Cella's Review
Politics, Culture, the Public Square

“. . . And beer was drunk with reverence, as it ought to be.” — G. K. Chesterton

Wednesday, January 25, 2006  

The brilliant journalist Heather MacDonald has illuminated many things about the invasion that we call an immigration policy. Recently she turned her attention to the relentless perfidy of Mexican diplomats in the United States.

Mexican officials here and abroad are involved in a massive and almost daily interference in American sovereignty . . . [Illegal immigrants are here] thanks in part to Mexico’s efforts to get them into the U.S. in violation of American law, and to normalize their status once here in violation of the popular will. Mexican consulates are engineering a backdoor amnesty for their illegal migrants and trying to discredit American immigration enforcement — activities clearly beyond diplomatic bounds.

MacDonald’s revealing article is the kind of thing that ought to provoke fury in any man possessed of even a spark of patriotism. But I forget myself: patriotism in America, as our wise men have taught, is not about a real country, her people, integrity, sovereignty and traditions; it is only about ideas. And since Mexican diplomats are not out there traducing Democracy and Liberty, they are not threatening America the Abstraction. Therefore our noble patriots shall remain quiescent.

Mexico, we learn from MacDonald, has set up a unique arm of its security services — known by the comic-sounding name Grupo Beta — to protect illegals crossing the border. “In April [2005], it worked with Mexican federal and Sonoran state police to help steer illegal aliens away from Arizona border spots patrolled by Minutemen border enforcement volunteers.” The government is also responsible for the notorious “how-to” comic book for illegal entry into the U.S. and the manifest subversion of the matricula consular card. As a former Mexican foreign minister put it upon the announcement of the matricula consular program: “We are already giving instructions to our consulates that they begin propagating militant activities — if you will — in their communities.”

The article details the extensive efforts by Mexican consuls in various cities to undermine virtually every attempt to enforce our laws against illegal immigrants; to contest and enervate new laws; to vilify immigration skeptics; even to deploy international legal sanctions against the U.S. for the mildest of measures.


Mexico’s governing class . . . also tries to ensure that migrants retain allegiance to La Patria, so as to preserve the $16 billion in remittances that they send to Mexico each year. Mexican leaders have thus tasked their nation’s U.S. consulates with spreading Mexican culture into American schools and communities.

100,000 textbooks distributed to the Los Angeles Unified School District. Advocacy and support for bilingual education. Adult-enrichment materials to libraries and community colleges. Study questions for students that ask “what happened to your territory when the U.S. invaded?” A government-sponsored drawing contest promoted in the Orange County schools entitled, “This is My Mexico.” Visits by Mexican teachers (with the collaboration of the U.S. Dept. of Education) that “suggest methods by which American teachers can incorporate Mexican dance, songs, and history, especially the indigenous cultures of the Toltec, Mayas, and Mistecas, into their lessons.” MacDonald notes sardonically, “Immigrants have often tried to hold on to their native traditions, but not until recently did anyone expect American schools to help them do so.”

Such devotion to other countries’ folkways would be unimpeachable if students overflowed with knowledge of America’s history. As survey after survey has found, however, American students know next to nothing about their country’s past. Only one-third of seniors at elite colleges could pick out the general at the battle of Yorktown from among William Sherman, Ulysses Grant, Douglas MacArthur, and George Washington, according to a 2000 American Council of Trustees and Alumni survey.

MacDonald then makes a point that needs to be made more often: “The audacity of Mexico’s interference in U.S. immigration policy stands in sharp contrast to Mexico’s own jealous sense of sovereignty. It is difficult to imagine a country touchier about interference in its domestic affairs or less tolerant of immigrants.” Mexico deports illegals crossing its southern border with admirable dispatch. Mexico knows its identity, likes it, and wants to keep it. They are saner than us on that count.

Is it too much to describe the current situation as an invasion? It may lack systematic coordination (though it surely does not lack sporadic coordination), and its effects, being gradual and cloaked by the miasma of multiculturalism, may be blurred from immediate view; but its consequence will hardly be less grave. Against their will the character of the American people will be transformed. A revolution will be made in the constitution of the nation. Our elites have always been thoroughly impatient with the instinctual conservatism of America on this point of dispute, have always been inexpressibly irritated by that inclination (or prejudice, if you insist) to treasure one’s identity, however elusive that word made be. If the American people will not go along with the dreams of elite, why, then we shall construct us a new people.

