#1517 Reverse Freedom Rides (Human Trafficking Asylum Seekers) (Transcript)

Air Date 9/30/2022

Full Notes Page

Download PDF

Audio-Synced Transcript

JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Welcome to this episode of the award-winning Best of the Left Podcast, in which we shall take a look at the attention grabbing stunt of transporting asylum seekers from Texas to Martha's Vineyard and other politically liberal destinations, and the white supremacist inspirations for this policy.

Clips today are from On the Media, The BradCast, Some More News, REDIRECT, Democracy Now, and Now & Then, with an additional members-only clip from Now & Then. And stay tuned at the end of the show for my take on the structural nature of demonizing and mistreating immigrants.

DeSantis, Fox News, and the Martha's Vineyard 'Stunt' - On the Media - Air Date 9-23-22

NEWS REPORTS: An escalation in the political fight over immigration. Dozens of apparent migrants landed by charter flight on a rocky island in the Atlantic, Marthas Vineyard, Massachusetts. This was yesterday...

BROOKE GLADSTONE - HOST, ON THE MEDIA: On Tuesday, Venezuelan migrants flown to the small, wealthy vacation island sued Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for engaging in a duplicitous scheme to relocate them. An attorney who's representing some of the [00:01:00] migrants who landed in Martha's Vineyard claimed that they were purposefully deceived.

UNKNOWN: The migrants were misled about where they were being taken and what would be provided when they arrived.

BROOKE GLADSTONE - HOST, ON THE MEDIA: DeSantis has admitted to his involvement in the scheme but has reiterated that

GOV. RON DESANTIS: was clearly voluntary and all the other nonsense you're hearing that's just not true and, and why wouldn't they want to go given where they were?

BROOKE GLADSTONE - HOST, ON THE MEDIA: Phillip Bump, national correspondent for the Washington Post, suggests that DeSantis may have taken some inspiration from Tucker Carlson's segment back in late July.

TUCKER CARLSON: ...has got to be Martha's Vineyard. Over the past four years, according to FTC data, 92% of all donations from its biggest town, Edgartown, Massachusetts, went to the Democratic Party. So you probably imagine, Edgartown is pretty diverse. I mean, the Obama's lived on the island right now. In fact, we checked: at last count, Edgartown is 95.7% white. What century is this? They are begging for more [00:02:00] diversity. Why not send migrants there in huge numbers?

PHILLIP BUMP: Obviously we can't at this point draw a direct line between what Carlson is saying on the air and what DeSantis ended up doing. But there are a lot of asterisks that apply here. He has claimed that this was because he was taking "illegal immigrants" in his terminology and moving them to a sanctuary state.

But these were not immigrants that were in the country illegally. They were apparently people who were seeking asylum, they're allowed to be in the country legally. Massachusetts and Martha's Vineyard are not sanctuary jurisdictions. And not only that, but these people didn't come from Florida, they came from Texas.

So there are all these indications that this was not only a political stunt, but it didn't even uphold the basic tenants that DeSantis was claiming that it upheld.

BROOKE GLADSTONE - HOST, ON THE MEDIA: Now, what I don't entirely understand is, what's this about? Florida Governor sending migrants seeking asylum from Texas to Martha's Vineyard. Couldn't he find some in Florida?

PHILLIP BUMP: Well, it's a great point. He's actually asked about that this week. He framed it as a problem that they didn't [00:03:00] have as many immigrants as he had hoped.

They had someone who was working in San Antonio, apparently, who was responsible for identifying individuals who might be willing to participate in this. They kept them sequestered in hotel rooms, in part, a, lawsuit alleged this week, because they wanted to prevent them from talking to actual immigration aides who might have told them, Hey look, this is not normal and you might want to reconsider this. Essentially this was rooted in Texas and there was a very brief 40 minute stopover in Florida, potentially just to uphold the letter of the law.

The budget that was set aside mandated that the people be sent from Florida, so it may be the case they simply came to Florida, landed on the ground for 40 minutes, and then took off, destined for Martha's Vineyard, simply to be able to use that funding. Everything about it was a setup.

BROOKE GLADSTONE - HOST, ON THE MEDIA: The migrants who were ushered onto the plane, they were promised jobs by these operatives before they were shipped off, and DeSantis hasn't addressed the ethics of that.

PHILLIP BUMP: There had been promises made that there would be [00:04:00] employment, that there would be housing, that there would be resources, a newsletter obtained a copy of a brochure that had been made and given to the migrants, which basically presented to the migrants that they would have access to all these various resources that are available to refugees, but these were not people who were seeking refugee status. And so there are lots of indications that there are misrepresentations made about what they could expect once they arrived, where they're going, which they didn't know apparently until they were on the plane.

You had asked about the ethics of this. I think the ethics of this are very clear, that these are not just people who woke up one day just across the border in Mexico and decided, Hey, I'm gonna try and enter the United States. These are people who traveled from Venezuela, where the government is in meltdown, where there are all these crises that are unfolding. One of the people that's part of this lawsuit escaped with her husband and her 11 year old son, and they made their way to the United States. They crossed the border immediately, according to the lawsuit, turned themselves over to authorities, presumably to make a claim of asylum. Ended up in San Antonio after being released, suggesting they're in [00:05:00] country legally, then were approached by someone and said, Hey, look, we can get you a job and housing. Just sign here. And they did so. And then bam, here they are. The ethics of that, regardless of the politics, regardless of law, seem pretty obvious.

So getting back to Fox, DeSantis sent a videographer on the plane with the migrants and he obtained some shaky exclusive footage for Fox News of the planes touching down and the migrants lining up to disembark. This could be added to a long list of DeSantis-Fox News collaborations.

Ron DeSantis has played to the Fox News audience repeatedly. Yeah. For example, when he signed legislation last year, restricting access to voting in the state of Florida, purportedly because he was concerned about illegal voting and so on, so forth, he prevented other news outlets from being in the room when he did it. And in the middle of a Fox and Friends' interview, he actually signed the legislation. He has been very deliberate about using his position as governor of Florida to play to right-wing culture war [00:06:00] fights. We've seen this in a number of different legislative efforts. Republicans in the state legislature have gone along with him repeatedly. But this is what he's building his political brand on, is being the guy who's gonna use governmental power to actually affect the sorts of things that people are talking about on Fox News. And he's very, very explicit about that.

BROOKE GLADSTONE - HOST, ON THE MEDIA: And as much as DeSantis loves Fox News, Fox News really, really loves DeSantis.

PHILLIP BUMP: Ron DeSantis can thank Fox News for his current career. He was a member of the House of Representatives who wanted to be elected governor of Florida. He had the very smart strategy of going on Fox News as often as possible, and speaking to its viewer, Donald Trump, when Donald Trump was president of the United States. And he was repeatedly blasting the Russia investigation, the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

GOV. RON DESANTIS: Trump/Russia so-called collusion still many months later, no evidence of that. But if you...

