Saturday, October 20, 2018

The Caravan

The image which most people have of a caravan doesn't include a battalion of renegades intent upon destruction. Yet to listen to the words of many Republicans that is precisely what we're up against:

"The caravan of about 4,000 migrants from Central America seeking to enter Mexico and then the United States illegally is attempting to invade and attack the United States. This caravan attack is the right place to draw the line and say “no more.” Congress should come back and pass the laws that would enable Americans to re-establish the rule of law at the border and protect our country with dignity and authority. If you want to defend America, let your House member and senators know how you feel."

by Newt Gingrich/Fox News

As a Canadian - and therefore a person blessed to be living in a great country such as the United States of America - the issue of invasion is not one without import even if the likelihood is for the moment at least more philosophic than real.  How Canadians would react to similar rhetoric about migrants is probably not much different - which is not to say that Canadians or Americans oppose immigrants but rather that the topic is potentially incendiary. I have always maintained that the purported liberality of Canadians is far less substantive than Canadians might realize or are upon examination prepared to admit.  The plain fact is that until one has had to experience the reality of the matter - that is, until one actually lives the condition - it is far easier to remain aloof and generous.  For the most part - except in the huge metropolises of MontrĂ©al, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver - Canadians live an isolated existence so I don't pretend to have an entirely legitimate view upon a broader urban vernacular.

Having said that, I can speak with some authority about the value of travel and association with people from other countries. In addition, for whatever reason, I flatter myself to think that I can imagine the best in most people, whatever their gender, age, colour or education.  And perhaps more importantly I consider it instinctive that people want to work, to produce, to lead productive lives and to improve themselves.  Granted I haven't any practical knowledge of mercenary warriors but I am satisfied to consider that particular group an anomaly.  Certainly an image of poor people, women and children doesn't readily engender such horror or weaponized calculation.

If one were to prefer statistics in the settlement of these potentially purely human miseries, I fully suspect that apart from Fox News' suggestion that the caravans will in time only increase in size is a red herring. For example the number of people who daily cross the Canada/US border probably far exceeds 4,000 people.  To characterize the disadvantaged migrants as bums and infidels is probably nothing short of comical (as far as accuracy goes). What is more credible is that they will do whatever it takes to work for a living and improve their lot, as any number of other immigrants have historically done. Remember too that this is not the first time Americans have attacked immigrants (the Irish following the famine; the Germans following the war).

To suppose that everyone must be like me is absurd. In fact in a small way I have undergone my own exposure to both racism and prejudice. And I can tell you - if you haven't had to endure it - it is an extremely debilitating sense. It is impossible to understand the reason for the assault which seems motivated by ulterior elements which have nothing to do with oneself.

The current political climate in the United States (and regrettably in many other parts of Europe) involves a purported conflict between liberals and conservatives.  This in my opinion is a gross distortion of a more complicated debate. Certainly the polarization of thought permits politicians to simplify their personal agenda and maybe inflame their "base" accordingly but it misses the mark of both intelligence and pragmatism. To equate violence with "dignity and authority" is low-level windiness.  And until Newt Gingrich and his cronies do more than assert that the current caravan is the promotion of some unnamed malicious source I have difficulty accepting the proposition.  It is at best another ingredient of fear mongering solely for political advantage and does nothing to advance either the country or humanity. It also bears noting that it is immeasurably damning  that the President of the United States of America feels compelled to make himself appear taller in the eyes of those who are generally considered the dregs of American society (he "Deplorables") by standing on the backs of some of the most insignificant and valueless members of humanity.

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