Even Republicans outside of Arizona, reacting to that state’s unfortunate response to the illegal immigration problem—in effect now becoming a quasi-authoritarian state—generally say that the law is justified because the federal government has failed to act on the problems associated with our southern border.
In other words, because Republicans—mostly hard-core conservatives on the radio and television*—derailed comprehensive federal immigration reform, efforts that began in 2005, any state government is now justified in beginning the process of turning itself into the kind of place only a fan of fascism could love.
As Brit Hume, who is the senior political analyst for Fox “News” and thus the network’s top working Republican journalist, said this morning, the Arizona response was “reasonable” in passing a “somewhat draconian law” because “the fault really lies with the utter failure of the federal government in Washington to deal with this issue.”
So, since the defense of Arizona Republicans is that the feds failed to act, let’s look back briefly on how the right-wing helped squash sensible national reforms, reforms that would have helped states like Arizona (indeed, John McCain, from Arizona, championed such sensible reforms before he gave up and joined the right-wing rabble), and would have prevented the harsh, reactionary measures that now have become law in that state.
The view from the hard right is that, essentially, our cultural identity is at stake:
Just as a representative sample of how the right felt about an emerging agreement on immigration reform, here’s what Don Feder, a popular columnist at the right-wing FrontPageMag.com said on April 7, 2006:
The Senate has reached a “compromise” on illegal immigration. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (who, by his conduct here, just lost the ’08 nomination) called it a “huge breakthrough” – a moral collapse would be more like it.
Feder went on to call the compromise between Republicans and Democrats a “rape of our national identity,” and ended with this flourish:
The party’s conservative base – its very essence – is furious with this unpardonable betrayal.
If this gift to illegal aliens becomes law, there will be no amnesty for the Republican Party.
Speaking of our national identity, its rape notwithstanding, Tom Tancredo, a congressman from Colorado at the time and a loud-mouthed leader of the hard-core anti-immigration movement in the U.S. House, had said in November of 2006 that Miami, Florida, “has become a Third World country,” due to its large Hispanic population.
Never mind that those Hispanics were also Americans.
And never mind that people we would call Hispanics were living in America long before the lilliest white Pat Buchanans arrived to then dream of sending them back to Latin America.
Speaking of Pat Buchanan, MSNBC’s token conservative culture warrior, he said in 2006, “you’re going to have a giant Kosovo in the Southwest,” and told Chris Matthews :
BUCHANAN: I think what’s coming is the complete balkanization of America, and I’m afraid it’s going to be by ethnicity and culture, and language, and every other way. And we’re going to be like the Balkans, only we’ve got a much larger and more prosperous country. And so, then, it’s not like the country you and I grew up in, Chris, whereby –
MATTHEWS: It’s already not that.
BUCHANAN: — we were monocultural. We were monocultural.
MATTHEWS: Well, it’s already not that.
Buchanan also told an approving Glenn Beck in 2006:
What I’m saying is, we’ve got a fifth column here, European-Americans are leaving California. And in an amount of time, by 2050, this will be so Mexican, it’ll be like Kosovo is to Serbia, and we will lose the Southwest. Not militarily – ethnically, linguistically, socially, culturally.
Buchanan wrote in a book released in 2007 (Day of Reckoning: How Hubris, Ideology, and Greed are Tearing America Apart) that America was committing “national suicide.” Here’s why:
The American majority is not reproducing itself. Its birthrate has been below replacement level for decades. Forty-five million of its young have been destroyed in the womb since Roe v. Wade, as Asian, African, and Latin American children come to inherit the estate the lost generation of American children never got to see.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, from 2005 to 2006, our minority population rose 2.4 million to exceed 100 million. Hispanics, 1 percent of the U.S. population in 1950, are now 14.4 percent. Since 2000, their numbers have soured 25 percent to 45 million. The U.S. Asian population grew by 24 percent since 2000, as the number of white kids of school age fell 4 percent. Half the children five and younger today are minority children.
