reduce.

Of course during times like these, when the answer seems so simple as unfolding a lawn chair, frustrated people will hear any alternative that is just as simple. But a national labor plan will be a truly complex and unprecedented thing to achieve. In order to achieve a national labor plan, we will have to take our eyes off of illegal Mexican immigrants and begin to speak with seriousness about everything else we know.

For instance, where is it written into economic law that the more an economy grows in population the less robust it must become in opportunity? What does an expanding population need in order to thrive? Do we have no answers? Will a shrinking population improve home economics? Shall we just split up into a thousand Luxembourg’s? Or do we have to think about other factors besides immigration and population growth in order to get the qualitative answers that we will need? Even without any immigration before us wouldn’t our economic assumptions require us to eat ourselves alive anyway?

From Mexican to cataclysm lies an obviously tempting scapegoat logic. Is this to be post-9/11 headed South? I’m beginning to feel just a little bit like I did on Sept. 21, 2001, the day after Bush Jr. delivered his post 9/11 manifesto. Has everyone around me lost their minds? Are we to be led so jubilantly into a vigilante future?

When immigrants huddled into New York harbor they disembarked upon a city that offered free colleges. So the answers are not very mysterious. Education is one principle of prosperity that growing nations can practice. In South Texas where is the education that awaits immigrants? The Texas Supreme Court will return from its Fourth of July break this summer to consider litigation over South Texas schools. The state legislature has wasted nearly forty years evading its plain responsibility to fund vigorous educational programs. As a consequence ignorance and stereotypes grow.

Health care also would count in this direction. With a robust public system of health funded like we fund blitzkriegs through Falluja, we wouldn’t be whimpering about our complete inability to visualize a healthy future as more immigrants arrive.

Or labor practices. Factories have been constructed along the borderline during the past generation, and they have been placed just to the South where they can dodge the jurisdiction of OSHA and the Labor Department. Meanwhile, as mentioned above, Texas holds firm to its Right-to-Work allegiance, making worker organization very near impossible on this side of the border also.

Education, health care, and labor policy. Here are three clear areas with outstanding records of wrong-headedness in high places. Instead of motivating responsibility in these areas however Schwarzenegger and his MinuteMen are making a scene over Mexican immigrants. These are old tricks of the Gringo Manual. Starve a population, then blame them for their hunger. Shoot holes through their school budgets then blame them for being unable to learn. Put the hospitals out of reach and blame them for not being well. Prohibit union power and blame them for serving corporate interest. And when they nevertheless make their way in the morning to work, by all means, be sure to blame them for that too.

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