Myth and reality: Border security and national security
Responding to this post from the other day, Big Puffy Liberal says:
Ok, let's keep an eye on Mexica and the young communists and other fringe groups to make sure they don't blossom into baby al qaeda's. (I see the KKK claims to be a movement of white Christians, so if you know any white Christians, I'd keep an eye on them too).
Anyway... what do you think about the immigration situation?
I think it's all about economics.
But most of the typical reasons you hear for supporting strict regulations of immigration are pretty weak. Claims that immigrants damage the economy or raise crime rates can pretty easily be refuted.
One reason that seems to have some teeth is the security issue. That is, the fact that any crazy person could waltz right into the country with a bomb strapped to their back.
What people who are opposed to legislation like 4437 need to realize is that a terrorist attack would be the immigrant community's worst nightmare. We've already passed the PATRIOT act, so another attack would compel politicians to pass even more extreme legislation. Given the current political climate, a terrorist attack on the US would likely lead to the most ill-conceived, draconian anti-immigration legislation to date. So in that sense, it's in the immigrant community's own interest that the borders are secure.
On the other hand, the security argument is weakened by the fact that, even though anyone can waltz into the country, there hasn't been another attack. I know the line, "al qaeda works slowly, they're biding their time" ok, but attacking a country once every 10 years doesn't sound like a very effective plan for destroying it? The idea of "terrorism" is to terrorize a population. If there really is this highly organized, global terrorist network hell bent on destroying the US, and it's so easy to get into the US, why no attacks (knock on wood)? Based on the common understanding of terrorism, we should expect to see guys sneaking in and shooting up malls on a regular basis, or blowing up a section of train track as the toxic chemical train passes through town. It'd be so easy for one bad guy to raise hell in the US. Remember that DC sniper guy? And what better way to get us out of Iraq than to "fight us over here"? but that's not what's happening. There's no denying that the border is easy to cross, so the fact that we haven't seen regular terrorist attacks (a la Hamas or Hezb'allah) seems to indicate that the anti-American terrorists aren't quite as global and highly organized as we've been told. That's not to say that we ought to pretend that anti-American groups don't exist, but it does seem to take some of the urgency out of the "we need to secure the borders for the sake of national security" argument.
Pardon me a moment because I still need to bang my head on the table a few more times...
Ok, that's better.
I think Stay Puft and I have agreed the economic incentive is the root of illegal immigration from the south. We just don't agree on the particulars - MANY people in areas inhabited by illegal immigrants (like the next town over from me) would also disagree with the argument crime has not increased - and I see other rationales possibly involved. But we've played that argument out for now.
His comments on border security and national security, however, are so wrong I hardly know where to start.
I'll give it a try, below the fold.
...the fact that any crazy person could waltz right into the country with a bomb strapped to their back.Yes, that's the gist of the national security argument; though "crazy person" implies a one-in-a-million random mental defective. I would say "determined terrorist." Also, maybe bringing more trouble than a single person could strap on their back.
Given the current political climate, a terrorist attack on the US would likely lead to the most ill-conceived, draconian anti-immigration legislation to date. So in that sense, it's in the immigrant community's own interest that the borders are secure.
Y'see, the problem here, Old Puft-Buddy, is the implication a single, monolithic, rational intelligence is the force behind all the things that happen vis a vis the security of our southern border. With that assumption, of course one might deduce it would be logical for the "immigrants" to want to keep the U.S. secure in every way.
But in reality the world is a multitude of moving parts; to use William James' phrase: a "blooming, buzzing confusion." Between the government of Vincente Fox, the many pockets within his government yearning to be stuffed with cash, the enterprising coyotes and drug dealers and other assorted scruffy types, MS-13 banditos, the various terrorists from abroad (be they crazy or not), and the plethora of parties on the U.S. side who make money off cheap labor, an awful lot of bad things might happen to the U.S. which might not all be in the best interest of every one of the aformentioned players.
I'm betting out of all that rabble, there could occur this ONE particular coyote accidentally bumping into this ONE sort of cute MS-13 member causing her to spill her Inca Kola on this ONE tourist from Syria named Wajid, and one thing leads to another, and before you know it everybody has made friends and met the extended family and they're all having a great time on the bench, talkin about crime, mother stabbing, father raping, all kinds of groovy things.
From such a wildly improbably series of events terrible things could happen in America which would RUIN the situation for poor Mexicans trying to get across the border. But with all the pieces in place to allow such a thing to happen, there's no logical reason to think it couldn't.
