The Moment of Truth — May 10, 2007
If It Quacks Like a Nazi
Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the secret romance between Brussels sprouts and the bay leaf.
I recently discussed a raid by Federal immigration agents on a ring of ID counterfeiters in a mall in a Latino neighborhood of Chicago. In criticizing the tactics employed in the raid, I expressed that said tactics evoked images of certain treatment of Jews and non-Germans by the Nazis when they came to power. It became clear this rubbed some the wrong way. Understandably so. I would like to clarify my position.
But I would also like to point out that, in private correspondence with a reader-and-friend, I predicted a 1968-Democratic-Convention-Style police riot over the issue some time in the coming year. It came two days after my correspondence, in beautiful Los Angeles. Perhaps you’ve heard about it!*
Back to the mall in Little Village, Chicago, Il, USA, and clarifying my choice to compare the social behavior of German policy enforcement agents with that of Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
About 150-200 shoppers, business owners and employees were locked down inside the mall by around—and I’m quoting a number from a recent article—40 agents wearing bulletproof vests and carrying high-powered rifles.
The agents were executing a sting on an organization making fake Social Security cards, green cards, and drivers’ licenses. Three other locations were raided simultaneously, including the home of the alleged head of the organization.
The reason for the large armed and armored force, according to US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald—yes, Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald of Fitzmas fame—was that the alleged head of the organization had been heard over his tapped phone hiring a Mexican gunman to murder a competitor, who was in Mexico at the time.
There is nothing else in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement affidavit, requesting the required warrants, that would have indicated there was any reason to expect armed resistance. Now I know that the counterfeiting these alleged felons were doing could have, and may have, aided terrorists, although there doesn’t seem to be much evidence, if any, that it did—but there’s none that it didn’t. So I’ll assume it did aid terrorists, for the sake of argument.
Still, living so close to, and being familiar with, Little Village, it’s hard not to get angry at the kind of massive assault brought down upon the people in that mall in broad daylight. The armed agents piled out of a half-dozen vans and locked the mall down. No one could get in or out. It’s not a little bitty strip mall. It’s a large area, taking up a city block; there were at least 150 people, older people, children. Every way in or out of the mall was blocked by armed agents—and I mean agents with guns at the ready.
Mothers were separated from their children—and prevented from going to comfort their crying children. I’m not making this up for dramatic effect. It’s very unpleasant, and I don’t think it would have been tolerated in a higher-income or lighter-complexioned neighborhood. I don’t even think it would have happened in such a neighborhood, even if a counterfeiting operation run by someone who’d hired someone else to murder still another someone in another country—even if such a situation were prevailing in such a neighborhood.
I’ve heard the unsympathetic say, “It was only an hour and a half.” Well, an hour and a half is a long time when people with guns are preventing you from doing something, like leaving, going to the bathroom, picking up your child from a clinic, or going to your mother for comfort.
The U.S. polity has always had vague ideas about what the limits of police behavior should be. Especially those who are cops. I don’t think corralling 150 people—the vast majority of whom were U.S. citizens—so you can arrest a dozen people suspected of counterfeiting and one for conspiracy to have someone murdered in Mexico, I don’t think that’s how you do it, unless you really feel like the citizens you’re cordoning off and holding are powerless to wield any clout in the event they complain. And with the current climate of resentment toward illegal workers from Mexico and Central and South America, it’s easy to see why a law enforcement body might not consider a poor Latino community’s rights as important as those of another group.
I call them illegal workers, by the way, because I don’t believe in calling them illegal immigrants. They’re not necessarily immigrating, they’re here to work. It’s not illegal to visit this country. You don’t need a Visa to visit from Mexico. Or at least you didn’t used to. And you make a little money doing odd jobs, so what? All right, but what about when you set up residence and try to avoid getting thrown out of the country so you can keep working? I have friends who’ve done that all over the world. And what if you do so with the intent of trying to gain citizenship? I have friends from European countries who have done just that.
Well, what about when you swarm over the border specifically to work illegally? I think it’s more the ‘swarming’ angry white men like the Minute Men don’t like, rather than the work that’s being done. There’s a lot of race and class anguish gushing all over this subject—poor brown foreigners swarming over the border to work for rich rich people—and the Minute Men are caught in the middle—like the cream in some sort of perverted, allegorical oreo.
What these critics are concerned about is American ethnic purity. Couple it with class resentment focused at the internal other, and that’s Nazism. Are Nazis so alien to the US? Klaus Barbie? Our friend the Nazi. Joe McCarthy? LOVED Nazis. Kissinger’s best friends in Latin America? Always happy to help a runaway Nazi. Pat Buchanan? He’s so ready he’s wears a brown shirt under his clothes—he wears jackboots to bed, should the call to arms come in the night.
