All Brown People are the Same; All Brown People are Potential Terrorists

I’ll just say up-front that I’m not always willing to go all the way with Brownfemipower.  I read her posts and I’m nodding along and, inevitably, there comes a point where I say, “Yep, here’s where I get off.  I was willing to follow you to this point, but now we must part ways.”

So, in the post I’m about to point you to, I’ll just say that it’s right about where she starts talking about how immigrants who want to find a way to stay in the country legally are not critical of just what they’re trying to assimilate into–that’s where I’m not sure I can go with her.

I want to say that upfront because I don’t want us to get distracted by it.

Often, I think, when we read radical thinkers, we search for that place where our path diverges from theirs and we argue over the split.  Why have they gone that way when I want to go this way?

That kind of thinking is useful for situating yourself in your own mind.

It is utterly useless when actually reading and considering radical thinkers’ points and discussing them.  I’m not interested in where we all think radicals have gone wrong.

I’m interested in what they can show us about the parts of the journey we are on together.

And America, that’swhat I think Brownfemipower is so brilliant about.

Watch this.

Almost nobody recognized or talked about the reason why these organizations gained such instant popularity. In a post 9-11 world, they had both taken the time to restructure their campaigns significantly–choosing to focus on the “desperate” situation at the border. The “desperate” situation being, of course, that thousands of Mexicans were crossing through unprotected parts of the border every year–thousands of Mexicans that could really be terrorists. The false desperation of the war on terror leaked into the border, creating a false desperation on the border that has justified everything from increased violence by border patrol agentsagainst border crossers and the building of our own wall.

You think she’s full of shit?

Look at this, talking about making it illegal to transport undocumented immigrants across the Tennessee state line:

An amendment filed by Rep. Rob Briley, D-Nashville, may exclude some people who are transporting immigrants for religious purposes as a defense. Briley said a number of religious denominations participate in missionary work that might be prosecutable under the proposed law.

Rep. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, said he thought that was a bad idea.

“Just curious, isn’t a jihad considered a religious purpose in some religions?” he asked, referring to the Arabic term used by some extremist Muslim and terrorist groups for “holy war.”

Do you see it?  Do you see how right Brownfemipower is?  My god, it makes me about have to take to my fainting couch in a swoon of “Holy shit.”

We’re not talking academics here.  This is no theoretical linking of Mexicans to terrorists, no university mumbo-jumbo.

This is a real line that folks like Campfield are drawing and folks like Brownfemipower are trying to draw our attention to.

Folks are literally conflating the “war on terror” with our immigration problem; conflating a bunch of Mexicans (and other Latin American folks) who come here to work and keep our country running with terrorists who want to kill folks.

Ha, and well there you go.  Just the other day Mack was all like “What purpose does it serve to continually bring up the very few illegal immigrants who drive drunk and kill people when talking about the immigration debate?”

Here’s the answer.  If we’re going to conflate Mexicans with terrorists, it’s made easier if we can lump them all together in the category of “Folks who come here and kill us.”

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33 thoughts on “All Brown People are the Same; All Brown People are Potential Terrorists

  1. Folks are literally conflating the “war on terror” with our immigration problem; conflating a bunch of Mexicans (and other Latin American folks) who come here to work and keep our country running with terrorists who want to kill folks.

    This has been going on in the Right side of the world for a long time now. Probably at least 5 years if I recall correctly.

    It’s one of the main reasons I–and others–are actively distancing ourselves from others who call themselves ‘conservative’.

    I have issues with immigration to be sure, and we’ve discussed them before.

    But this whole villification of The Dark has really skeeved me out. It’s got several components, so unless you’re reading a lot of right-wing stuff you may miss the overall message.

    It goes something like this:

    1. There are more Dark people than White People.
    2. The Dark people don’t know how to run a country very well.
    3. The Dark people are generally backward in their thinking.
    4. The Backward Dark People have a strange religion.
    5. The Backward Dark People want the good things that White People have made for themselves and are too stupid to get that in their own countries so they’re coming to ours to take away from us. By force, if necessary.