PHILLIP BUMP: And Donald Trump liked that, so Donald Trump endorsed him in the primary in Florida. DeSantis ran ads, basically presenting himself as a carbon [00:07:00] copy of Trump, was able to win the party primary, and then by the skin of his teeth win election in Florida in 2018. People forget that he won by a very, very narrow margin. But since then, has really, probably even more than Trump, leveraged his power on behalf of the political right in the country.

DeSantis' kidnapping 'stunt' - The BradCast - Air Date 9-19-22

BRAD FRIEDMAN - HOST, THE BRADCAST: A key issue of contention, notes Legum, is whether the migrants boarded the flights freely and voluntarily. While DeSantis and his administration repeatedly referred to the migrants as "illegal immigrants", they are not. The migrants surrendered to immigration officials after crossing the border into Texas. That is not illegal. That is the way it is supposed to be done when migrants anywhere in the world, according to all sorts of treaties that the US is a party to, that's what's supposed to happen when migrants cross a border to seek asylum.

These migrants are in fact now seeking asylum from the [00:08:00] repressive authoritarian regime in Venezuela and are legally permitted to do so, legally permitted to remain in the US while their cases are being considered by immigration courts. So these migrants, as Legum notes, are able to voluntarily travel within the US. But many told reporters that they were misled about the nature of these flights. Several migrants told NPR they were told that the flight was going to Boston, not to Martha's Vineyard. According to the migrants, a woman who identified herself as Perla also said that if they traveled to Boston, they would receive, quote, "expedited work papers."

So they came here seeking work and seeking safety. What they became, however, was not just a victim of a cruel political stunt by an ambitious pro-authoritarian governor in the US, but also they became potentially victims of a crime. [00:09:00]

The process, as retired Florida attorney and friend of the show, Keith Barber wrote at Medium over the weekend, seemed to mirror the reverse freedom rides of the 1960s when southern white segregationists tricked Black people into bus rides to the north with similar false promises.

This is an old game. They're still doing it. But Barber notes signing waivers does not mean much if the waivers were part of the deception process, or the signing of them was induced by deception. The allegation that the migrants were purposely misled is legally significant, Legum, an attorney, concurs. He said it would mean that the flights were -- I'm sorry, Legum is not an attorney, Barber is, I'll get back to Barber in a second -- it would mean that the flights were not just heartless, but potentially criminal. If the migrants were misled, the scheme to transport them to Martha's Vineyard could constitute fraud, [00:10:00] false imprisonment, and/or kidnapping.

So: as Keith Barber writes, what does the Federal Kidnapping statute 18 USC, Section 1201 read? Quote, "Whoever unlawfully seizes, confines, inveigles, decoys, kidnaps, abducts, or carries away and holds for ransom or reward or otherwise when the person is willfully transported in interstate or foreign commerce shall be punished by imprisonment for any term of years or for life. The statute goes on to impose the same penalty for conspiring to do the very same thing.

So who all was involved in this project? As Keith Barber observes, the key word there in the federal code is "inveigles". He cites by way of example, the case of 1974's US v Hogue, Mr. [00:11:00] Hogue apparently induced young women into his car on the promise to take them home or yes, to his work where a job would be waiting for them.

The women voluntarily got into his car. And then he would take them somewhere other than where he had promised, where he and an accomplice, guy by the name of Mills, would then rape them before releasing them. Hogue challenged his kidnapping conviction on grounds that the women voluntarily got into the car. It couldn't be kidnapping if they got in voluntarily. Well, the US Court of Appeals rejected that argument finding, quote, "The argument is frivolous. Uncontradicted testimony of each victim in that case discloses that Mills or Hogue induced each of them to accept a ride by false representations. Once they had accepted a ride, Hogue or Mills lured or enticed each of them [00:12:00] again by false promises to stay in the vehicle during its roundabout course into Kansas. The complaining witnesses were manifestly inveigled or decoyed," the appeals court wrote, citing the federal statute, "into accepting these rides with the plain meaning within 18 USC 1201."

In response to the Martha's Vineyard incident, lawyer Susan Church told Politico there is "absolutely the possibility of both civil and criminal liability if people were lied to about where they were going or what they were going to do, what they were going to get when they got there."

Well, as Legum reports, DeSantis has been adamant that the migrants were not misled. He claims that the migrants were provided with a map showing the destination was Martha's Vineyard, describes the flight as " all voluntary." Appearing on Fox News on Sunday morning, [00:13:00] Florida's Republican lieutenant governor Jeanette Nunez called allegations that the migrants were misled, "categorically false." Really? Really, Jeanette? Because Popular Information has obtained a brochure that was provided to the migrants who ultimately agreed to the flights. It was provided to them, to Popular Information, by lawyers for Civil Rights or LCR, the Boston-based legal organization representing 30 of the 48 migrants.

And someone took a lot of time making this very nice and colorful brochure. It's not just a flyer, it's an actual trifold brochure. It quotes Massachusetts Refugee Benefits, has a colorful Welcome to Massachusetts graphic on it. The brochure says the migrants who arrive in Massachusetts will be eligible for numerous benefits including "eight months cash assistance", " assistance with housing", food, "clothing, transportation, job interviews", "job [00:14:00] training, job placement, registering children for school, assistance applying for social security cards, and many other benefits."

But none of that is true, as it turns out.

Which sure sounds a whole lot like the federal definition of kidnapping, in fact. Matt Cameron, a Boston-based immigration attorney, explained that the benefits described in the brochure are resettlement benefits that are available to refugees who have been referred by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and authorized to live in the US. These benefits are not available in Massachusetts to the migrants who boarded those flights who are still in the process of seeking asylum. Those migrants who boarded the planes, according to Cameron, quote, "absolutely do not have access to cash and housing and other resettlement benefits, which are provided through both federal funds and partnerships with faith based organizations. The brochure [00:15:00] designed to resemble a government document does not explain that these benefits described are only available to specially designated refugees."

So, I would love to hear what you think should go on here. On Saturday, Lawyers for Civil Rights wrote to the US attorney, Rachael Rollins, and to the Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who by the way, is running for governor in Massachusetts herself this year, calling on them to open a formal investigation, criminal and/or civil.

LCR wrote: "Individuals working in concert with state officials, including the Florida governor, made numerous false promises to LCR's client, including of work opportunities, schooling for children, immigration assistance, in order to induce them to travel. Those who had induced our clients to travel under these false pretenses disappeared, leaving our clients to learn that the offer of assistance [00:16:00] had all been a ruse to exploit them for political purposes." And now this brochure would at least seem to be a smoking gun in that regard.

