Sunday, May 9, 2010

Post No. 144a: Article of Interest: “Responsibility” and Our Physical Borders



In recent weeks, our attention has been focused on U.S. immigration policy and the status of our international borders, in light of Arizona’s efforts to control its own border.

Many of you will recall past efforts by the U.S. to communicate our values and our points of view to those beyond our borders via radio waves.

One of our most significant “trading partners” is currently sharing its values and view of the world with our citizens via the airwaves.

How should we respond, if at all? Do we have an obligation or responsibility to allow other nations to employ such tactics? Should we be more or less concerned about the “immigration” of values and points of view as opposed to physical, human beings? Does the U.S. have the "responsibility" to "protect" its citizens from what might be termed "propaganda" from competitor nations, or should our citizens be left to exercise their good judgment and fend for themselves?

Many in other parts of the world complain of the intrusion of western values on their ways of life. Are they justified? Should the west refrain from doing so?


This following article is taken from the April 25, 2010 edition of the Washington Post.

From China’s Mouth to Texans’ Ears

By John Pomfret
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 25, 2010; A01

Galveston, Texas

“Cruise southeast out of Houston, past the NASA exits and the Gulf of Mexico, and you pick up something a little incongruous on the radio, amid country crooners, Rush Limbaugh, hip-hop and all of the freewheeling clamor of the American airwaves.

“’China Radio International,’ a voice intones. ‘This is Beyond Beijing.’

“Way, way beyond Beijing.”

To view the remainder of the article, click here.

Additionally, yesterday C-Span2 Book TV aired a program on the U.S. / Mexico border. For more information regarding the program, and to view it at your convenience, click here. Additionally, it will air again on Monday, May 10, 2010, at 5:00 am EST.

28 comments:

  1. How should we respond, if at all? Do we have an obligation or responsibility to allow other nations to employ such tactics? Should we be more or less concerned about the “immigration” of values and points of view as opposed to physical, human beings? Does the U.S. have the "responsibility" to "protect" its citizens from what might be termed "propaganda" from competitor nations, or should our citizens be left to exercise their good judgment and fend for themselves?

    See the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

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  2. Ah hah, the First Amendment. Glad to see you back Douglas.

    We recently saw a piece on the History Channel about all of the restrictive sorts of things done during the history of the Republic to combat forces of which we were fearful or with which we disagreed. (What about the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII?)

    We wish that the simple referral to a Constitutional Amendment could easily solve such issues.

    BTW, we ASSUME that your position is that the 1st Amendment permits such communications, or precludes the government from restricting them. Is that applicable to activities of foreign entities operating within our borders?

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  3. BTW, we ASSUME that your position is that the 1st Amendment permits such communications, or precludes the government from restricting them.

    That would be a fair, and accurate, assumption.

    Is that applicable to activities of foreign entities operating within our borders?

    Would that include removing BBC America from satellite and cable services?

    Or are you you saying we should only block those outlets that are advocating on the part of those who have expressed a major dislike of us?

    Obviously, I endorse freedom of expression for all points of view. After all, there are those who would like me to shut up (or not comment) from time to time. Let the people who listen decide.

    I understand our president has made a recent speech more than implying that some sources of news and information may not be presenting the truth. Do you suppose he would like to remove those entities from the internet and airwaves?

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  4. Glad to see you back Douglas.

    It is nice to be back. It is nice to have you back also, your columns have been missed.

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  5. Douglas: Thanks.

    As for leaving it up to the citizen to decide, we're with you on this one. We directed many bloggers with posts about illegal aliens to this article, and we have yet to receive any responsive comments. We're still awaiting comments from those advocating some type of restrictions on the Chinese broadcasts.

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  6. The Supreme Court rules that corporations that have no concern and no philosophy other than avoiding taxes and squeezing the maximum amount of money possible out of US citizens can spend as much of same as possible participating in our electoral process while the State of Arizona rules that the police can use draconian measures to ferret out individuals whose only interest and objective is to participate in and contribute to America as law abiding, tax paying, citizens.

