By Matthew Rothschild on May 16, 2006

It’s painful to watch Bush give a speech, and his immigration address was no exception.

Hell, it was hard not to break out into guffaws when he said, “We have enough Guard forces to win the war on terror, to respond to natural disasters, and to help secure our borders.”

Anyone who has been watching what’s going on in Iraq, or anyone who saw Katrina, knows that the Guard is spread woefully thin right now, even before Bush tries stretch them from San Diego to Brownsville.

Oh, but he’s “not going to militarize the southern border,” he promised. Right.

In this age of NSA data mining and privacy invading, none of us should be keen on the idea of “high-tech fences in urban corridors,” or, for that matter, “unmanned aerial vehicles.”

What’s next? A predator missile?

The speech was obnoxious from the start, when Bush drew a parallel between the hundreds of thousands of people marching in city after city for immigrant rights, on the side, and the Minuteman vigilantes on the other.

Both are displaying “intense emotions,” he said, condescendingly.

True to his base, Bush conjured up images of immigrants committing crimes and draining our Treasury, and then he went out of his way not to insult his buddies in the business community, who are flouting the law as much as anybody.

In his speech, the employers were the victims of sneaky immigrants, not the recruiters and the exploiters of undocumented workers.

Here’s Bush: “Illegal immigrants live in the shadows of our society. Many use forged documents to get jobs, and that makes it difficult for employers to verify that the workers they hire are legal.”

This is a charge he made not once but twice. Fifteen paragraphs after the first reference, he said, “Businesses often cannot verify the legal status of their employees because of the widespread problem of document fraud.”

The speech was also internally inconsistent. Bush said, “When people know that they’ll be caught and sent home if they enter our country illegally, they will be less likely to try to sneak in.” A mere 12 words later, he said, “The reality is that there are many people on the other side of our border who will do anything to come to America to work and build a better life. They walk across miles of desert in the summer heat, or hide in the back of 18-wheelers to reach our country.”

If they are that desperate to get here, the threat of being returned home won’t amount to much.

But Bush did not address why people are so desperate to get here, and that’s, in large part, because of NAFTA, which has thrown millions of Mexican peasants off the land and led to an increase in poverty. Bush couldn’t own up to that because he worships at the altar of free trade.

Bush’s speech was a desperate ploy to change the subject.

But the subject remains his ineptitude.

The subject remains the Iraq War.

The subject remains his corporate fealty.

And the subject remains his criminality.

Section: 

Topics: 

Add new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

More

Subscribe to The Progressive and Get A Free 2015 Calendar

This Halloween movie will scare anyone who cares about news.

Abby Scher on the race to elect Maine's next Governor

Thirty years after the title year of George Orwell’s “1984,” the Oscar-worthy “Citizenfour” features a real-life...

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

Public School Shakedown

Progressive Media Project

Newsletter