Nativists and the New Other

Recent news documenting “wave of attacks” on Mexican immigrants in Staten Island, New York are an indication that when the chips are down and the economy is in the tank, nativist attitudes, intolerance and ignorance rule the day. Regrettably, individuals having less to do with the impending crisis in the first place are the ones who more often than not bear the brunt for allegedly rigging the system for their personal advantage or for their opportunistic abilities to edge out born and raised in this country. It is no secret that most jobs held by immigrants —poor or illegal— are aimed solely for them, since the majority of the American worker has never had a need to engage in humiliating back- breaking work with zero benefits, long hours, ridiculous and unfair low wages and hardly anything to show for by week’s end, only a stark reminder of their uncertain status in a strange land with no friend or allies. Illegal immigrants, moreover, are also controlled by their employers, and a hypocritical political system that tricks and cajoles other marginalized and exploited citizens into thinking that their right to a job is being subverted and violated by people with different accents, a secret agenda, but with and an illegal status that renders their plight and existence even more vulnerable and miserable. Despite the fact that the illegal immigrant worker industry has always been an intricate but contributing factor to the U.S. GDP, it has conveniently been made to look immoral and in violation of the laws and the Constitution, when in reality it has served as a political calling card utilized by conniving and mendacious demagogues to score political points with their constituents.

Nonetheless, if repeated cultural conflicts are any indication in recent or past history, there’s
hardly any doubt that it will perhaps take a great deal of education and conscience building to make
the oppressed masses come to terms with their present economic predicament as it relates to their
perception of others lacking a legal status in their midst. The fact is that the most depressed sectors
of society must begin to realize that their struggle for equality does not involve looking for scapegoats
or attacking those wrongly perceived as having better access to jobs or the meager trickled down leftovers
the neoliberal clique has managed to spread for consumption in their race to the top. As we move further
into a new century, the one important lesson to be learned is how history repeats itself: the ruling
class is obviously formulating a new agenda for itself by adding new disfranchised groups to its usual
suspects roster by ostensibly making it appear that one group has already been legitimized enough to feel
that, erroneously, it has been left out in favor of others with a lesser status but given an unfair
advantage over them. Reality will prove otherwise if one takes the time to access online publications,
books, balanced and objective media or groups with a fair and conscientious social perspective.

It is about time people wake up and see the system for what it is and demand what’s right for them
and lodge their many grievances at a public forum and other truly social networks where the rulers may
have access and indeed fell pressured into heeding the complaints of the many people they’ve defrauded
and swindled in the process of amassing their fortunes in these trying economic times. Fighting those
that can hardly utter a single word to defend themselves, let alone plea for the way they are being
exploited, is hardly the most proactive way of telling the capitalist machinery that one had been
shortchanged or passed over, to the point of feeling so frustrated and impotent that surely somebody
must be held accountableble for your present condition. The incongruity of it all is that the individual
being made to pay for this injustice lacks the necessary nativist and chauvinistic credentials or skills
to even produce a whimper of protest as efficient or eloquent as a full- fledged citizen might be able to.
The prudent, sober and sisterly/brotherly thing to do is to stand in solidarity with them and complain
alongside them as loud as possible to fight the three most common enemies of humanity at our juncture:
unbridled capitalism, mendacity and intolerance.

Francisco

— August 12, 2010

Wading Through the Spin Maze

As far as I can recall, prior to the invasion of Iraq [1] in 2003 I cannot say that I was in any way in particular politically conscious and seldom demonstrated much interest in major political events that could conceivably shape or sway my perspective on any given progressive or social issue, let alone exact any opinion or reaction. In truth, I’d dare say that I considered myself a quasi democrat (perhaps by default, as most citizens of the liberal left do), having exercised my “privilege” to vote barely twice ever, and for the party which I then naively thought of as the true bastion of the liberal “left,” or to be more precise, the party of the lesser of two evils [2]. However, by passively believing then and embracing a “left-leaning” tendency and voting as a democrat as a deviation from the norm on those few occasions turned out to be in essence nothing more than offering my tacit consent to just another conservative entity ostensibly called The Democratic Party, affording little difference than its so-called opposition party. Perhaps I cared little about the results, as I’m sure most voters feel in their contempt for representative politics but manage to convince themselves, nonetheless that it is their civic duty to comply.

What proved catalyst for me without a doubt was my sense of shock and consternation upon learning the manner in which Washington insinuated itself into justifying an unprovoked, violent, and brutal invasion of a nation already in the aftermath of a previous attack inflicted with utmost swiftness and relentless intensity by non other than the U.S. itself over a decade earlier following the Iraqi regime’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait [3], a country decidedly of interest to the U.S. and its own appended corporate petro conglomerate outfit because of its rich and vast oil reserves in the Gulf.

The Middle East [4] in general was of vital interest and importance to Washington not just because of its abundance of oil reserves but also because it proved strategic and allowed for the opportunity and means of flexing its military muscles unilaterally in the region affording absolute control and domination by any and all means. Any and all excuses would ultimately serve the same unifying effort. The fact that lies [05] were part of the game is in many respects irrelevant and insignificant in the face of the single-minded determination germane to the Neo-liberal clique in Washington. Further scrutiny will reveal, furthermore that just as this strategy was being used to suit the obsession of the Bush Administration and its designers, other strategic plans to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein had been drawn as far back as the Clinton Administration [06] as well.

