Free at Last, Free at Last, Thank God I’m… Wait, what?

I don’t want to write too much about this, because despite the fact that every blog I’ve seen run this story calls the Jan Mickelson “influential” I can’t find much in the way of references to him anywhere on the intertubes prior to this week.*

But I still wanted to point the story out, because it illustrates perfectly a concept Ta-Nehisi Coates notes in Between the World & Me: How pathetically little it really takes for us to return to those evil places to which we have convinced ourselves we would never, ever consider returning. At least by the sound of it, this doesn’t sound like an instance of open-mouth-insert-foot disease. Mickelson really seems to have taken the time to carefully consider his proposal.

 

* Though I did notice he seems to have been quoted as a member of Team Not-Crazy Conservative by the DesMoines Register in an article about the Donald.

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36 thoughts on “Free at Last, Free at Last, Thank God I’m… Wait, what?

  1. Team Not Crazy?

    I’m not sure how we get there:

    The fact that Deace and Mickelson have long histories of extreme rhetoric has not dissuaded Republican candidates from joining their shows. But Mickelson just upped the ante with comments he made on his program today.

    He’s apparently pledged his allegiance to the confederacy and supported Jim Crow Laws; Media Matters sound clips at the link.

    Brainwashing.

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  2. He didn’t just take the time to carefully consider whether he himself supports slavery.
    He also seems to have carefully calculated that his audience would support it as well.

    And the thunderous silence from the conservative movement pundits and spokesmen, and the base itself shows he is probably right.

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  3. This stuff works in very insidious and oblique ways. Mickelson intends to shock people. His audience understands it’s hyperbole, but they don’t want that to be common knowledge. It’s an in-joke. They love how much it gets their enemies chuffed up. Understanding that it’s hyperbole marks you as a member of the in group, so anyone who doesn’t get it is marked as an outsider and mocked and harassed.

    However, it also moves the Overton window, making stuff that seemed crazy and outrageous last week tame by comparison. Guys like this get viewers by being the most outrageous.

    Responding to it is tricky. It’s meant to be constructed in such a way that there is no response.

    The fact is, his plan is not only illegal and outrageous, it’s also not very practical, because of the resources that would have to be deployed to implement it. I’m pretty sure that people are not going to be slaves willingly.

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  4. Yeah that statement is rather awful along with the current conservative manie ina against birthright citizenship. Something that has existed since the passing of the 14th Amendment and was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1898.

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    • Can you feel the Hispanic outreach working?

      Assuming the same rough demographics of the 2012 electorate, the GOP really sort of needs to expand among minorities. I mean the 2014 electorate is whiter and older — a LOT whiter and older — so it’s not as pressing, but seriously….ratcheting the xenophobic rhetoric up to 11 in a Presidential year strikes me as….unwise, given the likely makeup of the voting pool in 2016.

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  5. Section 1 of the Thirteenth Amendment reads: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

    I’m guessing that, to the extent there was mental process that went into this designed-for-shock-value statement at all, the reasoning is that a person who has entered the country without appropriate documentation has committed a crime. Read very charitably, such a person, if detected and determined to both be a foreign national and to lack a visa permitting entry to the country, would be an apparent violation of the law and therefore subject to criminal sanction. Thus, the “satisfaction” of local Iowa law enforcement presumably includes conviction of the crime of unlawful entry into the United States, and thereafter, criminal punishment in the form of involuntary servitude is Constitutional.

    Which is quite far from the tone and implications of the “policy proposal” but it’s the too-precious interpretation of a flip and casually offensive comment. I didn’t read a thing in the report about a criminal prosecution and conviction being part of the proposal. Although I did read that this shock DJ brazenly suggested that seizing a person who didn’t have proper papers and deeming them the “property of the state” would somehow not be slavery. That’s the best I can come up with to square the circle.

    All the more reason for comprehensive immigration reform, IMO.

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    • A big issue with kind of logic is that being in the United States illegally is considered a civil offense rather than a criminal one for the most part. Deporting people would be a lot more expensive if the 4th, 5th, and Sixth Amendment applied/

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  6. An incident certainly worth noting, but one observation strikes me as distorting the underlying question and actual political situation:

    How pathetically little it really takes for us to return to those evil places to which we have convinced ourselves we would never, ever consider returning.

