Day: March 1, 2018

Half a Century of Blaming White Racism for Black America's Problems


For half a century, the federal government has pursued a disastrous strategy in addressing the problems of black Americans. They were designated a victim class, and enormous sums of money were expended on incentives to perpetuate that status.

The welfare state has perpetuated multi-generational pathologies, while the encouragement of victimology and the blame placed on white racism have poisoned race relations instead of healing them.

It’s fair to say the United States government began its long and catastrophic commitment to this approach fifty years ago today (or yesterday): February 29, 1968.  On that day, the Kerner Commission (officially the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders) delivered its report (official summary; full 400-plus pages), and white racism was officially blamed for the problems of black America.

White racism is essentially responsible for the explosive mixture which has been accumulating in our cities since the end of World War II.

In those days, I was already a political junkie who read the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and a local paper and watched network news.  I remember well the huge fuss the media made over the Kerner Commission Report.  It kicked off an extended campaign that was often labeled a “national soul-searching.”

All the smart people you could find in the media pretty much agreed that we just had to commit ourselves to fighting racism as the solution to the problems of the black community.  White guilt gained momentum as a force in individual and group decisions.

The effects of the report were far-reaching.  The powerful institutions of America were put on notice that consciously or not, they were perpetuating racism:

Segregation and poverty have created in the racial ghetto a destructive environment totally unknown to most white Americans.  What white Americans have never fully understood but what the Negro can never forget – is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto.  White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it.

The report put racism on the agenda of every organization.  It spurred – even forced – discussions that led to commitments to anti-racism programs in the commanding heights of the economic, educational, and cultural establishments and on downward.  Budgets and bureaucracies soon enough followed, and eventually, a permanent civil rights bureaucratic apparatus flourished in every institution of significant size.

The Kerner Commission had been created by an executive order of President Lyndon B. Johnson, on July 28 of the previous year, while the five-day Detroit Riot of 1967 was still raging.

Americans had watched on TV in shock as tanks and military vehicles rumbled down the streets of Detroit.  The Motor City’s steep decline began with those riots.


Detroit Riot, 1967 (Flickr).

President Johnson’s Executive Order 11365 stated the charge:

The Commission shall investigate and make recommendations with respect to:


(1) The origins of the recent major civil disorders in our cities, including the basic causes and factors leading to such disorders and the influence, if any, of organizations or individuals dedicated to the incitement or encouragement of violence;


(2) The development of methods and techniques for averting or controlling such disorders, including the improvement of communications between local authorities and community groups, the training of state and local law enforcement and National Guard personnel in dealing with potential or actual riot situations, and the coordination of efforts of the various law enforcement and governmental units which may become involved in such situations;


(3) The appropriate role of the local, state and Federal authorities in dealing with civil disorders; and


(4) Such other matters as the President may place before the Commission.

It was chaired by Democrat governor Otto Kerner of Illinois, who later, in the grand tradition of that office, spent time in a federal prison after leaving office.  The co-chair was a media darling, liberal Republican New York City mayor John Lindsay.

The other members of the commission were as follows:

  • Edward Brooke, senator (R-Mass.)
  • Fred R. Harris, senator (D-Okla.)
  • James Corman, congressman (D-Calif.)
  • William McCulloch, congressman (R-Ohio)
  • Charles Thornton, founder of defense contractor Litton Industries
  • Roy Wilkins, executive director of the NAACP
  • I.W. Abel, president of U.S. Steelworkers of America
  • Herbert Turner Jenkins, police chief, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Katherine Graham Peden, commissioner of commerce, Kentucky
  • David Ginsburg, commission executive director appointed by President Johnson

In addition to fingering white racism as the problem, they called for a lot of money to be spent on ameliorative programs:

… a commitment to national action – compassionate, massive and sustained, backed by the resources of the most powerful and the richest nation on this earth.  From every American it will require new attitudes, new understanding, and, above all, new will.

The commission called on expanding social welfare spending and for the federal government to pick up 90% of the tab.

Three years earlier, in March, 1965 then-Assistant Secretary of Labor Daniel Patrick Moynihan had published a report, The Negro Family: The Case for National Action, sparking a national reaction and some backlash, for suggesting that changes in family structure among black Americans, not just racial discrimination, were at fault for many of their social ills.


The report did mention family structure in passing, seeing it as derivative of economic factors:


The culture of poverty that results from unemployment and family breakup generates a system of ruthless, exploitative relationships within the ghetto. Prostitution, dope addiction, and crime create an environmental “jungle” characterized by personal insecurity and tension. Children growing up under such conditions are likely participants in civil disorder. …


As a result of slavery and long periods of unemployment, the Negro family structure had become matriarchal; the males played a secondary and marginal family role–one which offered little compensation for their hard and unrewarding labor. Above all, segregation denied Negroes access to good jobs and the opportunity to leave the ghetto. For them, the future seemed to lead only to a dead end.

And it recommended that incentives to keep families intact be enacted into law.

Require that all states receiving federal welfare contributions participate in the Aid to Families with Dependent Children Unemployed Parents program (AFDC-UP) that permits assistance to families with both father and mother in the home, thus aiding the family while it is still intact.

Now, half a century later, the dogma of racism and victimhood has been thoroughly institutionalized, with vast industries of bureaucrats, bean-counters, tort lawyers, activists, community organizers, social service agencies, and nonprofits with government grants.  These make up a lobbying force to be reckoned with.  They have a lot of clout.

But half a century is a long time for a political orthodoxy to reign.

For half a century, the federal government has pursued a disastrous strategy in addressing the problems of black Americans. They were designated a victim class, and enormous sums of money were expended on incentives to perpetuate that status.

The welfare state has perpetuated multi-generational pathologies, while the encouragement of victimology and the blame placed on white racism have poisoned race relations instead of healing them.

It’s fair to say the United States government began its long and catastrophic commitment to this approach fifty years ago today (or yesterday): February 29, 1968.  On that day, the Kerner Commission (officially the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders) delivered its report (official summary; full 400-plus pages), and white racism was officially blamed for the problems of black America.

White racism is essentially responsible for the explosive mixture which has been accumulating in our cities since the end of World War II.

In those days, I was already a political junkie who read the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and a local paper and watched network news.  I remember well the huge fuss the media made over the Kerner Commission Report.  It kicked off an extended campaign that was often labeled a “national soul-searching.”

All the smart people you could find in the media pretty much agreed that we just had to commit ourselves to fighting racism as the solution to the problems of the black community.  White guilt gained momentum as a force in individual and group decisions.

