My Mind’s a Muddle on Immigration

On most matters political I come down pretty firmly on one side or the other. One exception is abortion where I am a man without a country. Liberals hate me because I abhor abortion on demand and conservatives hate me because I can’t condone the government violating the sovereignty of a woman over her body.

Now another entry in my straddle list. The immigration debate has me in a muddle. On the one hand I understand the offensive nature of the phrase “illegal immigrant”. People are themselves not illegal. Their acts are. “Illegal immigrant” objectifies these people.

I also understand that many of the 11 million here illegally have raised families here and love this country for its opportunities. I hesitate to engage in any dialog that demonizes them.

I also get that the GOP has created a bit of a straw man by trying to solve at great expense a problem we really don’t have right now. Because of our economy net illegal immigration is about zero. Obama has deported a record number of undocumented folks.

But there are still two things that bother me about this debate:

Why Do Minorities Defend Their Criminal Element?

Republicans believe that promoting comprehensive immigration reform will win them Hispanic votes, essentially a shameless pander. My question is why would law-abiding Hispanics who have paid their dues be offended by a crackdown on illegal immigration? Why would law-abiding Hispanics be seduced by a party “sympathetic” to undocumented workers who are by definitions criminals? Why are Hispanics not the most outraged at their brethren taking shortcuts to get the rewards that non-criminal Hispanics have worked hard for? It reminds me of blacks turning Trayvon Martin into a civil rights hero when he was at best a very foolish child and at worst a thug-in-training (more on that later). It reminds me of moderate Muslims who stand by silent while their nutjob radical brethren wreak havoc all over the world. I know from experience that when we condemn our own we open the door to bigots who will take our condemnation one step too far. That still shouldn’t keep us silent. That still should not make us accept the lowest common denominator. Law abiding Hispanics should be as interested in secure borders and fair labor practices as everyone else.

Who Needs Immigrants Right Now?

While watching “Face the Nation” last week, I saw Dan Stein, President of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) discuss the Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill. If you get past his gripes about special interests and his skepticism about increased border security there remains one resonating point. Why do we want to increase job competition in a country with almost 8% unemployment (not including those who have dropped out of the workforce out of despair and those working part-time who want full-time jobs)? Just today I heard an argument about folks coming here to get an education and then taking their skills back home. Our solution? Encourage then to stay here! No, no, no.

We need to be training OUR citizens for the jobs available in this country right now. We need to be employing our citizens. We don’t need to be bringing more folks on board to compete for jobs. We have plenty of Americans for the jobs available. We don’t necessarily have the skills and that is what needs fixing. And once again — I’m a broken record on this subject and I don’t care — we need corporations and even small employers to start treating workers with dignity. That means not only hiring but paying them a decent living wage. We can beat unemployment in this country by training people and then making the jobs worth having. Many of the folks currently on food stamps are gainfully employed and can’t make enough money to pay for food. That’s a disgrace in the richest country in the world.

If anything, we should be restricting immigration right now across the board and getting our house in order with the folks who are already here.

A Final Few Words on Trayvon Martin

Last night the jury in the George Zimmerman trial declared Mr. Zimmerman not guilty of 2nd degree murder in the killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin. A few observations come to mind:

Amazing What Happens When You Ignore Race

Despite a lead up to the trial that was extremely racially polarized, the prosecution chose not to focus on racism. Yes, profiling was mentioned but there was very little focus on the notion that Trayvon ended up dead because he was a black man.The predominant focus of both the defense and the prosecution was the scuffle itself and not much on what lead up to it. When you just focus on one man beating the crap out of another and whether the dude getting beaten up might be afraid of great bodily injury it becomes a bit easier to say “yeah I would have shot him too.” For those, mostly conservatives, who were angry at the race baiters, the prosecution was pretty restrained it its use of race as an emotional tactic. When you take racial motivation out of the equation, it’s just a matter of a man wanting the beating to stop.

The Worst Prosecution Evah

I admittedly watched more trial analysis than the trial itself but damn that was one sad prosecution. Nearly every prosecution witness was transformed into a witness for the defense. The coroner, Dr. Bao, was so slick and shifty I wouldn’t trust him with the dead much less the living. The expert on use of force, Dennis Root was allowed to testify on state of mind, outside his area of expertise,  without any objection from the prosecution. And most damning of all, the prosecution never made an issue of the position of Zimmerman’s gun (behind him out of view of Martin) until closing arguments. I had to wonder as I watched analysis of the trial whether the state really wanted to win this case or not.

The Sickening Canonization of Trayvon Martin

I actually heard Travyon Martin compared to Medgar Evers last night. I threw up in my mouth a little. Are we serious? Medgar Evers devoted his life to racial equality and was killed by a white supremacist. Trayvon Martin devoted his last months to smoking dope, possibly stealing jewelry, calling himself No-Limit-Nigga on Twitter, being suspended twice from school and was killed by a half white half Hispanic Barney Fife. Trayvon Martin is no hero. He is a cautionary tale of what a child should do when confronted by a crazy stranger. You don’t respond with gangsta attitude. You run the hell away and tell your parents.

