Wednesday, July 17, 2013
America’s recent obsession with border security provides politicians with plenty of opportunity to engage in populist rhubarb. Most often, Republican lawmakers clamor for robust policing of the US-Mexico demarcation, as they have done throughout the current immigration debate in Congress.
Sometimes, however, a legislator opts to be contrarian, for political or pecuniary reasons. Such a one is Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), who recently enthused to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation about the prospect of deploying “low-level radar” and in-ground security defenses to secure America’s northern border.
Alas, the proposition that America’s borders with Canada and Mexico are equally problematic is dunderheaded political correctness, often deployed by the willfully benighted. We were inured to this sort of thing by the outgoing Secretary of Homeland Security, the breathtakingly ignorant Janet Napolitano, who entered that disgraceful office claiming the 9/11 hijackers came through Canada.
This is how the Left gets tough – rather than confront actual problems or genuine malefactors, they hyperventilate about invented ones, at the expense of innocent people.
As to Tester, he presents an object lesson for red state voters: When you elect a down-home, g-droppin’, deer-skinnin’, ramblin’ man like Jon Tester, you’re still getting a Democrat. That means, for example, when it’s time to cast the deciding vote in favor of Obamacare, Tester will be there. His Grizzly Adams façade is just that; silly-bears leftism is his guiding principle.
Perhaps, in this case, the goal is simply to bring federal dollars to Montana. This is equally disquieting.
The more one scrutinizes Congress, the more dispiritingly clear it becomes that decisions are almost never made for the good of the American people. Instead, it is usually nonsense like this, pertinent to local favors or fundraising, with little defensible value to the country. This is a bipartisan condition, often noted, and overdue for correction. To wit, it’s almost never about you, it’s about them.
To those of us from the northern side of the border, this talk of beefing up security seems a tad ungracious. Canada and the United States enjoy the largest bilateral trading relationship in the history of the planet and, notwithstanding some unpleasantness about 200 years ago, the dynamic has been largely cordial. We gave you the telephone, Velcro and Bryan Adams (you’re welcome).
Entering the United States from Canada by land, sea or air is already one of the most miserable border crossings in the civilized world.
One need not plumb the documented horror stories of US Customs officers’ rough treatment of foreigners, including journalists, or their institutional obsession with confiscating Kinder Eggs, to outline this point. Even Americans returning home are struck, with rare exceptions, by the imperious and dyspeptic default of their own border agents. It bears questioning where such people come from, and if they are aware that other First World nations do not treat travelers in this way.
Someone told these Eugene Tackleberrys at their sleep-away camp training weekend that they are the last line of defense, or the first, or some nonsense that makes them behave as though they’re guarding the Gates of Vienna against Ottoman hordes.
We Canadians are not a violent race. Our civil war took place in a Tim Horton’s and was over in about 20 minutes. No one was injured, and afterward we all went curling.
Absent any physical danger from septuagenarian snowbirds or day-shopping hosers, how to explain the excesses of America’s over-caffeinated sentries? Do they suppose they’re halting illegal immigration?
What Canadian would be sneaking into the US today? And for what, exactly? Higher unemployment? Steeper taxes? Violent crime? Obamacare?
Having gone through every stage of the US immigration system, from visitor to citizen, I contend that America needs to get over itself. The presumption that everyone, from anywhere, would crawl over broken glass to partake of the American Dream is decades out of date.
This anachronistic stance is reminiscent of leftists and academics who used to insist the Berlin Wall was erected to keep those in the West from breaking into the East and availing themselves of the many free services in the socialist paradise.
Sometimes it takes someone from overseas – or at least, from across Lake Ontario – to provide perspective. And this comes not a moment too soon, before some Northeastern member of Congress gets it in his head to appropriate DHS funds for sharks with laser-beams attached to their heads to secure the Great Lakes.
For a self-styled Land of the Free, America seems awfully intent on erecting barricades. Tester says enhanced Canadian border security, “could prevent drug smuggling and terrorism.” Ah, of course: The nebulous “War on Terror” and “War on Drugs” are used to justify most every tin-pot crackdown on daily life.
Even on the southern border, the proposed fence is unbecoming a nominally free nation. It would be a hideous scar across the landscape; a grotesque contradiction, visible from space.
America has problems, but a lack of security is not among them. As some free advice from an immigrant: The last thing the US needs is more walls.
Also, you can keep Jim Carrey, no charge.
Theo Caldwell, host of TV’s Global Command Centre, has been a member of the New York Stock Exchange, the Chicago Board Options Exchange, the American Stock Exchange, and the Kansas City Board of Trade. He can be reached at at email@example.com