The effects of the report were far-reaching.  The powerful institutions of America were put on notice that consciously or not, they were perpetuating racism:

Segregation and poverty have created in the racial ghetto a destructive environment totally unknown to most white Americans.  What white Americans have never fully understood but what the Negro can never forget – is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto.  White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it.

The report put racism on the agenda of every organization.  It spurred – even forced – discussions that led to commitments to anti-racism programs in the commanding heights of the economic, educational, and cultural establishments and on downward.  Budgets and bureaucracies soon enough followed, and eventually, a permanent civil rights bureaucratic apparatus flourished in every institution of significant size.

The Kerner Commission had been created by an executive order of President Lyndon B. Johnson, on July 28 of the previous year, while the five-day Detroit Riot of 1967 was still raging.

Americans had watched on TV in shock as tanks and military vehicles rumbled down the streets of Detroit.  The Motor City’s steep decline began with those riots.


Detroit Riot, 1967 (Flickr).

President Johnson’s Executive Order 11365 stated the charge:

The Commission shall investigate and make recommendations with respect to:


(1) The origins of the recent major civil disorders in our cities, including the basic causes and factors leading to such disorders and the influence, if any, of organizations or individuals dedicated to the incitement or encouragement of violence;


(2) The development of methods and techniques for averting or controlling such disorders, including the improvement of communications between local authorities and community groups, the training of state and local law enforcement and National Guard personnel in dealing with potential or actual riot situations, and the coordination of efforts of the various law enforcement and governmental units which may become involved in such situations;


(3) The appropriate role of the local, state and Federal authorities in dealing with civil disorders; and


(4) Such other matters as the President may place before the Commission.

It was chaired by Democrat governor Otto Kerner of Illinois, who later, in the grand tradition of that office, spent time in a federal prison after leaving office.  The co-chair was a media darling, liberal Republican New York City mayor John Lindsay.

The other members of the commission were as follows:

  • Edward Brooke, senator (R-Mass.)
  • Fred R. Harris, senator (D-Okla.)
  • James Corman, congressman (D-Calif.)
  • William McCulloch, congressman (R-Ohio)
  • Charles Thornton, founder of defense contractor Litton Industries
  • Roy Wilkins, executive director of the NAACP
  • I.W. Abel, president of U.S. Steelworkers of America
  • Herbert Turner Jenkins, police chief, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Katherine Graham Peden, commissioner of commerce, Kentucky
  • David Ginsburg, commission executive director appointed by President Johnson

In addition to fingering white racism as the problem, they called for a lot of money to be spent on ameliorative programs:

… a commitment to national action – compassionate, massive and sustained, backed by the resources of the most powerful and the richest nation on this earth.  From every American it will require new attitudes, new understanding, and, above all, new will.

The commission called on expanding social welfare spending and for the federal government to pick up 90% of the tab.

Three years earlier, in March, 1965 then-Assistant Secretary of Labor Daniel Patrick Moynihan had published a report, The Negro Family: The Case for National Action, sparking a national reaction and some backlash, for suggesting that changes in family structure among black Americans, not just racial discrimination, were at fault for many of their social ills.


The report did mention family structure in passing, seeing it as derivative of economic factors:


The culture of poverty that results from unemployment and family breakup generates a system of ruthless, exploitative relationships within the ghetto. Prostitution, dope addiction, and crime create an environmental “jungle” characterized by personal insecurity and tension. Children growing up under such conditions are likely participants in civil disorder. …


As a result of slavery and long periods of unemployment, the Negro family structure had become matriarchal; the males played a secondary and marginal family role–one which offered little compensation for their hard and unrewarding labor. Above all, segregation denied Negroes access to good jobs and the opportunity to leave the ghetto. For them, the future seemed to lead only to a dead end.

And it recommended that incentives to keep families intact be enacted into law.

Require that all states receiving federal welfare contributions participate in the Aid to Families with Dependent Children Unemployed Parents program (AFDC-UP) that permits assistance to families with both father and mother in the home, thus aiding the family while it is still intact.

Now, half a century later, the dogma of racism and victimhood has been thoroughly institutionalized, with vast industries of bureaucrats, bean-counters, tort lawyers, activists, community organizers, social service agencies, and nonprofits with government grants.  These make up a lobbying force to be reckoned with.  They have a lot of clout.

But half a century is a long time for a political orthodoxy to reign.



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The Dollar: Lionel Shriver on Ruin


Could the U.S. dollar ever be ruined?  Other currencies, like the German mark in the 1920s, have been ruined, so why not the dollar?

Recently, I wrote a book review of The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047, a novel by Lionel Shriver that deals with the demise of the dollar due to a default on the national debt.  The novel’s default is a response to outside pressure – namely, the creation by foreign powers of the “bancor,” a new currency meant to supplant the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.  Adding insult to injury, the creators of this new currency demand that U.S. debt be repaid in bancors and that “American bonds sold to foreign investors must henceforth be denominated in bancors.”

Upon the debut of the bancor, the dollar plummets in value.  But America doesn’t accede to the foreign demands and makes it a felony for Americans to hold bancors, even abroad.  Then, in a speech to the nation, the president announces the renunciation of the national debt, whereby all U.S. Treasury securities are declared “null and void.”  (Don’t try this at home, kids; the feds are pros.)

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Bancors

In keeping with the creeping Latinization the novel sees for America, the feds soon replace the dollar with the dólar nuevo.  But the “new dollar” moves beyond specie and paper money and becomes totally cashless – i.e., electronic, digital.  Ultimately, however, the feds cave and sign on to the bancor.  Adiós, U.S. dollar.

Shriver imagines one way by which the Almighty Dollar could be ruined and die.  A different type of currency death might be possible – one would be due not to foreign actions and the federal government’s (chosen) responses to them, but instead to the gradual erosion of the value of the dollar through inflation.  Inflation is what’s been happening to the dollar for the last century or so.  In this alternate scenario, the dollar limps along until it buckles, falls to its knees, and expires, rather like riding a horse to death.

This second scenario, the slow death, would make for a rather different novel from Shriver’s.  The feds would just keep borrowing and printing money until they could no longer do so because the sheer size of the debt becomes unmanageable and the currency becomes worthless.

However, one wonders if the second scenario is as plausible or as probable as Shriver’s.  For will the world allow the U.S. to continue down the merry path we’ve been on, borrowing and printing dollars?  Or will the world intervene and establish a new monetary world order, ending the Bretton Woods system we’ve had for seventy-four years?  Shriver’s “intervention” seems the more likely scenario.  (By the way, the idea for a supranational currency was floated back in the 1940s by J.M. Keynes, who called it, uh…oh, yeah, the “bancor.”)