It is instructive to learn that up until the September 11, 2001 attacks [07] Washington’s “way of war” was in many respects clandestine [08] and often kept secret from the general public by operating almost undetected underground, forever alleging that whatever was done was being carried out for the benefit of the American people: George H. W. Bush confirmed this conceit by successfully concocting an invasion based on imperialistic propaganda, making it clear in no uncertain terms that U.S. interests [9] were at stake in the region and therefore had to be defended at all costs. George H. W. Bush’s adoption of the Reagan doctrine [10] as his political raison d’etat was followed by that [11] of his son, George W. Bush, who managed to respond in a blatant and unilateral manner to any and all perceived threats by choosing freely as he saw fit, daring to go so far as to justify an attack on any nation it chose with the chief aim of preempting whatever its intentions might be.

Following the invasion of Afghanistan [12] in late 2001 (in the search for those who “hate our way of life”), the U.S. political system reverted to hyper drive. Likewise all information outlets revved up in tandem, propped their resources immediately into high gear and succumbed to the manipulations of an administration hell-bent on having it its way. New allegations from the White House put the blame for the September 11 attacks squarely on the Iraqis.The American people believed it and concurred with the ideologues in
Washington formulating their own version of events for public consumption in rapid fire fashion, while staking a claim to the fact that the country was under attack and had to be defended by all means necessary. According to this logic, the nation would be avenged and justice would prevail on behalf of the American people. Certain civil liberties and Constitutional rights, of course, would have to be “temporarily” suppressed for reasons of National Security (the Patriot Act comes to mind), but a new dawn of freedom and democracy would be born thanks to the selfless efforts of the President, his staff and the Military. As a result, three key words made their way into the American lexicon: Weapons of Mass Destruction [13]. Saddam had them, and as proof Collin Powell appeared [14] in front of a United Nations panel equipped with dossiers, documents, slides and PowerPoint presentations that lent credence, beyond doubt, to the weapons allegations against the Iraqis. And to put the icing on the cake, the media and information outlets as good troopers heeded the call of the Administration with even more zeal and, as history would have it, enlisted with the outgoing troops by becoming embedded [15] with them, without as much as a hint of questioning the motives of the Executive branch regarding the invasion and thus committed themselves to function as cheerleader, mouthpiece, and lap dog of the Bush cabal, more out of fear of being targeted as aiding the terrorists than in losing credibility and support from a coaxed nation brainwashed into thinking that the whole world was against them.

The Democrats were also easily won over and became part of the new policy, proving once more that wars, foreign invasions of underdeveloped nations, political sabotage of all sorts by agent provocateurs in Washington, economic and financial monopolies that target underdeveloped economies (and ours too!) as easy preys: none of these dubious undertakings can ever be the sole domain of one ruling party alone. They might indeed differ in tactics or strategic designs for that matter, but the final aim remains incontrovertible: to function and serve in full capacity in the interest of U.S. Empire and its ruling ideology. The Democrats’ rationale [16], however irrational and mendacious, of course, is understandable: out of fear of becoming a liability at the polls in future elections, they could not afford to appear weak on war, or undetermined in the face of imminent terror. They saw it as their patriotic duty to join so as to support their President and serve their country. After all, votes and popularity trump integrity, principles, and most of all, respect for other nation’s sovereignty. Terrorism as a guiding principle, watchword, mantra, became the new gospel and refuge of the administration, just as patriotism is the refuge of scoundrels, charlatans (and “public servants” in Washington, we may feel free to add).

In retrospect, I sometimes cannot help but wonder what could have been going through people’s head as the spectacle being played out on national television and the news media for twenty-four hours a day leading up to the final countdown of the invasion of Iraq unfolded. After all, “shock and awe” [17] did become a reality on March 20, 2003; a stark reality especially for the Iraqi people long held captive under the iron fist of a ruthless tyrant—long favored by Washington [18] —and as if things weren’t dire enough, frighteningly and anxiously awaiting in constant terror and fear the onslaught of a superpower about to deliver a payload of real “weapons of mass destruction” on them: large bombs that would rain down and metamorphose into many smaller ones capable of carpeting entire neighborhoods with no eye or conscience over their unimpeded and destructive trajectory, and with zero regard for the human toll about to be exacted. In the U.S. we may be able to safely state that we have, for the most part been insulated and spared the suffering most nations of the Global South [19] go through. But we, as members of the human race, should be capable of empathizing with the pain of others in solidarity and coordinated opposition to mass slaughter, state terror and imperialistic oppression, especially when such horrific deeds are being carried out in our name and that of our children. To think otherwise can only serve to isolate and further ostracize us politically and culturally in the eyes of other nations to the point of appearing hyperbolically ignorant, jingoistic and tragically desensitized to the trials, tribulations and suffering of others. It behooves us to join the world and other peoples—collectively and in concerted dissent—and demand of our leaders, in earnest, a commitment to truth, decency and respect for the sovereignty of other peoples.

Notes

  1. Arab News, March 21, 2003.
  2. CommonDreams.org, Tuesday, October 17, 2000.
  3. BBC News, August 2, 1990
  4. Project For The New American Century, 2005.
  5. The Independent, April 27, 2003.
  6. Wikipedia.org, March 7, 2010
  7. Monthly Review, November, 2001.
  8. Information Clearing House, August 2, 1990.
  9. International Socialist Review, December 2000-January 2001.
  10. Third World Traveler.
  11. Chomsky.Info, October 2, 2004.
  12. The World Socialist Website, November 20, 2001.
  13. ZCommunications, Sunday, February 16, 2003.
  14. YouTube (setfree70).
  15. CounterPunch, March 31, 2003.
  16. Washington Post, Wednesday, October 20, 2004.
  17. CounterPunch, March 26, 2003.
  18. National Security Archives, February 25, 2003.
  19. MRZine, February 15, 2010.

Francisco
—July 30, 2010