None shall pass

Whatever the source of the current urgency surrounding the immigration debate (we have our theories, but those are for another forum), it’s certainly hard, intellectually but not rhetorically, for many of those opposed in some form to immigration to distinguish between their immigrant ancestors (and sometimes themselves) and the immigrants here in our country today.

One way–one very wrong way–to resolve the tension is to latch onto the analogical notion of trespass. Take the following one from Charles Krauthammer:

>If you found a stranger living in your basement, you would be far more inclined to let him stay if he assured you that his ultimate intent is just to improve his own life and not to prepare the way for his various cousins waiting on the other side of your fence.

Let’s read this very carefully. The stranger is an illegal latino; latinos (and maybe people from the middle east) seem to be the only immigrants that right wing types think about. And if you doubt that analysis, read the first part of the piece where the focus on the discussion was on the impolitic presence of mexican flags at rallies (we should note that in Chicago saw and continually see many Irish ones).

This presence of this person, who lives apparently rent-free *in your basement* comes as a surprise to you: you *stumble* upon him, you happen to find him; you didn’t know he was there; you didn’t invite him. So he must have broken in to your basement–he is a trespasser. He is, after all, illegal. The analogy doesn’t mention that he does any work (for anyone, least of all you). He lives–he doesn’t *work* in your basement.

Worse than all of this, he must reassure you that he’s only here for himself, and not for his extended family (cousins) who are waiting on the other side of *your* fence. Do they want to live in your basement as well? One can only suppose.

One thought on “None shall pass”

  1. i think the real danger in this piece lies in a sort of thinly veiled apologetics, so to speak. that is, it presumes a near complete demand for these “basement dwellers.” a more apt analogy might include the fact that i was beckoning these people into my basement, only upon the condition they provide some service to me; harvest my garden, mow my lawn, raise my children and clean my house, then go to the basement so i can be pretend you’re not there. moreover, when someone finds you there, i’m going to act surprised, claim i didn’t ask you to be there, and then turn in your cousins by the fence, as well. the blind arrogance of this piece is quite simply appalling…

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