But if a consortium of foreign powers sought to strong-arm America, even in such an insulting high-handed manner, would we actually renounce our debt and choose default?  Defaulting on the debt by way of renunciation would consign America to “pariah nation” status.  Also, much of the debt is held by Americans.

If reneging on the national debt would not be the “proper response” to Shriver’s scenario, what would be?  The proper response might be to remind holders of U.S. debt that they made a deal, as did the U.S. Treasury, and that America will keep its side of the deal by repaying maturing debt in precisely the manner stipulated.  That is, they’ll get their money back just as promised – in U.S. dollars.

Bust a Deal, Face the Wheel

But what’s the difference between losing your money from default and getting your money back when its value has been inflated away?  Holders of our debt wouldn’t want repayment in a worthless currency.  In order to stay in the good graces of the nations that have been buying our debt, the U.S. would need to demonstrate a new course of action.  What would that be?  The only thing that would suffice is to stop borrowing, which would entail balancing the federal budget immediately.

And just how would we do that?  Assuming we wouldn’t disband the military, the only way to immediately balance the budget would be to cut entitlements and welfare programs by hundreds of billions of dollars.  Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare – all of it would need to be pared back, if not ended.  If we wanted to save our currency and remain in the community of nations as a member in good standing, nothing else would do.

In Shriver’s 2029 America, however, the government is controlled by Democrats.  And her Democrats would rather risk ruining the currency and risk America becoming a pariah than touch the welfare state and entitlements, which is entirely plausible if one looks at today’s Democrats.  Indeed, Democrats should be urging spending cuts on the welfare state now.  The reason Democrats would rather bust a deal and default on the debt is because they don’t want to renege on their other “deals,” primarily their promises to America’s old folks.

These Horses Need Rest

This is one of the big takeaways from The Mandibles: those who fare best in the novel are old folks, retirees.  As Americans struggle in Shriver’s post-default depression, folks look forward to old age: “People used to dread being put out to pasture.  Desperate to qualify for entitlements, these days everyone couldn’t wait to be old [p. 322].”

In a 2009 article at MacLean’s, Mark Steyn presaged Shriver:

[F]or the political class, it’s easier to default on foreign debt and risk unknown consequences than to renege on social commitments and ensure the certainty of violent insurrection.  As attractive as it might be to tell ingrate geezers to go eat dog food, it’s not politically feasible[.]

Should what’s “feasible” and “easier” for politicians be the determining factors here?  Defaulting and ruining the currency would be far more painful than cutting back on social programs.

In April of 2017, Ms. Shriver appeared on The Mark Steyn Show to discuss The Mandibles.  The two quickly wade into the possibility of the collapse of the dollar.  At the 5:45 point, Steyn observes:

Everyone assumes, they look out the window, they see the skyscrapers, they see the fancy restaurants – the assumption of permanence underlies almost everything we do in our lives as we plan.  And the great thing about the book is the almost dizzying speed with which a prosperous Western society unravels.

(Those who know Mr. Steyn only for his appearances on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News or as a guest host for El Rushbo will see a different side of the Canadian.  It’s a master class in what talk shows should be.  The courtliness of his interview reminds me of Dick Cavett.  The interview was shot in London, and one has a nice view of the Thames in the background.  The video quality is excellent.  It starts at the two-minute point and goes on for 32 minutes.  I highly recommend it.)

If the U.S. dollar ever were ruined, the agent of that ruin would almost certainly be the federal government.  If so, the heartache, loss, and degradation flowing from the destruction of our currency would be caused by the refusal of Congress to control its spending and by its run-up of the debt.  So are we going to ride the dollar to death?  Or are we going to grow up and start paying our way?

Jon N. Hall of Ultracon Opinion is a programmer and analyst from Kansas City.

Could the U.S. dollar ever be ruined?  Other currencies, like the German mark in the 1920s, have been ruined, so why not the dollar?

Recently, I wrote a book review of The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047, a novel by Lionel Shriver that deals with the demise of the dollar due to a default on the national debt.  The novel’s default is a response to outside pressure – namely, the creation by foreign powers of the “bancor,” a new currency meant to supplant the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.  Adding insult to injury, the creators of this new currency demand that U.S. debt be repaid in bancors and that “American bonds sold to foreign investors must henceforth be denominated in bancors.”

Upon the debut of the bancor, the dollar plummets in value.  But America doesn’t accede to the foreign demands and makes it a felony for Americans to hold bancors, even abroad.  Then, in a speech to the nation, the president announces the renunciation of the national debt, whereby all U.S. Treasury securities are declared “null and void.”  (Don’t try this at home, kids; the feds are pros.)

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Bancors

In keeping with the creeping Latinization the novel sees for America, the feds soon replace the dollar with the dólar nuevo.  But the “new dollar” moves beyond specie and paper money and becomes totally cashless – i.e., electronic, digital.  Ultimately, however, the feds cave and sign on to the bancor.  Adiós, U.S. dollar.

Shriver imagines one way by which the Almighty Dollar could be ruined and die.  A different type of currency death might be possible – one would be due not to foreign actions and the federal government’s (chosen) responses to them, but instead to the gradual erosion of the value of the dollar through inflation.  Inflation is what’s been happening to the dollar for the last century or so.  In this alternate scenario, the dollar limps along until it buckles, falls to its knees, and expires, rather like riding a horse to death.

This second scenario, the slow death, would make for a rather different novel from Shriver’s.  The feds would just keep borrowing and printing money until they could no longer do so because the sheer size of the debt becomes unmanageable and the currency becomes worthless.

However, one wonders if the second scenario is as plausible or as probable as Shriver’s.  For will the world allow the U.S. to continue down the merry path we’ve been on, borrowing and printing dollars?  Or will the world intervene and establish a new monetary world order, ending the Bretton Woods system we’ve had for seventy-four years?  Shriver’s “intervention” seems the more likely scenario.  (By the way, the idea for a supranational currency was floated back in the 1940s by J.M. Keynes, who called it, uh…oh, yeah, the “bancor.”)

But if a consortium of foreign powers sought to strong-arm America, even in such an insulting high-handed manner, would we actually renounce our debt and choose default?  Defaulting on the debt by way of renunciation would consign America to “pariah nation” status.  Also, much of the debt is held by Americans.

If reneging on the national debt would not be the “proper response” to Shriver’s scenario, what would be?  The proper response might be to remind holders of U.S. debt that they made a deal, as did the U.S. Treasury, and that America will keep its side of the deal by repaying maturing debt in precisely the manner stipulated.  That is, they’ll get their money back just as promised – in U.S. dollars.