    People, when writing about what I have called (to myself) The Dark Catastrophe, generally only focus on one or two of these five aspects at a time. There are posts and articles about how White people need to have more babies. Or how Democracy just won’t work in some countries. Or how terrible the system of Sharia is. Or how drunk Mexicans kill people on our highways. Or how America is the Greatest Country ever.

    Those themes, when taken seperately seem innocuous. But when strung together you have the same old thinking from the days of Slavery–that fear that the “darkies” are going to rise up and murder all the good, decent White Folks.

    It’s one of the reasons I’m very careful to talk about things in terms of individualism and free will. Too much classification seems to have perpetuated this harmful train of thought.

  2. “Those themes, when taken seperately seem innocuous. But when strung together you have the same old thinking from the days of Slavery–that fear that the “darkies” are going to rise up and murder all the good, decent White Folks. ”

    Watch Planet of the Apes, especially the fourth one, and see into the mindset that has overcome many in our country.

    That being said, we must look at “the border” as an object in and of itself. If it is wide open, we have no way of knowing if only hardworking Mexicans and Canadians are getting through.

    We need to know who is getting through. We can’t do that now.

    Build impeneterable walls, with extremely large gates. Let everyone in who wants to come, but they must come through the door.

  3. I don’t have the time to comment on Slarti’s idea, so I’ll say that it has merit, and is much more “enlightened” than most I hear of.

    Kat is quite right, the Luntz driven language is there by design, and i was amused to see tancredo admit as much on television yesterday. Kat would argue that both sides do this, they both frame their arguments in ways that limit debate on the merits. However, the Right has invested unGodly amounts of time and resources toward this, and they are so much better at it. If I were to field a poll worded MY way, I could get the numbers to line up how I desire. Change a single word, sometimes, and it could go hard the other way. A lazy American populace needs a jingoistic approach with respect to taking in information. The Right saw this, and captured that hill long ago. When we are talking about policy regarding, I don’t know, taxes, or pork barrel spending, I don’t care that much. But basic human rights discussions must not be allowed to be reduced to slogans and strictly alarmist language.

    There were FOUR Planet of the Apes? Good Lord.

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  5. Only because I love it and it’s one of B’s categories…

    “America / you don’t really want to go to war / America, it’s them bad Russians / Them Russians, them Russians and then Chinamen / and them Russians / The Russia wants to eat us alive / The Russia’s power mad / she wants to take our cars / from out our garages / her wants to grab Chicago / her needs red Readers’s Digests’s / her wants our auto plants in Siberia / him big bureaucracy running our filling stations / that no good / ug! / him make Indian learn read / him need big black n****rs / ah! / her make us all work 16 hours a day / help!”

    In related news, I’m still waiting for the Law & Order immigration speech that will never be delivered.

  6. Slarti, though, can we really build impenetrable walls? First, the cost. Who’s paying for that? Second, doesn’t that just seem so unamerican? To me, it seems so East German. I mean, shoot, I’m no fan of Reagan, but who didn’t feel like something marvelous was happening when he was all “Tear down this wall.”

    I mean, isn’t there something just viscerally offensive about this?

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  8. Offensive? Yeah, but also silly as hell. Depending on which way the current pulls, a twenty-five yard swim would make you a felon under some bizarro reading of our immigration policy.

