Saturday, August 08, 2009

Who shall guard the Guardians

I can only speak for myself, to be sure, but it seems to me that anyone with any sense of history and the slightest degree of rational paranoia felt a distinct chill when Bush announced the formation of The Department of Homeland Security, with it's eerie resonance to the Fascist "Fatherland" and the Stalinist "Motherland."

Note that both Stalinist and Fascist states have one thing in common - a certain disdain for human rights and dignity when any particular person or idea is thought to be a threat to the state, for whatever reason, by whatever pinhead happens to be wearing the jackboots.

It was no real surprise to me that the response of Homeland Security was lackadaisical in response to Hurricane Katrina, or that in absorbing FEMA (which was arguably one of the two most competent agencies involved), they had effectively short-circuited it, in favor of not helping non-white and therefore non-deserving people.

But if you want, there are more recent examples of what the real meaning of "homeland security" is, in the words and deeds of those on the ground, wearing the jackboots. I've never been much of a believer in fine words when there are actual deeds to be seen and performance metrics to be evaluated.

It's even more telling that this story comes to us via the New York Times.

After federal border agents detained several Mexican immigrants in western New York in June, an article about the incident in a local newspaper drew an onslaught of vitriolic postings on its Web site. Some were racist. Others attacked farmers in the region, an apple-growing area east of Rochester, accusing them of harboring illegal workers. Still others made personal attacks about the reporter who wrote the article.

Most of the posts were made anonymously. But in reviewing the logs of its Internet server, the paper, The Wayne County Star in Wolcott, traced three of them to Internet protocol addresses at the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees border protection.

Homeland Security started an investigation into the posts this month, according to the reporter, Louise Hoffman-Broach, and Richard M. Healy, the Wayne County district attorney. A spokeswoman for the federal agency’s inspector general said she could neither confirm nor deny an investigation; department rules prohibit the use of office equipment for the personal transmission of material that could offend fellow employees or the public.

Coming on the eve of the apple harvest season, the Web posts and the investigation — first reported this week on The Star’s Web site — have ratcheted up longstanding tensions in Wayne County, where farmers and laborers have accused immigration officials of using heavy-handed tactics like racial profiling and arbitrary or unjustified detentions.

Such tactics, the farmers say, have scared Hispanic farm workers from the region just as growers are preparing for the harvest.

Representative Dan Maffei, who represents the area in Congress, said the allegations of overaggressive immigration enforcement, coming from a wide range of constituents, were “of extreme concern.”
Of course, the thugs that landowners employ to keep the workforces in line and content with whatever pittance they are given have, historically never been quite so tolerant of nuance as their employers. They aren't breaking heads in order to secure labor at an acceptable price, they are doing so because they hate Mexicans. They took the job because it would permit them to abuse "Illegals" with impunity - and as the article goes on to observe, they have a tendency to presume that even documented Mexicans are presumed illegal until long after they are abused, detained and no doubt subjected to whatever amuses such racist fuckheads.

But here's the bottom line, America. You have the cheapest food supply in the world PRECISELY because so much of the labor involved is performed by "illegals." So, put up or shut up. Pay producers enough so that they can afford LEGAL wages - and yeah, it's a fact of life that a farm that employs legals and pays union wages CANNOT compete with a farm that does not. That, or accept that you are willing and indeed cheerful eating burgers produced by slave labor kept docile by the friendly folks at ICE. Because, that's exactly what it is, why it's their and the end to which Bush and agrabiz agreed it to be.

All the talk about curbing "illegal" immigration was ginned up to gain support for the existence of said jackbooted thugs stomping around and "defending the nation." Selectively. When the occasion warrants. Say, when a farmer or a rancher says something deemed "inappropriate" by the local Rotary Club leadership.

You see, ICE only has about a thousand field agents. That's a ridiculously low number to deal with the actual problem that we are told exists. But it's just the right size for a flying goon squad. More than enough to turn a town or small city upside down. It's just the right size to punish the fuck out of people. Of course, to confirm your suspicion, you would also look to the institutional culture. What does the group itself think it's actual mandate is, whatever it's fine-sounding mission statement might be?

And for that - well, we have the words of the jackbooted thugs themselves.

The article about the arrests, posted on June 16, led to a torrent of angry Web postings. One, sent from a fake e-mail address, said, “watcha doing to mi wifey, no checky her papeles. she no legal, but she havey benifit card.”

A response, which carried a Homeland Security Internet protocol address, read: “That sounds like my boyfriend. Leave him alones and get your own. My boyfriend works sometimes but he is really good at getting FREE benefits from the Federal and State government.”

Another post, apparently sent from a separate computer linked to Homeland Security, read in part: “These farmers have a problem because the gravy train that they were riding for soooooo long is being brought to light.”

The newspaper removed the posts. It also reported that it had discovered others, dating to last year, that appeared to have come from computers affiliated with Homeland Security.
Who will guard you from such Guardians, eh? Can you PROVE your papers are not fake? Hell, I go by Papa Heinlein's dictate - whenever a government starts requiring you to carry identity papers, it's time to leave. This sort of thing, and the implicit threat that it makes against anyone, was one of my personal decision points. I did leave, so for me the answer is "The Crown, in the form of Canadian Customs and Immigration." But then, I'm a lucky sod. I was born here, so my support, as a dual citizen of the US constitution was always a matter of choice.

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