And Us and Them.
“You’re about to graduate into a complex and borderless world,” Secretary of State John Kerry recently enthused to the graduating class at Northeastern University. He didn’t sound envious, though, perhaps because Kerry himself doesn’t live in such a world. If he did, he never would have moved his 76-foot luxury yacht from Boston Harbor across the state border to Rhode Island in order to avoid $500,000 in sales taxes and assorted state and local taxes.
While elites can build walls or switch zip codes to insulate themselves, the consequences of their policies fall heavily on the nonelites who lack the money and influence to navigate around them. The contrast between the two groups—Peggy Noonan described them as the “protected” and the “unprotected”—was dramatized in the presidential campaign of Jeb Bush. When the former Florida governor called illegal immigration from Mexico “an act of love,” his candidacy was doomed. It seemed that Bush had the capital and influence to pick and choose how the consequences of his ideas fell upon himself and his family—in a way impossible for most of those living in the southwestern United States. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg offers another case study. The multibillionaire advocates for a fluid southern border and lax immigration enforcement, but he has also stealthily spent $30 million to buy up four homes surrounding his Palo Alto estate. They form a sort of no-man’s-land defense outside his own Maginot Line fence, presumably designed against hoi polloi who might not share Zuckerberg’s taste or sense of privacy. Zuckerberg’s other estate in San Francisco is prompting neighbors’ complaints because his security team takes up all the best parking spaces. Walls and border security seem dear to the heart of the open-borders multibillionaire—when it’s his wall, his border security.
This self-serving dynamic operates beyond the individual level as well. “Sanctuary cities,” for instance, proclaim amnesty for illegal aliens within their municipal boundaries. But proud as they are of their cities’ disdain for federal immigration law, residents of these liberal jurisdictions wouldn’t approve of other cities nullifying other federal laws. What would San Franciscans say if Salt Lake City declared the Endangered Species Act null and void within its city limits, or if Carson City unilaterally suspended federal background checks and waiting periods for handgun purchases? Moreover, San Francisco and Los Angeles do believe in clearly delineated borders when it comes to their right to maintain a distinct culture, with distinct rules and customs. Their self-righteousness aside, sanctuary cities neither object to the idea of borders nor to their enforcement—only to the notion that protecting the southern U.S. border is predicated on the very same principles.
Even the most adamant ethnic chauvinists who want to erase the southern border assume that some sort of border is central to their own racial essence. The National Council of La Raza (“the race”; Latin, radix) is the largest lobbying body for open borders with Mexico. Yet Mexico itself supports the idea of boundaries. Mexico City may harp about alleged racism in the United States directed at its immigrants, but nothing in U.S. immigration law compares with Mexico’s 1974 revision of its “General Law of Population” and its emphasis on migrants not upsetting the racial makeup of Mexico—euphemistically expressed as preserving “the equilibrium of the national demographics.” In sum, Mexican nationals implicitly argue that borders, which unfairly keep them out of the United States, are nonetheless essential to maintaining their own pure raza.
Mexico, in general, furiously opposes enforcing the U.S.–Mexican border and, in particular, the proposed Trump wall that would bar unauthorized entry into the U.S.—not on any theory of borders discourse but rather because Mexico enjoys fiscal advantages in exporting its citizens northward, whether in ensuring nearly $30 billion in remittances, creating a powerful lobby of expatriates in the U.S., or finding a safety valve for internal dissent. Note that this view does not hold when it comes to accepting northward migrations of poorer Central Americans. In early 2016, Mexico ramped up its border enforcement with Guatemala, adding more security forces, and rumors even circulated of a plan to erect occasional fences to augment the natural barriers of jungle and rivers. Apparently, Mexican officials view poorer Central Americans as quite distinct from Mexicans—and thus want to ensure that Mexico remains separate from a poorer Guatemala.
I also note that not one of those La Raza creeps—oh, so very “proud” of their Mexican heritage, mind—seems to have the slightest desire to go back and live in their beloved “homeland,” presumably the wellspring of all that racist “pride.”
And yes, this brilliant VDH piece is related to that “larger thoughts” post I mentioned the other day. I’m working on that one, I promise; as usual, I have way more stuff I want to write about than I do time to write about it all.