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Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist

  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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‘Just say no’ to aliens: Fear of foreigners alive and well under Obama

Posted by James McPherson on March 24, 2009

The Obama administration announced today that it will increase funding for border security. The plan was announced by Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano, who until recently was the governor of Arizona, which has seen Mexican drug violence spill over its border.

“The administration is trying to help the Mexican government break up drug cartels believed to be responsible for the killing of roughly 6,500 people in Mexico last year,” CNN reported. BBC went back two years, using a figure of 8,000 deaths.

Fox News was probably the most accurate in its characterization of the plan (now there’s a phrase I never expected to write), highlighting the fact that the funding is “aimed at stopping Mexico violence from entering the U.S.” The lead of the Fox story reads, “The Department of Homeland Security is doubling the number of law enforcement working along the Southwest border and could request border state governors to send National Guardsmen to help curtail spillover violence from Mexico.”

The plan will send $700 million to aid Mexico law enforcement, to be used in part for five new helicopters and “news surveillance aircraft for the Mexican navy.” (Mexican helicopters are apparently cheaper than U.S. ones.)

Mexico is the third-leading provider of imported oil for the United States, but the leading provider of illegal drugs. Oil companies tend to be much more refined than drug cartels in their use of violence, and to have bigger U.S.-backed armies, so in Mexico it’s the drugs, not the oil, fueling the war.

In return, Americans provide the money and the guns to keep the war going–pretty much as we do in the rest of the world, though in this case it’s not through major corporations with the endorsement of the U.S. government. Of course at the government level we are still continuing a failed decades-long “war on drugs” policy instead of taking the simpler, cheaper route of drug legalization.

At least Obama is discontinuing the Bush adminstration policy of overriding state medical marijuana laws, so perhaps fewer cancer patients will die blaming Republicans for their pain. But they and Lou Dobbs can go on blaming Mexicans and other “foreigners” for pretty much everything else, from lost jobs to leprosy.

April 12 follow-up: In the comments section of this post, I referred to legal citizens who were deported during the Great Depression. Apparently it’s happening again (or perhaps still).

15 Responses to “‘Just say no’ to aliens: Fear of foreigners alive and well under Obama”

  1. zelda said

    What the hell are you talking about James?
    You want to legalize drugs? You don’t want us to try and stop the Mexican cartel from killing people here in the US?
    Why the hell bother with anything then………..just lie down and go with the flow…..!
    Obviously you have no children?
    Go live in Mexico……….

  2. I’m not sure what children have to do with it (I have one myself). But this attitude of fear toward immigrants is seemingly a symptom through the generations.

    I have elaborated at the Web site above. James, I previously had prepared more in depth comments twice and browser woes caused me to lose the text. Anyways, my full thoughts are there. Thanks for a good post.


  3. zelda said

    OMG!.Are you kidding me JS?
    Leaving a world your children can survive in is kinda important to some of us?????
    There is no use even talking about this with your mind set or James for that matter……gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawd.
    Unbelievable …………

  4. James McPherson said

    Actually, Zelda, I have three kids and a couple of grandkids, along with a niece, a nephew and numerous friends and students whom I care about.

    I have no real problem with helping the Mexican government battle the cartels, though the amount of money we’re spending won’t help a lot. Legalizing drugs here, however (an idea supported by many conservatives and many police officers as well as many liberals) would take away most of the drug business from the cartels and would probably increase our own safety. It would also allow us to spend the money we now throw away fighting the “war on drugs” on other things.

    Jeremy, your post is an excellent one (and thanks for the plug). I’m another middle-aged white guy who has been accused of being too sympathetic toward minorities and/or immigrants on occasion, sometimes being told I’m merely expressing “liberal guilt.”

    While I (and we as a nation) have plenty to feel guilty about, I think that’s a side issue. Treating people as human beings equally worthy of respect (and opportunity) just seems to be a logical impulse–though, as you note on your post, empathy seems to be in too-short supply. It will be interesting to see whether increasing hard times make us more or less empathetic. I hope for the former, but fear the latter. After all, during the last Depression, many Hispanic citizens and legal immigrants were rounded up and deported to Mexico.

    Thanks, both of you, for contributing to the conversation.

  5. zelda said

    Your theories are admirable……
    What an easy fix……….just take the profit out of things and all the bad stuff goes away.Well……….for the most part(the save).
    oh my……..
    I want to root for you James………..but I just can’t because you are all over the map in your thinking.Not that being able to see all sides is a bad thing.

  6. I thought you might find this to be a good read, but you may have already seen it: The Mexican Evolution

  7. James McPherson said

    I had seen it but not read it before now, so thanks for the reminder, Jeremy. I’d intended to read it because of a reference I’d seen suggesting that it recommended curtailing the press, but I don’t read it that way–and in fact I’ve voiced complaints about our media at least as harsh as the paragraph in question:

    “The Mexican print media has not been entirely helpful either. Of course, freedom of press is essential for democracy. But our print media has gone beyond the necessary and legitimate communication of information by continually publishing photographs of the most atrocious aspects of the drug war, a practice that some feel verges on a pornography of violence. Press photos of horrors like decapitated heads provide free publicity for the drug cartels. This also helps advance their cause by making ordinary Mexicans feel that they are indeed part of a ‘failed state.'”

    That doesn’t advocate censorship, and neither do I–even if I’m not sure that I agree with the author that showing the drug violence is a bad thing. After all, in this country we glorify fictional violence at the same time that we shy away from showing the real thing (or even a hint of the real thing, such as the coffins of dead servicemen).

    And by the way, because of your interest in immigration I thought you might be interested in this story about the 1930s deportations that I referred to above: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-04-04-1930s-deportees-cover_x.htm

  8. zelda said

    I was reading the Cafferty File comments today on the Mexican Cartel drug problems. It looks like they are operating out of 230 cities in the U.S. at the present.
    The consensus of the comments from people was an overwhelming majority to legalize drugs and tax them as well and then use that money to protect the borders.

    I started to think about that.I guess the moral concerns (what a joke eh?) are so out of the loop considering the scale of the problem that I need to face the view of the majority.

    What an interesting time to be living in.

  9. James McPherson said

    Interesting times, indeed–and who knows what will really work, with so many things so screwed up?

    And though it may be swinging in my direction, I think the majority is wrong about as often as it’s right (why the Founding Fathers were smart to create a republic instead of a democracy), so the more that those of us who disagree can talk and think things out, the better for all of us. Thanks for joining me in the discussion.

  10. […] of Hillary Clinton’s comments of today, but their questions go directly to points made in my post of a couple of days […]

  11. […] worries about those other dangerous folks on our southern border, apparently Afghanistan seems small enough to win (chances are Obama won’t be the first […]

  12. […] tells us the fate of the world rests in Afghanistan, and maybe we ought to worry about those crazy drug lords on our southern border. But Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s first overseas trip was to […]

  13. […] has that fact, or the fact that most of the guns in the drug wars now going on in Mexico come from the U.S., managed to persuade the conservative Obama administration and a conservative […]

  14. […] out our frustrations on people of color. And politicians of all stripes find the idea of “protecting America” from its farm, factory and construction workers to be a handy […]

  15. […] flag fetishists, Pat Robertson, “Christmas warriors,” Michelle Malkin, “border warriors,” and other batcrap-crazy conspiracy nuts. But suddenly, with the mass killings at a Sikh […]

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