Friday, January 13, 2006

More Scare Tactics

Hyman continues to grapple with one of the demons that most haunts his psyche: Spanish-speaking undocumented immigrants.

Most recently, he attempts to scare his audience by telling the story of Federico Ortega, a man who was arrested in Colorado and facing a wide variety of possible criminal charges, including sexual assault, assault with a deadly weapon, and drug possession. Hyman notes that Ortega had entered the U.S. illegally, was deported from Colorado, then returned to the state in a matter of days. Hyman’s conclusion? “Our border security is completely broken.”

Well, perhaps, but it’s a jump in logic to claim that one particular individual getting back into the country is proof of porous borders (even the Berlin Wall wasn’t 100% effective). Certainly many arguments could be made about the inadequate state of border security, but citing this single case is simply an exercise in fear mongering.

More importantly, Hyman leaves out a key fact about Ortega’s odyssey. The only reason he was given the opportunity to reenter the United States was because of miscommunication among federal and local law enforcement in Colorado.
Ortega faced possible felony charges in the state, meaning that he should have stayed locked up until trial. But immigration officials got involved and ended up deporting him rather than making sure he stayed in Colorado to face charges. Apparently, both federal and local officials thought they were doing the right thing, but ended up working at cross purposes.

That detail makes the story less sensationalistic (but perhaps even more troubling) than Hyman’s version, and suggests that better law enforcement practices, not erecting a Great Wall of Texas, might be a good first step in making us more secure.

It also reminds us that the threat Ortega represented was his criminality, not his country of origin. But by using Ortega’s story as a representative anecdote about illegal immigration, Hyman hopes to taint attitudes toward all undocumented immigrants (the vast majority of whom are people simply looking for work and are willing to do about any job for very low pay).

It’s particularly interesting that Hyman takes such a hard line on securing our border with Mexico to prevent job-seeking men and women from coming to the U.S. when the president he so often champions has done so little to secure us from much more malevolent threats.

Despite trading in the rhetoric of fear for several years (see the previous post), the Bush administration has done precious little to secure the nation in ways that would actually protect us from a terrorist attack.

According to a study by the non-profit consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, the Bush administration has failed to secure chemical plants, nuclear power plants, hazardous materials, ports, and water systems.

Why would our wartime president allow us to remain so vulnerable? According to Public Citizen, it’s no accident.

Around 85% of the nation’s infrastructure is run by private interests, not the government. Therefore, to control the infrastructure, the government has to put laws into place that would regulate businesses (e.g., power companies that own nuclear plants) to maintain a uniform level of security.

Unfortunately for us, a great many people who run the businesses at issue are also major Bush donors, and don’t particularly want federal regulations interfering with their right to do business as they see fit (even if these regulations are meant to ensure the safety of Americans). Therefore, not much has been done to secure these vulnerable areas of our infrastructure.

But rather than use his bully pulpit (a phrase which I think is overused, but is doubly appropriate when talking about Hyman’s often thuggish rhetoric) to call on the administration to put the security of the American people ahead of political palm greasing, Hyman continues to obsess over the supposed dangers of hordes from the south invading us.

Which raises the question: what is it about Hyman that makes him fear Manny, the undocumented gardener down the street, more than the prospect of uranium being shipped at will to any port in the U.S.?

And that’s The Counterpoint.

Hyman Index: 2.70


At 2:33 AM, Anonymous hyman's turtle said...

apologies to all for being so incredibly off topic, but i couldn't pass up a chance to fire up the way-back machine and rub sick of spin's nose in his own mess. a few posts back, he attempted to use the clinton administration's own words against it to show that clinton, like bush, orderded warrantless wiretaps. at the time, i proved that was simply not the case and just to rub it in a little more, clinton himself appeared on nightline last night and said this:
"We either went [to the fisa court] and asked for the approval or, if there was an emergency and we had to do it beforehand, then we filed within three days afterward and gave them a chance to second guess it"
ouch. and just in case sos is thinking about calling clinton a liar who can't be believed, don't forget it was sos who tried quoting his administration when it appeared (wrongly it turns out) to suit his own argument in the first place.
the shut-out continues.
ted heads: 2,784
sick of spin: 0


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