Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Great conservative thinkers: Edmund Burke. Michael Oakeshott. Kim Jong Il.

There's a popular anonymous anti-immigration rant that's been popping up all over in comment sections, chain emails and the like since the controversy over Arizona's recent immigration legislation heated up that I can only describe as "stupid even by chain email ALL CAPS political rant standards." There are a few slight variants of it, but here's the most common version of it I've seen:

LET ME SEE IF I GOT THIS RIGHT.

IF YOU CROSS THE NORTH KOREAN BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU GET 12 YEARS HARD LABOR.
IF YOU CROSS THE IRANIAN BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU ARE DETAINED INDEFINITELY.
IF YOU CROSS THE AFGHAN BORDER ILLEGALLY, YOU GET SHOT.
IF YOU CROSS THE SAUDI ARABIAN BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU WILL BE JAILED.
IF YOU CROSS THE CHINESE BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU MAY NEVER BE HEARD FROM AGAIN.
IF YOU CROSS THE VENEZUELAN BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU WILL BE BRANDED A SPY AND YOUR FATE WILL BE SEALED.
IF YOU CROSS THE CUBAN BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU WILL BE THROWN INTO POLITICAL PRISON TO SUFFER.

IF YOU CROSS THE U.S. BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU GET
* A JOB,
* A DRIVERS LICENSE,
* SOCIAL SECURITY CARD,
* WELFARE,
* FOOD STAMPS,
* CREDIT CARDS,
* SUBSIDIZED RENT OR A LOAN TO BUY A HOUSE,
* FREE EDUCATION,
* FREE HEALTH CARE,
* A LOBBYIST IN WASHINGTON
* BILLIONS OF DOLLARS WORTH OF PUBLIC DOCUMENTS PRINTED IN YOUR LANGUAGE
* THE RIGHT TO CARRY YOUR COUNTRY'S FLAG WHILE YOU PROTEST THAT YOU DON'T GET ENOUGH RESPECT

I JUST WANTED TO MAKE SURE I HAD A FIRM GRASP ON THE SITUATION.
To review, the anonymous author condemns American immigration policy by negatively comparing it to such role models as:

Three Communist dictatorships, one of which is probably the most oppressive society on the planet.

Two barely-out-of-the-Iron-Age theocracies where the governments whip, imprison, and execute gays, flog rape victims, and trap teenage girls in burning buildings so they don't appear outside with their heads exposed.

One barely-out-of-the-Bronze-Age war zone where the elites and their enforcers spend their time raping and sexually enslaving young boys with government approval.

One tottering democratic regime in a country with a history of authoritarian rule and a president who is surpressing opposition speech and media through a combination of both legal and illegal intimidation, nationalizing the economy, and accruing dictatorial powers.

I've become accustomed to hearing conservatives point out the draconian practices of some foreign country to make something the United States government has done, or that they'd like it to do, seem comparatively minor and therefore OK. It's a ridiculous argument, but at least saying things like "You act like waterboarding is such a big deal, but in Insert Hellish Despotism Here they whip and electrocute people" implies that the practices of whichever hellish despotism is being mentioned are, in fact, bad. This has has to be the first time I've seen the "what the U.S. does isn't as harsh as what Iran and North Korea do" argument used as a criticism of the United States.


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2 comments:

Scott said...

While I'm loathe to "defend" conservatives, I think you're maybe missing the point a bit. I don't think they're really saying that because those communist countries do it, that makes it OK to do here.

The way I read it is that they're throwing the moral equivalency argument right back in to liberals' faces. How many times do we hear liberals say that the USA should be more like the rest of the world? Liberals are constantly using argumentum ad populum to determine moral legitimacy: "most of the rest of the world has abandonded the death penalty, but the US still has it" or "the rest of the world has signed on to the Kyoto protocol, but the US won't". Well, here's us being more like the rest of the world, and they're the ones screaming loudest against it.

Regardless of my personal feelings about immigration, liberals should love that argument, as they use it themselves all the time.

victormilan said...

Congratulations for saying exactly what I thought when I first saw that all-caps classic!

Should it really surprise us, though, that the nation on Earth conservatives most want the US to emulate is North Korea?