    I think the people who talk about walls (not metaphorically, as Slarti is doing, but actually…the Phil Valentines of the world, to take a jackass example) count on Americans not to actually visualize how these things work. Well, beyond the troubling Berlin Wall parallels (it should melt the head of former Cold Warriors that we’re even casually discussing such a migration control method), there’s also the Separation Wall erected at great expense in the West Bank. It’s one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever seen. Take a good look at these photos. Is this the kind of country you want to live in? Is this really how you want to treat other human beings?

    http://www.pbase.com/yalop/project

  9. You want walls and fences?

    Walls in Baghdad.

    http://news.yahoo.com/photos/ss/35/im:/070501/photos_lf/2007_04_30t081024_450x293_us_walls

    Fences in Morocco, put up by Spain to keep Africans from leaving for Europe. The new ones are made of razor wire. 700 men
    have been shot in the back in the last year trying to climb them.

    http://news.yahoo.com/photos/ss/35/im:/070501/photos_lf/2007_04_30t081157_450x291_us_walls

    In Belfast:

    http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/images/photos/belfast/peaceline/peaceline1.htm

    Walls don’t work. Walls create poverty, escalate violence. People learn to live with them (we humans can make beauty in the damnedest situations, growing vines over the razor wire that runs through our back yards…painting murals on them), but they are a piss-poor
    substitute for engagement and diplomatic effort.

    Some day we are going to be ashamed of the company we keep. Like North Korea. Like Iraq. Like Pakistan.

  10. Well, gosh, if everyone is going to be all reasonable about this, then I’ll have to play bad cop / devil’s advocate.

    The walls on our houses are not there merely to keep rain and wild animals out. If that were so, the doors in them would not have locks. We have walls and locks because, though we say that people should be able to own things and have private space, other people feel entitled or justified in taking those things or coming into that space. So we build walls and put locks on doors.

    Walls keep need and want at arms length. They do not create need and want, they prevent the satiation of needs and wants at the expense of those on the other side of the wall. It’s fair to say that walls and locks are unfortunate, and that we wish for a world where there is no want, or that wants can be fulfilled without having to compromise private ownership. It’s also fair to say that a wall is a sign of some kind of failure. And that reliance on walls to the exclusion of addressing wants themselves is shortsighted.

    But if walls and locks really didn’t work, we wouldn’t use them and we wouldn’t object to them. It is the very effectiveness of a wall of keeping the violence and poverty at a distance that makes it such a potent issue.

    It’s easy to want a world where a wall isn’t needed. It’s something else to leave your front door open at night.

  11. That last line could be misinterpreted. Let me clarify:

    It’s easy to want a world where no walls are needed. It’s something else to leave your front door open at night.

  12. La propriete, c’est le vol, dude. You are making a bad analogy by making one’s own possessions (private alienable property) analogous to a claim to national belonging — which might be a type of property interest, but it’s not alienable. In other words, you can’t sell it and no one can steal it from you. Therefore, you experience no harm when another person also claims national belonging.

    Swing, batter, swing. Strike one.

  13. The analogy isn’t intended to be between property and identity. Anyone who thinks walls have anything to do with defining identity is, granted, a nutcase.

    The intended analogy is more along these lines:

    People want walls to keep “the outsiders” out of their country, as they consider the space to belong, collectively, to them. People want walls to keep “the outsiders” out of their house, as they consider the space to belong, individually, to them.

    If we move from possessing space to the more economic possession of things, the analogy is less sound, but would go like this:

    People want walls to keep “the outsiders” from competing for jobs they feel are rightfully theirs. People want walls to keep “the outsiders” from taking the TVs and stereos they feel are rightfully theirs.

    I have a lot more problem with the second argument. Maybe something like estate taxes would be a better analogy, in that people inherit the ownership of certain things with economic value, and object when others try to claim them.

    What the devil is advocating here is that, many condemn walls that would keep poor immigrants out, while locking the doors on their own walls to keep the poor non-immigrants out.

    Anyway, must run and live-blog the horror-factor of the first Republican debate. I’ll check back to fine tune the analogy after. Gimme another pitch!