    What is wrong with this picture?

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  7. this is and was part of the KGB Plan that was exposed back in the 1990's in moscow after the so called fall on communist many books by X KGB Guys.

    The main attack was made on our physical borders back in the 1960's and the guy who opened the borders in 1964 was LBJ.

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  8. Thanks Anonymous for your contribution regarding corporations, which are legal fictions. How can society expect a legal fiction to have any sense of responsibility? Its sole responsibility is the make a profit for its shareholders. At least a governmental entity theoretically has a responsibility to its citizens.

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  9. Thanks Anonymous for your visit, and your contribution regarding the KGB Plan. It would be appreciated if you could provide us with more specific information regarding that plan. Thanks.

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  10. I would guess that it's lost on most of the Americans who tell pollsters that they support the AZ legislation that families whose members speak, or spoke, Spanish have been living there a whole lot longer than have most of the families of Anglos. From just whom do they think we stole our southwestern states?

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  11. Rodak:

    It's good to have your contribution again. It's been awhile. We missed you.

    We've had scores of visitors to this site who viewed this post, and finally someone has raised this issue.

    In fact, just last week the History Channel had a program on "The Alamo," how the United States acquired much of the southwest and California. It seems to us that this is a legitimate issue for discussion in this whole thing.

    Out of curiosity, do you have any concerns about the ban on ethnic studies?

    By the way, the band Cypress Hill has canceled its appearance scheduled in Arizona in protest again the Arizona immigration law and apparently others are considering similar action.

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  12. Yes, I have grave concerns on the ban on ethnic studies. It seems both unconstitutional and unAmerican to me. Should we also shut down such things as the holocaust museums?
    There is a very negative energy afoot in this country right now, and I attribute it partially to economic insecurity, and partially to the undercurrent of racism that is the legacy of our shameful history of slavery, ethnic cleansing, anti-Semitism, religious intolerance, and exploitation of the weak. That's a lot to overcome, and we're not there yet. We can only hope that we overcome the demons that haunt us before they pull us under.

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  13. Thanks much for your input Rodak. Putting aside the question of federal exemption in the realm of international borders, we think that the issue of teaching of ethnic studies is qualitatively and constitutionally different than the issue of protecting a state's border from illegal immigrants.

    In your comment, you provided lots of "food for thought," and we'll wait to hear from more of our readers before addressing some of your more specific points. We agree with you that this is potentially bigger than just the issue of checking someone's nationality when stopped for a crime, but we'll refrain from further comment right now.

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  14. Now, that law I can see being overturned rather easily. I understand the sentiment behind it but it is foolish and counter-productive. I suspect it will go away rather soon.

    But you are wrong, Inspector, when you imply that the other Arizona law in debate these days is about "checking someone's nationality when stopped for a crime." It's about whether a state has a border, the right to enforce that border, and/or the right to enact a law based upon a federal law.

    If it doesn't, then laws against most drugs can be challenged on the same basis. And that's just for starters. There's really a lot more at stake than the more obvious potential side effects.

    We must always be wary of Unintended Consequences.

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  15. The border problem in the southwestern states would quickly die a natural death if the laws against employing undocumented aliens were enforced. Why is it that it's always at the bottom of the ladder where the crackdown takes place? Why are the poor and the powerless the ones to pay the toll, while the exploitative capitalists laugh all the way to bank? And then, the middle-class will get socked for the price of the walls, or the extra border patrols, or whatever other measures are taken to try to stop the influx of people coming here looking for work to support their families.
    Them that's got shall get.

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  16. Douglas: We're not quite sure of the particular comment made by the Inspector which led you to suggest that there was an implication on his part that "the other Arizona law in debate these days is about "checking someone's nationality when stopped for a crime."

    We're also not quite sure which federal law to which you are referring when you reference a state's "right to enact a law based upon a federal law."

