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Hi, my name is Jim Macdonald, and I have an odd assortment of interests. In no particular order, I love Yellowstone, I am an anti-authoritarian activist and organizer, and I have a background in philosophy, having taught at the college level. My blog has a lot more links to my writing and my other Web sites. In Jim's Eclectic World, I try to give a holistic view of my many interests. Often, all three passions show themselves interweaving in the very same blog. Anyhow, I think it's a little different. But, that's me. I'm not so much out there, but taken together, I'm a little unusual.

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    Friday, February 10, 2006

    Confronting the Minutemen - a dialogue with racists

    DC Indymedia is a progressive media outlet that encourages us all to be the media. It has become a haunting ground for rightwing activists of all types, usually criticizing posts by progressives in the DC community. Recently, the minuteman project and people who support it have been out in force over dc indymedia. I've been arguing with them. Feel free to jump in. Here is a bit of the back and forth (a few posts directed at me with personal insults have been deleted by the editors, but thankfully you get a taste even of that). The parent article at http://dc.indymedia.org/newswire/display/132504/index.php tells of a counter-protest against the minutemen rally in Washington, DC.

    Re: Counterprotestors confront Minutemen, Neo-Nazis at Capitol

    Are the Minutemen against immigration, or just illegal immigration? I'm fine with immigration, but I think that if someone would like to move to this country and take advantage of all that it provides, they should be a resident on the same terms that I am: pay taxes, be licenced to drive or for their work, etc. Is that really too much to ask?

    Re: Re: Counterprotestors confront Minutemen, Neo-Nazis at Capitol

    1. Do you not think the current immigration laws are racist?

    2. Even if you think that they aren't racist, what do you think the best remedy for illegal immigration is? Is it simply to deal with the illegal immigrants as criminals, or is it to deal with the causes that lead people to such desperate and dangerous acts?

    I don't think #1 is easily answered at all; what are the basis of immigration laws? On what authority do they rest, especially from a nation of immigrants that took most of the land it has from indigenous peoples? How are those laws applied? I can tell you that they aren't applied evenly; there are quotas and regulations in place that give preference to some types of people from some countries over other countries.

    But, even if you could satisfy all those questions, one still wonders why the object of scorn is the illegal immigrant and not the multi-national corporation that in its attempt to drive the wages of labor so low both in the US and across the world that they both destroy the living conditions for many people in these countries and therefore driving people to fulfill jobs that virtually no American citizen or legal immigrant would want to do. Why isn't the scorn directed at the free trade agreements that Bush, Clinton, and Bush again have pushed on us that have created this situation? Why do the minutemen insist on dividing one class of working people against another class of working people when both classes share their suffering from the same root cause?

    Even if you could convince us that immigration laws are not racist, you cannot convince us that its anything short of racist to turn your scorn against people who often face no other better choice. Perhaps, it would be helpful for people to share some essays that show how people are driven from their homes, unable to feed themselves. I mean, one would have to be crazy to want to come to the United States as an illegal immigrant with all the dangers that are involved with that under normal circumstances. Do you think these people are living high and large?

    What's really behind this? You want to enforce laws. Yet, why these laws? Why of all the laws that aren't getting forced do these ones matter so much to you? Billions get blown away on war, the military, the Department of Energy, so much more than any immigrant could possibly receive, and yet this is your fight?

    Please answer these questions and please go beyond the same answers you always give. Your answers have been challenged.

    Thanks,

    Jim Macdonald
    My response

    Jim, you are an idiot.

    Probably so, but I do what I can do

    "You answers have been challenged" is just about the dumbest thing you can say. You didn't challenge anything, you made your points, facts as you see them.

    The standard answer that we have been reading on these comments by minutemen apologists is the tautology that illegal immigrants are illegal and therefore are a problem. Some have gone on to argue that they are not being racist or bigoted because they aren't determining their opposition based on color or on nationality but based simply on the law.

    That was the impetus for saying that the answers have been challenged. Is the law racist? Even if it is not racist, is the solution being proposed racist and thoroughly ineffective at dealing with the problem. So, I fail to see how dumb I was to claim that the standard answers have been challenged. Let's see how good a job you've done in taking the conversation forward.

    It is obvious you have no real view of the world. You are too focused on righting preceived wrongs than looking at the world as it exists today.

    I fail to see how that's so. What is a "real" view of the world? Aren't you just begging the question with a criticism and answer like this?