Last night MSNBC’s Joy Reid implied Trayvon was accosted by a gun wielding George Zimmerman. The facts as revealed in the case do not support that. Trayvon didn’t know George had a gun until after a scuffle had already ensued. She should be ashamed of herself for making up facts. Melissa Harris-Perry said all black families are holding their kids a bit closer after the verdict. Well damn right Melissa. Maybe if Trayvon was held a bit closer, as in properly counseled on his life choices, he might be alive today. I am reading folks on Facebook say they fear for their black children’s safety because big bad whitey may kill them and not go to jail. Have we lost our minds? The lesson in this verdict is not that a white (or half white) man can shoot you in the back and get away with it. The lesson is that a white man can shoot you if you punch him in the face and jump on top of him and try to beat the crap out of him. Was giving an ass whupping to George Zimmerman the only choice Trayvon had that night?

Look, I am not happy that George Zimmerman brought a gun to a fist fight. I also don’t doubt the terrible loss felt by Trayvon’s family. But despite the media’s insistence on showing photos of a 13-year-old angelic child (they’re still showing those photos today), if we are honest we know better. Trayvon was developing into an ignorant punk who was headed for trouble. He needed intervention, just not in the form that he got from George Zimmerman. Trayvon is no hero, civil rights or otherwise. He is another sad statistic in a culture that favors confrontation and bravado over common sense. It’s a damn shame.


The Zero Percent Club — A Flawed Poll or a Stupid Racist Monolith

News broke this week that according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, Mitt Romney is receiving zero percent support from black voters. Really? I can see only three alternative interpretations of this result, none of which are found in the main stream coverage:

Blacks are Racist

This one is easy. Just imagine if the results had been the other way around. What if the poll showed zero white support for Obama? Cries of societal breakdown would flood the airwaves. The shocking revelation of white racism against blacks would be the lead headline. Yet when the anti-Romney poll results were announced, it was summarized that there must be something wrong with Mitt Romney, not something wrong with the black voter.

Accusations of racism on blacks against whites usually falls on deaf ears. The reason I think was well spelled out by a civil rights worker (whose name I no longer remember) who said that racism is the potent combination of prejudice plus the power to use that prejudice to hurt the target of that prejudice. The notion is that a powerless black community can be as prejudiced against whites as they want. Without the power to DO anything the prejudice lacks any real punch.

I first heard this theory a good 25 years ago. Since then, both the corner office and the Oval Office have been occupied by blacks. The idea of the powerless black man has diminished considerably. This makes the charge of racism against whites in this case quite a bit more plausible.

Blacks are a Joke

While blacks may have gained more power in the past 30 years, the credibility of the black community still suffers. When we look at the effectiveness of policy by either party as it relates to blacks, one has to wonder if anyone is really taking black folk that seriously. These poll results don’t help in that regard. If we toss out racism as the motivating force we are left with the possibility that blacks really aren’t thinking very critically about this election. That would be true of any group that votes 100% against something. It kills their credibility as a voting block because it shows no diversity of thought or opinion. There are only two things that unite blacks, one total nonsense and one drop dead serious. Their nonsensical commonality is the color of their skin (for the most part …it must be said blacks run the gamut of skin color, this author being a prime example). Skin color is meaningless. The serious commonality is a legacy of systemic discrimination. Yet I submit that within those two common attributes there is a wide range of potential political opinion. Blacks run from ultra-liberal all the way to ultra-conservative. You would never know it from these poll results which make blacks look like a very stupid monolith.

The Poll is Flawed

The Wall Street Journal and NBC defend the poll results claiming the sampling was proper. This according to the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart:

“The numbers came from a statistically significant sample of more than 100 African-American voters out of 1,000 total voters in the poll,” Mark Murray, senior political editor for NBC News, told me via e-mail this morning. “Given the sample size of these African-American respondents, the margin of error is well within the 95%-4% split with which Obama won this group in 2008.” So, there’s a possibility that Romney could eke out some support on Election Day. A possibility of the very slim variety.

I say pure BS. You might not think that there is much difference between 4% support and 0% support, but symbolically it makes a world of difference. The pollsters can yell until they are blue in the face. I refuse to believe that there is a statistically non-existent black pro-Romney contingent. These poll results only serve to further propagate the notion of blind racial support which does a disservice to our national discourse.

What I think irks me the most is not which of the three above alternatives, racism, stupidity, or bad polling caused these results. What irks me is the media exclusively interpreting these results as a commentary on Romney and not a commentary on the group being polled. It makes blacks a club with which to pound Romney over the head. It makes them a useful tool. It would have been more worthwhile to get underneath what blacks really think. Where is there a diversity of opinion?

I’m not sure the media is really interested in what black people think and why. I think they’re just interested in scoring political points and fanning flames. This poll certainly served that purpose.

Post-script: Kudos to Melissa Harris-Perry for at least talking to some black conservatives and giving a damn about what they think.


Graphic via NBC News Political Blogger Alliance