And let us have no illusions: this surely has a military component. Earlier this week we learned that, according to a Dept. of Homeland Security memo, “Mexican alien smugglers plan to pay violent gang members and smuggle them into the United States to murder Border Patrol agents.” Last month on the House floor, Rep. John Culberson of Texas presented photographs of stockpiles of weapons captured after a firefight on the Texas-Mexico border: automatic rifles, pistols, a dozen grenade launchers and ammunition. Now I don’t know anything about grenade launchers, but the things sure looked like the standard RPGs we are accustomed to seeing elsewhere in the world. As Culberson explained to the House, “this is just another week at the office for our law enforcement officers on the Texas border.” Another week trying to check the invasion we will not acknowledge.

posted by Paul Cella | 11:38 AM |

Books found at the last three or four “Friends of the Library” used book sale:

  • H. L. Mencken, The American Language.

  • John Dos Passos, Mr. Wilson’s War.

  • Winston S. Churchill, The Grand Alliance.

  • Norman F. Cantor, Medieval History.

  • William F. Buckley, ed., The Committee and Its Critics: A calm review of the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

Total cost: approximately seven dollars.

posted by Paul Cella | 11:23 AM |

Tuesday, January 17, 2006  

I have a book review of Thomas E. Woods, Jr.’s How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization in the current issue of Touchstone, for any interested readers.

posted by Paul Cella | 10:37 AM |

What a stirring story this is. A bill came before the Massachusetts Legislature, including among its 160 members exactly twenty Republicans, which would have given in-state tuition benefits to illegal aliens — thereby extending to them a privilege that American citizens from other states do not enjoy. Nine other states have made such rotten generosity a part of their laws, but let us be clear about what is meant by these laws. What is meant is an established inequality which favors the citizens of a foreign power, here illicitly, to our own people.

The vote was all but secure in favor of yet another usurpation, but then . . . I will let Mac Johnson tell the tale:

But then it happened. A small revolt began. In the crackling electromagnetic hinterlands of talk radio (conservative even in Massachusetts), people began to gather and passions began to rise. Numerous talk-show hosts, foremost among which was Howie Carr of WRKO in Boston, took up the cause in disgust and sparked a surprisingly intense grassroots wildfire.

Apparently, people are sick of the games and the giveaways and the corruption and the pandering associated with illegal immigration.

They are sick of the concept of citizenship being treated as some sort of anachronistic technicality. They are sick of politicians believing they can do anything to get one more vote from illegal interest groups and that the citizens they are supposed to serve will never do anything about it.

And they are sick of working by the rules everyday under the burden of heavy taxation and regulation just to see their money frittered away on the undeserving — while opportunities for their own children are threatened.

The supporters of the bill could only manage three more votes than they had sponsors, and this Legislature, totally controlled by Liberals, repudiated the proposal.

When something like this occurs in the most liberal state in the country, despite the best efforts of the one-party machine, the speaker of the House (Sal DiMasi), the Boston Globe, the state attorney general and gubernatorial wannabe (Tom Riley), and the other anointed elites, a turning point has been reached. Such an event has national political implications.

Johnson quotes a Democrat as saying, “America is fighting for its sovereignty today,” and notes astutely that “when Pat Buchanan’s words begin coming out of a Massachusetts Democrat’s mouth,” we have come pretty far. Yes, we have. The immigration enthusiasts, in their intransigence, are prepared to shake the political settlement of this country to its very core.

posted by Paul Cella | 10:33 AM |

Wednesday, January 11, 2006  

SUB SPECIE ATERNITATIS: “Today I wonder just how much longer the world — and the Church — will flee from the innocence of Christmas. Innocence is a nice-sounding word, but if properly understood it is a thing to be feared. The soul confronted with innocence is forced to deal with its own culpability. That, I believe, is why the world hates children: when it can’t get them aborted, it aborts their siblings and cousins, breaks up their families, herds them into socialist indoctrination camps called ‘schools,’ rots their brains with television, poisons their souls with popular music, deprives them of truth and beauty, robs them of sacramental grace, and otherwise assaults them with every kind of depravity known to man.”