    Those who consider immigration a very significant issue obviously do not consider the provocation a “pathetically little” one. What brings “us” to such “evil places” is, from the point of view of the Trump constituency, and similarly the constituency that defeated the series of bills following McCain-Kennedy from 2005-7 (“Comprehensive Immigration Reform” or sometimes “Shamnesty!”); that rallied to Buchanan, Perot, and others through the 90s; and that has large and influential counterparts in Europe, is a long-developing and passionately held concern that divides popular and elite opinion and tends to undermine the perceived legitimacy of (broadly speaking) liberal governance itself.

    This constituency believes, as Ben Domenech put it in a very worthwhile piece on Trump v Republican elites, and as observers on this question have recognized for a very long time, that our political system under the current correlation of political forces simply will not address the problem. Political players on left and right will only refer to and seek to exploit the issue, but will not manage to solve it. Domenech:

    The two major party establishments are more or less complicit in this political and cultural invalidation of a large swath of the electorate. Couple that with the economic disaffection this same group already bears toward the elites already leaving them behind, and something like the Trump boomlet was probably inevitable. If a large – sorry, yuge – portion of the country wants existing bipartisan immigration laws to be enforced, and one party tells them “Yes,” but means “No,” and the other party tells them, “No” but means “You’re a racist,” then it’s only a matter of time before some disruptor is going to emerge to call them out for their game.

    Domenech’s articles focuses on “the Trump problem,” and in relation to the hot issue (here and elsewhere) of “identity politics.” He does a nice job of summarizing the issue as it has appeared in many other places, including ones that have maintained much more “liberal” policies on immigration or support for immigrants – even if very few other countries in the world have anything resembling American “birthright citizenship.” (As I’ve pointed out in OT discussions before, American left-liberals and even many on the center-right treat birthright citizenship as some kind of obvious universal moral precept, even though it amounts, for better or for worse, a nearly unique example of “American exceptionalism.”)

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    • This is not a fair representation of what D’s and liberals are looking for. We would like comprehensive immigration reform. You know like the Prez and D’s pushed for and was passed in the senate in , what was it 2010, but then was killed in the House. It isn’t about using it to hammer R’s, its about fixing the broken system we have now. It is completely accurate to say D’s and Liberals was the people here to have a path to citizenship and more open immigration generally.

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      • The only characterization of the “D’s and liberals” position is that 1) if ever passed and successfully implemented, over whatever number of mostly rightwing dead bodies, it would be very far from anything that a large swath of the electorate, including significant (formerly?) “natural” Democratic constituencies, wants;, 2) it doesn’t get passed despite extensive effort; and 3) it is supported by heavily “identity-political” claims against opponents: i.e., calls em racist all the livelong day.

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        • “Political players on left and right will only refer to and seek to exploit the issue, but will not manage to solve it. ”

          The D’s and R’s in the senate offered a solution. I recognize the R’s have a huge split on how to deal with it. But D’s and the large Latino groups have been pushing for a solution.

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  7. I’m not accepting any more, of the “this is just a shock jock” stuff, nor any “this is just entertainment” position.

    I think we need to accept that the conservative movement has become a sort of lynch mob, where people are now willing to say or do things that were once unimaginable.

    These people are not kidding, or just joking around. And even the ones who by themselves won’t speak this aloud publically, will enthusiastically vote for someone who does.

    We need to say it loud ourselves, that the conservative base in America is willing to do these things, or at least openly tolerate those who do.

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    • I think we need to accept that the conservative movement has become a sort of lynch mob, where people are now willing to say or do things that were once unimaginable.

      Fixed that for you:

      I think we need to accept that the conservative movement has become an entertainment industry, where people are now willing to say or do things that were once unimaginable.

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  8. Here’s what gets me:

    When a right-wing talk radio guy says we should ignore the 13th amendment, which has been enshrined in our constitution for a century and a half, and was written to prevent the vile exploitation and abuse of people of color living within the United States, people on the left and right recognize that such a thing is beyond the pale.

    When much more prominent politicians say we should ignore the 14th amendment, which has been enshrined in our constitution for a century and a half, and was written to prevent the vile exploitation and abuse of people of color living within the United States, it’s treated as a legitimate policy debate.

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  9. Mickelson said his solution is moral, legal and doable. The doable part seems like a stretch. The moral part even more so. But for some reason I think the legal part might be the biggest hurdle of em all. What provision of the constitution grants states (governments!?) the right to enslave people who aren’t US citizens? (I mean, let’s get real here: you’d have to at least be a citizen of the state enslaving you for this to hold up at the federal level. )

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