Bust a Deal, Face the Wheel

But what’s the difference between losing your money from default and getting your money back when its value has been inflated away?  Holders of our debt wouldn’t want repayment in a worthless currency.  In order to stay in the good graces of the nations that have been buying our debt, the U.S. would need to demonstrate a new course of action.  What would that be?  The only thing that would suffice is to stop borrowing, which would entail balancing the federal budget immediately.

And just how would we do that?  Assuming we wouldn’t disband the military, the only way to immediately balance the budget would be to cut entitlements and welfare programs by hundreds of billions of dollars.  Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare – all of it would need to be pared back, if not ended.  If we wanted to save our currency and remain in the community of nations as a member in good standing, nothing else would do.

In Shriver’s 2029 America, however, the government is controlled by Democrats.  And her Democrats would rather risk ruining the currency and risk America becoming a pariah than touch the welfare state and entitlements, which is entirely plausible if one looks at today’s Democrats.  Indeed, Democrats should be urging spending cuts on the welfare state now.  The reason Democrats would rather bust a deal and default on the debt is because they don’t want to renege on their other “deals,” primarily their promises to America’s old folks.

These Horses Need Rest

This is one of the big takeaways from The Mandibles: those who fare best in the novel are old folks, retirees.  As Americans struggle in Shriver’s post-default depression, folks look forward to old age: “People used to dread being put out to pasture.  Desperate to qualify for entitlements, these days everyone couldn’t wait to be old [p. 322].”

In a 2009 article at MacLean’s, Mark Steyn presaged Shriver:

[F]or the political class, it’s easier to default on foreign debt and risk unknown consequences than to renege on social commitments and ensure the certainty of violent insurrection.  As attractive as it might be to tell ingrate geezers to go eat dog food, it’s not politically feasible[.]

Should what’s “feasible” and “easier” for politicians be the determining factors here?  Defaulting and ruining the currency would be far more painful than cutting back on social programs.

In April of 2017, Ms. Shriver appeared on The Mark Steyn Show to discuss The Mandibles.  The two quickly wade into the possibility of the collapse of the dollar.  At the 5:45 point, Steyn observes:

Everyone assumes, they look out the window, they see the skyscrapers, they see the fancy restaurants – the assumption of permanence underlies almost everything we do in our lives as we plan.  And the great thing about the book is the almost dizzying speed with which a prosperous Western society unravels.

(Those who know Mr. Steyn only for his appearances on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News or as a guest host for El Rushbo will see a different side of the Canadian.  It’s a master class in what talk shows should be.  The courtliness of his interview reminds me of Dick Cavett.  The interview was shot in London, and one has a nice view of the Thames in the background.  The video quality is excellent.  It starts at the two-minute point and goes on for 32 minutes.  I highly recommend it.)

If the U.S. dollar ever were ruined, the agent of that ruin would almost certainly be the federal government.  If so, the heartache, loss, and degradation flowing from the destruction of our currency would be caused by the refusal of Congress to control its spending and by its run-up of the debt.  So are we going to ride the dollar to death?  Or are we going to grow up and start paying our way?

Jon N. Hall of Ultracon Opinion is a programmer and analyst from Kansas City.



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Trump and Old-Time Democrats


Last Saturday afternoon, I listened to a gathering of Wall Street Journal editors and writers on Fox News discussing the congressional deadlock on immigration.  Paul Gigot, Jason Riley, and Karl Rove were all disturbed that the president and congressional Republicans who followed his lead were stalling a compromise over DACA and other related immigration issues.  These intransigents should have accepted something like the Graham-Durbin proposal that would have amnestied DACA recipients and their families while continuing chain migration but also making some provision for increased border security.

As I listened to these judgments, I thought, “Spoken like true Republicans.”  These remarks explain why Trump rallied the working-class base that had long eluded Republican politicians.  Trump and his advisers noticed what had been clear for some time: for many decades, the Democrats generally took the harder line on immigration, even if neither national party offered steady resistance. Although both parties voted for the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, a higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats voted for that legislation in Congress.

The most vocal opposition to this reform came from Southern Democrats, who feared that the immigration act would change the ethnic profile of the country by removing national quotas.  Republicans had no interest in the concern raised in 1965 by North Carolina Democratic senator Sam Ervin: 

The people of Ethiopia have the same right to come to the United States under this bill as the people from England, the people of France, the people of Germany, [and] the people of Holland.  With all due respect to Ethiopia, I don’t know of any contributions that Ethiopia has made to the making of America.

The most comprehensive amnesty act ever passed by any administration (it granted amnesty to over three million illegals) was under President Reagan in 1986, and it enjoyed near unanimous Republican congressional support.  A major opponent of immigration in the 1990s was a black Democratic congresswoman from Texas, Barbara Jordan, who believed that immigration drives down the wages of poor whites and blacks.  It is important to recognize that Jordan and her Democratic supporters were not making the cultural conservative argument advanced by Senator Ervin and his Southern Democratic colleagues in the 1960s.  They were making traditional working-class arguments against immigration, arguments that had been heard from the American Federation of Labor in the first half of the twentieth century and from the French Communist Party after World War II.  But this opposition to increased immigration stood in stark contrast to the multicultural perspective of the current Democratic Party and the corporate capitalist donor base of the GOP.  Significantly, Jordan’s position continued to resonate in Ralph Nader’s presidential races in 2000 and 2004.  It was also reflected in Bernie Sanders’s vote against the immigration reform act of 2007, which he thought would hurt low-paid American workers.

There are good reasons why the Republicans before Trump were arguably the more leftist party on immigration and why their flagship paper, the Wall Street Journal, has toyed with the idea of open borders.  Providing a steady supply of cheap labor in accordance with the wishes of corporate executives and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was one reason; trying to signal that the GOP, despite its continued WASP appeal, is open to minorities was another one.  Another possible source of Republican enthusiasm for immigration has been the influence of neoconservative ideology on Republican operatives.  According to neoconservative doctrine, the United States is a universal democracy and propositional nation, and therefore suitability for citizenship should be based on the acceptance of neoconservative ideas about democratic equality.  In any case, up until the time the Democrats began to champion ethnic and lifestyle grievances, they were generally the more conservative of our two parties on immigration.

