Being ignorant of history and government, and treating your political party like your local football team

My apologies. This is rambling and poorly proofed. I am stretched.

The ban on immigration from 7 predominantly Muslim countries imposed over the weekend brought out a fresh wave of protests. The entire thing was a shitshow, with our new ruler, Steve Bannon, seemingly over-riding the lawyers and deciding that the rule included those who hold green cards and those with dual citizenships.

I of course had to sit through listening to Team Trump natter on about how “they just don’t understand liberal hate towards Trump” and “why should people just stroll into the US and do whatever they want here?” In other words, more of the “Trump! Rah! Rah!” they have descended to because they can’t be bothered to think critically about anything he does. And nobody gets to say that “buh buh buh leeeebrals were just as uncritical of OBUMMER.” Whether it’s true or not, it’s stupid for people who live in a free country to sit in thrall of any leader and “because Johnny does it” stopped being a legit form of argumentation when you were eight.

So thereby the utter ignorance of people in the US about how the green card process works. We need “xtreme vetting.” Uh-huh. Of course, “government also does nothing” and “those bureaucrats just sit around all day doing nothing,” too.

Except that anybody who has ever gotten a green card, including people from countries we should probably just let in for efficiency’s sake, like Canada, can attest that it is a lengthy process that involves quite a bit of vetting, undertaken by bureaucrats in between the time they spend feasting and whoring and buying islands in Fiji with their salaries. If you go after refugees seeking asylum—or worse, green card holders and those who hold dual citizenship—you are going to catch people who have gone, for the most part, through official channels. They are simply low probability threats; you don’t just stroll into the US and get a green card. Smuggling networks, however, appear to be global, well-funded, technologically very adroit, and fully capable of moving the US’s enemies without a single document required. And thus Bannon and Co, because they have no clue how to actually stop terrorists from moving around, issued an order that led to the sorts of stories we had to read over the weekend–about two 80 year-old dears on the way back to Westwood*, about little boys locked up in detention all day (shame on you, Homeland) etc etc. Just ordinary people, who went through the long, irritating process we asked them to, hazed even more, in a symbolic gesture to show everybody that We Are Cracking Down(TM).

By including green card holders, Bannon’s ignorance made everything about this ban worse, uselessly.

Sure, other presidents during times of war have issued bans, but bans are not generally this far-reaching in terms of covering allies and green card holders. Supposedly conservative people are cheering this thing on, even though it denies entry to military interpreters and others who helped the US on the ground during Operation Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn. To me, that’s like leaving an American soldier behind. That is unconscionable. Doing so based on the small probability that a green card holder is going to go on a crime/terrorism spree? When did Americans become such a group of sissies? That is craven beyond my understanding and unAmerican by every value I have ever respected in the Republican Party before it became Team Trump.

Beyond that, there are people who are suffering terribly, including Christian and Jewish refugees from Iran, right along with those scary, scary children from Syria. We are going to turn our backs on them because we are scared? It’s like America no longer means anything other than “My consumer comforts.” Eyuch.

And spare me the line that this is about “helping the people already here.” These are the same people dismantling programs that serve victims of domestic violence. Boy howdy, helpful.

Yes, Bannon had to back down from the green card, but a great deal of suffering and time was wasted over the weekend simply because he has NEVER bothered to figure out how green cards work and simply prefers to believe what he wants to about them. There is ZERO chance that he wasn’t told including green cards was a bad idea. He just didn’t care to listen.
He knows the uncritical fans won’t care, the ones that follow Trump like they do their local high school football team with buying the hats and the t-shirts and coming out all dolled up with their “I’m deplorable” and “I’m a Trump-ette” gear and their pom-poms–like my allusion to football can get any more apt with that.

And no, it’s not some big, grand, clever strategy. Those little chiding posts that say “while you all were distracted with immigration ban, they did another thing!” are pissing me off, too. It’s just Bannon & Co, going through their policy wish list like they are using the “1-click buying” from Amazon. The more disarray and fresh clicks they get, the happier they are. We already know it’s a kleptocracy. I don’t need scoldings that my worry about green card holders and refugees is preventing me from being outraged by their latest act of kleptocracy. It’s going to be constant from here on out because they don’t have the decency to police themselves, and their adoring fans don’t care.

On the other side, the left seems to be getting its act together. It’s hard. Plenty of people did not get the intersectionality memo. We have lots of grumpy, angry people annoyed at the “nice white ladies” who showed up for the women’s march but not for Black Lives Matter, or people singing “This Land is Your Land” or saying “We are a nation of immigrants” because it is ignorant of indigenous people and the US’s appalling treatment towards native peoples. Yes, absolutely, it’s wrong that everybody isn’t more woke, etc. But while we are sniping at each other trying to perfect everybody, the GOP just dismantled in a week just about every decent social welfare program we have and their eyes are set on the others. You go into battle with the army you have rather than the army you want; you try to train as you go. Nope, it’s not the responsibility of oppressed people to educate their oppressor. Nope, white people shouldn’t be coddled. We are now in RealPolitik, however, and in that world, people are either useful to you in the moment or they are not. All the signs with the questions about whether the “nice white ladies would do next” got an answer this weekend: plenty of nice white people showed up, including some Jewish lawyers, and honestly right in the moment when you are in airport trying to keep a refugee from getting sent back to a country where they face torture and death, I don’t care about whether those lawyers, or the people blocking Homeland, have the right woke bona fides . I care about whether they are there, have skills, and what general side they are on. We can go back to perfecting each other when we are not hemorrhaging.

No, I was not out this weekend. My knees are so bad that a wheelchair is next for long periods. I will perhaps do that. But as with Black Lives Matter, I gave money. It’s what I felt I could handle.

I do understand the frustration and the revulsion at the toxicity, I do. I am getting advice handed down from on high from senior scholars in my field that I “should talk to your media” (like I haven’t been doing that for last the five years of my life, and blogging about it and publishing about it) and “oooooooh get out and talk to people. Wonderful me just talked Teh People.” This is virtue signalling, and it’s well-intended if narcissistic in today’s social media world. It’s a thing right now to critique virtue signaling–after all, signaling does not actually solve problems we say we wish to be virtuous about–but I think the critiques are overblown. It’s not like in the pre-social media world everybody always leapt up to address every problem in the world in the world all the time rather than talking about it. All social groups require norming, and how else does one norm if not both by acting and discussing? The problem “talking about virtue” rather than “enacting virtue” gets worse when communities exist digitally. You don’t really know what anybody is doing; just what they report on what they are doing. So if you went by my Fboo wall, you would assume that I am more preoccupied by wallpaper and paint samples than the injustices of the world. Fboo is better at communicating about wallpaper samples, however, than most other things, and the only research I’ve shared recently has been the stuff about little free libraries. It’s visual, and there are no real privacy issues in play there, unlike the rest of what I am up to (working on sex offender registry restrictions, open carry advocates, and the NII.) It’s just irritating to have scholars I respect still talking down to me, after all the damn years I have put into the academy, like I’m some kid who needs direction. Grrrr.

*If there is one group you don’t have to worry much about in terms of radical anti-US sentiment, it’s the Persians in West LA. Really. The kids who grew up here may be a different story.