THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 676, June 24, 2012
"Our civilization is unique in history and
renowned the world over for the value it's
always placed, historically, on ideas"
When We Say "Immigrants," We Really Mean Mexicans
Special to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
Last Friday night, I found myself unexpectedly sucked in by ABC's broadcast of Nik Wallenda's tightrope walk across Niagara Falls from America into Canada. At the end of his journey, as part of a made-for-TV stunt within a made-for-TV stunt (I guess that would make it a meta-made-for-TV stunt), Wallenda was greeted by two friendly Canadian guards, who welcomed him to the country and asked him for his passport. Wallenda joked that he'd have to go back for it, then produced the requested document wrapped in a piece of plastic. Even if he hadn't done this, my guess is Canada would've let him innot just because the stunt was coordinated by both countries, but because, when it comes to immigration, America and Canada don't care.
Earlier that same day, the big news story wasn't leaving America but coming to America and staying in America. President Obama made a major announcement that his administration was going to start easing up on deporting certain illegal immigrants. Of course we all know who this policy was aimed at. Whenever we talk about immigration in this countryand the 'illegal' variety of immigration in particular we almost invariably mean Mexicans. Is it possible Canadians are living here illegally? Sure. But no one cares. After all, they're Canadian.
But this is strange if you know the history behind America and Canada. While it's true we have a contentious history with Mexico (we warred over Texas in the 1840s, for instance), we have an equally contentious history with our maple syrupy neighbors to the north. During revolutionary times, loyalists fled the 13 colonies for Quebec, because Quebec had decided not to revolt with us. That country was actually settled, in part, by people who thought America was a really bad idea.
And it wasn't until the American Civil War that Canadians even thought about their own independence. The reason? Because they thought the war proved our democracy was a failure... and they wanted to be prepared to defend themselves against us, because they thought we were crazy barbarians who intended to invade them.
A lot about Canada is a lot like America. We share the same celebrity talent pools, watch many of the same shows, and listen to many of the same songs. To date, a vast majority of Canadians live within a short distance from the American borderwhich is helpful to them in terms of climate, as well as in terms of sharing our sports leagues. But historically, Canada has been a very anti-American place to be. In fact, historically, if you wanted to make the case, Canada has been the de facto Anti-America. We get along with them now, just as we get along with England, but it wasn't always like this, and people forget that.
The question is, why do we have this relationship with Canada, where we tend to view this historical foil as a nagging but loveable little brother, while Mexico is seen as the detestable, ugly, never-liked-him, never-will kid with a gimp next door? Is it really because Mexico is as overrun with drug lords and criminals as they say it is? Or is it because Mexicans don't share our color, don't share our cultureand they're the ones who are coming here in droves?
If you look at the reason we went to war with Mexico over Texas that war in the 1840s that I mentioned a moment earlieryou could find at least a hint of the answer to this question. Originally, Texas belonged to the Mexicans, but they had trouble taking care of it, so they invited Americans to come do it for them. Eventually the people living there decided they should be making their own decisions on what to do with the land, so they revolted against their Mexican leaders. It's the same basic story of the American Revolution, and countless other revolutions and secessionist movements: History shows us people want to rule themselves.
At the end of the day, I think that's what we're scared of, and why we take a different approach to Mexicans and Canadians. Because let's face it: If an influx of Canadians moved here, and they didn't like the way the American government was running things, the country they'd create would look a lot like the one we already have, except with different donuts and universal healthcare.
But the Mexican culture doesn't resemble America's. We don't share the same TV shows and musical artists. We don't share the same sports leagues. We don't even share the same language. So it strikes us as a very real possibility that deep down, intrinsically, we don't share the same values.
And if we don't share the same values, we won't share the same vision of the future, and the way this country ought to be run.
And we know that if it happened in Texasif Americans could settle part of Mexico, then take that part of Mexico from Mexicothen the same exact fate could happen to America if we let Mexicans settle down here.
So we look to restrict them. We put up fences. We drive the immigrants underground. That's the surest way to assure they don't integrate. We create the problem we're trying to solve.
The best solution to any problem is always to let people be free. And if people want to live somewhere, they should live where they want to live. We can be the smiling faces who greeted Nik Wallenda and asked him for his passport, or we can be the guards with guns, shooting people for the crime of wanting to live where they feel like living, and running the fool's errand of trying to round them up. It may be true that President Obama's new immigration policy is just an election year maneuver, but if that's the caseif being the smiling faces instead of the guards with guns is the kind of thing that makes a president popularthen I'd say maybe we're not the crazy barbarians Canada thought we were.
Many thanks to none other than Ms. JDM herself, Rachael Morris, for designing another amazing cover. Be sure to check her out at the Newfound Creative Facebook page.
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