In the 1950s, they were also the more conservative party on cultural issues, as any informed denizen of the Northeast might have recognized.  George W. Bush’s grandfather, Prescott, was our senator in Connecticut, and he and his son George H.W. Bush and their wives were generous backers of Planned Parenthood.  Most Democrats when I was growing up in Connecticut were ethnic Catholics, and they attended Mass regularly and supported the Catholic Legion of Decency.  They were also okay with the ban on the public sale of contraceptives.  This ban in Connecticut was kept in place by the Catholic Democratic state government, even if the governor happened to be a left-leaning Jew.  Needless to say, the Southern Democrats were probably to the right of our Democrats on race and immigration issues, although one of the most conservative Democrats of my acquaintance was my father’s friend, our Connecticut senator Tom Dodd.  Tom would breathe fire and brimstone whenever the commies were mentioned or the term “hippie” came up in conversation.  His son, Chris, who succeeded him, was of course another story.  Almost all my school teachers from K through 8th grade were Irish-Catholic ladies who went to Mass several times a week.  They were Democrats but, like the Kennedy family, ardent admirers of Senator Joseph McCarthy.

These attitudes were indicative of where many Democrats of an earlier generation stood, before the great transformation that carried the party to the left of the Republicans on social and cultural issues took place.  Thereafter, the GOP was pushed willy-nilly into the role of a culturally conservative party, something it did not have to be when it was still the party of big business and sociological Protestants.  During the Cold War, Republican politicians became ardent advocates of military buildup and have remained so ever since.  But being for military spending is different from trying to fill the cultural and moral void that was created when the Democrats became the party of LGBT, feminist, and Black nationalist activists.

Trump has rattled establishment Republicans, and part of the reason may be his bad manners and frenzied tweeting.  But the president may also have driven the NeverTrumps out of their comfort zone because of his alliance with the old Democratic Party, including Southern Baptists, the white ethnic working class, and critics of largely unrestricted immigration.  When Trump came down the golden escalator on June 16, 2015 to announce his presidential candidacy, he became overnight the hero to those abandoned Democrats.

Last Saturday afternoon, I listened to a gathering of Wall Street Journal editors and writers on Fox News discussing the congressional deadlock on immigration.  Paul Gigot, Jason Riley, and Karl Rove were all disturbed that the president and congressional Republicans who followed his lead were stalling a compromise over DACA and other related immigration issues.  These intransigents should have accepted something like the Graham-Durbin proposal that would have amnestied DACA recipients and their families while continuing chain migration but also making some provision for increased border security.

As I listened to these judgments, I thought, “Spoken like true Republicans.”  These remarks explain why Trump rallied the working-class base that had long eluded Republican politicians.  Trump and his advisers noticed what had been clear for some time: for many decades, the Democrats generally took the harder line on immigration, even if neither national party offered steady resistance. Although both parties voted for the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, a higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats voted for that legislation in Congress.

The most vocal opposition to this reform came from Southern Democrats, who feared that the immigration act would change the ethnic profile of the country by removing national quotas.  Republicans had no interest in the concern raised in 1965 by North Carolina Democratic senator Sam Ervin: 

The people of Ethiopia have the same right to come to the United States under this bill as the people from England, the people of France, the people of Germany, [and] the people of Holland.  With all due respect to Ethiopia, I don’t know of any contributions that Ethiopia has made to the making of America.

The most comprehensive amnesty act ever passed by any administration (it granted amnesty to over three million illegals) was under President Reagan in 1986, and it enjoyed near unanimous Republican congressional support.  A major opponent of immigration in the 1990s was a black Democratic congresswoman from Texas, Barbara Jordan, who believed that immigration drives down the wages of poor whites and blacks.  It is important to recognize that Jordan and her Democratic supporters were not making the cultural conservative argument advanced by Senator Ervin and his Southern Democratic colleagues in the 1960s.  They were making traditional working-class arguments against immigration, arguments that had been heard from the American Federation of Labor in the first half of the twentieth century and from the French Communist Party after World War II.  But this opposition to increased immigration stood in stark contrast to the multicultural perspective of the current Democratic Party and the corporate capitalist donor base of the GOP.  Significantly, Jordan’s position continued to resonate in Ralph Nader’s presidential races in 2000 and 2004.  It was also reflected in Bernie Sanders’s vote against the immigration reform act of 2007, which he thought would hurt low-paid American workers.

There are good reasons why the Republicans before Trump were arguably the more leftist party on immigration and why their flagship paper, the Wall Street Journal, has toyed with the idea of open borders.  Providing a steady supply of cheap labor in accordance with the wishes of corporate executives and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was one reason; trying to signal that the GOP, despite its continued WASP appeal, is open to minorities was another one.  Another possible source of Republican enthusiasm for immigration has been the influence of neoconservative ideology on Republican operatives.  According to neoconservative doctrine, the United States is a universal democracy and propositional nation, and therefore suitability for citizenship should be based on the acceptance of neoconservative ideas about democratic equality.  In any case, up until the time the Democrats began to champion ethnic and lifestyle grievances, they were generally the more conservative of our two parties on immigration.

In the 1950s, they were also the more conservative party on cultural issues, as any informed denizen of the Northeast might have recognized.  George W. Bush’s grandfather, Prescott, was our senator in Connecticut, and he and his son George H.W. Bush and their wives were generous backers of Planned Parenthood.  Most Democrats when I was growing up in Connecticut were ethnic Catholics, and they attended Mass regularly and supported the Catholic Legion of Decency.  They were also okay with the ban on the public sale of contraceptives.  This ban in Connecticut was kept in place by the Catholic Democratic state government, even if the governor happened to be a left-leaning Jew.  Needless to say, the Southern Democrats were probably to the right of our Democrats on race and immigration issues, although one of the most conservative Democrats of my acquaintance was my father’s friend, our Connecticut senator Tom Dodd.  Tom would breathe fire and brimstone whenever the commies were mentioned or the term “hippie” came up in conversation.  His son, Chris, who succeeded him, was of course another story.  Almost all my school teachers from K through 8th grade were Irish-Catholic ladies who went to Mass several times a week.  They were Democrats but, like the Kennedy family, ardent admirers of Senator Joseph McCarthy.

These attitudes were indicative of where many Democrats of an earlier generation stood, before the great transformation that carried the party to the left of the Republicans on social and cultural issues took place.  Thereafter, the GOP was pushed willy-nilly into the role of a culturally conservative party, something it did not have to be when it was still the party of big business and sociological Protestants.  During the Cold War, Republican politicians became ardent advocates of military buildup and have remained so ever since.  But being for military spending is different from trying to fill the cultural and moral void that was created when the Democrats became the party of LGBT, feminist, and Black nationalist activists.

Trump has rattled establishment Republicans, and part of the reason may be his bad manners and frenzied tweeting.  But the president may also have driven the NeverTrumps out of their comfort zone because of his alliance with the old Democratic Party, including Southern Baptists, the white ethnic working class, and critics of largely unrestricted immigration.  When Trump came down the golden escalator on June 16, 2015 to announce his presidential candidacy, he became overnight the hero to those abandoned Democrats.



