Friday, February 16, 2007

Call me Ishmael

Seems like every damned thing the US government has done or tried to do since the Johnson administration has been sold as a war on something - poverty, crime, drugs, terrorism and of course Mexicans. The good thing about describing an attempt as a war is that where there is a war, there must be an enemy and an enemy is someone you can treat without much restraint or interference from the law and free from concern for common decency, much less the vaunted "Judeo-Christian" ethics our laws are supposed (by the least decent of us) to be based on.

Another thing about wars is that you get to simplify reality by talking about victory and defeat and that's why our national experiment in sobriety could be ended without talk about honor or demoralizing the police or cutting and running. It didn't work, it made things worse so we shut it down. Because it wasn't a "war on booze" we had nothing to lose.

We've made a big mistake in treating the problem of illegal immigration like a war. If it were like other crimes consisting of doing something like driving without a license or doing business without a permit, authorities could simply examine records and make arrests and treat offenders according to due process and the basic ideas about human decency and respect for human life that I like to think most people have. But that's not the way we do it in our nation under Bush because we tell ourselves we are not dealing with people who have broken the law and usually out of desperation. We tell ourselves we're dealing with criminals - with the enemy.

That's the sort of thinking that allows what happened last December 12th in Greeley Colorado to happen and what allows us to not care in the same way people didn't care when Jews and Gypsies and Homosexuals and others were loaded into boxcars by jackbooted bastards in Europe. The jackbooted, helmeted, body armored and heavily armed bastards in this case surrounded a meat packing plant run by Swift and in brutal fashion rounded up, beat down and carted away people who couldn't on the spot prove citizenship. Anyone not able to instantly obey commands screamed in English by space-suited aliens were maced. No one was read their rights, because in a war they don't have the human rights we claim are common to all humanity.

Had this not been a war and simply an arrest of people without a license to work; had this been a nation with a sense of morals, they would not have dragged away husbands and wives without concern that they had minor children and infants left alone at home. No phone calls were allowed - they were the Enemy and were herded off to be held in undisclosed places and incommunicado before deportation. People might have human rights, but enemies don't. On that same day says an article in The Nation, "more than 1,000 ICE agents simultaneously raided five other Swift factories in Texas, Iowa, Nebraska, Utah and Minnesota. By the end of the day, nearly 1,300 immigrant workers had been taken into custody--about 265 of them from Greeley."

You can bet that the executives from Swift were not beaten, gassed, thrown to the ground, heaved into trucks and driven out to desert camps without access to lawyers or phone calls to family. You can bet that their children won't be left alone to wander the streets or die on the floor of some trailer or be abused or sold in the absence of their parents and families.

"Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff boasted that the combined raids amounted to the largest workplace enforcement action in history. ICE Assistant Secretary Julie Myers would later claim that Operation Wagon Train, as the raids were dubbed, dealt a major blow in the "war against illegal immigration."

Raw Story tells us today that Alberto Gonzales' Justice Department has ". . . has implemented a secretive new prison program segregating "high-security-risk" Muslim and Middle Eastern prisoners and tightly restricting their communications with the outside world in apparent violation of federal law. Apparently Raw Story has forgotten that under George W. Bush's Reich, the Justice Department is the law. To be sure, they've tried it before, public comment was sought under the law and the courts have shut it down, but since at first they didn't succeed, they simply did it again in secret - they instituted a special program for prisoners who fit a profile.

At Terre Haute Federal Correctional Institution in Indiana, if you're Muslim, suspected of being a Muslim or someone deemed sufficiently suspicious of being one even if not convicted of a crime but merely being held as "witnesses, detainees, or otherwise," you're going to be monitored on the phone, in person, in your letters and when having a visitor. You're only allowed to speak or write English. Your contact with the outside world may be limited to three monitored minutes a month if the Warden doesn't like your beard.

Bandied about the internet is something being called Godwin's law which says that the longer an internet thread continues, the more likely that Hitler will be brought up. Why wait? I will say right now that the US is becoming more Nazified every day that George Bush and his miserable subhuman bastards conduct their war on decency.

Remembering the example of a very few real Christians who stood up to Hitler by wearing yellow stars, the challenge to me is to change my name to Ishmael and brush up on the Spanish. Allahu Akbar - amigos!


d.K. said...

I'm reminded of the (unfunny) joke that we won't build a wall between Mexico and the U.S., because without the Mexicans and Central Americans, who would be left to build it?

I was going to add the new "war on marriage" that's been trumped up to rally the base, but you did end up implying that case in your narrative as well.

I'm not a hand-wringer, but that's about all I can do. One vote isn't enough, but what else can we do? I wish I knew.

When the (current) leaders of Argentina refuse to meet with Alberto Gonzales because of his treatises on "persuasive interrogation methods", in our own life times, you have to ask if in fact the world has been turned upside-down.

Chris said...

Good post.

Capt. Fogg said...

Somebody told me that if you put a lobster in cold water and slowly heat it, the lobster won't feel it - it will just quietly die. Kind of like our country.