The GOP's Martha's Vineyard Stunt Backfired And Then They Just Lied About It – SOME MORE NEWS - Air Date 9-28-22

CODY - HOST, SOME MORE NEWS: We were talking about what happened in Martha's Vineyard, and if you recall, these migrants spent a couple of days on the island before being brought to Cape Cod. As we already explained, many of them had ICE appointments and various logistics to figure out, and so it was at no point assumed that they would stay on the island and live there.

But at least while they were there, they were welcomed with open arms. The entire actual event, meaning what happened after they landed on Martha's Vinyard, was pretty conflict free. And as we've outlined, it absolutely seemed like DeSantis and other Republicans were fully expecting there to be some kind of a racist freak out, you know, like what they would do. And when there wasn't, you would then expect this story to probably fade away. Which is why we really wanted to cover it as soon as we could, because probably one of the more fascinating [00:17:00] reactions to this entire event has to be the behavior from pundits and politicians on the right. After all, how are they going to handle this obvious failure? This flacid stunt that backfired and made them all look like cruel dopes?

SEAN HANNITY: How rich is this? Within less than 24 hours, 50 migrants in beautiful Martha's Vineyard are kicked out of the island of millionaires and billionaires in liberals, and meanwhile, already your state of Texas this year at what, 1.1 million illegal immigrants have crossed into Texas.

CODY - HOST, SOME MORE NEWS: Oh, it turns out they're just gonna lie about. The story that the GOP is going with in big, bold, letters is, "liberals deport migrants". I want you to really look at that three word headline, because two thirds of it is a literal lie. They weren't deported for starters. The definition of deportation is to move someone out of a country. In this case, they didn't even move them out of the state. Nor did the liberals do anything. It was the state's [00:18:00] Republican governor who made the decision. That's not my opinion, that's not an interpretation, that's what literally factually happened in this reality in which we all allegedly live.

But since none of that fits with the GOP's desired result, their tactic in this matter has been to simply make up a new story. Not misrepresent or skew the truth, but literally just make stuff up. At one, Ted Cruz tweeted, quote, "Leftist hypocrisy. National Guard sent to interdict 50 illegal immigrants who disturbed liberals, golf games and Chardonnay at Martha's Vineyard." Wow. Sounds so bad when you put it that way, and by that way, I mean just lying, because the lefties didn't call the National Guard. Again, that would be the Republican governor. Ted just lied, as he does. You know, Ted Cruz, who famously hates politicians that golf instead of help people. But yeah, they're just lying about what happened, as if people can't just [00:19:00] look it up for themselves.

And I know that doesn't come as a surprise to many of our viewers. After all, they do this genre of lie all the time when it comes to the border. Much like gas prices and inflation, the border is an extremely malleable talking point. For example, this GOP lawmaker tweeting outrage that a bunch of fentanyl was seized at the border under Joe Biden. What's the outrage there? Did he want the drugs to get through? Isn't that an example of Joe Biden's border policy working? If Trump was president, wouldn't he be bragging about this? They do this all the time. Here's the GOP admitting that more people have been arrested at the border under Biden than under Trump, as if that's a hit against him from the point of view of their own anti-immigration politics.

You can't just say something and pretend you're saying the opposite. People can, like, read, you know! I mean, not a lot of people do, but people can. But again, this happens all the time. So many weird lies, [00:20:00] but that doesn't mean we should ignore it. Because not only did they lie and make up this entirely new narrative about Martha's Vineyard, but they've completely plowed past anyone pointing that out. They've since begun to post memes about this totally false version of, taking this bizarre victory lap and putting out think pieces about "liberal hypocrisy" despite their literally being zero recorded evidence of anyone on Martha's Vineyard complaining about the presence of immigrants, but rather about who brought them there and how and why.

It's almost as if they wrote the headlines first, assuming that something bad would happen, and then just refused to change them when nothing did. Again, no one in Martha's Vineyard was upset that the migrants were brought there. What they were upset about was the conditions under which they were brought. But in order to make this liberal hypocrisy thing work, they have to completely ignore all of the serious answers and nuance about how these immigrants have to be processed [00:21:00] or want to find work or move to locations where their families are. So they lie and say they were deported.

They have to pretend like outrage over the conditions for the migrants is the same thing as being upset about the existence of them. It's been weird and desperate and pathetic to watch as these right-wing freaks look for anything they can. I don't know, man. This is kind of weak, and weird, and depressing, and a little creepy too, like watching a mummy smokes. Because it means that, along with appealing to the cruelest people in the country, DeSantis and the GOP are also trying to appeal to the most gullible people, mean spirited, easily manipulated people, and if it works well, that just says a whole lot of sad about the country, doesn't it?

It would mean that the years of shouting fake news worked and that rejection of reality is so hardened that they don't even have to try to lie to their base. That's really what's shocking about the lies around this Martha's Vineyard [00:22:00] story. How incredibly lazy they are, how little respect they have for the voters they're even doing this for. They're so provably wrong for anyone with an ounce of critical thinking.

Latest Border Updates, Martha's Vineyard Lib Owning - REDIRECT Immigration Law and Perspectives - Air Date 9-17-22

STEPHEN ROBINS - HOST, REDIRECT: So I do think -- I had a consultation this week with a lady, and I think this is a good illustration for people, because I think people don't have any sense of how this works and what happens afterwards.

But this woman had a good asylum claim. She didn't have an attorney. She's been checking with ICE locally since 2016. It's sort of like a probation thing, but I don't even think it's fair to call it probation, 'cause sometimes probation officers -- this is my understanding -- will see how you're doing and might actually check in on you.

This is literally just, I'm here, sign a paper and then usually get bad legal advice, right? Like I asked her, Do you have a driver's license, which she's allowed to get in Washington? And she said, No. They told me that I can't have one. So she's been checking in with this federal agency for six years under the [00:23:00] impression that she -- they've just lied to her that you can't have a driver's license.

She ends up going to her hearing in 2018 and she only brings an application in her daughter's name. She hasn't been provided any free legal advice. She doesn't have a work permit, so she can't work to hire a lawyer. And the judge yells at her and denies her application because she forgot to bring an application in English with her own name on it.

She, after that, is able to hire a lawyer -- luckily, not me, somebody else -- who got the case remanded on appeal 'cause the judge didn't give her any warnings about hey, bring an application in your name. He didn't set the table for denying the case in the first place.

But the point is, after six years, no work permit because of the way the work permit clock works, and we won't even get into that. She's not gonna qualify for a work permit. She got totally hosed by this judge. [00:24:00] It's one thing to say we don't have the infrastructure and all that -- and it's true -- but also we do have this massive infrastructure in place that is literally doing nothing. They could help with work permits, they could provide some base level assistance, or we could have attorneys that are doing that because they're already checking in with people. But we do everything we can to just place obstacles in front of these people already. Right?

And so then the idea that we're busing them around as some sort of stunt on top of all the bull* they have to deal with is, it's so frustrating.