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Disarming 20-Year-Old Moms


If you are a 20-year-old single mom with a restraining order against your threatening ex-husband or ex-boyfriend, don’t expect Dick’s Sporting Goods to help you defend yourself and your child.  Dick’s will no longer sell guns to such irresponsible and dangerous young people, even as we allow them to stop texting long enough to determine gun policy in orchestrated town hall meetings.

Nor will they sell “assault-style rifles,” whatever that means, presumably guns that look scarier than others but in practice pose no difference in lethality.  Actually this is not news.  Dick’s hasn’t sold these weapons in its branded stores for six years.  This is merely a grandstanding minor extension of the ban to exploit the Parkland tragedy:

Dick’s Sporting Goods, the nation’s largest sporting goods retailer, will stop selling assault-style weapons like the one used in the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting.


The company said it will also raise the minimum age for all gun sales to 21.  Dick’s (DKS) will not sell high-capacity magazines that allow shooters to fire far more rounds than traditional weapons without reloading, as well as other accessories used with weapons similar to the AR-15.


The company expects criticism from gun rights advocates as well a hit to sales, Dick’s CEO Edward Stack said on CNN’s “New Day.” …


“As we sat and talked about it with our management team, it was – to a person – that this is what we need to do,” he said. “These kids talk about enough is enough. We concluded if these kids are brave enough to organize and do what they’re doing, we should be brave enough to take this stand.” …


The company stopped selling those military-style semiautomatic weapons in its Dick’s-branded stores after the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in 2012, but they were still available at its 35 Field and Stream stores.

Just as its post-Sandy Hook gesture failed, save for possibly costing lives by making it harder for potential victims to defend themselves from predators, this move to will be full of the proverbial sound and fury but in the end signify not much.  Certainly, the kids are brave and tired of being targets, but their wrath should be aimed not at inanimate objects, but at the frauds who pretend to protect them, like Broward coward Sheriff Scott Israel.  Maybe Dick’s should close its Broward County stores in protest.

The fact is that the assault weapon ban that gun control zealots pine for was a failure, as Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie has pointed out:

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) told NBC’s “Meet the Press” … it’s “ridiculous” to raise the minimum age to buy an AR-15 to 21, and he noted that the assault weapons ban was in place in 1999 – the year of the Columbine High School shooting.


“You had a, a ban on assault rifles in 1999 when Columbine happened,” Massie said.  “The so-called assault weapons ban, lasted from ’94 to 2004.  Columbine fell right in the middle of that.  The assault weapons ban would do nothing to stop school shootings.”

Throughout it all, schools have remained gun-free zones, periodically shot up by crazies we either did know or should have known about.  Expand background checks, they say.  Then nobody feeds the relevant info on the crazies into the system.  We see something, say something, and the authorities do nothing.  But, hey, it is easier to blame the guns than, say, the FBI. 

On the subject of background checks and other “sensible restrictions” on gun ownership, one is reminded of the case of Carol Bowne.  If access to firearms were as easy as gun control advocates say it is, she would be alive today.  The New Jersey woman with a restraining order against an ex-boyfriend was murdered by that boyfriend while she waited for her application for a gun permit to wind its way through a process that takes at least two months to complete.  It wasn’t completed soon enough.

The Berlin Township woman got a restraining order against a former boyfriend, installed security cameras and an alarm system to her home and began the months-long process of obtaining a handgun, friends said.


But it wasn’t enough.


Bowne, 39, was stabbed to death in the driveway of her Patton Avenue home on Wednesday night.

She didn’t have a gun in her home.  She was over 21, but women of all ages, like that single 20-year-old mom, face predators every day.  Gun-control zealots tell us that a gun in the home is dangerous, but then so too is an ex-boyfriend, one Michael Eitel, with a knife.  That is why gun rights advocates say women should own guns because a restraining order is just a piece of paper.  So she sought permission from the government to exercise her Second Amendment rights:

According to news reports, Eitel had previously went to the salon in Somerdale where she worked and broke the windows on Bowne’s vehicle[.] …


Bowne then went to Berlin Township police in mid-April to apply for a gun license.  According to reports, she went to check on the process – which takes about two months to complete – as recently as this week.

Carol Bowne died while waiting for her background check to deal with a predator who had no restrictions on his ability to kill her.  Should your daughter at college or a young woman in her first apartment be unarmed because she’s underage when a firearm is the best rape whistle ever devised?  Just ask Amanda Collins, who was raped at gunpoint in a parking garage while attending the University of Nevada-Reno:

Collins was raped at gunpoint in a University of Nevada-Reno parking garage in October 2007.  Nevada law prohibited her from carrying a gun on the campus, but her attacker had one.  She was raped 50 feet away from the campus police department office.  Her attacker was James Biela, a serial rapist who raped two other women and murdered another.


He attacked her at gunpoint in a gun-free zone.  At the time of the attack, Collins had a concealed weapons permit but not her firearm due to university policies prohibiting carrying concealed weapons on campus.  Just such a gun-free zone policy is why the Aurora, Colo., shooter chose the theater he did[.] …


“Had I been carrying that night, two other rapes would have been prevented and a young life would have been saved,” Collins told NRA News host Cam Edwards, defending students’ right to carry weapons on campus.  “A call box above my head while I was straddled on the parking garage floor being brutally raped wouldn’t have helped me one bit,” she said.

Keeping guns out of the hands of potential victims does not reduce gun violence.  It does not protect our children or our wives and daughters.  Let 20-year-old Annie get her gun.

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine, and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.

If you are a 20-year-old single mom with a restraining order against your threatening ex-husband or ex-boyfriend, don’t expect Dick’s Sporting Goods to help you defend yourself and your child.  Dick’s will no longer sell guns to such irresponsible and dangerous young people, even as we allow them to stop texting long enough to determine gun policy in orchestrated town hall meetings.

Nor will they sell “assault-style rifles,” whatever that means, presumably guns that look scarier than others but in practice pose no difference in lethality.  Actually this is not news.  Dick’s hasn’t sold these weapons in its branded stores for six years.  This is merely a grandstanding minor extension of the ban to exploit the Parkland tragedy:

Dick’s Sporting Goods, the nation’s largest sporting goods retailer, will stop selling assault-style weapons like the one used in the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting.


The company said it will also raise the minimum age for all gun sales to 21.  Dick’s (DKS) will not sell high-capacity magazines that allow shooters to fire far more rounds than traditional weapons without reloading, as well as other accessories used with weapons similar to the AR-15.