There are certainly cool-headed individuals who have examined reports of the raid on Little Village and believe the proper amount of force was used. But most of the comments I’ve heard trying to justify the massive use of force are simply vindictive toward the entire Latin ethnic people. All the blog quotations below are verbatim ac literatum, hence the unorthodox grammar and spelling. After each quotation I interpret the writer’s intentions in order to make them understandable to those who aren’t prone to vicious prejudice.
“One big deal was they came in armed with bullet proof vest and machine guns. If you have ever been in that area it was a good move on their part.”
That’s just plain bigotry. The writer is a xenophobe, period. He’s scared of poor people who don’t speak English and believes they should only be approached with armor and weapons.
“These Illegals have taken over about 4 neighborhoods in close proxicimity to Little Mexico and ran the people who lived in them out (such as myself)…”
You lived a quarter mile from a prison and you were afraid when Latino shopkeepers moved in?
“ICE just lifted a board and disturbed the termite colony underneath. They should have arrested hundreds, not ten or twenty.”
Hundreds of whom? What had the ‘hundreds’ there done to be arrested? Nice of the writer to say ‘termites’ instead of ‘cockroaches’ though. It shows he has a sensitive side.
“A Alderman stated that it was done to disrespect the community. I disrespect the community alot. I disrespect the community, all the people in the community, and all the people that protect the community. It’s nothing but an illegal village, promoting the breaking of the laws of the United States.”
Grammatical problems aside, the writer is, and very much so, Nazi material. ‘It’s an illegal community.’ Oh, the entire community, those must be the hundreds of termites the earlier writer believes should have been arrested. What did the Nazis call the Jews who fought back in the Warsaw uprising? Hooligans. Brigands. Just to be a Jew was illegal. And apparently this writer thinks that to be Latino is illegal.
“This is America. There shouldn’t be places like the LATINO LITTLE VILLAGE. That is a travesty, we don’t need. It is not assimilation. It is separatism, with the ACLU and LARaza, and all the other organizations who are getting ready to sue as soon as they are given rights. They are going to sue and sue and sue until there is nothing that looks like America left. All washing machines and dryers will be replaced by miles of clothing hanging on the outdoor fences. All the yards will have chickens and all the driveways will have 4 broken down cars. That is what George Bush wants. You talk about ruining neighborhoods, just wait.”
That’s sort of what Newt Gingrich said a while ago, isn’t? Make English the official language Spanish-speaking people should be forced to speak in the United States? After all, this is England, not Spain! And let’s face it, what could be worse than miles of clothing hanging on outdoor fences? Hang your laundry on your indoor fences, you exhibitionist termites! We know Mexicans hate laundry machines! They hate technology, period! They’re cave people!
And how crazy do you have to be to believe the ACLU and George Bush are in cahoots?
“I saw another report about this that said one of them said the raids were hurting ‘their’ neighborhood…..Well, I have news for them…They are not helping America and it is NOT their neighborhood….They should get the H*** OUT!!!”
Pretty self-explanatory. Latinos have no right to be here. It’s not just the illegal workers—it’s any of THEM. Back to Mexico with THEM! It’s THEM or US!
I believe you will find many of the planks from the campaign of the National Socialist party in the 1930s are identical with those in the platform of the Republican candidate who wants most to appeal to the “conservative” base. You’ll even find some in the platform of whoever wins the Democratic nomination. Things like limited rights for gays compared to the rest of the population, limits on women’s control over their reproductive health including but not limited to abortion, loyalty litmus tests, erosion of privacy protections, still more ways for large corporations to control public resources—suspicion of the internal enemy is just a strategy to try to regain support for American Nazi Party—I mean, the, you know, “conservatives.”
Yes, Nazi Nazi Nazi. You sound ridiculous, Dorchen!
Granted. But I would like to conclude with a quotation from my friend, folksinger Jewboy Cain:
“Now, I know about Godwin’s law of internet arguments, whoever compares his opponent to the Nazis first loses. But I got a big problem with that. Cuz I think if you don’t want to be compared to a Nazi, then don’t think, talk, and act like a Nazi! It’s simple as that.”
This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!
*A few other events I’ve uncannily predicted:
I predicted the anti-Chavez movement in Venezuela was over-estimating its support because it ran all the newspapers and yet believed what was written in them. I predicted the U.S. would aid a coup attempt against Chavez. I predicted, long before the invasion of Iraq, that after Saddam fell the country would splinter into factions, and that the U.S. military would only be able to sustain what little control it had in the country in the capital. I predicted the entire Clinton administration. Back in the 1970s, when scientists were predicting another Ice Age, I was predicting global warming caused by the greenhouse effect. I predicted Reagan’s Alzheimer’s. I predicted George W. Bush would be the worst president ever. And everything I suspected about the crippling arrogance of the PNAC faction of the Bush administration has been born out. I also predicted the War on Terror would be used as an excuse to violate human and civil rights.
You people really need to start listening to my predictions. Except about the Oscars. I really don’t have my finger on that pulse.