But anyways, that's my little rant.

TAYLOR LEVY: Absolutely. The states are spending millions of dollars on these buses, and I think the staff just came out for the flight to Martha's Vineyard. It was over $2,000 per migrant to get the charter flights and it's absolutely absurd. And we know that under Obama there was a pilot program for intensive [00:25:00] family case management, which was where nonprofit organizations were contracted by the federal government to provide all of that support.

The types of things that -- you're right, the general public thinks of when they think of probation: support, support in understanding the legal process -- and there was 99% appearance rates for people's immigration courts when they had that support system in place.

And Trump got rid of it. And Biden had restarted it. To his credit, one thing we hadn't had done that good is that they've vastly expanded funding for the immigration court help desk. And so there's immigration court help desks now in more cities than there used to be. There's more capacity, and so there is at least some bright points, of the type of information and legal advocacy that people are getting.

The other thing I'll say that's kind of absurd about the buses and isn't always put out there is the statistic, if I remember correctly, I might be slightly off, that our colleagues in DC are reporting is that when the [00:26:00] bus arrives, only about 15% of those people have nowhere to go. The rest of the people were just like, You know what? There's a free bus that the government of Texas pays for for me to get to DC. Why would I buy a Greyhound ticket or a plane ticket if I could just hop on the free bus? And so a lot of people are like, Awesome, cool. There's this free bus I'm gonna take to DC, and then I'm gonna go to my family. My family's gonna come and pick me up in DC. Or even if you're crossing somewhere like Eagle Pass Del Rio, and you're trying to get to Miami, let's say, it's way cheaper to buy a plane ticket from DC to Miami than it is to buy a plane ticket from Eagle Pass to Miami.

So it's a logical choice that a lot of people are like, Awesome. Thanks so much, Greg Abbott, you're giving us free buses to DC. It's only about 15% of the people showing up who are like, I need services. I have nowhere to go. And also no one's in custody when they're on the buses. They're completely voluntary.

So [00:27:00] all the buses arrive with 50 people leaving on them, and they arrive with way fewer numbers by the time they get there. Sometimes, I know one of the New York buses had 11 people show up on it because they can get off whenever they want along the way. So they're air conditioned, they have wifi, they're faster than Greyhounds, they're way freaking nicer 'cause they're charter buses, and they just get off along the way. They're like, Whoa, cool. Yeah, I'm in Tennessee, or whatever it is. I don't know the exact route. And they just get off along the way and have their family come pick them up. Free bus. Thanks so much. And that's millions of dollars, millions that Texas has spent on this. And Arizona.

MATT CAMERON - CO-HOST, REDIRECT: We've been owned! They've owned us.

STEPHEN ROBINS - HOST, REDIRECT: No, it's an owned fail, self owned.

Yeah. So thinking again about my dad or people who are maybe more sympathetic to the overall cause, what's the elevator pitch? You wanna call your congressman or you wanna sort of understand how this can be fixed? [00:28:00] What are the top two or three things you would say we should be pushing for to get to where we need to go?

TAYLOR LEVY: Open the ports of entry to us.


TAYLOR LEVY: Well, yeah. Abolish the nation state. Abolish borders. A free movement of people.

STEPHEN ROBINS - HOST, REDIRECT: Yeah. And then after that?

TAYLOR LEVY: After all that, more realistic solutions is create a free, fair, transparent, organized process by which migrants can access seeking asylum at the ports of entry safely, routinely, from all nationalities, so that people will not be pigeonholed into this vacuum of my only option is going to organized crime.

And the reason why we saw those 46 migrants die in the back of that trailer in San Antonio is you can look all of their nationalities: Guatemala and Honduras and El Salvador and Mexico, because they were the four countries that you just cannot seek asylum, almost no matter what you do. You're just gonna keep getting dumped on the streets over and over again, no matter [00:29:00] how much proof you have, no matter how much you beg, or you're gonna get put on a plane back to El Salvador, back to Guatemala.

And that's why we see drownings. That's why we see people dying in these trailer trucks. So open up the ports of entry, Allow people to seek asylum without having to turn to organize crime, without having to turn to smugglers. If you actually care about people's safety, it is Title 42. It is metering. It is the closing of the ports of entry that has allowed the cartels to expand. Title 42 was a stimulus plan for the cartels. We've said that over and over again. So that would be the biggest thing to change.

I would say the second biggest thing to change that's actually realistic is the asylum clock, this idea that people are going to be vetted and released from the government, but cannot work legally, because we all know that the vast majority of the people just turn to unauthorized employment, which means they get exploited, which means [00:30:00] they get trafficked, which means that they get in these horrific work environments where they're underpaid and taken advantage of and put into danger, because they don't have this magical piece of paper that is even confusing for immigration lawyers to understand. The asylum clock. And the process and the categories. So those would be the two biggest changes that I think could actually maybe happen.

MATT CAMERON - CO-HOST, REDIRECT: I think there has to be one bigger change before that, because you said we have to get people to care about people's safety.

We actually have to get people to view these people as people. And that's the thing is: they don't view them as humans. People laughing about DeSantis's trick with Martha's Vineyard and all that, because they don't view them as people. They don't view them as humans. 'Cause if they view them as humans, they would be like, Hey, that's a good own, but well wait a minute -- aren't those human beings?

Reverse Freedom Rides Flying Migrants North, Florida Gov. Steals Page from Segregationists Part 1 - Democracy Now! - Air Date 9-20-22

AMY GOODMAN: Last week, Florida Republican Governor Ron [00:31:00] DeSantis took credit for sending the asylum seekers to Martha’s Vineyard, saying it’s part of a broader scheme by Republican governors to bus or fly migrants to states controlled by Democrats, and vowed to push forward on a $12 million state-funded program to relocate so-called unauthorized aliens to so-called sanctuary cities.

GOV. RON DESANTIS: I got $12 million for us to use, and so we are going to use it. And you’re going to see more and more, but I’m going to make sure that we exhaust all those funds, because I think it’s important. I think people want to see that we’re actually standing up and trying to protect the state against Biden’s really, really reckless policies.

AMY GOODMAN: This comes as reporter Judd Legum tweeted that “One of the planes used in DeSantis’ Martha’s Vineyard stunt is currently scheduled to travel tomorrow from San Antonio, to Florida, to a small airport near Biden’s house in Delaware,”. Just last Thursday, about a hundred [00:32:00] asylum seekers from Colombia, Cuba, Guyana, Nicaragua, Panama and Venezuela were dropped off in front of Vice President Kamala Harris’s residence in Washington, D.C. The buses were sent from Texas by Republican Governor Greg Abbott. This is an asylum seeker from Venezuela.

DAVID MORALES: It was a very long trip, quite tough. We didn’t expect to be left adrift here without knowing where to head to. Our objective is to reach New York.