The company expects criticism from gun rights advocates as well a hit to sales, Dick’s CEO Edward Stack said on CNN’s “New Day.” …


“As we sat and talked about it with our management team, it was – to a person – that this is what we need to do,” he said. “These kids talk about enough is enough. We concluded if these kids are brave enough to organize and do what they’re doing, we should be brave enough to take this stand.” …


The company stopped selling those military-style semiautomatic weapons in its Dick’s-branded stores after the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in 2012, but they were still available at its 35 Field and Stream stores.

Just as its post-Sandy Hook gesture failed, save for possibly costing lives by making it harder for potential victims to defend themselves from predators, this move to will be full of the proverbial sound and fury but in the end signify not much.  Certainly, the kids are brave and tired of being targets, but their wrath should be aimed not at inanimate objects, but at the frauds who pretend to protect them, like Broward coward Sheriff Scott Israel.  Maybe Dick’s should close its Broward County stores in protest.

The fact is that the assault weapon ban that gun control zealots pine for was a failure, as Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie has pointed out:

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) told NBC’s “Meet the Press” … it’s “ridiculous” to raise the minimum age to buy an AR-15 to 21, and he noted that the assault weapons ban was in place in 1999 – the year of the Columbine High School shooting.


“You had a, a ban on assault rifles in 1999 when Columbine happened,” Massie said.  “The so-called assault weapons ban, lasted from ’94 to 2004.  Columbine fell right in the middle of that.  The assault weapons ban would do nothing to stop school shootings.”

Throughout it all, schools have remained gun-free zones, periodically shot up by crazies we either did know or should have known about.  Expand background checks, they say.  Then nobody feeds the relevant info on the crazies into the system.  We see something, say something, and the authorities do nothing.  But, hey, it is easier to blame the guns than, say, the FBI. 

On the subject of background checks and other “sensible restrictions” on gun ownership, one is reminded of the case of Carol Bowne.  If access to firearms were as easy as gun control advocates say it is, she would be alive today.  The New Jersey woman with a restraining order against an ex-boyfriend was murdered by that boyfriend while she waited for her application for a gun permit to wind its way through a process that takes at least two months to complete.  It wasn’t completed soon enough.

The Berlin Township woman got a restraining order against a former boyfriend, installed security cameras and an alarm system to her home and began the months-long process of obtaining a handgun, friends said.


But it wasn’t enough.


Bowne, 39, was stabbed to death in the driveway of her Patton Avenue home on Wednesday night.

She didn’t have a gun in her home.  She was over 21, but women of all ages, like that single 20-year-old mom, face predators every day.  Gun-control zealots tell us that a gun in the home is dangerous, but then so too is an ex-boyfriend, one Michael Eitel, with a knife.  That is why gun rights advocates say women should own guns because a restraining order is just a piece of paper.  So she sought permission from the government to exercise her Second Amendment rights:

According to news reports, Eitel had previously went to the salon in Somerdale where she worked and broke the windows on Bowne’s vehicle[.] …


Bowne then went to Berlin Township police in mid-April to apply for a gun license.  According to reports, she went to check on the process – which takes about two months to complete – as recently as this week.

Carol Bowne died while waiting for her background check to deal with a predator who had no restrictions on his ability to kill her.  Should your daughter at college or a young woman in her first apartment be unarmed because she’s underage when a firearm is the best rape whistle ever devised?  Just ask Amanda Collins, who was raped at gunpoint in a parking garage while attending the University of Nevada-Reno:

Collins was raped at gunpoint in a University of Nevada-Reno parking garage in October 2007.  Nevada law prohibited her from carrying a gun on the campus, but her attacker had one.  She was raped 50 feet away from the campus police department office.  Her attacker was James Biela, a serial rapist who raped two other women and murdered another.


He attacked her at gunpoint in a gun-free zone.  At the time of the attack, Collins had a concealed weapons permit but not her firearm due to university policies prohibiting carrying concealed weapons on campus.  Just such a gun-free zone policy is why the Aurora, Colo., shooter chose the theater he did[.] …


“Had I been carrying that night, two other rapes would have been prevented and a young life would have been saved,” Collins told NRA News host Cam Edwards, defending students’ right to carry weapons on campus.  “A call box above my head while I was straddled on the parking garage floor being brutally raped wouldn’t have helped me one bit,” she said.

Keeping guns out of the hands of potential victims does not reduce gun violence.  It does not protect our children or our wives and daughters.  Let 20-year-old Annie get her gun.

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine, and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.



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What Mexico Should Be Focusing On


Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto once again canceled plans to make his first visit to the White House to meet with President Trump after a recent phone call described as “testy” ended in an impasse over President Trump’s promised border wall.

This time, the pretext for canceling alluded to Mexico’s upcoming July presidential election, where any action by Peña Nieto seen as folding under pressure from President Trump could damage prospects for his ruling party’s successor candidate.  A similar occurrence took place just about a year ago, in January 2017, when Peña Nieto first called off a Washington trip to meet with the newly inaugurated President Trump after a dispute over who would pay for the wall.

Maybe this current rift with the Trump administration is really a blessing in disguise, allowing Mexico to have its own national dialogue on immigration.  President Peña Nieto might better use the time at home to assemble his Cabinet and Legislature for frank discussions about mass emigration out of and through Mexico, the role and responsibilities of his nation’s government, and Mexican society.  Let Mexico’s president and “Congress of the Union” expend their energy on the “going” part of the immigration issue, just as their U.S. counterparts do on the “coming.”

Presently, there is great inconsistency in Mexico’s understanding of why the United States contemplates building a wall.  Mexico is a country of emigration and immigration, but the Mexican government’s policy toward Mexicans who have emigrated, particularly those in the United States, stands in stark contrast to how the government treats immigrants on Mexican territory.  While Mexican policymakers demand openness from the United States, not only does the Mexican government limit the rights of foreigners, but immigrants are often subject to human rights violations by Mexican police and immigration officials.

Erosion of Mexico’s goodwill toward the U.S. coincides with low approval of President Trump and one of his signature policies, yet polls still indicate that a third of Mexicans would move to the U.S. if given the opportunity.  Many Mexicans consider President Trump’s statements on building a wall offensive and outright racist, yet the societal anomaly of large-scale immigration north by their fellow citizens and family members leaving Mexico goes on.

There were a staggering 5.6 million unauthorized Mexican immigrants living in the U.S. in 2015 and 2016, albeit down from 6.4 million in 2009.  While Mexican migration to the U.S. has slowed, today, Mexico increasingly serves as a land bridge for Central American and Cuban immigrants trekking to the U.S.

