THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 160, February 11, 2002
Cetius, Altius, Fortius
The Brown Peril
by L. Neil Smith
Exclusive to TLE
It isn't any great secret, I suppose, that I don't care much for nation-states or for national borders. It seems to me the height of mass insanity that hundreds of millions -- perhaps billions -- have died over the course of six millennia simply to maintain or alter map colors, or that otherwise innocent individuals are routinely beaten up, kidnapped, or murdered by uniformed thugs if they put the wrong foot over a line that exists only on a big, horribly-folded sheet of paper.
As I've said elsewhere (SierraTimes.com's "Roadhouse", February, 2002), I'm a nationalist only in the sense that heretofore, national borders have worked something like bulkheads in a ship, closing off compartments that are relatively clean, dry, warm, and full of light, from those that have sprung a leak and are filling -- or are already filled -- with the cold, foul, murky, fetid water of the Abyss of Tyranny.
"Heretofore" is the word. The United States of America used to be relatively untouched by the all-too-Visible Hand of authoritarianism. True, it had trouble from the beginning, living up to the political virtues it publicly espoused, but there was decency -- and nobility -- in the attempt, and always some reason to hope that it might someday succeed.
However if one can cherish "high hopes", then I suppose one can suffer "low hopes", as well. And despite all of the fuss over "civil rights" and "civil liberties" over the past three generations, this country's hopes of fulfilling the promises made by the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights have been getting lower throughout its entire lifetime, beginning with the Whiskey Rebellion, through the War between the States, the unconstitutional Acts of 1913, World War I, Prohibition, World War II, Korea, the Cold War, Vietnam, the War on (some) Drugs, and culminating most recently with the Bush Crusade and its accompanying assault on the tattered remnants of everything that made America more admirable than any other nation, in history, or the world.
True, despite all of the doom and gloom -- and despite everything their political leaders and pampered intellectuals have to say about it -- ordinary people all over the world would give almost anything to live and work in America. Every year many of them suffer unspeakable hardships and dangers to get here. Shockingly often, they die in the attempt.
When they make it, though -- despite everything our political leaders and pampered intellectuals have to say about it -- they are almost always good for America. It isn't a "melting pot", after all, but a smelting pot, and what we get from it, when all is said and done, is pure gold. Immigrants, legal or not, bring tremendous energy, and ideas that are new, at least to us. They also offer us fresh ways of looking at the world that are not necessarily a product of wherever they first came from, but more of their experiences getting here and adapting.
This qualifies as a digression, I suppose, but I'm thoroughly fed up with hearing a false distinction being made between those who come here for freedom (or because they're being politically persecuted in their own country) and those who come here to improve their economic lot in life. (How would you classify the 19th century Irish who came to America fleeing the Potato Famine, which would never have occurred if their English conquerors hadn't compelled them to raise a single crop?) Any economic opportunity left in America exists precisely because of freedom, and for no other reason. The two are one and the same.
Complaints are always made -- and they have been for more than two centuries -- usually by individuals whose parents or grandparents were foreigners to this shore themselves, about the unbearable burden that immigrants impose on "society". But when those complaints are examined closely, they almost always turn out to be spurious, and ultimately rooted in racial, ethnic, or class prejudice. Newcomers collect less in welfare, and they collect it for a shorter time than the average native-born welfare parasite. And they work harder at more unpleasant jobs.
Politicians and political commentators who don't want to appear as bigoted as they actually are, tend to make a lot of noise -- "Perhaps illegals have laudable motives, but, harumph! They've violated the majesty of the law!" -- as if the newcomers' real offense wasn't just being here, and the law hadn't been passed in the first place for the ugliest reasons. I'd be more sympathetic if politicians stayed within the bounds of the law, themselves. The Ninth and Tenth Amendments come to mind specifically -- along with Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution.
A more genuine kind of concern, I think, is expressed by one of my favorite correspondents, a reliably radical advocate of individual liberty who impresses me as being generally in favor of opening the borders.
