James Howard Kunstler -- World News Trust
Jan. 30, 2017
It’s only taken a week for President Trump to give the body politic an immigration enema.
The aim, perhaps, was to flush out a set of bad ideas that Barack Obama had managed over eight years to instate as “normal.” Namely, that it’s unnecessary to enforce the immigration laws, or cruel and unusual to do so, or that national borders are a barbarous anachronism, or that federal laws are optional in certain self-selected jurisdictions.
But Trump’s staff sure fucked up the details carrying out his refugee and immigration ban, most particularly detaining people with green cards, and those already granted visas. The blunder provoked an impressive blowback of airport protests, and finally a stay from a federal judge, which muddied the legality of Trump’s executive order — all in all, a tactical stumble for Prez DT, who apparently omitted to consult with an array of government agencies and their lawyers before issuing the decree at close-of-business Friday. For the record, I’m down with the complaint that Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, and Afghanistan were left off the no-come list, since those lands produce more radical Islamic maniacs than anywhere else.
The reader by now probably detects my ambivalent feelings in this bundle of issues and grievances, so let me try to clarify my basic positions: I think borders matter and they need to be protected. I think our immigration law enforcement under Obama has been deeply dishonest and damaging to our politics in ways that go far beyond the question of who gets to come here. I believe we are under no obligation to take in everybody and anybody who wants to move here. I believe we need an official time out from the high-volume immigration of recent decades. I believe we have good reasons to be picky about who we let in.
The most dishonest and damaging trope of recent years is the widely-accepted idea on the Left that illegal immigrants are merely “undocumented” — as if they were the hapless victims of some clerical error made by the government and therefore deserving of a pass. Language matters. The acceptance and repetition of this lie has in effect given permission to the Left to lie whenever it suits their purposes about all kinds of things, for instance the delusion that Russia stole the election from Hillary Clinton and that Radical Islam doesn’t pose a threat to western values (or even exist). And it is certainly true that they are assisted by legacy media giants such as The New York Times, Washington Post and NPR. The Times, especially, is keen to provoke a national crisis that might unseat Trump, by simply declaring it so in a three-column headline:
The furor seemed rather out of proportion to the people inconvenienced by Trump’s administrative blundering: about 300 green card holders out of 300,000 travelers admitted over the weekend — even after the White House walked back its green card miscue on Sunday. And it gives the impression even to someone who is allergic to conspiracy theory (yours truly) that some organizing principle is behind it. That principle may be the deep neurosis of the Dem/Prog Left reduced to virtue-signaling in their out-of-power echo chamber. Having no coherent ideas about the immigration issue besides resistance to it, they offer only sentimental narratives: tears on the statue of liberty, “dreamers,” sanctuary cities, nation-of-open-arms, we’re-all-children-of-immigrants, and anyway North America was stolen from the Indians. The hysteria is impressive, as if the Left has come down with ergot poisoning, seeing witches (racists, homophobes, misogynists, white privilege villains, and Russians) behind every juniper shrub in the land.
I’d go as far to say that this neurosis derives from the general psychological boundary problems of the current Dem/Prog ethos. Their zeal to erase categories has resulted in lost categories of thinking — it’s all one big soup of victimization out there now and everybody better rush to cash in their victim brownie points while they still can — or as long as Senator Chuck Schumer can keep the crocodile tears flowing. From my vantage, this country would actually benefit from having firmer categories of thinking and certainly firmer categories of behavior.
What really irks the Left is any defense of Western civilization, especially in something so concrete as demographics. This defensive impulse has been deeply suppressed in the recent political life of Europe and America. On the university campuses, it’s become the equivalent of original sin. Donald Trump turned out to be a peculiar choice to lead a turnaround from all this, and his oafishness may eventually deter an effort to restore something like a self-respecting common culture. But the turnaround is coming to Europe, too, this year in a set of national elections. Expect more civil strife as the battle is joined.
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.