It is a grossly abnormal societal aberration that several million Mexican citizens believed they must leave their native homes to migrate north – at great personal risk – to cross the border into the United States.  They crossed the border “illegally” – not obeying established immigration laws of a sovereign country – on the conviction they would have opportunities for better, more prosperous lives that did not exist in Mexico.  In general, widespread conditions in Latin America, brought on by oppressive and autocratic governments, corruption, poor governance, conflicts, persecutions, prejudices, and badly managed economies, drove these emigrants to such extreme actions and beliefs.

Why can Mexico – and other Latin American nations – not have societies and economies with the kinds of opportunities for all of its citizens that so many still believe can be found only north of the border?  Mexico has plentiful natural resources, a favorable geographic location with coasts on two oceans, an abundant supply of labor,the ability to create jobs and manufacturing, and public institutions at least rooted in the traditions of Western civilization.  Why must Mexican citizens face the traumatic dilemmaof leaving their native homes and lands?  Should Mexico, as a nation, not embrace some collective national responsibility for creating societal and economic conditions that would induce Mexican citizens to stay in their native homes instead of emigrating?  And what are the roles and responsibilities of the Mexican government to create and foster the development of such a society?

Mexican politicians have never been vocal in admonishing Mexican society or its politicians for allowing societal conditions to deteriorate such that millions of Mexicans believed they must migrate north for the chance of a better life or would still – to this day – leave Mexico if afforded the opportunity.  There needs to be more of that debate that is just as intense as U.S. deliberations over its own roles, responsibilities, and concerns for allowing immigrants and refugees into the United States.  In fact, for all nations generating large streams of immigrants and refugees, true and lasting solutions to the immigration problemmust address the origins and causes of this modern civilizational phenomenon.

The “greater good” for immigrants and refugees would be served if conditions that drive them to leave could be alleviated so they could instead stay and live prosperous, happy, productive lives in their own native homes and lands.  That would require the greater moral and personal fortitude, leadership, and effort from those nations, governments, and politicians.  When Presidents Trump and Peña Nieto finally meet, maybe that discussion can frame their agenda.

Chris J. Krisinger (colonel, USAF ret.) writes on governance and national security topics.  He lives in Burke, Virginia.

Image: Chatham House via Flickr.

Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto once again canceled plans to make his first visit to the White House to meet with President Trump after a recent phone call described as “testy” ended in an impasse over President Trump’s promised border wall.

This time, the pretext for canceling alluded to Mexico’s upcoming July presidential election, where any action by Peña Nieto seen as folding under pressure from President Trump could damage prospects for his ruling party’s successor candidate.  A similar occurrence took place just about a year ago, in January 2017, when Peña Nieto first called off a Washington trip to meet with the newly inaugurated President Trump after a dispute over who would pay for the wall.

Maybe this current rift with the Trump administration is really a blessing in disguise, allowing Mexico to have its own national dialogue on immigration.  President Peña Nieto might better use the time at home to assemble his Cabinet and Legislature for frank discussions about mass emigration out of and through Mexico, the role and responsibilities of his nation’s government, and Mexican society.  Let Mexico’s president and “Congress of the Union” expend their energy on the “going” part of the immigration issue, just as their U.S. counterparts do on the “coming.”

Presently, there is great inconsistency in Mexico’s understanding of why the United States contemplates building a wall.  Mexico is a country of emigration and immigration, but the Mexican government’s policy toward Mexicans who have emigrated, particularly those in the United States, stands in stark contrast to how the government treats immigrants on Mexican territory.  While Mexican policymakers demand openness from the United States, not only does the Mexican government limit the rights of foreigners, but immigrants are often subject to human rights violations by Mexican police and immigration officials.

Erosion of Mexico’s goodwill toward the U.S. coincides with low approval of President Trump and one of his signature policies, yet polls still indicate that a third of Mexicans would move to the U.S. if given the opportunity.  Many Mexicans consider President Trump’s statements on building a wall offensive and outright racist, yet the societal anomaly of large-scale immigration north by their fellow citizens and family members leaving Mexico goes on.

There were a staggering 5.6 million unauthorized Mexican immigrants living in the U.S. in 2015 and 2016, albeit down from 6.4 million in 2009.  While Mexican migration to the U.S. has slowed, today, Mexico increasingly serves as a land bridge for Central American and Cuban immigrants trekking to the U.S.

It is a grossly abnormal societal aberration that several million Mexican citizens believed they must leave their native homes to migrate north – at great personal risk – to cross the border into the United States.  They crossed the border “illegally” – not obeying established immigration laws of a sovereign country – on the conviction they would have opportunities for better, more prosperous lives that did not exist in Mexico.  In general, widespread conditions in Latin America, brought on by oppressive and autocratic governments, corruption, poor governance, conflicts, persecutions, prejudices, and badly managed economies, drove these emigrants to such extreme actions and beliefs.

Why can Mexico – and other Latin American nations – not have societies and economies with the kinds of opportunities for all of its citizens that so many still believe can be found only north of the border?  Mexico has plentiful natural resources, a favorable geographic location with coasts on two oceans, an abundant supply of labor,the ability to create jobs and manufacturing, and public institutions at least rooted in the traditions of Western civilization.  Why must Mexican citizens face the traumatic dilemmaof leaving their native homes and lands?  Should Mexico, as a nation, not embrace some collective national responsibility for creating societal and economic conditions that would induce Mexican citizens to stay in their native homes instead of emigrating?  And what are the roles and responsibilities of the Mexican government to create and foster the development of such a society?

Mexican politicians have never been vocal in admonishing Mexican society or its politicians for allowing societal conditions to deteriorate such that millions of Mexicans believed they must migrate north for the chance of a better life or would still – to this day – leave Mexico if afforded the opportunity.  There needs to be more of that debate that is just as intense as U.S. deliberations over its own roles, responsibilities, and concerns for allowing immigrants and refugees into the United States.  In fact, for all nations generating large streams of immigrants and refugees, true and lasting solutions to the immigration problemmust address the origins and causes of this modern civilizational phenomenon.

The “greater good” for immigrants and refugees would be served if conditions that drive them to leave could be alleviated so they could instead stay and live prosperous, happy, productive lives in their own native homes and lands.  That would require the greater moral and personal fortitude, leadership, and effort from those nations, governments, and politicians.  When Presidents Trump and Peña Nieto finally meet, maybe that discussion can frame their agenda.

Chris J. Krisinger (colonel, USAF ret.) writes on governance and national security topics.  He lives in Burke, Virginia.

Image: Chatham House via Flickr.



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