Before our faith collapsed and with it tender civilization, it was not uncommon that I found myself whizzing along America’s highways and byways. I grew up itinerant, a son of the military. That changed little following my own enlistment into the Navy and into its deadliest of all submarine fleets. As a younger man, all I demanded of myself was a full tank of gas, a few bucks in my wallet, and a transmission in decent shape. These days, five years on from the Great Slough (I’m still not sure what to call it), the petroleum has rotted in the tanks, no longer even remotely fit to power an internal combustion engine. The only power left accessible to me is found either in muscle or wind. Sailboats work poorly on land, so I hoof it on those few occasions I’m obliged to stray from the fickle sea.
On foot, it pays to travel in packs. A pack can deter banditry, can stand its ground against raids, and if need be, can scatter to the wind in a way that a lone backpacker cannot. And when the threat consists of armed thugs, I find that being overly selective about the company I keep is a luxury I cannot easily afford. So it was that I teamed up with an old Dixie dirt farmer by the name of Alan, a former yoga instructor named Brenda, and Chad, a guy who was half a semester from finishing up his BA in Urban Studies when the lights went out in America.
Well, not anti-immigration, I’m against illegal immigration, seeing as how when I immigrate, I do it legally. And this is no small point: I commute to Canada from New York three or four times a week to pursue happiness there; I have happiness in two countries, and I’m taxed in both countries, and, in the extremes, I’d gladly take up arms to defend the institutions of both, unless, finally, the US tries to take Canada, which would be mutually beneficial anyway, so that’s a moot point (right: let’s see you pay the bridge tolls day after day, week after week, year after year). Moreover, the Canada-US border is sealed tight as an old Tupperware container: not even air crosses the border without accredited paperwork. The grayed locals pine for the old days when crossing the border involved no more than a wave and a nod from the border patrol.
I suppose some of my attitudes stem from this anecdotal reality. And when Sam Wilson published a couple of jeremiads (his word), wherein he had the temerity to call me a “Republican,” I dismissed his arguments as so much more kayfabe, just more browbeating because I didn’t love the “children.” As I mentioned to him, as tenuously as possible, from my perspective on the border, the children are, unfortunately, the folding chairs in a high-stakes wrestling match. Life is cruel, not me.
However, he recently published a more measured review of the situation, and a few things he wrote caused me to realize that my attitudes were not aligned with what I believe. To be sure, I care not one whit about the economics of the thing; I care about the cultural aspects, namely our institutions, which seemed to be good once upon a time, then under constant assault, and now crumbling. Will a river of low-skill poor people not wash their facades away into the ever-consuming yesteryear?
Indeed, what if they do? I actually believe that it is good for institutions to come crumbling down, in due course, of course, not in a violent revolution. People rebuild them, not gods; they will not be perfect, cannot be perfect. Yet when we rebuild our institutions, we are attentive to mistakes of the past, are we not? As I keep saying, in real life, to myself, to my wife and children: the little boys and girls must die in order for the men and women to rise up to meet their end, their telos. It’s a pretty hard thing to do, especially since we have a propensity for childishness.
This one from Sam struck at the child in me: “The myth of the criminal immigrant is just that: a myth. The laws that ‘illegal’ immigrants break are the ones written specifically to target them.”
If I really believe that all our institutions are under everlasting construction, which requires controlled demolition, then I must bring my attitudes about “illegal” immigration into alignment with my beliefs. Unfortunately, as a part of my daily life, I am caught up in the actual process of immigration, which is paternalistic, nay, maternalistic, which, in turn, makes me into an enraged little boy.