AMY GOODMAN: As the White House denounces Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Texas Governor Greg Abbott for busing and flying asylum seekers to liberal states, we turn now to look at a largely forgotten piece of U.S. history. This has happened before. It was the Reverse Freedom Rides of 1962, when white segregationists tied to the white supremacist Citizens’ Councils bused African Americans to Northern areas, including Cape [00:33:00] Cod, Massachusetts, where President John F. Kennedy had a summer home in Hyannis. Black families were promised good jobs and free housing, only to find out they had been tricked.

The Boston public media outlet GBH has closely documented the legacy of the Reverse Freedom Rides. In 2019, the station produced a short documentary titled The Long Journey North. This is Betty Williams, who arrived in Hyannis, Massachusetts, with her family after being tricked into leaving their home in Arkansas.

BETTY WILLIAMS: My mother was told she was going have better everything. She was going to have a job, and she was going to be able to support her family, and her children was going to be able to get an education, you know, be able to go to school. You know, that alone was not the truth. …

I guess when you get to be an adult, you just kind of block out things, the things you just don’t want to remember. I don’t know what it is, but I don’t remember a lot about the bus. All I know, I was on a bus, and I [00:34:00] remember them giving me a ticket or something like that, whatever. I don’t know if — I don’t know how much money they gave me. I don’t even remember none of that stuff.

This is me and my mom. That’s me, and that’s my wonderful mother, who has gone on to be with the Lord. We didn’t really have anything. We just had our clothing. We didn’t have furniture and stuff like that we can bring here.

AMY GOODMAN: Betty Williams, speaking in the short GBH documentary The Long Journey North about the Reverse Freedom Rides of 1962, 60 years ago. The documentary also featured archival clips of two architects of the Reverse Freedom Rides, the segregationists Amis Guthridge and George Singelmann.

REPORTER: What do you suppose will be the ultimate accomplishment of this program?

GEORGE SINGELMANN: The ultimate accomplishment, of course, has already been obtained. And that is to focus attention on the hypocrisy of the Northern liberals and the NAACP, Urban League [00:35:00] and people like that, especially.

AMIS GUTHRIDGE: We intend to continue it until those people in the majority tell those politicians we are through with this foolishness about civil rights and things that you’re using for political purposes.

Immigration Defining Us and Them - Now & Then - Air Date 9-27-22

HEATHER COX RICHARDSON, CO-HOST, NOW & THEN: All right, so President Coolidge, who accepts the presidential nomination in 1924 said this, "restricted immigration is not an offensive, but purely a defensive action. It is not adopted in criticism of others in the slightest degree, but solely for the purpose of protecting ourselves. We cast no aspersions on any race or creed, but we must remember that every object of our institutions of society and government will fail unless America be kept American.", which is an interesting thought that people in other places [00:36:00] pick up on.

JOANNE FREEMAN - CO-HOST, NOW & THEN: That's quite a phrase, "unless America be kept American." On the one hand, it's snappy, and on the other hand, what's contained within that phrase is quite a lot about who counts and who should be here and who shouldn't be here. Now, along similar lines, future German dictator Adolph Hitler referenced that 1924 law from prison in writings that became part of his 1925 Mein Kampf.

These are Hitler's words. "There is currently one state in which one can observe at least weak beginnings of a better conception. This is of course not our exemplary German republic, but the American Union, in which an effort is being made to consider the dictates of reason to at least some extent. The American Union categorically refuses the immigration of physically unhealthy elements, and [00:37:00] simply excludes the immigration of certain races. Hitler approves.

HEATHER COX RICHARDSON, CO-HOST, NOW & THEN: So what this did—the 1924 Immigration Act puts into place a new concept of what America should look like by accepting the proposition, and then reinforcing the proposition with Pseudoscientific eugenics, to say that some people literally are better than others, that the nature or nature's God, taking language there from the Declaration of Independence, was wrong to say that all men are created. That in fact, they are not, and some people are better than others. And, of course, people like Adolph Hitler think that that's ducky, that that's just wonderful. After World War II, when Americans had to grapple with what it meant for a nation to believe that some people were better than others, with the horrors of the Holocaust, Americans [00:38:00] reworked our immigration system. And the way in which we reworked it is instructive.

JOANNE FREEMAN - CO-HOST, NOW & THEN: So, the Hart–Celler Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 broke away from that country by country quota system that we mentioned a few minutes ago, which had been renewed with the 1952 McLaren Walter Act, which had allowed a little bit of Asian immigration. But the 1965 Act instead established hemispheric caps for immigration visas. 170,000 annual visas in the Eastern Hemisphere, allowing no more then 20,000 from each individual country, and 120,000 visas in the Western hemisphere. And the Act also specified priorities as to the kinds of immigrants who should be let into the nation, who should be applying for visas, allowed to apply for visas.

So in descending order, [00:39:00] priority would've been granted to: unmarried children of US citizens, spouses and unmarried children of permanent residents, professional scientists and artists of exceptional capability, married children and their spouses and children of US citizens, siblings and their spouses and children of US citizens, workers in occupations with labor shortages, and finally, political refugees.

HEATHER COX RICHARDSON, CO-HOST, NOW & THEN: Okay, so there's something really interesting about Hart–Celler and that is by imposing these hemispheric limits the way they did, is they set up many of the problems that we have now. So, for example, in 1965, this Hart–Celler Act caps the immigration from Latin America for the first time in American history, as I say, that border had been open. People just came during the season and they went back to Mexico when it wasn't harvest season, for the most part, there's some limits to that. But with Hart–Celler, the cap on Latin [00:40:00] American immigration was 20,000 people. Now the problem was that even in 1965, the United States was using about 50,000 migrant workers every year.

So they continue to come because they still have jobs, they still have employers who need them, but now they're illegal. So this creates a problem after 1965, where by the mid 1980s, there are about 2.3 million Mexicans who are living in America illegally, and Congress tries to fix the problem by offering amnesty for all of them and by cracking down on the employers who continue to hire undocumented workers. But what happens then is that it's a temporary attempt to fix it, but the new law militarizes the border.

So now, instead of undocumented migrants coming in and then leaving at the end of the season and continuing the migration, now the migrants don't wanna go back across the [00:41:00] border because it's militarized and they don't know if they're gonna be able to come back in.

So Hart–Celler, while it was intended to stop this quota system, and there were a lot of people who thought it was a really good thing to stop the quota system, ends up creating this border problem that America had really not had before. So it does that, and then it also does something that, speaking of race, I find absolutely fascinating.

