October 09, 2007

The Kaus Curse: President Obama? It looks that way, after Mickey Kaus' prediction of the imminent doom of his candidacy.

Speaking of Mickey, his preceding post commenced thus:
Crops Rotting in the Fields! ... Oh wait. That's last year's crops-rot-in-fields story. Sorry. Here's this year's. They haven't rotted yet... [Thanks to reader C.B.] .. Update: Is the Bush administration rushing to declare a crisis and use it as an excuse to open the door to more illegals? I don't know the answer.
I'm not sure if it's sloppy editing or what, but I can swear that he's using the word "illegal" as a noun in that passage. In polite society, that's considered to be a faux pas comparable to referring to Clarence Thomas or Barry Bonds as "colored," or using the word "Jew" as a verb. It's a clear reference to a specific ethnic group (no one calls Irish or English immigrants who overstay their visas "illegals") and it's meant to be derogatory. "Illegal alien" is scarcely better, what with its origin in early-20th Century anti-Semitism and its allusion to non-humans from other planets, but at least it has some connection to immigration status. The word seems awfully harsh for what is, after all, a violation of a malum prohibitum law. Using "retard" in a sentence is no less offensive.

I'm biased, of course. As an Angeleno my whole life (so far), I live in a community that is, at its very core, Latino. Its architecture, its style, its music, its dialect, its cuisine: all have been shaped by the great and steady migration from south of the border, and that influence has been uniformly positive. L.A. has its faults, and there are times when I wished everyone spoke the same language, but I wouldn't trade a minute of living here for any other city in the world.

As far as immigration is concerned, I say, the more the merrier. The U.S. does not have a high population density, as nations go, and our past experience has shown that more immigration boosts the economy for everyone. Immigration has been the fuel that has led to the constant reinvention of American society. America as a nation can no more succeed without immigration than it could without an army.

And if there's one thing the Democratic Party has stood for over the years, it's that the party has always been pro-immigration. It was a pro-immigration party when Jefferson was President, when the party was dominated by planters and farmers, and during the Age of Jackson, when it was a coalition controlled by the slavocracy. It was pro-immigrant when it also supported Jim Crow, as well as when it was pro-silver and anti-imperialist. In fact, it was precisely the fact that immigrants constituted such a large portion of its coalition that it eventually became the engine that drove the New Deal, and later repudiated its states rights, Southern base to become the tribune of civil rights for blacks, women and gays. Believing that Americanness is something that anyone can earn through hard work and ambition is the party's birthright.

Given the choice between living in a country that provides an opportunity for someone who crosses the border without permission to work hard and earn enough money to buy a house and have his children go to college, and a country where third-rate bigots of the Malkin, O'Reilly and Limbaugh variety can whine about how the border fence isn't high enough, I know what I'd prefer. It's too bad we can't trade.

UPDATE: As to the first point, noted actor and all-around nice guy Val Kilmer writes in to suggest that, in fact, Kaus wasn't suggesting that Obama was going down, only that certain "experts" were trying to return to the Clinton fold based on a presumption that he's going to lose. Insofar as he does note a possibility that Obama can still win (just as there are some college football writers who say that USC can still "win" the BCS Title), I guess it's not exactly like his infamous prediction of Kerry's doom before the Iowa caucuses in '04. So thanks Val, and thanks Iowa.

No comments: