Boat People

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006 11:41 pm by Neal

Check out Mark Steyn’s essay on the invasion, Boat People. Here’s an excerpt:

As a subject of Her Britannic Majesty, I hate to keep walloping you guys over the head with my imperialist pith helmet. But, because you were short-sighted enough a century ago to disdain nation-building in Mexico, Mexico is now nation-building in America. President Fox has every incentive to keep outsourcing what would otherwise be his domestic instability north of the border – and thus any illegal immigration deal the Mexican government goes along with will be, almost by definition, not in America’s interest.

There’s no equivalent to this in the entire history of US immigration. Indeed, it is so at odds with traditional patterns of immigration that it demands a whole new terminology. Instead, 90% of the political class is doing its best to rhetorically normalize this uniquely deformed scenario. Or as Carol Moseley Braun put it during the 2004 Presidential campaign:

My late mother used to say it doesn’t matter if you came to this country on the Mayflower or a slave ship, through Ellis Island or across the Rio Grande, we’re all in the same boat now.

I take my hat off: That’s beautifully coded. Whether you came here as slave owner or slave, filing the paperwork in triplicate or through the express check-in, everyone’s an immigrant and all the rest is quibbling. Who are we to distinguish between some uptight white-bread Pilgrim disembarking at Plymouth Rock and Mahmoud abu Halima, a hardworking young man forced to live in the shadows because he wanted to live the American dream and do the jobs that Americans won’t do. Fortunately, he was pardoned in the ’86 amnesty. In his case, the dream involved destroying America and the job Americans would’t do was blowing up the World Trade Center, which he did in 1993. But, like Carol says, Irish-Americans, Italian-Americans, Illegal-Americans, Islamist-Americans, Incendiary-Americans, we’re all in the same boat now, even if it’s a seaplane coming through the window of a New York skyscraper.

What unnerves me is that there’s no basic difference between the President’s philosophical disposition and Carol Moseley Braun’s. And that’s alarming because it implicitly delegitimizes the basic notion that a state has the right to determine which non-citizens shall cross its borders. In practical terms, the Braun-Bush view concedes that the southern border is the American version of the Pakistani tribal areas, a land where the state’s de jure sovereignty can only ever be honored in the breach. And, beyond that, it communicates the same lack of will we rightly bemoan from the Europeans vis a vis the Islamists.

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