  14. Workers have no “right” to any particular job or class of jobs in a full-on capitalist marketplace. They might “feel” they do, and they might wish to tie the issue of jobs to national identity (imbuing their national identity with some sort of actual inalienable property value), but this will not stop capital from moving freely across national boundaries nor will it compel anyone to hire workers from the US at the rates they are accustomed to making. As you note, they are in competition for employment and that competition is a de facto global one. Businesses are fully capable of going whereever workers are willing to work for less and where the labor market offers comparable skill levels. Walls will not stop that. Capital need not be reinvested where it is made. Walls won’t stop that either. It would seem to me that the better approach would be to quit persecuting other opportunity-seekers and try to “wall up” those who make a assload of money but pay nearly no taxes and do not reinvest.

    Steeeee-rike two. (If I were you, I’d head for the “yeah, but our workers pay taxes and stuff and illegal immigrants don’t and that’s a big ripoff”…which is where you might get some traction with the “stealing our stuff” house analogy.)

  15. Ick. I need a shower now. The Republican debate (at least the last 30 minutes) can be summarized as “hey it’s us or Clinton and Pelosi and Reid”… did I mention Clinton… boy don’t we hate Clinton?

    But seeing the candidates try to decide whether to raise their hands when asked if they believed in evolution, wow man. Wow.

  16. Hey ump, that one was outside!

    Fun fun. I’m torn between discussing the issue itself (which I sense you are trying to do), and clarifying the moral point the Devil is advocating.

    I’ll try the moral again, then shift to the debate.

    If a monk says, Come my brother, sleep in my bed, eat my food, what is mine is yours, the Devil is mute. One who covets nothing for themselves has moral standing to question why others would try to protect what they feel they own (with walls if necessary). Important point: from a moral standpoint, it does not matter whether anyone agrees that they own it. Without accepting that point, the argument goes no further. The question is, if one feels the right to erect walls around what one feels one owns, can one (a) stand in moral judgement of others who in turn erect walls to protect what they feel is theirs, and (b, and more to the original point) state that walls are inherently wrong and ineffective?

    If our protagonist says “I own this bedroom, this television” and then builds a wall to keep others away, locks doors, etc, can they turn around and say “walls are wrong, walls do not work”? Granted they can say “you there should not put a wall around that, you do not really own it, and the wall will have bad effects.” But for one to say walls per se are bad, or do not work… would seem to be contradicted by the mere fact that the one intentionally employs walls (through locks) on a daily basis. If we truly do not believe in the effectiveness or morality of walls, why close the front door and lock it?

    Here’s the other subtlety that may be lost in text: The “moral critique” of the devil’s advocate does *not* imply that walls are good. If anything, the Devil is far happier if walls are in fact terribly immoral. This would imply that while our minds/souls detect the inherent injustice of walls, our animal/physical nature understands that the unjust world has at some level worked in our favor, and we are not willing to surrender that advantage.

    Bluntness is in order here. The argument is not that walls are good. The argument is that walls are bad, but we all use walls, and only choose to see the walls that others use. The walls that protect our own stuff aren’t walls, and are justified anyway. But walls that protect other people’s stuff, we notice those. And we notice those on the outside of such walls, and the wall seems vulgar. This is doubly so when the wall climbers save us money and only threaten someone else’s job.

    So the points are: walls do work, and moral stones we cast at wall builders may fly from glass houses.

    Now the philosophical/practical debate. The first question is whether it reasonable to feel that a non-citizen in another country is equivalent to a guest in someone’s house. I think that is reasonable, by which I mean I can understand how someone would feel that way. I know people who do feel that way. They think America is like a big country club that they were born with access to. Maybe they envy the other, richer, kids, but at the end of the day they know the club walls benefit them. They feel the economic opportunity of America is their birthright.

    These Americans might admit that it isn’t fair that life gave them a better birthright than the Guatemalans or Zimbabweans. But they also see the better-off Americans buying bigger TVs and coffee from Starbucks. They hear people say, in effect, “I bought cheap goods from overseas to help the poor of the world, why don’t you give them your job.” And these workers say “F*** you, what about community, patriotism, loyalty… you should be ashamed for not helping your neighbors first… you are shipping jobs overseas and buying foreign goods not out of charity but out of greed. I can be greedy, too… I will shame you for the hardship your choices are causing me.”