    Are you suggesting that a state and federal government can both "occupy the field?" Are you suggesting that there is no federal preemption?

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  17. First, let me say I agree with rodak's sentiment though I might word it differently before I address you, Inspector.

    We have many, many state laws that are adjuncts to federal law. I mentioned drug laws as an example. Granted, some of these laws were passed simply as federal tax law because it was felt there was no federal power to do more than label some drugs as dangerous. Therefore, states took the step to make them illegal substances.

    I am not saying there is no federal preemption. I am saying that if a state has a border (and they all do) then it has a right to control that border. Precedent in that might be agricultural inspections. I also say it has a right to pass laws it sees as necessary to protect its citizens and to use federal law as a guide in that endeavor. Do states have election laws? Why are there federal election laws? Why are states not simply to comply with federal election laws and allow the federal government to do the enforcement?

    I suspect we do a bit too much picking and choosing between federal and state powers. This is merely another battle in the move toward a centralized massive government. So long as a state law is in line with a federal law and there is a unique need on the part of a state to have its own law then I see no constitutional reason for a state to abdicate its powers.

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  18. Douglas--
    All states have borders, but all states do not have international borders. Ohio has no way to monitor or control who comes across its border with Michigan. Michigan, however, does have international borders. It is not up to the state of Michigan, however, to monitor who crosses into Michigan from Canada (and from there, perhaps, into Ohio, or Indiana, etc. That monitoring is the job of the federal government, since who crosses into this country from Canada, or Mexico potentially affects every state.
    These days, of course, every state has airports, and I suppose that those represent de facto "international borders." Who is arriving by plane is, however, much easier to monitor than who is crossing a geographical border and presents much more easily solved problems.
    Bottom line: Arizona has no right to infringe upon the civil rights of individuals simply because the federal government is doing a poor job of controlling the border with Mexico. Two wrongs don't make a right. A vigilante is a vigilante, even if she is the elected governor of the state, or the country sheriff. Without unconstitutional profiling being the subtext of this new law, no new law would be necessary. Once a person is under arrest, or stopped for reasonable suspicion of being involved in crime, it is perfectly permissable for law enforcement to demand I.D. But you won't snare any more illegals that way than have been snared in the past. The object now is to snare more. That will necessarily involve unconstitutional actions being taken by police. Arizona has no right to violate the constitution.

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  19. Douglas and Rodak:

    This is far too complicated an area of Constitutional and non-Constitutional law to get into right now, particularly on a blog, but our simple response is that it is not nearly as simple as most politicians and the supporters of each side have described.

    There are some clean lines of power, and others are far murkier. It the subject of at least 3 semester long courses at law school. It’s really not the type of stuff in which non-lawyers are generally interested. It makes it difficult to respond to the contentions of either side which have some modicum of subjectivity.

    That being said, Rodak correctly focused on the issue of "international borders." There are additional complications even if the border is not international. Consider this scenario, some of the facts of which led to a famous Supreme Court case.

    A trucking company needs to haul some goods from North Carolina to California. As it truck proceeds westward, and passes through various states, the rules as to tires, fees, numbers of trailers which can be hauled, age of drivers, etc. are different. Should the trucking company have to comply with each state's laws

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  20. rodak and Inspector, please understand that states do control their borders for certain things. Though they have ceded the power to federal government for most. Struggles against agricultural pests are handled both by state laws an by federal. States have, and do, run border checkpoints for agricultural controls. I first witnessed these when coming to Florida in the 50's. Though Florida no longer maintains them, other states do.

    There are also individual traffic laws which apply even on federal highways (one example: motorcycle helmet laws). But, yes, for the most part states have ceded interstate trucking laws to the federal government.

    Mostly, the fight has been to restrict the federal government from overstepping its control (see Posse Comitatus Act)and interfering with what the states see as their domain.

    I think the federal government will have to show where the AZ law impedes federal action on immigration. As the law is written, it appears to augment it.

