Skip to comments.Edward Abbey: "Immigration and Liberal Taboos"
Posted on 05/19/2003 6:41:49 PM PDT by JackelopeBreeder
Mondays really suck. Even if theyre busy, they still manage to be boring. Liberals and government goofs tend to lie low on Mondays, as if they know that conservatives are particularly testy on that day and dangerous to provoke. I hate being bored. Ive tried most of the more popular sins at least once, so tonight Im taking a shot at what quite a few Freepers would call Heresy.
Introduced for your perusal is a short essay from 1988 by the erstwhile patron saint of environmental extremists, Edward Abbey, author of The Monkey Wrench Gang. I say erstwhile as he seems to have fallen out of favor with that crowd; methinks they finally got around to reading his other works
Immigration and Liberal Taboos
In the American Southwest, where I happen to live, only sixty miles north of the Mexican border, the subject of illegal aliens is a touchy one. Even the terminology is dangerous: the old word wetback is now considered a racist insult by all good liberals; and the perfectly correct terms illegal alien and illegal immigrant can set off charges of xenophobia, elitism, fascism, and the ever-popular genocide against anyone careless enough to use them. The only acceptable euphemism, it now appears, is something called undocumented worker. Thus the pregnant Mexican woman who appears, in the final stages of labor, at the doors of the emergency ward of an El Paso or San Diego hospital, demanding care for herself and the child she's about to deliver, becomes an "undocumented worker." The child becomes an automatic American citizen by virtue of its place of birth, eligible at once for all of the usual public welfare benefits. And with the child comes not only the mother but the child's family. And the mother's family. And the father's family. Can't break up families can we? They come to stay and they stay to multiply.
What of it? say the documented liberals; ours is a rich and generous nation, we have room for all, let them come. And let them stay, say the conservatives; a large, cheap, frightened, docile, surplus labor force is exactly what the economy needs. Put some fear into the unions: tighten discipline, spur productivity, whip up the competition for jobs. The conservatives love their cheap labor; the liberals love their cheap cause. (Neither group, you will notice, ever invites the immigrants to move into their homes. Not into their homes!) Both factions are supported by the cornucopia economists of the ever-expanding economy, who actually continue to believe that our basic resource is not land, air, water, but human bodies, more and more of them, the more the better in hive upon hive, world without end-ignoring the clear fact that those nations which most avidly practice this belief, such as Haiti, Puerto Rico, Mexico, to name only three, don't seem to be doing well. They look more like explosive slow-motion disasters, in fact, volcanic anthills, than functioning human societies. But that which our academic economists will not see and will not acknowledge is painfully obvious to los latinos: they stream north in ever-growing numbers.
Meanwhile, here at home in the land of endless plenty, we seem still unable to solve our traditional and nagging difficulties. After forty years of the most fantastic economic growth in the history of mankind, the United States remains burdened with mass unemployment, permanent poverty, an overloaded welfare system, violent crime, clogged courts, jam-packed prisons, commercial ("white-collar") crime, rotting cities and a poisoned environment, eroding farmlands and the disappearing family farm all of the usual forms of racial ethnic and sexual conflict (which immigration further intensifies), plus the ongoing destruction of what remains of our forests, fields, mountains, lakes, rivers, and seashores, accompanied by the extermination of whole specie's of plants and animals. To name but a few of our little nagging difficulties.
This being so, it occurs to some of us that perhaps evercontinuing industrial and population growth is not the true road to human happiness, that simple gross quantitative increase of this kind creates only more pain, dislocation, confusion, and misery. In which case it might be wise for us as American citizens to consider calling a halt to the mass influx of even more millions of hungry, ignorant, unskilled, and culturallymorally-generically impoverished people. At least until we have brought our own affairs into order. Especially when these uninvited millions bring with them an alien mode of life which - let us be honest about this - is not appealing to the majority of Americans. Why not? Because we prefer democratic government, for one thing; because we still hope for an open, spacious, uncrowded, and beautiful-yes, beautiful!-society, for another. The alternative, in the squalor, cruelty, and corruption of Latin America, is plain for all to see.
Yes, I know, if the American Indians had enforced such a policy none of us pale-faced honkies would be here. But the Indians were foolish, and divided, and failed to keep our WASP ancestors out. They've regretted it ever since.