Unless you happen to think EVERYBODY involved is rational and working off the same page - and if you believe that...well, I'm not even going to reach for a clever parallel. You can't be that naive.
If there really is this highly organized, global terrorist network hell bent on destroying the US, and it's so easy to get into the US, why no attacks (knock on wood)? Based on the common understanding of terrorism, we should expect to see guys sneaking in and shooting up malls on a regular basis, or blowing up a section of train track as the toxic chemical train passes through town. It'd be so easy for one bad guy to raise hell in the US.
Without even getting into the highly fruitless game of attempting to guess at jihadist strategy, I'll just say I'm not a logician by trade but I think I detect a flaw in your argument, Mr. Puft-n-Stuff. You say: Because something has not happened, therefore it will not (or is unlikely to) happen.
I say: Eh?
It did happen on U.S. soil a couple of times BEFORE that Patriot Act went into effect, you have to admit. Also, that the Patriot Act might be making it hard to commit another attack.
But to suggest that the absence of terrorist attacks means there is an absence of a terrorist threat is the type of thinking that GETS you terrorist attacks. As in, "We won't know for certain there is a threat to America until America is once again attacked."
Whoa! I just had a flashback, it felt like....1998 all over again.
I'm not out to ridicule your thinking, though. There is a broad segment of the liberal intelligentsia arguing according to the exact same eggshell-thin "logic." Even smart people, if they say something over and over enough times, will forget (often conveniently) that the initial premise was flawed at best.
...it does seem to take some of the urgency out of the "we need to secure the borders for the sake of national security" argument...
Yes...or, rather: No. The conclusion does follow from the premise, but the premise was quite flawed.
I reiterate the point because the error is committed repeatedly in the current debate.
I believe you and many decent liberals are in error innocently. Repetition often trumps logic: Repeat a lie over and over until it becomes uncontested, snigger at those who challenge it (but don't actually argue!), and before long anyone who defers to the authority of the liberal experts - the good man or woman who means well but does not have the time to analyze every position on every issue - is building on the same false premise.
The REAL insidious bastards - and here I am obviously NOT thinking of you, old Pufty old pal - are the progressive opinion-makers who circulate blatant falsehoods for the narrow purpose of scoring political points.
Remember: "False" means "against reality," and you can't go against reality without getting hurt eventually.
Playing down the terrorist threat - like the imbecile I won't even link to who said at the beginning of his moronic book "there is no terrorist threat" - invites another terrorist attack.
Playing word games, turning that argument back on itself ("Ah but what about playing UP the terrorist threat?"), changing the subject, etc., etc., are further methods of circulating the lie.
Then you get statements such as this gem from an author at the kingmaker-of-dreams site. (Hat tip, Is This Blog On). The author writes under numerous names and cross posted this to a military-oriented site:
Remember, please, that this was an act of a bunch of punks. Punks that got lucky. Not the larger Islamo-Fascist monolith that some have conjurred; that may exist as a useful concept but all evidence points to punks. And frankly it's a lot easier to credit the well-grounded "punk theory," because punks behave unpredictably and slip through cracks.
"Lucky punks" is such an outrageous formulation, contradicted by not only every relevant intelligence agency but also by the detailed explanations of the al Qaida leaders themselves, that you'd have to have your head buried deep up your own hindquarters just to give it a second thought.
But look at the myth under construction: "larger Islamo-Fascist monolith" mocks anyone who would use the term Islamo-fascist. The "punk" theory is proferred as "well-grounded."
No facts are related here - in reality, the argument is built on anti-facts - but an attitude is being promoted, one of snide, preemptive derision.
C.S. Lewis defined "flippancy" as the shared assumption the joke has already been made. This is the dominant rhetorical stance of many modern liberals: Their assumptions are laughable, but they defend them by laughing at any who challenge.
To tell the truth, it has worked pretty well so far.
We live in an age of widespread shallow thinking, very susceptible to the "ideology of flippancy." Otherwise, some of the progressive pooh-bahs would have been hooted out of public discourse a long time ago.
The ideology has not all caught on, of course: George W. Bush was re-elected despite a myth-making effort of legendary proportions; Bastion of flippancy Air America is a monumental failure; and the Daily Kos Web site has managed to back a rock-solid slate of losing candidates. But we have to be on guard for continued foolishness and myth-making.
The U.S. border problem is a reality. Attempting to wish it away invites disaster.
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