— Jeff Culbreath’s Christmas reflection.

posted by Paul Cella | 1:08 PM |

Tuesday, January 03, 2006  

Last week The Wall Street Journal served up a real laugher of an editorial. Yet upon reflection derision is really not the proper response to it. More nearly pity is.

Quoting Representative Tom Tancredo’s praise for a recent immigration bill passed in the House, the Editors aver that “Tancredo has done everyone a favor by stating plainly the immigration rejectionists’ endgame — turn the United States into the world’s largest gated community.”

That brought a smile to my face. It suggests desperation and perhaps even a tinge of derangement. It is, let us say, less than certain that readers of the Journal are innately and irretrievably hostile to gated communities.

Yes, yes: we all know that the rise of gated communities is deplorable; we all know that the desire to maintain the identity of one’s community is mere bigotry; that virtue consists in submitting oneself to the dislocations and depredations of cities as they decay. We know this, of course, to the extent that we are self-loathing Liberals. Yet the gated communities keep popping up. Propriety says they are bad; interest, sentiment and prudence says otherwise.

In any case, this is hardly an auspicious start to an argument. Most nations across history have indeed been “gated” communities in the sense of achieving and maintaining a specific territorial integrity. We might even say that the definition of a nation-state is that political entity which is capable of preserving over time and against various threats, the territorial integrity of a society and the cultural identity which it embraces. It certainly seems a much more functional definition than the alternative peddled by such publications as The Wall Street Journal, which fancies a nation to be a grouping of people, conceivably including every man on earth, who assent to certain vague abstractions.

“The legislation is aimed at placating a small but vocal constituency that wants the borders somehow sealed,” warn the Editors. “Small but vocal,” in this instance, refers to between 60 and 70% of the American electorate. One is tempted to reply that “placating” them might be better described as republican self-government.

Sponsors of the legislation, led by House Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner and Homeland Security Chairman Peter King, [are] also forcing the business community to simultaneously create jobs and kill jobs. The bill would make it incumbent on employers to establish the immigration status of all hires and empower local police to enforce federal immigration laws. This means small-business owners soon could find themselves not only inconvenienced by a mandated hiring database system but also threatened with the prospect of bankruptcy due to repeated raids and high fines. Some will throw in the towel on the GOP.

Most would, more rationally, throw in the towel on illegal immigration, which is precisely the point. But again we see the perilous tendency of the WSJ (which speaks for a truly “small but vocal” faction) of regarding America first as a market and only secondarily as a nation — a nation possessed of a concrete identity which is threatened by mass immigration. It is rather remarkable, in my view, that a sentence like this would be brought out against the bill: “The bill would make it incumbent on employers to establish the immigration status of all hires and empower local police to enforce federal immigration laws.” Pure tyranny, that. Nor is it a particularly effective argument to complain, as the Editors do, that the bill oppresses “law-abiding aliens” (a strange term for those who have unlawfully violated our national sovereignty) and “smears” them as “lawbreakers,” which, in point of stubborn fact, they are.

The editorial concludes by lamenting the White House’s praise for the House bill and challenging the President to either “get behind the Statue of Liberty or [get behind] Tom Tancredo’s wall.” Once more, a symbol is offered in place of something concrete and real; more than that, the abstract is set in opposition to the concrete. The American ideals symbolized by the Statue of Liberty (and I do not deny that they are American ideals; I deny that they are the only or even the controlling American ideals) are assumed to preclude the maintenance of our territorial integrity. We must abolish our borders, de facto if not de jure, in order to cleave to the ideas which make us American.

What a pinched and demoralizing theory this is! What pernicious mischief is has exposed us to! We can have liberty only by traducing law; we can have prosperity only by subverting nationhood. Erect a wall to preserve our identity as a nation, and we have renounced what is good and inspiring in our national tradition. What can be the end and climax of a public philosophy which places patriotism in bondage to economics; which sets loyalty against aspiration and piety against tradition?

Can the Editors of The Wall Street Journal (and those for whom they speak) really hold to the degrading polarity they have constructed, or is it merely the consequence of the crabbed rhetoric they have chosen?

posted by Paul Cella | 2:11 PM |
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