[Marxism] Marc Cooper and undocumented workers

Louis Proyect 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."<<

Full: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20050606/cooper

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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