Cultural Suicide

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Arguments
for "legalizing" the millions of Mexicans illegally in
this country abound in economic references to the "shortfall"
of low-wage workers legally available. They also invoke certain
mantras favorably comparing the Mexicans with the millions of Irish,
Italians, Bohemians, and others who arrived legally during the immigration
waves of the early twentieth century.

Both
of these approaches are off the mark. They amount to "argument
by assertion," and they ignore fundamental, unavoidable, and
indelible realities. Putting aside the romanticism of the mythical
saga of our immigrant forefathers, and the reductionist approach
addressing only homo economicus, certain central elements
emerge that we cannot ignore. They distinguish the Mexican immigration
from its European counterparts, and put the economic arguments into
proper — and uncomfortable — perspective.

Briefly
stated, the legalization of this illegal alien population amounts
to American cultural suicide (because it is done intentionally,
rather than by accident) and a political disaster. Both of these
elements deserve more than a passing glance; they deserve a depth
of analysis commensurate with the gravity of their impact.

Both
dimensions are inextricably intertwined, and their consequences
are profound. "Legalization's' disastrous consequences will
not be visited so much on one party, or one ideological faction,
rather than another. The damage is deeper, far more abiding, and
irreversible by any future election or other invocation of the political
process. It will powerfully contribute to the ruin of our free society
and rule of law.

Every
society before Aristotle recognized and underscored the importance
of good habits to social survival and prosperity. Aristotle gave
these habits names — virtues. He delineated certain virtues required
of a polis, virtues known to us all, because they have remained
virtually unchanged for the past two millennia.

The
Christian era brought to the formula the indispensable and unprecedented
truth that government must be limited — not merely an "improvement"
on Aristotle, but a radical "leap" (to use Voegelin's
insightful term) that could not be reversed. Augustine most thoroughly
articulated the Christian concept of the limited state in the City
of God
, basing it on metaphysics (the hierarchy of being
— God above all else), and the hierarchy and end (telos)
of the human psyche (the soul's highest purpose, its eternal destiny
in heaven or hell, could not be achieved by politics, and so the
individual must be allowed the freedom to save his soul, and all
the purposes of the state are subordinate to that goal, which is
beyond politics).

These
preambles to politics, based on a goal of man that is beyond politics,
are imbedded deep in the Western psyche, and are fundamental to
America's founding. They are indispensable to the history, the institutions,
and the rationale of freedom.

Mexico,
I am afraid, does not have them. Zip. Zero. Nada. Eighty years ago,
these values were hatefully scorned, abandoned, and persecuted by
the PRI — the "Instituitonal Revolutionary Party" — the
very name is a parody, hilarious and sick, a cynical invocation
of Hegelian "movement of the concept" that Mao only later
celebrated in his classic On Contradiction.

Personal
disclaimer: I have lived on both sides of the border. I worked on
the first hearings on U.S.-Mexican relations in years in the U.S.
Senate (1986), much to the chagrin and rage of the PRI, which spent
millions to stop them. Those hearings, and the change that they
forced in the abysmal policy of the U.S. State Department towards
Mexico, caused an eventual eruption in Mexico itself.

The
PRI did not go quietly. They killed presidential candidates. They
killed Roman Catholic cardinals. They relied increasingly on their
long-existing allies, the huge "criminal" drug gangs,
to perpetuate their iron-fisted rule.

To
this day, I cannot travel to Mexico, which fact raises an interesting
point about another preamble to politics, the rule of law.

Mexico
doesn't have one.

Ask
any friend, business associate, or investor who has a stake in Mexico:
"What do you do if you have a difference of opinion with the
union, with the local authorities that govern property ownership,
with the treasury police?"

Not
one of them will tell you, "Why, you go to court, if you have
to."

Not
one. No, they will say, "You do everything in your power to
work it out without resorting to the courts or to the police."

"How
do you do that," you might inquire.

"Bribes."