    I suggest you read it... as our esteemed US Attorney General was recently urged to do.

    I again remind you of the unwritten Law of Unintended Consequences. This could easily have ramifications far beyond just who is responsible for writing and enforcing immigration law.

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  21. Folks: Two points:

    We are reminded of a phrase uttered by someone at some point: The truth is rarely plain, and never simple.

    There are several other Constitutional provisions which are relevant to this discussion. With respect to the traveling from one state to another, two of them are freedom of association, and which government has the power to regulate interstate commerce (which deals with borders).

    None of this stuff is simple. There are also equal protection and due process considerations, and "color of authority" comes into play significantly.

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  22. Douglas--
    It's not a matter of the AZ law impeding the enforcement of federal law. It's a matter of the AZ infringing upon the civil rights and constitutional protections of individuals. The AZ law puts into effect a kind of "benign dragnet," implemented by racial profiling, which if enforced will inevitably illegally sweep up X-number of innocent citizens until such time as it is struck down by the courts--as it surely will be. It's just bad law. Hopefully it's just a stunt aimed at forcing the feds to do a better job patrolling the border.

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  23. Rodak: Interesting point re "benign dragnet." There is a concept in Constitutional law called "arbitrariness" which one finds in the cases dealing with due process and equal protection, if we remember correctly.

    All of this is very complex stuff from a Constitutional law perspective. What is more interesting is the fact that Arizona lawmakers are SO FRUSTRATED WITH THE LACK OF MANY LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT to adequately and pragmatically deal with the illegal immigrant issue, that they felt compelled TO DO SOMETHING to address it.

    We somewhat agree with your point made earlier in this thread that the enforcement of existing laws against employers who hire illegal aliens would have changed the whole tone and tenor of the discussion long before now. That we as a nation could not focus on that issue on the front end says much about us.

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  24. rodak, I suggest you read the bill. Racial profiling is something that can result (as a corruption) with just about any l;aw. In fact, if I recall correctly, the term first came up in conjunction with laws concerning possession and transportation of illegal drugs. We managed to address the racial profiling without repealing those laws. I again urge you to actually read the bill.

    I believe that the issue of whether the AZ law impedes the federal immigration laws (and/or efforts) will be an important factor in challenges to the law (if any).

    Reading back, I noted your comments on how the US gained control over Texas, the southwest, and California. I was wondering if you also considered how Mexico gained control over that territory? And, for that matter, how Mexico became Mexico?

    Well, go back far enough into the history of any country in the world and the same questions will arise.

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  25. Douglas--
    I know what the bill says. If you will read what I wrote more carefully, you will note that I have not stated that the bill legalizes racial profiling. What I said was that since it does not legalize racial profiling, it will accomplish nothing that previous current law cannot accomplish. In other words, in order to be effective, it would need to be "corrupted."
    Here is what I said:
    "Once a person is under arrest, or stopped for reasonable suspicion of being involved in crime, it is perfectly permissable for law enforcement to demand I.D. But you won't snare any more illegals that way than have been snared in the past. The object now is to snare more. That will necessarily involve unconstitutional actions being taken by police."

    All of the critics of the bill know (or should know) that its language does not permit racial profiling. But those same critics also know that the spirit of the bill does permit it. My comments (except for the one I just reiterated) have been taking for granted that the letter of the law will be ignored in favor of the (evil) spirit in which it was enacted.

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  26. Ah hah, the First Amendment. Glad to see you back Douglas.

    We recently saw a piece on the History Channel about all of the restrictive sorts of things done during the history of the Republic to combat forces of which we were fearful or with which we disagreed. (What about the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII?)

    We wish that the simple referral to a Constitutional Amendment could easily solve such issues.

    BTW, we ASSUME that your position is that the 1st Amendment permits such communications, or precludes the government from restricting them. Is that applicable to activities of foreign entities operating within our borders?

    ReplyDelete

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