    Bridgett said that “workers have no ‘right’ to any particular job or class of jobs…”, though “they might ‘feel’ they do.” This is based on invoking a full-on capitalist marketplace. While I might personally agree, I think this makes the argument uninteresting. What I mean is, the actual debate the country is having is over what kind of marketplace we should have, and whether and how people are entitled to protect their rights in that system. If you start with the assumption that there are no rights or entitlements, then sure the solution is easy… but many of those in the debate won’t even accept the starting premise.

    Personally, I happen to be of the free trade perspective. I love immigration, and wish we’d increase the legal limits significantly. I think diversity is critical to the success and future health of this country, especially given its enormous influence on the world. But I’m also aware that I benefit enormously from immigration, and it costs me nothing personally. And I do lock my doors at night. So I can’t convince myself that, if I were a construction worker in the housing industry, I wouldn’t see the world differently. And I feel in no position to judge those who do.

    Now, do I at least get a foul ball for that?

  17. People want walls to keep “the outsiders” from competing for jobs they feel are rightfully theirs. People want walls to keep “the outsiders” from taking the TVs and stereos they feel are rightfully theirs.

    Err. That’s actually what locks are for. The walls define the space, prop up the bookshelves and keep out the elements. The walls are, well.. the walls are the house. Doors are the mechanism by which things and people transition in and out of the house, and locks are the mechanisms by which we control the flow of people and/or goods.

    Expanding the analogy further just kind of hurts. One could read it to support either of you, at this point.. but I did want to clarify that point, since it doesn’t actually match up, purpose-wise or otherwise.

    If our protagonist says “I own this bedroom, this television” and then builds a wall to keep others away, locks doors, etc, can they turn around and say “walls are wrong, walls do not work”? Granted they can say “you there should not put a wall around that, you do not really own it, and the wall will have bad effects.” But for one to say walls per se are bad, or do not work… would seem to be contradicted by the mere fact that the one intentionally employs walls (through locks) on a daily basis. If we truly do not believe in the effectiveness or morality of walls, why close the front door and lock it?

    Okay, I lied. Given my annoyance with specifically equating walls with ownership, I can’t actually take the argument much further in the Devil’s direction. The concept of ownership and the concept of protection are connected, true… but distinct. Walls denote ownership, and do supply protection, but have uses beyond mere protection from theft. In the house-building analogy, walls are used for the psychological creation of ‘people space’ and for shelter from the elements, even in cultures that do not hew as explicitly to the concept of personal property (especially in the case of land) as we do.

    And I do think that taking the argument to categorical statements of “walls are bad” or “walls do not work” is… slightly missing the point, both in the issues of scale and type (house walls vs. boundary fences vs. border walls), and in the thrust of the argument. I think the true thrust of the argument is closer to your second formulation – that it isn’t right (read: “correct” or “useful”) for this purpose, and in this context may not be morally right at all, and may/might/will probably have bad effects. Although I have heard people claiming (sloppily) that walls are bad, my perception is that such arguments are actually focused in this direction, and merely omit the situational qualifiers. I don’t think anyone is seriously arguing that walls-as-a-concept are bad, but rather (at most extreme) that border-walls-as-a-concept are bad, and/or that (more moderately, but far more convincingly to my ears) border-walls-as-a-concept-aren’t-going-to-fix-the-problems-they’re-being-posed-as-solutions-to.

    That, actually, is my biggest issue with the concept. While I think it’s reprehensible, given the historical context in which such things have been deployed and the type of rhetoric most loudly used to support it (keep out the barbarians!)… my revulsion in that respect is quite secondary to the screaming systems builder in me insisting: “But it doesn’t work that way!”