So the idea of getting rid of the quota based system was, in fact, to try and make American immigration much more even handed. We wanted the immigrants who wanted to come, but that would've created sort of an open season on what people from what continents got to come to America. So as they are arguing about the overturning of the quota system, which a lot of racist American congressmen, primarily from the American South but also from the American West [00:42:00] quite liked, one of them, a Democratic senator from North Carolina that some people might have heard of, a Senator named Sam Irvin, who later is going to oversee the Senate Watergate hearings in 1973 says, wait a minute. We don't want this to be open. He says, "The people of Ethiopia have the same right to come to the United States under this bill as the people from England, the people from France," apparently he had not been reading his early immigration history, "the people of Germany, and the people of Holland. With all due respect to Ethiopia. I don't know of any contributions that Ethiopia has made to the making of America."

Now, aside from all the ways in which we could get into the importance of involuntary African migrants contributions to the United States, this speaks to the moment in which they're talking about this in 1965. So what they [00:43:00] do is another conservative Democrat, Ohio representative Michael Fagan, who headed the House Immigration Subcommittee, added in this western hemispheric quota to discourage Latin American immigration that I just talked about, but he also said, that family members of US citizens should be exempt from the quotas. What he's hoping and what he's expecting is that the people who are native born here in America, who were descended from the English or the Irish or the Germans or the Dutch, wherever Irwin grabbed that, they're gonna invite their family members over. But of course, in the post World War II years, those people aren't migrating to America. The people who are migrating to America are from Asia and Africa.

JOANNE FREEMAN - CO-HOST, NOW & THEN: It's worth noting that the logic behind what you just said, Heather, that they assume that the people coming will be much like the people that are already in the United States and thus immigration will be creating a little mini additional America. That in some way or another, everything will stay the way it should be, [00:44:00] because the people coming will be like the people already.

HEATHER COX RICHARDSON, CO-HOST, NOW & THEN: So I just love that moment where they say, wait a minute, wait a minute. This idea of doing it even handed, no, it's not gonna work. We need to give white guys a big leg up, and so they create, within the laws, a way to privilege white Western migrants that completely backfires on them. It completely backfires. And the comparison that always strikes me on this is when American lawmakers put so many unequal laws in place with regard to Indigenous Americans, in order to make sure that they didn't have the same equal rights as native born white Americans, and all of that they were completely happy with until the Indian Gaming Act turned all of those disadvantages into advantages.

[00:45:00] And all of a sudden all these lawmakers were like, wait, wait, wait, wait. No. You have to be equal with the rest of us. And I sort of feel like it's the hand coming out of the ground at the end of the movie, Carrie being like, Oh yeah, this is why you need to keep the laws in a democracy even handed, because you might like 'em a lot when they're screwing over your enemies, but once you have admitted the principle that some people can be considered unequal, it is only a question of time until you are on the losing end of that equation.

Reverse Freedom Rides Flying Migrants North, Florida Gov. Steals Page from Segregationists Part 2 - Democracy Now! - Air Date 9-20-22

AMY GOODMAN: As you see what happened with these asylum seekers flown to Martha’s Vineyard, talk about what happened 60 years ago.

MWALIM PETERS: Well, speaking to 60 years ago, 1962, the White Citizens’ Council, which was an organization in the South and viewed themselves as more moderate than the Ku Klux Klan, but basically also a white [00:46:00] supremacist organization. And in efforts to humiliate, as they saw, Northern Democrats, Northern liberals, particularly the Kennedy family, this was a stunt pulled where they put impoverished people—this would be coming from Arkansas, Mississippi, the Carolinas and Georgia—put impoverished people on buses and sent them directly to Main Street in Hyannis, and told them that the Kennedys would be there to welcome you—basically, identical to what’s happening now on Martha’s Vineyard, where they were promised all sorts of thing—in fact, some were even given money—and were sent to Hyannis. Of course, the idea was to humiliate the, even as the clip you mentioned pointed out, the target was to humiliate the Kennedys, the NAACP and the Urban League.

And what we found was the stunt did not work. [00:47:00] Now, we have to first look at the fact that 1962 Hyannis was not exactly a multicultural melting pot. You had considerable segregation on Cape Cod, in fact. Something that a lot of people don’t like to acknowledge, but segregation did exist in the North and was prevalent in the North, especially when you got north of New York City. And this, of course, was known by the White Citizens’ Councils. So the idea was, “Let’s show the hypocrisy.”

What happened instead was, getting wind of this, the Kennedy family and the branch of the NAACP actually were prepared and actually were able to provide some kind of welcome, some kind of support, some kind of assistance for the busloads of people who were transported up to Hyannis. So the stunt really didn’t work. Instead of demonstrating hypocrisy, it was an opportunity to demonstrate, “No, we [00:48:00] stand behind what we say.”

JUAN GONZALEZ: Mwalim Peters, I’m wondering — Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts and six members of your state’s congressional delegation called on the Treasury Department to investigate DeSantis for using federal COVID-19 relief funds to fly the asylum seekers to Martha’s Vineyard. Your reaction to that? And to your knowledge, is that true that the governor was using COVID moneys?

MWALIM PETERS: To my knowledge, that is the understanding, that this was relief funding that was being used, and this was how he designated the best use of the funding. Of course, when you consider how much of the population of the state of Florida lives at or below poverty level, that’s remarkably irresponsible, especially given the fact that we’re still dealing with the pandemic. Despite President Biden’s announcement, we’re still very [00:49:00] much dealing with the pandemic, especially in poorer areas. But, no, this requires some investigation. There are a number of things about what has taken place that require a level of investigation.

In accord with the sheriff’s investigation, we’re looking at issues that would basically be human trafficking. We’re looking at issues of: How many of these asylum seekers are undocumented? So, this is improper transportation of, basically, undocumented asylum seekers. Beside being remarkably irresponsible, aside from being a human rights violation, you’re sending people and stranding them in areas, and you’re not even concerned about your sending people into these areas and stranding them. But we’re looking at human rights violations. We’re looking at potential human trafficking. We’re looking at any number of, basically, potentially criminal infractions, let alone just moral and [00:50:00] ethical.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And I’m wondering also, there are some critics of this who say that Governors Abbott and DeSantis are, in effect, in a situation where increasingly, as a result of the Supreme Court decision on abortion, there was a gathering steam among Democrats toward the election in November, that now these Republican governors are trying to utilize immigration as a way to raise this issue just before the election to curry favor among more conservative voters for the Republican Party.

I’m wondering your thoughts about that, and also that Governor DeSantis... most of these folks are Venezuelan, and there’s been a sharp increase in Venezuelans apprehended at the border in the last few months, and Florida happens to be the state with the largest Venezuelan population in the country. Venezuelans are, in fact, the fastest-growing Latino group in [00:51:00] recent years in the country. I’m wondering your thoughts about those two issues.