Patrick Buchanan and others have made a point in recent years of the contempt that some immigrants and children of immigrants have begun to display toward all things particularly American. They tell stories about the flag being spat upon and the national anthem being booed at public sporting events in southern California, and of remarks being made about someday running the gringos out of Aztlan, the name for parts of the United States some Hispanics want to see given to Mexico.
My internet friend wants me to tell him how immigrants might be persuaded to be assimilated into American culture in such a way that they don't represent a danger to values and a way of life that are unique.
The first thing I'd say to my friend (in fact, I'm saying it right now) is that there's a fundamental right not to be assimilated. That's how we wind up with the Amish, Flat Earthers, Tesla fans, and nudists. He exercises that right, himself, every day, when he adamantly refuses to be assimilated into the "dominant" political culture, and surrender those of his unalienable individual, civil, Constitutional, and human rights that are supposed to have been made sacrosanct by the Second Amendment.
That established, I agree with my friend that it would be better if newcomers actually understood what America is all about and what that means for them. In the 90s, hundreds of thousands of them were given a pass by a Clinton Administration counting on their gratitude -- and a little election fraud -- to swell the Democratic ranks. (For you bedwetters out there still seething over the way the 2000 election was "stolen" in Florida, you'd better thank whatever vile, creepy gods you worship that voting in California wasn't similarly scrutinized.) If immigrants heard everything about the basic American philosophy of freedom, the way they used to when it took nine years to become a citizen -- but from somebody unconnected with the government at any level -- they probably couldn't be persuaded to vote for either major party.
Sounds to me like some kind of foundation is in order, here.
Or maybe not.
Maybe all it would take is some notion of what's really in it for them. You want them to assimilate? You want them to adopt our culture? Then how about trying to make our culture a little more attractive to them?
To start with, how about not stealing half of everything everybody earns?
How about not eavesdropping on everybody's private conversations, Internet communications, snail-mail, phone calls, and using high-tech equipment to turn everybody's private life into a police state peep show?
How about not rummaging through people's belongings and giving them rectal exams at airports, just because a whole new industry has been built around a few sick, twisted outpatient types who get off on it?
How about going back to real money, and burning the trash that was designed, printed, and put into circulation to betray those who earned it?
How about not dropping bombs on innocent Third Worlders every time you want to bury revelations about your sex life -- or you need an excuse to have national identification numbers tattooed on everybody's forehead?
How about not locking up more prisoners than any other country in the world, three-quarters of them innocent of any real crime, on charges that are unconstitutional and therefore illegal in and of themselves?
How about actually enforcing the Bill of Rights -- instead of slithering around it or ignoring it altogether? Why would anybody in the 21st century, anywhere, want to be assimilated into this culture which, increasingly, consists of nothing but lies, brutality, and theft?
A while back, I wrote and delivered a speech called, "You Can't Fight A Culture War If You Ain't Got Any Culture" about encouraging social as well as political emphases within the libertarian movement. What's going on at the border is a culture war, as well. At present, it's a war between two slave cultures, the Old World slave culture of Mexico, and the new, slick, high-tech slave culture of Bush's Amerika. Freedom can hardly get a word in edgewise and we see the predictable result.
Fact is, for 30 years, libertarians have been hardly able to get a word in edgewise. I propose we try a new strategy (while going on with all of our old strategies). Let's enlist as many newcomers as we can, this Brown Peril the anti-immigrationists are so frightened of that it makes their already tiny manhood shrivel at the thought of living next door to people like that, and turn them into Bill of Rights radicals. It's in their best interest -- as well as ours -- in many different ways.
It could start with something as modest and simple as the Bill of Rights, thumbtacked onto a grocery store bulletin board -- in Spanish, Samoan, and every other language that the new Americans grew up with. Immigrants want to be influenced by their new surroundings as much as they want to influence it -- probably moreso -- it's why they're here. Make it bulletin boards in thousands of stores, and follow where that leads.
Keep it up for ten years as the immigrant population explodes -- if the antis are to be believed at all -- and it might just lead to freedom.
Three-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith is the author of 23 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, and his collection of columns and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" at www.lneilsmith.org. Autographed copies may be had from the author at email@example.com