    It’s a lot like airplane security. Some degree is certainly useful. Preventing people from carrying projectile weapons, dangerous biological or chemical substnces, or explosive devices on pressurized tin cans hurtling through the sky is clearly a good thing. Likewise, one might concede that it’s a good idea to keep really long knives, large bladed objects, and unloaded weapons in checked luggage, merely to avoid the possibilty of panic, if nothing else.

    But… there is certainly an issue of diminishing returns to consider. Taking away my nail clippers isn’t going to do much for the overall safety of the plane. Anyone with a modicum of anatomical understanding and a strong stomach could kill a person with a pencil. Anyone with training in a number of disciplines could kill a person with their bare hands/feet/elbows. Most importantly, there are no thought police; anyone with sufficient money, time, and acting skill can find their way through pilot training and into control of a very big flying projectile. A person who is truly determined to cause harm (and who has access to resources) is not going to be deterred.

    The same is true with the border walls. There is no perfect security. Border walls would keep out a lot of people, true. It would be much harder for poor people who want to work here to do so without jumping through whatever hoops we put here. But as long as the walls are guarded by people, they will never be completely sealed. Walls are imminently susceptible to breach from the inside. Anyone with any interest in castle warfare can think of half a dozen stories to support that. People can be bribed, threatened, tricked.

    More importantly, they won’t keep out the ones that really want to hurt us. Bad People™ with money and resources and nice clean records (real or faked) can take all the time they need to wrangle whatever labrynthine process we put in place to let people in. None of us are safer. And Bad Companies™ will either buy their labor straight off a container ship, or bribe guards to let people in, or just build a shiny new factory right on the other side of that wall. No jobs get saved this way. The economy doesn’t get better. Labor practices don’t get any better. All we’ve done is waste a lot of money, labor and time on a wall, and made the problems less visible.

    If I thought a wall would solve any of these problems, I might consider stomaching my distaste for it. But it won’t work. It’s not practical.

  18. No objections to anything magniloquence says here, and thanks for the really thoughtful treatment. I’d like to put the comments about the diminishing returns of walls on a billboard. I’d repeat a dozen other examples to emphasize the extent of my agreement but they wouldn’t add to the discussion.

    I do think the house analogy is more sound than is given credit. There are communities where people don’t lock their doors, and neighbors can just walk right in. The walls of a house may delineate the space, but the walls don’t necessarily act as barriers to people entering. Not if there are open doors.

    That’s the sense in which I think the lock equates to a border wall. People want to use a border wall in the same way that we as individuals use locks on our doors. Not to delineate the space, but to keep others out of the space. They want to lock non-citizens out of the space, only allowing in those to whom we’ve given keys.

    I prefer the kind of world I grew up in, where we didn’t worry with locking the house or car doors, where people generally knocked, but if they didn’t it was just a happier surprise when they called to you from the living room. The nation can be like that too… with borders defining the space, but without locks on the open doors. Inviting people in to be guests, to pick up a broom and help do some work, help themselves to the lemonade.

    But I keep coming back to the fact that I do lock my doors, and I didn’t use to. I know I don’t have to. Do I really think there are enough Bad People™ out there that I have to lock the good ones out, too? Have I attained so much more wealth than those around me that I have to worry about keeping their poverty away from me?

    That’s the main question I’d love to get moral guidance on from those who object to walls on principle. How is the fact that I now lock my door not morally equivalent to what the build-a-wall crowd is trying to do? (Even the practical effectiveness part has parallels… taxes spent on home security systems and gated communities and police and jails… all so we can keep our money.)

    To magniloquence, your comments are particularly relevant here. While walls aren’t just for keeping people out (they hold up the roof), locks are specifically intended to keep people out. So are border walls. If one is morally different from the other, does that depend on saying that individuals should be entitled to keep people out of their individual space (house), but groups should not be able to have “group space” they can keep people out of? I.e. there are individual rights and universal rights, but groups in between do not enjoy special group rights? I can see a moral argument along these lines, but it would raise interesting questions about, e.g. private country clubs (Members Only!).