MWALIM PETERS: Ah, loaded deck. I’m sorry. With the issue of immigration, that is something that continually comes up. What we have to look at is American history, and we have to look at the fact that when we look at American history, we also have to acknowledge the fact that a foundation principle of the United States is white supremacy. therefore, the presence of Brown and Black people, other than as chattel, were constantly a problem and constantly an issue. When we look at human trafficking, we look at the deportation of Native people. Wampanoag, Nipmuc and Narragansett people, in particular, were exported to the Bahamas, were exported to Europe, were exported to North Africa, were exhibited [00:52:00] in parts of Europe, for example. When you consider human trafficking, the transatlantic slave trade, this is a big piece of American history.

So, moving Black and Brown people around the country as human rights violations, or moving them around the world as a human rights violation, is very much, if you think about it, an American tradition. And then, when you look at people like DeSantis and like Abbott and the whole notion of the MAGA movement, “Make America Great Again,” the undercurrent of the “Make America Great Again” is to go back to these foundation principles, before Black and Brown people were human beings, when we were flora and fauna, basically, of this country. And this is the treatment that you see still taking place to this day.

Immigration Defining Us and Them Part 2 - Now & Then - Air Date 9-27-22

HEATHER COX RICHARDSON, CO-HOST, NOW & THEN: So one of the things that jumps out about this clause, this free white immigrant can become an American [00:53:00] citizen, is, again, the American West. Because in fact, in the period after the Civil War, and I think this is so important for people to realize, is that the Republican Party believed that it was gonna put individual farmers in Nebraska and in the American West. They had the Homestead Act with the idea that you were all gonna have mom and pop farms across the west, but that never happened because the west was so desperate for water.

And what happened from the beginning of American agriculture in the West was that we had agribusinesses. And so from the 1870s onward, the American west and agribusiness is worked by migrant farmers, and those migrant farmers early on are Mexican or Mexican Americans, and very quickly, Japanese especially, and poor whites. So from the very beginning, the west is characterized by migrant labor.

So when we talk nowadays, for example, about the farm workers in the American West, and people [00:54:00] seem to think that this is an issue that arose after 1965, it's absolutely not the case. And they would openly go back and forth across the border, which is simply open, to come and work in those fields, but that idea that they are not welcome as American citizens, as they are not free and white, is going to coincide in the late 19th century with the rise of scientific racism, with the idea that some people really literally are better than others, and that in turn is going to coincide with a changing pattern of immigration coming not so much from the Western European nations any longer as from the eastern European nations.

JOANNE FREEMAN - CO-HOST, NOW & THEN: So between 1820 and 1924, about 37 million Europeans immigrated to the United States. Beginning in the 1870s, the immigrants were more often Italians, Greeks, Slavs, Poles, and [00:55:00] Jews from the Russian Empire. And the foreign born population of America at that point, in 1920, reached 13.9 million, which, at that moment, was a record high.

HEATHER COX RICHARDSON, CO-HOST, NOW & THEN: One of the reasons I love the late 19th century is there's so many new voices and so many new perspectives on what it means to be an American. And while there are these new voices and these new cultures and this new clothing and new folk ways coming into America, there is a backlash against that as well.

And one of the things that really jumps out at you when you look at the 19th century newspapers, the late 19th century newspapers, the degree to which white newspaper editors and authors identify incoming immigrants as truly aliens, meaning not just that they are not naturalized citizens, but they seem like they're coming from Mars.

So this idea that somehow America was being corrupted by these people coming from southern and eastern Europe [00:56:00] is going to do a couple of things, and one of those things is that it's going to make America put in place, not its first comprehensive immigration act, but the first Immigration act that significantly restricts all immigration, not just immigration of certain groups.

JOANNE FREEMAN - CO-HOST, NOW & THEN: Although this legislation in and of itself is still going to be privileging some kinds of people over others. So the Immigration Act of 1924 established an overall limit of 150,000 immigrants to the United States per year. And one of the distinctive things about the law was that it stipulated that the national quota for each nation of immigrants would be set at 2% of the number of people from that country already in the United States.

So in other words, this law said country by country. The country that you're coming here from, the number of people allowed will [00:57:00] be 2% of the number of people from that country already in the United States. So if you think about it, that ends up with certain countries, where there are a lot of people in the United States, having bigger quotas.

In particular, those quotas resulted in 70% of new immigration spots coming from just three countries—the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Germany. Countries like Italy, Greece, Poland, Portugal, and other Eastern European countries basically we're just sitting on waiting lists because according to this formula, Their quotas were exceedingly low.

HEATHER COX RICHARDSON, CO-HOST, NOW & THEN: Okay, so hang on to that just for a minute. Italy, Greece, Poland, Portugal, and Eastern Europe. It really fascinates me, nowadays, when you look at certain politicians who are insisting on stopping immigration, looking at their last names. Because many of their last names are last names, that would've fallen this, not a [00:58:00] ban, but under the restrictions from these countries, because those people, and I'm using that in air quotes, were unwelcome in America. It just always fascinates me that you could sit there with a last name like that and say, we don't want immigration in America.

JOANNE FREEMAN - CO-HOST, NOW & THEN: Interesting. I had never thought of it that way.

In the lead up to the 1924 law, popular texts fuel the fire. This just always makes me feel like when I teach Thomas Jefferson's notes on the State of Virginia, I wince, and I have to explain context for it because it's ugly. Here, for example, is a bestselling text on eugenics immigration and the threats that Anglosaxon Americans faced called The Passing of the Great Race by Madison Grant, and it's about the so-called decline of Anglo-Saxons.

This is from Grant. "We Americans must realize that the altruistic ideals which have controlled our social development during the past century and [00:59:00] the modlin sentimentalism that has made America ' an asylum for the oppressed' are sweeping the nation toward a racial abyss. If the melting pot is allowed to boil without control and we continue to follow our national motto and deliberately blind ourselves to all 'distinctions of race, creed, or color', the type of Native American of colonial descent," Native American is not how he means it there, "will become as extinct as the Athenian of the age of Pericles and the Viking of the days of Rollo."

Those two probably would not have hit home with us in those same way that it might have then, but you get the point. Real Americans are going to be pushed into the background and we're going to have all of these "other" kinds of people coming over and taking control and Anglo-Saxon Americans are going to be endangered.

HEATHER COX RICHARDSON, CO-HOST, NOW & THEN: And this resonates in the American West, as I say, with the distinctions in those states [01:00:00] between white Americans and people of color, and they join forces with the Southern Democrats who are, in this very period, working hard to distinguish between Black Americans and white Americans. To say, wait a minute, this country is supposed to be a white country, and it is no accident that we get, not only the eugenics movement in America in the 1920s, but also the rise of the KKK, which is very powerful in the American North, primarily not against Black Americans so much is against immigrants, especially Catholic immigrants. The idea that America is supposed to be white, and therefore the KKK should enforce that. This is one of the reasons, actually, that we get Columbus Day. The idea of honoring Italians in American culture by honoring an early Italian to America came from this attempt to push back against the KKK in their determination to make America a white America.

