[Marxism] Marc Cooper and undocumented workers
lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Oct 10 09:32:58 MDT 2005
Marc Cooper is a liberal journalist rapidly shifting rightward who writes
for the Nation Magazine, the Los Angeles Weekly (an 'alternative' newspaper
that shed its radical politics over a decade ago) and the centrist Atlantic
Monthly. Over the past couple of years, he has been poised to break with
the left in the same fashion as his colleague Christopher Hitchens. Like
Hitchens, Cooper pours vitriol on advocates of immediate withdrawal from
Iraq. Unlike Hitchens, Cooper maintains a kind of mainstream opposition to
the war in line with Russ Feingold but this hardly compensates for his
nonstop redbaiting attacks.
For the past couple of years at least, Cooper has been covering the
"illegal aliens" beat for the Nation and L.A. Weekly. I hadn't paid much
attention to what he was saying until it came up in the context of a
discussion on his blog, which is rapidly turning into an American version
of left-bashing British blogs like Harry's Place and Norm Geras's.
It seems that Cooper was miffed that the American left has not taken the
"terrorist threat" seriously enough. While most New Yorkers viewed the
terror alert for the subway system as manufactured to shore up Bush's
lagging poll ratings, especially since they were timed to coincide with his
latest speech on terrorism, Cooper viewed the threat as real: "When
ordinary Americans worry that their cities, ports or subways might be
bombed by suicidal fanatics, it's laughable and insulting to tell them that
if they would just help put an end to U.S. imperialism the whole problem
would go away." (http://www.marccooper.com/)
Politically, Cooper was trying to pull off the same thing as the British
'decent left' (ie., prowar) bloggers after the subway bombings there. When
radical critics of the war in Iraq called attention to the increased risk
of terror because of mounting civilian casualties, they deflected the
criticisms by stating that the Islamofascists always hated us, no matter
what we did.
Tim Frasca was head of Pacifica's news department in 1983 at the same time
Cooper was managing the LA station. They urged that the network air the
bland and centrist NPR news instead of Pacifica's own hard-hitting
material--this should give you an idea of where they were going
politically. This is how Frasca weighed in on the topic of the terrorist
threat in the comments section of Cooper's blog: "I write as a NY subway
rider who now sits there wondering if I am going to have my eyes blown out
because some bin Ladenite psycho doesn't like me talking to unmarried
girls." Yes, indeed, "they" want to kill us because we have conversations
with unmarried women. How silly of me to have missed this obvious causality.
Now I have heard all this nonsense before so I didn't really pay it much
attention. But what really caught my eye is how the "illegal immigrant"
question got dragged in. Cooper wrote, "Policy wise, we need real and
immediate comprehensive immigration reform. The flow of human traffic
across the border must be legalized and regulated
I have always supported
more Border Patrol agents." Flow of human traffic? More border agents? Odd
formulations from a progressive journalist, to say the least.
Although Cooper's dispatches from the Mexican border are filled with
muckraking touches about deaths occurring in treks across the desert, the
policy he favors is a draconian bill put forward by Senators Kennedy and
McCain. In a Nation Magazine article, Cooper enthuses over the legislation,
supposedly the product of a right-left consensus over the need to deal with
an emergency situation:
>>And Senator John McCain allies with Kennedy to sponsor legislation that
has been enthusiastically endorsed by both corporate and working America.
"I think we now have the best shot at comprehensive reform since before
9/11," says Medina, who strongly supports the McCain-Kennedy initiative.
"It's now part of the national debate, and conditions are such we now might
actually get something done."<<
Contrary to Marc Cooper, this legislation is hardly anything to cheer
about. Growing out of Bush's "guest worker" proposal, it requires a $2,000
fee from anybody who came here without papers, a figure that is simply
beyond the reach of the most desperate immigrants. It also requires passing
an English language exam, an obvious concession to nativist prejudice. The
bill includes an "Essential Worker Visa Program," something that will allow
400,000 workers in each year to take low-skill jobs. They would be able to
quit an unsatisfactory job, but would be deported if they don't find
another within 60 days. This sounds very much like a way to chain a worker
to a shitty job.
Contrary to Cooper the real problem in the final analysis is the flow of
capital across borders, not the "flow of human traffic." Because of NAFTA
and increased multinational penetration of Mexico overall, the country and
others to its south are experiencing a massive loss of jobs. A worker given
the choice between starving and working will choose work, even without the
proper documents. The real problem is imperialism, just as is the case with
global terror. As long as the USA and its powerful allies in Europe exploit
the 3rd world, you will see people flocking to places where they can work.
Nobody wants to leave home and put up with racism and the indignities of
low-wage jobs. To make such people the brunt of "reform" reflects a class
bias found typically in the rich and the powerful, as well as their whores
in the mass media--whatever their "progressive" pretensions.
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