Your Huddled Masses are now my Wretched Refuse:
Locking the Golden Door
BY JASON MILLER
If she drew breath, the Statue of Liberty would drop her torch in disgust and hang her head in shame.
Inculcated with the belief that they are morally superior and endowed with an inalienable right to world domination, the members of America’s ruling White Patriarchy and their ardent supporters have an immigration problem. Too many “little Brown people” are streaming across their southern border. As America’s de facto ruling class wrangles with numerous potential solutions, they are overlooking the obvious: ask the Native Americans what to do. After all, those who forged the American Empire nearly drove the indigenous people of North America to extinction. At the very least, the relatively few survivors of the Native American genocide could help their White “superiors” put their comparatively minute problem into perspective by reminding them that things could be much worse.
While the Western European invaders simply murdered and displaced hundreds of thousands of Native Americans, the “marauders” from Mexico (and the rest of Latin America) are committing such heinous acts as working hard, exercising a devotion to family, and living decent, honest lives. Wearing their psychological chains with pride, those who truly believe in the myth of the superiority of the White-dominated American Empire provide unflinching support for a government of criminals, murderers, and state terrorists as they seek to rid themselves of the “dirty, lazy” Latinos. While some are not even conscious of their racism or allegiance to evil, they are just as culpable as those who are.
Driven by unbridled consumerism, “patriotic” support of a militaristic regime (which is drenched in the blood of millions of murdered civilians), narcissism, self-absorption, xenophobia, racism, and an insatiable demand for the exploitation of the rest of the planet to keep them comfortable, the American Empire’s loyalists are demanding an end to the “Southern Invasion”. Sadly, hubris, insularity, bigotry, the endorsement of murder and torture, and unsurpassed greed are the hallmarks of a nation which purports to be a bastion of freedom, justice, human rights, and equality. Trudging through a blinding blizzard of facts which expose the United States as a ruthless empire, the purveyors of the American Myth doggedly indoctrinate their minions with a relentless argumentum ad nauseam, convincing many that the United States is a benevolent beacon of hope for humanity.
Pigs will be pigs
Just as the implementation of the utopian ideas of Communism resulted in human suffering and totalitarianism, American Capitalism is an abject failure for humanity, registering quite high on the misery index. Few would argue that the United States affords a robust standard of living to many of its citizens, but how much of humanity really benefits? The 295 million people of the United States account for a mere 5% of the world’s population. A tiny fraction (about 2,950,000 individuals) of that meager sliver of humanity feasts on a herd of fatted calves. Meanwhile, 3 billion human beings are left to gnaw on the leftover bones, clinging to survival on an income of less than $2 per day.
Despite possessing obscenely abundant resources and wealth, the Empire even neglects some of its own. 13% of Americans live below the official poverty line. Over a million Americans are homeless. Many of these homeless are children, untreated mentally ill individuals and military veterans (who proudly served their country only to find themselves discarded like human garbage). American Capitalism comes complete with a dose of significant racism. 25% of American Blacks and 22% of Latinos are poverty-stricken while 91.4% of the privileged White majority lives above the poverty line.
Consider that the Capitalistic economic engine of the American Empire, which benefits a thimbleful of the world’s 6.5 billion people, was built through mass murder perpetrated against Native Americans and the profoundly evil enslavement of our Black brothers and sisters. Further perpetuated by the exploitation of the working class during the Gilded Age, the juggernaut American economy is now maintained by the cheap labor of illegal immigrants in the United States, the gross exploitation of workers in corporate America’s offshore sweat shops, decreasing regulation of corporations, and an ongoing assault against the American working class including massive layoffs, union busting, and job off-shoring. Obviously, one cannot change the past, but one can learn from egregiously immoral behaviors, make amends, and work to change. It is evident that the Empire has no intention of mending its ways.
Despite the false dichotomy presented by the government and the mainstream media, there are choices beyond the collectivism of Communism and the unfettered greed of Capitalism. It is a moral imperative and a pragmatic necessity that the United States begin to strive for a more equitable distribution of wealth, stronger government regulation of corporations (to minimize their crimes against humanity), and socio-economic justice.
We tolerate intolerance
Beneath the noble rhetoric about equality in America lurk the sinister realities of racism, bigotry, and ignorance. America’s extremist Christians persistently fight to deny rights to homosexuals and women while supporting the ongoing state terrorism committed by the US and Israel. The Klan and other White supremacist groups have been making a powerful resurgence by recruiting via the Internet. A federal government which collects massive tax revenues (and is charged with providing for the general welfare of its people) committed passive mass murder and criminal negligence in New Orleans, where virtually all of the victims were poor Blacks.
Despite some progress, many Blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans still find themselves desperately grasping for the bottom rungs of the socioeconomic ladder. The wealth gap between Whites and minorities is a chasm, with White families averaging ten times the average net worth of Blacks and Hispanics. The Empire serves its law and order with a side of discrimination. As of June of 2004, 2,531 out of every 100,000 blacks and 957 per 100,000 Latinos were in prison. Compare that to the 393 of every 100,000 White Americans doing time. For many outside of the “inner circle” of America’s White Patriarchy, the United States is not the land of opportunity; it is a land of economic and social brutality.
Both my personal experiences and my more abstract studies lead me to conclude that racism and intolerance are alive and well in America. Having befriended several Latinos, numerous Blacks, two lesbians, a number of Muslims, and a gay man, I have listened to many minorities share their personal experiences which underscore the bigotry rippling throughout American society.