Mordida,
the life's blood of Mexican life. Corruption, so thorough that it
is reflected in the paltry salaries made by public employees because
they are expected to make up the difference in the bribes that they
exact from the poor slobs whose lives rely on their administrative
decisions.

"Hagamos
una cosa," shouted the man who had caused a fender-bender
near my Mexico City apartment one night, as the police arrived (and
the staccato tak tak tak of his young female companion's
high-heels disappeared into the dark night).

"Let's
make a deal."

Mexicans
never travel without an appreciable amount of money, because they
must always be prepared to pay bribes at a moment's notice. The
alternative could be jail without end, without trial, without any
justification. If, later, you can afford a lawyer good enough to
extricate you from such a situation (with bribes, of course), you
can certainly afford the up-front bribes that would prevent it —
and the sum total required would be appreciably smaller.

Mexicans
— even the good, hard-working, moral, Catholic family men and women
that every American employer hopes to hire — have been taught that
government, and even an appreciable chunk of social life, is run
on the mordida, the payoff.

The
illustrations, analysis, and documentation could fill a vast series
of scholarly books. I have often wondered why they have not been
written. Businessmen and Mexican nationals documented hundreds of
horror stories to me personally — as long as they remained secret.
Their businesses, even their lives, depended on it.

Even
the financial press has avoided the issue (and the Wall Street
Journal even invited a former Mexican president to join its
parent company's board. Is that why Bob Bartley keeps beating the
drum for evisceration of the border?) For years the prestige press
has avoided even the discussion of constant seizures of Mexican
property held by Americans, of commercial kidnappings (they'll laugh
at you in Mexico City if you wear a suit and hail an unknown cab
on the street), of blackmail by union thugs who plague the maquilladoras,
the thousands of American-owned enterprises near the U.S. border
in northern Mexico.

The
reader can draw his own conclusions. Whatever scholars and journalists
decide to do, let us asses what the average Mexican coming "illegally"
into the U.S. will do.

First
of all, we must underscore the fact that, as far as the illegal
Mexican is concerned, he is here "legally." That is, he
has paid all his bribes, to the coyote who spirited him across
the border, to the petty official in his hometown who would otherwise
plague his family, and to the contact in the U.S. who will supply
him with a false ID and bogus Social Security number. He has done
all this according to the only legal code he knows: playing the
system, and bribes. He is as legal as he knows how to be.

And
nobody here bothers to "upgrade" his conception of the
rule of law.

So
we see our newly-arrived neighbor and see an "illegal";
but what does he see, as he surveys his new home?

Diversity.
Multiculturalism. No demand, no suggestion, not even a mention of
the desirability of learning about, and adopting, the cultural preambles
of the politics of freedom — as foreign to him as Urdu is to you
and me — that form the building-blocks of the basic institutions
in his newly-adopted "land of the free."

Instead,
he finds entire industries (agriculture, hospitality, construction
come to mind) geared towards acquiring his services at low cost,
teaching him, in fact, how to "play the system" endlessly.
He learns to "disappear" just before the thirtieth day
on the job, that being the day he would be required to show a green
card (he plays tag-team with others in the same situation); he learns
to borrow identities, to "max out" on public and private
social services, to play the system any way he can. His wife comes
in (illegal, bribes paid all around) just in time to have her child
born, at U.S. taxpayer expense, at Loma Linda hospital, one of the
finest in the world. And now they are the proud parents of — A U.S.
citizen!

There
are thousands of vendors of lottery tickets walking the streets
of the Distrito Federal, known to us as Mexico City. But
it is our illegal friends, and their "legal" offspring,
who have won the lottery.

We
can only observe with arched eyebrows how "the system"
has responded to this abuse (from our point of view; remember, they
have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams). Instead of acting
to curtail it, American institutions have abdicated. They even encourage
it.