    1) The laws are not racist. There are plenty of people from all over the world who come into this country legally. (That is what you guys always seem to miss, LEGALLY)

    That does not prove your point. In fact, what I argued were that the laws give preference to some countries and some types of people in some countries over other types of countries. Even if we can justify national boundaries (which you simply assume), your argument does not prove that immigration laws are not currently racist. All it proves is that some people, perhaps, of all nationalities have been able to come to this nation legally. Yet, it pays no attention to the quotas by country, to the economic circumstances of people who can come versus those who cannot, it in no way proves that all are equally able to emigrate to this country.

    So, please do a better job of proving your point and spare me the fallacies.

    You only want to enforce the laws you think should be enforced. Wiretaps - Bad (I agree) Illegal immigrants - Good (I disagree)

    Actually, being an anarchist, I don't think we should be enforcing any laws as a nation. But, given the sad state of affairs where big government and big business are the two choices, what's most important is standing on the side of people working to stand up to both. But, that's neither here nor there and is irrelevant to the discussion we've been having. It's merely a guess of my position and not a useful exposition of the rationale behind the minutemen position (it merely sets you up to make more ad hominem attacks against me).

    2) The best remedy for illegal imigration is to first close the boarders. This will allow us to get the situation under control.

    What situation are you trying to get under control? Illegal immigration? You've still failed to argue why illegal immigration is inherently a problem or why you think it is a problem.

    Second, find all illegal immigrants and run back ground checks on them to find out if they are running from something in their own country. Murderers, rapists, anyone with a felony type of criminal past, should not be allowed to stay.

    Why? I think this discussion could take us much further in a direction neither of us wants to go right now, but I am curious.

    Give those that want it a chance to become US citizens, this includes speaking English at a level that allows them to function in society.

    Why the emphasis on English? Hasn't society functioned well enough with multiple languages? Aren't there enough translators? Doesn't this prejudice English-speaking countries in immigration? How is that not a kind of bigotry? Maybe, you think it's justified bigotry, but it does favor one class of people against everyone else. It seems that many in this country get by well speaking Spanish; there are even a number of places where an English-speaker does not function well, and there are multiple Spanish-language television stations. With so many millions of Latinos in this country, it seems language isn't much of a barrier. And, for those that it is, why should it be a barrier for us to enforce on immigrants, since their lack of linguistic skills adversely effects them enough as it is.

    Those that do not wish to become US citizens are given work visas that allow them to travel freely back and forth while their visa is active. Once the time is up on the visa, they need to reapply or stay out of the country. After the illegals in the US are taken care of, we need to allow people to come in and work, if they want. But by woking they are also going to be expected to pay taxes, contriubute to society in a manner that benefits everyone, not just them and their families back in their country.

    Why is the highest value here benefiting "our country"? Shouldn't the highest value be benefitting each other? There's a broad value gap here between you and me, so this discussion could take a long while to deconstruct, but it's worth it so that we can be rid of you minutemen and your racism once and for all. Let's give it a try, and if you convince me that I should be a nationalist bigot, then you'll have scored a great victory for the American cause.

    Free trade isn't the problem. A government run by Corporations and not the people is the problem. Free trade has the potential to give those in less developed contries the chance to improve their lives and that of their children.

    The problem with that point of view is that it treats nations as aggregates and assumes that nations have as much to offer in return. Look at what trade relationships did to Native tribes in North America. It ruined them. Since the richer countries have more market control and more resources, they can leverage prices and set wages. These leverages ultimately ruin many people and set up a greater social class stratification in society. This stratification produces greater despair, and before you know it, people are running to the borders for jobs to take care of their families. They don't care about Mexico or the United States; they care about suviving. And, why shouldn't they? And, why should we continue setting barriers in their way? Native tribes that were once robust are now starving inside the United States and have been almost since the dawn of trade agreements written into many of the treaties. Similar processes keep happening all over the world.

    The agreements need to be rewritten to allow for environmental inspections and investigations of the paper trails of money. The US hasn't had a relationship with Cuba for decades, no reason it wouldn't work on another country. Free trade isn't the problem, those in charge are the problem, because they are in Corporate America's back pocket.

    I think your analysis is too narrow and doesn't get at the larger picture, but I'll leave it at that for now.

    I agree we are wasting money on war, the military is necessary but only when our boarders are threatened. The military is not a tool the president can use to seek revenge. The Department of Energy is nothing but an arm of oil companies.

