Friday, March 31, 2006

The Essayist #14: Mexican Wars

My ancestors came to this country at varied times and for varied reasons, and all of them belonged to groups that, at some time or other, were regarded as dangers to the Republic. The Germans were suspected of disloyalty during both World Wars. And the Irish were the Mexicans of the 19th Century, a horde of uneducated, malnourished, uncultured swine, spreading Popery and syphillis, and depressing the wages in the major Northeast cities (New York, Philadelphia, Boston, etc.) down past the level to which even black workers had become accustomed.

I get all that. I do. Yet this still does not make me favor the goals of those who marched in Los Angeles this past week.

Generally, I'm a pro-immigration, pro-assimilation, pro-melting pot kind of chap. Every successful immigrant group in America has added to, not detracted from, our culture and economy, long-term. I want everyone who wants to come here and join our reindeer games to be permitted to do so, regardless of color, creed, or language, provided they agree to the following, non-negotiable Rules of the House:

1. Learn to speak English well enough to communicate with most people who live here, at least when in public.

2. Put your prime loyalty to This Our Republic, above any other foreign commitments (sending money to your grandmother in the Old Sod is jolly fine, sending money to organizations that demonize and seek to damage the U.S. is not)

3. There is no 3. You may now pay taxes and vote like the rest of us.

The Mexican Immigration problem is in nature different from any of the other ones we have previously dealt with (in truth, each one is as different as the countries from which they stream here). The difference lies not in the culture of Mexico, nor in a particular defect of Mexican immigrants, but in the past.

The border with Mexico has always been porous. For 19th Century Outlaws, Mexico was Safe at Home, Olly-Olly-Oxen-Free. Banditry and paramilitary troublemaking along the border is nothing new: Pancho Villa's raid into Texas prompted President Wilson to send the U.S. Army deep into Mexico after him (they came up empty). The border is desert for Washington's sake, desert and a river whose banks will shift if it rains hard enough (as they did in 1941, moving 5 miles to the north and creating a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court, which was obliged to rule in favor of Mexico because the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo established the river as the border).

Then there's the fact that the U.S.-Mexican border is the result of the last international war on the North American Continent. In 1848 one-third of Mexico became the southwest United States, as provided for in the aforementioned Treaty of Guadelupe-Hidalgo which ended the war. Mexicans who thus claim that they are standing on their "homeland" make a statement that many are inclined to credit, especially given the ambiguity with which the U.S.-Mexican War has been viewed by Americans, from the 1840's forward. Republicans like Lincoln and Grant regarded it as a "war of conquest" pushed by proto-Confederates to create land for more slave states, but this did not prompt them to return the lands to Mexico. The problem has been with us ever since.

None of this, however, means that we can any longer afford to tolerate the situation; to call a problem old is not to accept its continuance. In the first place, while the Mexican War may not have been the most morally shining moment in our history, neither is it the Malevolent Rape of Innocent Mexico that our history books seem to suggest. The Mexican Government is at least as responsible as the U.S. Government for the War's Outbreak: their stubborn refusal to accept the Texas Republic and their short-sighted attempts to dispute the border gave the U.S. the cause that it needed: regardless of the oft-repeated "Manifest Destiny", it is hard to see how a war could have come about, even under President Polk, had not Mexico believed they could regain what they had lost, and attempted to do so.

Moreover, in victory the United States government was generous: the Mexican Cession was given not as conquered to conqueror but in return for $15 million (equal to what Jefferson paid for Louisiana), plus another $3.25 million of debt to Mexican citizens living north of the new border that the U.S. agreed to assume responsibility for. These same Mexicans were guarunteed citizenship and full property rights. No indemnities were paid, no massacres committed. This is hardly history's cruelest conquest.

Second, the United States is under no obligation to accept any immigrants from anywhere; our past notwithstanding, we are the third most populous nation on earth (a distant third, granted, behind China and India, but double the size of the next one on the list); we have no shortage of people, nor any real need for more. A government's first obligation is to its citizens, not to those who may become citizens, if they feel like it.

While I don't know how I feel about a "guest-worker" program, philosophically, there isn't too much daylight between myself and George Will. I likewise believe that an intelligent immigration reform package should include the following:

  • Secure the Border. Fences, walls, the whole nine yards. This is a security as well as an economic issue. Along with those huddled masses are drug lords and foreign thugs. They need to be kept out as well (an overhaul of security at all entry points would be welcome as well).

  • Make Legal Immigration Easier. A points system like that of Australia would give immigrants legal status (and thus, a means of identification and monitoring), a simpler means of reaching the end goal, and thus, encouragement to get there.