Brevity
being a virtue, I can mention only a few examples: The University
of California system suddenly raises the importance of the College
Board Achievement Tests, as opposed to the SAT's; this is a raw
and cynical move to defy the voters of California, who resoundingly
rejected affirmative action. Now, certain immigrants who would not
otherwise qualify for admission, ace the "achievement"
test in their native language, notably Spanish, and, bingo gringo,
they're in. An American-born, English-as-first-language applicant
(and applicants whose languages are not included in those tests)
are bounced for the one who knows how to play the system.

American
courts (for another example) rule that illegal aliens have all the
rights of American citizens before American courts, and cannot thus
be summarily deported because of their criminal records — domestic
or foreign.

American
private enterprises — entire industries, mind you — actually lobby
Congress for the right to hire these "illegals" without
changing (legalizing) their status. These enterprises will be in
for a rude surprise when they discover that the employee who harasses,
discriminates, or doesn't wash his hands, can make them liable for
millions of dollars in a class–action suit, while he immediately
becomes eligible for all the rights accorded to an American citizen
in his defense — and legal aid societies, unions, and professional
race-advocates suddenly emerge from the woodwork.

The
politically-correct "cultural diversity" encountered by
the newly-arrived neighbor is designed never to be penetrated by
any element of the religious, individualist, even (by today's standards)
libertarian culture that greeted my grandfather when he got off
the boat from Ireland. While the Feds pretend that is the case,
trotting out the symbols and myths of the old rituals, these artifacts
have actually been emptied of all content. It's reminds me of the
cynicism of Notre Dame, my alma mater, sending us old alums
reams of nostalgia-filled propaganda posing as a representation
of today's university, all as an adornment for fundraising appeals.
In fact, hundreds (thousands?) of universities like Notre Dame have
now become dependent on government largesse.

Similarly,
millions of newly-arrived immigrants have become dependent on government
largesse, from the day they arrive. The last vestige of "law
and order" is the agent on the border. Get past him (and try
enough, and you will — but you'll dearly pay a new coyote
every time), and you're home free.

This
impression is reinforced by President Bush's amnesty-and-more plan.
In fact (but hardly noticed), changing foreigners (who perpetrated
over three million "illegal" acts) into "legal"
aliens on the road to citizenship constitutes the greatest application
of the Presidential Pardon power in U.S. history.

By
making such a fundamental crime, millions of times over, "legal"
with the wave of a presidential pen, Bush 43 typifies the Mexicanization
of the U.S. political system. This is the way the PRI did things
for eighty years. That is the way of life — social, economic, cultural,
and political — that the Mexicans grew up under for five generations.
The rule of law is a decoration, an adornment on the Christmas tree
that our policy towards Mexico has become.

Mexicans,
by the way, call it the "Pin~ata."

So
here is the "contradiction," to return to Mao's phrase:
Our once-Mexican, now newly arrived neighbor, considers himself
legal because he has done everything "by the book" — that
book being the thoroughly rotten, corrupt, hypocritical, arrogant,
anti-American, anti-Catholic (but that's another story) government
and culture that he grew up in — the only book he knows.

He
might be puzzled, momentarily, that the U.S. has no institution,
book, or representative to tell him, "that's all behind you
now. We do things differently here. Now, let me give you the basics
of a free society, a government of the people, rulers who are not
above the law…." But his momentary puzzlement, brought on by
the innate "desire to know" that Aristotle discovered
and described at the beginning of the Metaphysics, succumbs
quickly to the practical challenges of everyday life.

So
our new neighbor goes forward, unawares that he, and perhaps five,
ten, even twenty million others, have so successfully and thoroughly
retained the marks of the culture that bore them, that the culture
receiving them has abdicated without firing a shot.

(Christopher
Manion, a small businessman and former staff director of the Senate
Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs, often
volunteers as a translator for the sheriff, game warden, and state
police when they conduct sweeps on the riverfront adjacent to his
home in the Shenandoah Valley).

July
19, 2001

Christopher
Manion [send him mail] is
a small businessman in Virginia, An adjunct lecturer at Christendom
College, he has taught ethics at Boston University and is a founding
member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars.

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