  19. I think the problem with the individual/group/country property rights is at least partially one of agreement. When I lock my door, that’s my choice. Other people in the house can unlock it, and we could talk about it, but within reason,* the choice to lock or unlock a door is congruent with the will of the people inside. When you get to groups as large as a country, the “agreement” issue becomes necessarily more complicated. That doesn’t mean that it’s wrong if not everyone agrees, but it does make evaluating the relative rightness of something a lot more difficult.

    The other issue, for me, is that the moral valence of an action ties in pretty closely with the actual, on the ground implications of the act. Locking the door of my house, under normal circumstances,** isn’t going to keep anyone out that I want in, and has a reasonable chance of keeping out the people who want to harm me. In general, no one is going to die as a result of my actions. Locking my door is, as far as it goes, a relatively safe action with a strong and direct impact that helps me and doesn’t hurt other people, and does what it is supposed to do.

    Building a wall won’t do what people claim it will do, it will hurt a lot of other people, on both sides of the wall (even if we argue that “well, they shouldn’t have [tried to come into this country/left their families behind/lost their student visa/been born in the wrong place],” that still won’t change the fact that they are, indeed, hurt), will divert resources that could have been used for [better/more important/less harmful/more effective... take your pick] purposes, has the potential to create even worse/more abusive/less humane circumstances as a result…and so on and so forth. While the act of building a wall – even one around a country – when taken in the abstract, may not have much moral force either way… building this wall, for these reasons, in this place and time, does have a moral valence, and for me that is not a positive one.

    I think that’s one thing that people forget, when they try to reduce things to just “building a wall” or “protecting the borders.” I love abstract thinking as much as the next person, and y’all know I can turn just about any argument into an academic circle jerk… but when it comes down to “should we do this?”, you have to consider what is actually going to happen, here and now, and whether that fallout is acceptable or not. Those things. more than anything else I can think of, determine to me whether I can call something “right” or not.

    YMMV, of course.

    (And now, I have a big report thing due for work, so I really need to stop procrastinating here and hop to it. Replies to things here will probably slow a bit.)

    * Here assuming that we’re all unarmed adults with the same relative power; roommates instead of parent/child etc. One can make an argument that the hierarchy is important to the analogy, but even if you bring it in, absent some severely fucked up situations, the kids can open the doors if they feel strongly enough about the issue. Which… is about where we hit the end of the usefulness of a metaphor. It’s not supposed to be exact, though.

    ** Here “normal” taken to be non-emergency situations, and to bar those specifically crafted to create exceptions. Obviously, if I lock my kid out while they’re having a siezure and desperately need their medication, the situation is different. But that’s what I mean about the moral and the practical going together.

  20. Trying to be brief:

    1. Roommates is good analogy. Fighting over rules for how many people get invited to the party, who gets to sleep over, etc.

    2. Roommates agree on rules. Being anal about the rules is usually a jackass thing to do, but if at some level we don’t respect the right of people to insist on democratically chosen house rules, then the house becomes a very unpleasant place to live.

    Building a wall is an anal jackass thing to do. And I think the house rules suck. But I sympathize with those who are pissed that we all agreed the house rules (boyfriends can’t sleep over) and then ignored them. If we want to let people sleep over then change the rules and I’ll vote for them. If we don’t change the rules, it’s unhelpful and unfair to call the assholes who want a wall, “Asshole.”

    (I also still have the moral dilemma about locking my door, but I’ll leave that.)

  21. Why do brown people insist on bringing boom boxes, coolers full of beer, and shopping carts full of garbage to the public beaches of Long Island? If our beaches are cleaner it’s because we don’t bring mountains of garbage and 30 relatives with us. The browns at the beach always manage to get in my face by playing ball or frisbee over my head. I get kicked with sand or hit with a frisbee and have to move. I wouldn’t dare ask the hostile browns to please move their games or lower their salsa for fear of being attacked. Why don’t you go to the beaches that are already brown instead of trying to make all public spaces just like your own? If brown people like to live life loud, dirty, and obnoxious, go where the people are brown instead of going where we go. Don’t steal my space by imposing your culture on me. When I stop being the victim of your hostility I will stop feeling hostile towards you.