  • Zero Tolerance for Reconquistadors. Anyone proclaiming that the Southwest be returned to Mexico or that whites be expelled from any part of the Americas should be arrested for fomenting insurrection, if a citizen, and deported with a permanent 'no entry' mark next to their name if not. The history between the U.S. and Mexico makes such statements a "Clear and Present Danger" as far as I'm concerned. Anyone standing in Los Angeles who seems to think he's in Mexico should be returned to Mexico, that he may discover the difference.

  • Assimilate, Assimilate, Assimilate. There was no bi-lingual education for the Germans, the Italians, the Swedes, the Poles, or anyone else. I don't see what makes Latinos so special that they can't follow the same path. But more than language, it's time to instill in immigrants a love of the country they're joining, as a republic of free men and women from around the world, not as a cash cow. America is more than the New York Stock Exchange, more than Wal-Mart, more than Hollywood. We must remember this, and we must so teach our new brothers and sisters.

  • If we can do this, we'll have the means for turning all these Mexicans into Mexican-Americans, and eventually just plain the latter. Enough of guilt, enough of malaise, enough of flagellation for the degree to which America is not Eden. It never will be, and if we can forgive ourselves for that, we can discover again a people worth keeping.

    Thursday, March 30, 2006

    The Left's Alternative?

    Regular readers will know that I routinely lament the lack of a clear, spelled-out alternative to the Bush Strategy for defeating Islamic Terrorism. A left-wing poster on Protein Wisdom may just have admitted to one. After some of the typical back-and-forth, I attempt to elucidate. Check it out.

    UPDATE: Apparently, there really is a plan. I don't have the time to read it just now, but you might.

    Tuesday, March 28, 2006

    Cherchez les Fusils

    The interesting thing to about this post by Omar at Iraq the Model is not the point that he makes, which is that the UIA is trying to spin American military action against the militias which are spinning the country toward civil war, as itself causing civil war. Such is allzu menslich in this Age of Political Projectionism.

    What's worth pointing out is that the Iraqi troops our military has trained is still fighting side-by-side with them, still willing to put the smack down where the central authority dictates. That's proof, if proof is needed, that there is an awareness of Iraq-as-Iraq in that country still, and not merely Iraq-as-ethnic-divisions that our famously unbiased media keep feeding us.

    So enough with the talk of tossing in towels. Enough of you "To Hell With Them" Hawks, with your "Jacksonianism" providing the perfume of machismo to cover the stench of your ennui. Ennui be damned. We have good men fighting and dying over there, and blood spilled round the world over whose vision of the future will prevail. Now is the time to remember that, in war, the side that wins is the side that taps out last. Look to the guns. We still have them.

    Take My Creation...Please!

    An interesting report on Benedict XVI's firm assertion of what we've all suspected from time to time: That God has a sense of humor, and it's mostly directed at us (Hat tip: The Anchoress. More from her later).

    Monday, March 27, 2006

    We Won, and We Are NOT Happy About It...

    I've mentioned one or two times about the way I like to link Punk Rock and Christianity: they both keep getting declared dead, and they both keep staying around to get declared dead some more. I'm now adding a third movement to that list: Feminism.

    What is this, the fourth time feminism has been declared dead? I remember hearing that Three's Company killed it in the late 70's (something having to do with the blonde one and the fact that she was none-too-bright), and that Ally McBeal killed it two decades later, unless it died because the movement leaders protected Bill Clinton against his various semen-receptors.

    And now it's dead achieved everything it ever wanted? Except it didn't, if you Read The Whole Thing. Unless it did. At any rate, there's still something or other to be upset about.

    Which means feminism isn't dead.

    Wednesday, March 15, 2006

    Down the Rabbit-Hole

    I really, seriously did not intend to disappear for three weeks. I actually hoped to finish my music list and then let things slide until about June. There are several reasons:
    1) I'm moving out of my appartment to my fiancee's mother's house, and am unsure whether my computer will be able to follow me.
    2) I'd like to spend the spring on sabbatical, as it were, tasting and reflecting and playing guitar, rather than trying to make sense of the world that the sons of Adam have made.

    I didn't even get that far, because:
    1) The school Shakespeare club production of "Twelfth Night" became the Hoover Black Hole of time-sucks.
    2) On Monday, February 27th, I was rear-ended by a dope in a Ford Ranger who was gabbing on a cell phone instead of watching the traffic. My poor little black Focus (aka "The Mule") has been totaled, and I've had insurance crapola to fret about, along with the aggravation of buying a new vehicle when I had just paid off the old one.
    3) End of 3rd Quarter. Grades and crabby parents.
    4) Trying to find a new job after the school year ends. Would you believe that applying to public schools is actually a bureaucratic nightmare? Huh.

    So what's happening now?
    I have no idea. We shall see, we shall see...Day by day.