    It's more precisely a tool of the nuclear power industry. Most of the Department of Energy budget goes toward nuclearization.

    We could be independent of oil in less time than most people think, if we did it now and did it smartly. Nuclear energy is not a bad thing, wind power, solar power, ethanol, there are so many choices but we have the wrong people making decisions.

    No matter what, at some point overconsumption is not sustainable. But, we are drifting away from the point.

    Your solution is to open the boarders and let everyone do as they please. Have you been to South Texas lately? I do not want to live in that kind of area, and I doubt you would too.

    My solution is far more radical than that, but let's not get too far away too fast, or we are going to lose the thread of the discussion.

    You are probably a really smart guy, but your statements tend to lean the other way. Put your energy into fixing things the way they should be fixed and stop grabbing onto a single issue and taking the most out of bounds solution as the truth.

    I guess you don't know me very well. I've never been accused of being a single issue person without a worldview before. Leibniz would be ashamed of me if that were true!

    Let's please continue this. Show me you have something more to say than this! Please!

    Jim Macdonald

    Re: Counterprotestors confront Minutemen, Neo-Nazis at Capitol

    This is the biggest load of horse dung I ever read. I saw what happened. First of all the 5 masked anti-minutemen protestors stood at the back of the crowd and attampted to disrupt things. They were noticed but did not disrupt the Minutmen. The Nazis came and looked like something from a bad acting troop and there were only two. If I remember correctly it was the Minutemen who told the Nazis to go to hell as reported by Lou Dobbs on CNN if you need proof you can get a transcript. Also this claim that the Minutmen are KKK is totally ridiculous, if you look at the website under NEWS MEDIA you can see that the group accepts anyone or any race, creed, color, gender ect. There was more then one hispanic person with them, several african Americans, Several immigrants, several people who are married to immigrants and whats this NO WHITE SUPREMECISTS! Try researching a subject before you write about it. It's strange I didn't find anything the minutemen said offensive or racist and I myself am an immigrant. I checked out their website when I got home. These men and women are trying to stop these migrants from being exploited and treated as slaves, trying to help is not what a nazi or KKK would do. They also make it clear that they do no oppose LEGAL immigration.

    If you need proof read it from the horses mouth not the mouth of an amature.

    www.minutemanhq.com/project/LEO.html

    Re: Re: Counterprotestors confront Minutemen, Neo-Nazis at Capitol

    Look man, very few people actually say that they are racists. Did William Rehnquist, back in the early 1960s, when he was the head of Operation Eagle Eye, down in Arizona, challenging the voting qualifications of African Americans at the polls who were going to vote, claim that he was a racist? No, what they simply said was that he and his Republican friends were defending the law. In effect, though, what they did was racist, since the laws at that time were enacted to discourage disadvantaged African American people from voting, and their challenges were almost exclusively against African American people.

    There have been questions raised about whether the immigration law itself is racist and whether the best remedy (if you could clear that huge hurdle) is to harrass and confront illegal immigrants. Both tactics, however "nonviolent", and however they've been applied, are inherently racist, and if not that, then bigoted (favoring Americanism over anything and anyone else).

    And, just because you might be an immigrant doesn't make it less so. I had people who were at one time close to me who were Greek immigrants, who should have known about the problems they had getting into this country. And, none of them would have claimed to be racist. But, they wouldn't support black families coming into their suburban working class neighborhood because it would drive down property values, and they wouldn't support Haitian refugees for no reason that I can figure out to this day. They had many good qualities and didn't think of themselves as racist and anti-immigrant, but they were racist and anti-immigrant, though they were themselves immigrants.

    There have been issues raised above in my posts above; I'd suggest you answer them. Stop rehashing the same stuff. Just because someone says they aren't a racist doesn't make it so.

    In fact, it's a lot like the KKK because the minutemen try to disguise their racist intentions behind a mask of respectability (just as few people know who really is in the KKK). At least those idiot Nazi's that showed up understood the implications of what the Minutemen project was about and had the nerve to be open about their racism. You all live in denial, cloaked behind the white sheet of a law that protects and gives advantages to white male citizens (including me, and it sickens me that the law has set me against all my sisters and brothers). And, you do more than burn crosses in someone's lawn; you actually go out and confront the poorest of the poor - day laborers. You may not shoot them dead, but you make it that much harder for them to live.

    Jim Macdonald

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