  22. Sylvia ZS–you’ll be happy to learn that there are many white folks who share your concerns. You are not alone. You, too, can join the Klan or the Neo-Nazis and sit around and bitch about how brown people are ruining this country. Maybe if you’re lucky, they’ll even give you your very own white robe to wear. It’d really be best for everyone. You will have a community of like-minded bigots to share your depravity with and the rest of us will have fair warning to give your dangerous, evil ass wide berth.

  23. I, for one, object to the generalization of “brown people”, as I am clearly more of a mocha. That is, of course, until I gather up my 30 cousins, head to the local whites only beach, and then bake myself into a lovely caramel color. Brown is bland. I, like so many of my fellow invaders, have a master plan already set in motion,(a rather rhythmic motion, I might add) to breed as much whiteness off the planet as possible. I have done more than my part. I suppose at some point, we will have to designate certain beaches for those possessing a high desert tan. By the way, Sylvia, I know you made that whole story up, since we think frisbee is a dog’s sport, though we understand why white people play it, as they lack the coordination necessary to play soccer.

  24. Sylvia, at the risk of backlash for taking your complaints seriously, I’d ask you to remember three things:

    1) Yes, there are some cultural differences. But a lot has more to do with background, social and economic status, etc, than with a general racial culture. I grew up in a very working class (white) family in a small town. We had lots of cousins. We were 15 minutes from the Gulf of Mexico. We’d be out there, lots of us, rowdy kids, and we loved frisbee. You tend to go to public places when you don’t have money to go to malls and cinemas. When we were in high school, we’d cruise the strip at the beach with the music up. Some of the local business owners didn’t like it, the made it harder to cruise and park, etc. Here’s the point: When they complained, they complained about the kids, not about the whites. There are lots of traits to people… be careful about defaulting to the racial trait to explain bad behavior and the non-racial traits to explain the good ones.

    2) You get more with honey than vinegar. If there is a big group (of whatever characteristics) and you want them to be considerate of you, make an effort to be friendly. If they are trying to have fun at the beach and they sense they are being scowled at, it’s natural to return antagonism. If you get hit with the frisbee, smile and throw it back and say “nice try”. They may invite you to join. You may get new friends and free beer. In any event, they’ll probably apologize next time an errant throw goes your way. They may even ask if you’d like them to move. But you’ve got to show that you are friendly first.

    3) My wife is a brown lady in a quiet suburb of London who has a new white neighbor who moved in and has loud raucous parties into the wee hours. Another neighbor called the police and almost got beaten up and has since moved out of the neighborhood. I’ve spoken to the local borough council. I don’t assume her Aryan genetics or melanin levels have anything to do with her boorish behavior. Some people are assholes. And everyone who knows wonderful brown people will tend think you are an ignorant bigot if you generalize so over-broadly about people while assuming a tone of entitlement.

    Just sayin’.

  25. Jebbo has two things here, one, dispense truly helpful advice, and the other is to make me look all petty for my sarcasm. Nicely done. ;)

  26. …though we understand why white people play it, as they lack the coordination necessary to play soccer.

    I’ll put up West Germany’s four World Cup wins against Mexico’s ZERO wins any day of the week, pendejo.

    Even the Limeys have more World Cup wins. It doesn’t get any whiter than that.

  27. I’d go with Brazil, myself. 5 wins, and another two or three final appearances…but everyone knows that there are no brown people in Brazil. (Just look at their census.)

  28. Yay, that wasn’t so hard.

    Now if we all agree the “brown is not a class” part, we’ll be sipping wine and singing David Allan Coe together. (And after the 3rd glass there will be stories about “that uncle” that *every* family has, regardless of class.)

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