…the greatest cohort of immigrants here today, legal and illegal, is from Mexico. One in five Mexicans is already here. But unlike the immigrants of old, Mexicans bear an ancient grudge against us as the country that robbed Mexico of half her land when both nations were young. By one survey, 72 percent of Mexicans look on Americans as “racists.” By another, 58 percent of Mexicans believe the American Southwest belongs to them.
…By 2050, more than 100 million Hispanics will be in the United States, concentrated in a Southwest that borders on Mexico. As the Serbs are losing Kosovo, so we may have lost the Southwest.
“We may have lost the Southwest” is not meant to be ironic, even considering how we “won” parts of the Southwest in the first place. In fact, there is little doubt that “liberal” immigration policies on the part of the Mexican government led to a later rebellion of those white American “immigrants,” who declared independence from Mexico in 1836, after they had grown to outnumber the citizens of Mexican Texas.
After the United States annexed Texas, and further provoked the Mexicans to war, the ensuing U.S. victory over Mexico in the Mexican-American War—which made Texas, California, and other parts of the Southwest part of American territory—satisfied the widespread sense of white American superiority, as expressed in the notion of Manifest Destiny, an idea that God himself had ordained our aggressive expansion across the continent all the way to the San Francisco Bay, our new gateway to the Pacific Ocean.
Now, with that understanding, let’s look at how Buchanan interacted with Sean Hannity, soon after Buchanan’s book was released:
HANNITY: You say we’re on a path of national suicide. I want to ask this question directly because you say it’s a day of reckoning. Do you really believe that America, the country we all love as we know it, is in jeopardy of existing?
BUCHANAN: I think — here’s what I think. I think America may exist, but I’ll tell you this: I do believe we’re going to lose the American Southwest. I think it is almost inevitable. If we do not put a fence on that border –
HANNITY: I agree with you.
BUCHANAN: — you’re going to have 100 million Hispanics in the country, most of them new immigrants from Mexico, which believes that belongs to them. What’s going to happen to us, Sean, in my judgment, is what is happening right now: We are Balkanizing. We are dividing and separating from one another politically, morally — on issues like abortion or Terri Schiavo — racially and ethnically, when you get Jena and then you get Don Imus, and all of these things ripping us apart. All the things that used to pull us together and hold us together no longer do.
HANNITY: You say that the greatest invasion in history of the Third World, et cetera, et cetera, talking about the invasion on our borders, and I agree with you. That to me is the number one security issue we have.
You talk about the culture is collapsing, the nation is being deconstructed along lines of race and class in America, a fiscal crisis is looming, Medicare, Social Security is going bankrupt, and we don’t have politicians that can get along enough to solve the problem.
I use Pat Buchanan as the salient example (the record is replete with other fine specimens) of what’s really going on in Arizona because Pat, to his credit, doesn’t hide behind economic or safety issues. His view is that rampant and unchecked immigration is a threat to white culture, something that many conservatives won’t state openly, but nonetheless believe.
How else to explain the lack of congruence between the rhetoric of the Tea Party movement—Obama is threatening our liberty—and its members’ simultaneous support of the Arizona law?
As Paul Krugman pointed out this morning on This Week, it’s rather odd that most of the same people who think government is intruding into our lives as Americans don’t mind that Arizona policeman intrude into the lives of Hispanic Americans—who, no doubt, will be targeted as suspects, should the police in Arizona take this law seriously enough to enforce it.
But they had better take it seriously, because the law carries a penalty for not doing so: lawsuits from citizens (mostly white, no doubt) who don’t think local government is enforcing the law.
When it comes to protecting white culture, white folks just aren’t going to take it anymore, even if it means crapping on the white man’s most precious treasure: the Constitution.
*Various liberal groups also opposed some aspects of the immigration reform bills, from limiting family reunification visas to provisions providing for a “guest worker” program that labor groups deemed as creating a working underclass with no benefits, hurting American workers. But it was the fierce and boisterous opposition from the right-wing, over more moderate (at the time) voices like John McCain and even George W. Bush, that ultimately doomed any chance of fixing the problem on the federal level.