To everything there is a season, to every wave a limit, to every range an optimum capacity. The United States has been fully settled, and more than full, for at least a century. We have nothing to gain, and everything to lose, by allowing the old boat to be swamped. How many of us, truthfully, would prefer to be submerged in the Caribbean-Latin version of civilization? (Howls of "Racism! Elitism! Xenophobia!" from the Marx brothers and the documented liberals.) Harsh words: but somebody has to say them. We cannot play "let's pretend" much longer, not in the present world.
Therefore-let us close our national borders to any further mass immigration, legal or illegal, from any source, as does every other nation on earth. The means are available, it's a simple technical-military problem. Even our Pentagon should be able to handle it. We've got an army somewhere on this planet, let's bring our soldiers home and station them where they can be of some actual and immediate benefit to the taxpayers who support them. That done, we can begin to concentrate attention on badly neglected internal affairs. Our internal affairs. Everyone would benefit, including the neighbors. Especially the neighbors.
Ah yes. But what about those hungry hundreds of millions, those anxious billions, yearning toward the United States from every dark and desperate corner of the world? Shall we simply ignore them? Reject them? Is such a course possible?
"Poverty," said Samuel Johnson, "is the great enemy of human happiness. It certainly destroys liberty, makes some virtues impracticable, and all virtues extremely difficult."
You can say that again, Sam.
Poverty, injustice, over breeding, overpopulation, suffering, oppression, military rule, squalor, torture, terror, massacre: these ancient evils feed and breed on one another in synergistic symbiosis. To break the cycles of pain at least two new forces are required: social equity-and birth control. Population control. Our Hispanic neighbors are groping toward this discovery. If we truly wish to help them we must stop meddling in their domestic troubles and permit them to carry out the social, political, and moral revolution which is both necessary and inevitable.
Or if we must meddle, as we have always done, let us meddle for a change in a constructive way. Stop every campesino at our southern border, give him a handgun, a good rifle, and a case of ammunition, and send him home. He will know what to do with our gifts and good wishes. The people know who their enemies are.
Abbey was neither liberal or conservative. He was a provocateur -- he tested and questioned all beliefs and all logic -- and was only happy when he had a good controversy in progress. I suffered twice from his keen wit -- skewered repeatedly about ten years before he wrote this essay. And yes, we had all been doing some very serious drinking that lasted until nearly dawn.
This essay came from one of his last books, One Life at a Time, Please. Almost the last thing he wrote. Somewhere in the frontal matter of the book (preface, foreword, copyright page -- the stuff nobody reads) he got in one zinger that should have been used as his epitaph.
"If there's anyone still present whom I've failed to insult . . . I apologize."
(My thanks to Milady madfly for finding this online somewhere. Warning: this wench is psychic. I lost my copy of the book years ago and have been trying to find another for months, just for this one essay. Then she emails it to me out of the blue.)
"Mexican illegal aliens should be stopped at the border, handed a gun, turned around, they'll know what to do when they get home".They were all horrified, of course. Saying things like, "is Abbey a Nazi?". I laughed so hard at them, I spat up. They just stared. They thought he was some kind of fuzzy, furry Spotted-Owl hugging GreenMan. Umm, don't think so...
His book of quotations is still at my father's house in Tucson. Which is a good place for it....but the one thing that I have wondered over the last 10 years of this immivasion madness: where are all the people now who listened so fervently to Abbey and others in the 1970's? Collecting a paycheck from Club Sierra? Working deals at the Wilderness Society to get a cheap land deal through a public land trust donation? The silence from them is DEAFENING.
And these days, it's hard for an iconoclast to keep up his image.
I have a dusty old copy of MonkeyWrench Gang next to a 1915 copy of Zane Grey's "Rainbow Trail".
You, my friend, are a born story teller, with an interesting past and a good memory! Keep 'em coming.
"Especially when these uninvited millions bring with them an alien mode of life which - let us be honest about this - is not appealing to the majority of Americans. Why not? Because we prefer democratic government, for one thing; because we still hope for an open, spacious, uncrowded, and beautiful-yes, beautiful!-society, for another. The alternative, in the squalor, cruelty, and corruption of Latin America, is plain for all to see."
15 years later, the final sentence of this passage appears to be the destiny for America.
I agree with much of this but the above line in idiotic and racist.
At this point in American History I'd like to know how we are any different as a people than the American Indians were when it comes to being "Foolish" and "Divided". What's that they say about divide and conquer?