During the unhinged late 1960s, I heard a speech by the late Black Panther Party leader Eldridge Cleaver, who said, “Information is the raw material for new ideas. But if you get some wrong or misinformation, you get some funky and backward ideas.” At times, people want misinformation because, in the words of Colonel Nathan Jessup, most people just “can’t handle the truth.” It appears that these types of ostrich people bury their heads in the sand so as not to hear or critically assess the “fake news” clarion of their national leaders.
But now, we can turn the term fake news back at the president and his GOP. Setting aside the knowingly fake claim that Mexico would pay for the border wall, let us pose this real question: If the wall was so important, why did not the GOP-controlled Congress, in the president’s first budget, allocate a budget line of $5 billion? Trump’s GOP passed a huge tax bill and eliminated, with the court’s assistance, the health care insurance mandate — a move which, if one thinks about it, makes as much sense as eliminating the hated car insurance mandate.
However, in a bipartisan agreement in 2018, the Republicans acquiesced to the Democrats on not using federal funds for the wall. Why? Because most Republicans knew that the wall was pure political theater to help Trump get elected; but as clear-thinking Republicans, they know that the wall is the least important variable in shoring up border security. The GOP is now caught between a rock and a hard place as Democrats bargain to fund the wall, as they always have, in exchange for DACA security.
As I share with my students the visual images of a wall, already built, in many areas of the border by the two Bushes and Obama, they can, on the Internet, see where sections of the wall are alternately stone, and steel, impregnable fencing, as well as electronic techno-monitoring in other areas. These secured barriers are consistent with the restraints of geography, whether they be water or mountains.
However, noting Cleaver’s observation, the most hypocritical misinformation that the president has conveyed is not about his quest for a wall, but his outrage over the murder of Mollie Tibbetts by an illegal Mexican immigrant. His outrage did not extend to the white Yarrabee Farms’ owner, Craig Lang. The president selectively connects tragedy to his quest for his wall. He implied about Ms. Tibbetts’ murder that his wall would have prevented this senseless act. His hypocrisy was made clear when he did not mention the murder of Celia Barquin Arozamena, an Iowa State golfer murdered by a white homeless transient, Colin Daniel Richards. Ironically, Mollie Tibbetts was a big Hillary Clinton fan and multicultural supporter. Her family, subsequent to her death, adopted a child whose parents are illegals and worked at Yarrabee Farms.
The president’s continued hypocrisy became further evident when he was silent on the “legal” white man, Chris Watts, who murdered his entire all-American family — a pregnant wife and two daughters. Watts buried his daughters in an oil pit. The president looked in the mirror and could not figure out any political gain from addressing white-on-white murder.
In conclusion, a push-and-pull dialectic exists on the political issue of immigration. The push effect is easily understandable: the gang and drug-cartel violence which pushes workers northward seeking a better life for themselves and their families. The pull has always been the federal and state recruitment of cheap, brown-skinned labor. Importantly, the U.S. government, in concert with the government of Mexico, has understood how profitable for both nations it is to assuage the demand for brown-skinned labor. The infamous bracero program of WWII is factual and tragic. Today, the E-Verify immigrant program attempts to regulate the demand by American business for cheap brown-skinned labor. The result of this foreign labor force is the cheap production of cash crops, which permit low-cost foods to be attained by American consumers, thus assisting them in maintaining their middle-class lifestyle.
Malik Simba is a professor emeritus in the Department of History/Africana Studies at Fresno State University.