While I am not particularly happy to be a cog in the machinery of Capitalism (as a working person, taxpayer and consumer), I strive to make a positive difference on several levels, including participating in NGO's, boycotting, demonstrating, teaching my children alternatives to the "American Dream", and recycling. Besides those activities and my avocation of composing essays and publishing Thomas Paine’s Corner, I devote much of my time to my vocation. My customers are primarily immigrants, many of whom are Hispanic. A large percentage of my clients speak very little English, so I have taught myself Spanish to enable me to help them. My employer offers unskilled immigrant laborers an opportunity to buy equipment for a business (with low barriers to entry) where they can make over $100,000 per year. The alternative for many would be to make minimum wage working fast food or some other menial job. Often I hear of their struggles, the discrimination they face, and the belligerent attitudes they encounter for not learning “our language” quickly enough. To drive the absurdity of that expectation home, consider the fact that as Americans, we do not even have our own language. As a nation of immigrants (excepting our indigenous Native American brethren), we speak English, not “American”. Imagine that.
Paul Revere rides again
America’s ruling class created their own immigration problem. Now Congress is contemplating draconian solutions which will cause human suffering. How typical for the leaders of the Empire and their lemming-like followers. Spurring Congress to take action, a repugnant vigilante group calling themselves the Minutemen now patrols parts of the southern border of the United States; they are armed and dangerous. While the Minutemen are endorsed and supported by White supremacist groups, they claim they are simply there to help the US government protect America’s borders from potential terrorists, criminals, and immigrants carrying diseases.
With the Minutemen crying, “The Mexicans are coming! The Mexicans are coming!”, the US Senate is debating several measures to deal with illegal immigration, one of which would include the erection of an Apartheid wall, the arrest and criminal detention of illegal immigrants, and criminal charges against those offering aid to illegal immigrants. Regardless of the outcome of the debate, I will continue to help the illegal immigrants I know. My moral values supersede the laws of men.
Representing the 12 million illegal immigrants who have established residence in the United States, millions of Latinos and their supporters have engaged in a number of protests around the United States over the past week. Their moral outrage is justified in the face of the entrenched power structure’s bid to criminalize millions of hard-working human beings and to punish compassionate people who help them.
Meanwhile, corporate champions (like George Bush), whose greed over-rides their racist, xenophobic tendencies, want to find a way to keep illegal immigrants in the United States as “temporary guest workers” since they are a source of cheap, submissive labor. With the Thirteenth Amendment impeding them, the leaders America's corporatocracy are not about to let these indentured servants slip away from them.
Living in denial, the American Empire is blinded to its culpability in creating the immigration problem. By enabling US corporations to build manufacturing facilities in Mexico starting in the early 1970’s, the United States set itself up for a mass exodus across its border and, at the same time, betrayed its own working class. While the US businesses maintained miserable working conditions and paid a small fraction of what they were paying American workers, the poor in Mexico flocked to the jobs they offered. Unfortunately for them, many American businesses closed up shop and moved on to other countries once they found cheaper labor pools. Many of those factories were close to the US border, leaving large numbers of unemployed Mexicans living near states like Texas and Arizona. Who can blame them for risking illegal immigration to escape their miserable situations?
Furthering its illegal immigration woes and deepening the plight of the American working class, the United States accelerated the movement of US corporations onto foreign soil by passing laws such as NAFTA. Utilizing neocolonial and imperial tools like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the CIA support of dictators friendly to US corporate interests, and even invasion, the Empire has bled the people and resources of developing nations like a vampire with an insatiable bloodlust. Besides subjecting the citizens of other nations to abject poverty, the Empire has slaughtered millions of innocent civilians with its behemoth military machine, and is continuing this pattern in Iraq. Employing the lessons of its early history, the United States enthusiastically enables Israel in the genocide of the Palestinian people.
Stop the killing and share the wealth
Why wouldn’t people flock to the security and prosperity of the Empire? After all, the rest of the world is a dangerous place considering that the imperialist United States has run its “collateral damage” count into the multi-millions despite its relatively brief existence, has declared that it is above international and humanitarian law, and invades nations “pre-emptively”. Since 25% of the world’s resources flow into a nation of only 300 million, some of the other 6.2 billion human beings are bound to show up on the Empire’s doorstep begging for food.
American Capitalism and the American Empire are blights on humanity, particularly outside of the United States. They render far more damage to the rest of the world than to the United States, which explains why a small number of Americans expatriate while millions of immigrants flock to this nation.
Congress will pass a law which will put a bandage on the immigration problem, but the wound will not heal. One piece of legislation will not come close to addressing the myriad underlying causes. Ultimately, the United States’ increasing trajectory toward a more brutal form of Capitalism with fewer restrictions on corporations (and hence less protection for workers and consumers) coupled with a rapid acceleration of the American Empire’s quest for global hegemony will spark an influx of illegal immigrants. Until the White American Plutocracy and their brainwashed adherents end their tenacious and destructive efforts to ensure the perpetuation of a “White man’s world”, they will continue to be plagued by an onslaught of “little Brown people” who speak a language that is “downright un-American”.
Jason Miller is a 39 year old sociopolitical essayist
with a degree in liberal arts and an extensive self-education. When he is not
spending time with his wife and three sons, researching, or writing, he is
working as a loan counselor. He is a member of Amnesty International and an
avid supporter of Oxfam International and Human Rights Watch. He welcomes
responses at [email protected]
or comments on his blog, Thomas Paine's Corner, at http://civillibertarian
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