The [01:01:00] Western politicians actually called for the repeal of the 15th Amendment. They said that we need to stop protecting Black voting because it's only a question of time until you turn around and say we're supposed to let brown people vote too, and of course we don't wanna do that. They literally actually call for the overturning of the 15th Amendment.

Final comments on how laws are used to manipulate our sense of justice to support injustice

JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: We've just heard clips today starting with On the Media, explaining the story and demonstrating the collaboration between DeSantis and Fox News. The Bradcast detailed the crime of misleading people while convincing them to accept a ride. Some More News looked at the conservative pundit reaction when the Martha's Vineyard scheme backfired. Redirect described the process of asylum seekers dealing with federal agencies. Democracy Now, in two parts, looked at the history of reverse freedom rides. And Now and Then took a deep look at our racist immigration policy through history.

That's what everybody heard, but members also heard a bonus clip from Now and Then going more into the weeds on our history of using scientific racism and [01:02:00] eugenics to establish our past immigration policies.

To hear that and have all of our bonus content delivered seamlessly to the new members-only podcast feed that you'll receive, sign up to support the show at bestoftheleft.com/support, or shoot me an email requesting a financial hardship membership, because we don't let a lack of funds stand in the way of hearing more information.

And now a quick thought about who writes the laws. I think is pretty well established in our culture that history is written by the winners. Right? It's a phrase that people, know probably mostly understand. At least, that's my impression. What is much less known and understood is how the exact same phenomenon can be used to look at the present and future, not just the past.

That is, the laws are written by the winners and, by and large, people with power tends to write laws that help them maintain their power and the power of their peers. In fact, [01:03:00] the cartoon Adventure Time summed this up pretty well a while back.

Jake the Dog: Man, don't you know? The laws ain't made to help earthy cats like us.

Finn the Human: They're not?

Jake the Dog: Nah, man. Listen. Here on our planet, back in the old days, back in the real old days, it was just every man for hisself, scrublin' and scrat-scrablin' for the good stuff, the greenest valleys, and scrat-scrablin, and the strongest, meanest men got the best stuff. They got the green valleys and were like, The rest of you, y'all scrats get sand! And that's when they made the laws, you see. Once the strong guys got it how they liked it, they said, This is fair now, this is the law. Once they were winning, they changed the rules up.

JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: And as they point out just there, the goal is to create a system of laws that they can claim is fair because there's a universal desire for justice. So if you want to implement unjust laws, you have to do a bunch of work and make a bunch of arguments to explain why they are, [01:04:00] in fact, fair, when they're not. If you want to implement a race-based slavery system, for instance, you can't just write a law that says, If you're this race, you're a slave, if you're that race, you're not. You have to argue that some races are inherently superior to others, and so we're actually doing the enslaved people a favor because of their race.

See, humans are funny that way. We are capable of great atrocities, but our individual and collective desire for fairness and justice is so strong that we always have to cloak our atrocities in the language of justice. But, back to those who write the laws. Members just heard an explanation of our old country quota system - immigrants from specific countries - and the quota for a country was a percentage based on the number of people who'd already come from a given country. And it's hard to think of an easier [01:05:00] way to put your thumb squarely on the immigration scale while claiming to be neutral and fair. I mean, hey, every country has the same 2% quota. I guess it's just a coincidence that the result is that way more White people than not in white people get to immigrate here because at the time the law was written way more people from England, Ireland, Germany, had already made the trip. Therefore, their quotas were higher.

Side note, that exact same strategy is where the term grandfathering comes from. To prevent former slaves from voting, they pass laws saying that in order to be eligible to vote, your grandfather had to have been registered to vote. This meant that nearly all formerly enslaved people and their descendants would be excluded because none of their grandfathers before the Civil War would've been allowed to register and vote. So the "grandfather clause" was entirely race neutral, as the [01:06:00] new 14th Amendment insisted, but it was designed with essentially nothing but race in mind.

Anyway, back to immigration. A side benefit of writing sneakily racist laws is that it leverages people's desire for justice in the support of injustice. It's not necessarily the only element people will consider, but one of the core aspects of determining what is just is looking to see if something is legal, and often this will be the only thing a person considers because it's such an easy shortcut and doesn't require any further understanding of context or history or how the law was written, et cetera. This is why one of the endless chants coming from the anti-immigrant camp is, They should come legally. It speaks to our sense of justice and fairness under the law, it's simple, and requires no additional research. Hence, a person's sense of justice has been manipulated into supporting an [01:07:00] injustice based on laws that were written to be intentionally unjust, primarily out of racism.

Then, the last phase of the manipulation is the social norm that people who break laws are being destructive to society and can therefore be treated anywhere from poorly to inhumanely. And millions of people in the country who will tell you that they are personally dedicated to justice and fairness won't bat an eye at the mistreatment of fellow human beings because unjust laws were written specifically to give them all an excuse to put those law breakers into a different category of humans, a category of humans less deserving of humane treatment because they broke the law. Of course, that doesn't even apply to asylum seekers, but obviously those waters get plenty muddied very much on purpose for exactly [01:08:00] the same reasons.

The point of all of this is to reiterate an idea that I think is core to a progressive understanding of the world, which is to think structurally. Thinking structurally gives insight into why people think the way they do. And without that, there's nowhere else to go, but to assume that some people or groups of people are just fundamentally bad or evil or want to cause harm, which is an easy conclusion. It's simple. It doesn't require any additional thinking. But if you understand that nearly everyone thinks that what they believe and what they support is a form of justice, but that we have come to wildly different conclusions about what that justice looks like, that's where the real understanding starts, and we can focus our efforts on changing the structures rather than worrying about the individual motives of people working within the system.

As always, keep the comments coming in at [01:09:00] 202-999-3991 or by emailing me to [email protected]. That is going to be it for today. Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show and participation in our bonus episodes. Thanks to the Monosyllabic Transcriptionist Trio, Ben, Ken, and Brian, for their volunteer work helping put our transcripts together. Thanks to Amanda Hoffman for all of her work on our social media outlets, activism segments, graphic designing, web mastering, and bonus show cohosting. And thanks to those who support the show by becoming member or purchasing gift memberships at bestoftheleft.com/support, through our Patreon page, or from right inside the Apple podcast app. Membership is how you get instant access to our incredibly good bonus episodes, in addition to there being extra content and no ads in all of our regular episode, all through your regular podcast player. And if you wanna continue the discussion, join our Best of the Left Discord community to talk about the show or the news or other podcasts, or anything you [01:10:00] like. Links to join are in the show notes.

So, coming to from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington, DC, my name is Jay, and this has been the Best of the Left podcast coming to you twice weekly thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show from bestoftheleft.com.

Showing 1 reaction

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • Jay Tomlinson
    published this page in Transcripts 2022-10-01 03:32:29 -0400
Sign up for activism updates