Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Forget it, Mark. It's Chinatown.

This is the second big-time US media article today to leave me aghast (the first being the front page NYT article about a reporter's frustration in not being able to ascertain how often Hot Bill and Cold Hill have sex. At least the mid-terms are firing-up the Ol' Gray Lady.)

To say that legal reporting in the US is miserable is clichéd at best but I expect more out of the AP.

Surprise, non-expats! Other countries have their own rules for employment and public office. It's like they're sovereign or something! It puts me in mind of a line from another movie, The Jerk, where Steve Martin says, "Those darned French! It's like they have a different word for EVERYTHING!"

After one of the most ridiculous ledes I've ever read which states that Schwarzenegger couldn't be a governor in Mexico and that Sergio Villanueva couldn't join the D.F. fire department, the next paragraph reads:
"Even as Mexico presses the United States to grant unrestricted citizenship to millions of undocumented Mexican migrants, its officials at times calling U.S. policies "xenophobic," Mexico places daunting limitations on anyone born outside its territory."
Sweet jumped up Baby Jeebuzz. I'm going to go out on a limb here without benefit of Lexis/Nexis and say that the Mexican government has never called for unrestricted citizenship for millions of undocumented migrants. But even if a weak case could be made for some utterance by a public official south-of-the-border ever having said this...how can the AP mention this without any mention of what "unrestricted citizenship" for undocumented foreign workers would do to Mexico's economy? Does he really think that there would be even ONE Mexican waiter in Cancún if it wasn't for Mexican law?

But no, having set the "unrestricted citizenship" car on fire AP writer Stevenson slips away from it very quickly. He darts across the street to light-up the panel-van marked "look at all the jobs even Mexican citizens can't hold if they're not born there!"

Our poor reporter Mark. For him, the world belongs to the US but the only the US is the master of it's own fate. "Only two", he fairly shouts from the third graf, "only two posts — the presidency and vice presidency — are reserved for the native born." This line is deceptive at best, at some middling point it's just plain bad news reporting, at worst it's carrying water for a political point of view. It is here that we see him slip away from the van to put the torch to another old beater parked on the corner.

To even imply that it is unfair for Mexico to set the requirements for its own members of government while mentioning any office for which the US reserves this right is incendiary. However, to do so without even parenthetically recounting the surprise Barry Goldwater got at the courthouse with his birth certificate in hand...just makes the story even more shallow.

So now what impression could he possibly have left the AP's dear readers? That there are only two jobs in the US for which you must be native-born? That's what I got. Of course, he never said any such thing. In darting from one act of arson to another he conveniently left himself in a place where he had an alibi for not mentioning the sensitive military and civilian positions for which citizenship is required in the US. Of course, the doctrine of American Exceptionalism allows us to change these requirements at will, without incurring the wrath of our reporter. Something to do with national sovereignity, as well, if I remember correctly.

It doesn't really stop with it being just another bit of pap ground out by another maleducated young graduate of a journalism program from which the likes of Jimmy Breslin and Mike Royko never benefited. No mention is made, of course, that the Governor of California's status as an illegal worker has recently been examined by a reporter uninterested in party invitations.

That such graduates can be reliably expected to give equal consideration to even "flat-worlders" or groups that feel "gravity is only a theory" (as long as they hail from the appropriate wing of the political spectrum) adds insult to injury.

Young Mr. Stevenson deigns not to expand his focus even enough to allude to the widespread fraud committed by US employers which is the font from which the "US immigration problem" springs, this in direct contrast with Mexican employers who appear to be adhering to the law of their land although they could benefit greatly from Yanqui labor.

Nope. All we get from this disgraceful piece of pablum spoon-fed to the Bush Administration's fringe/base is, "Unfair! Unfair! The Mexican government is unfair to immigrants!" Just what the doctor ordered for the administration's desperation surrounding the mid-term elections.

And last but not least, there sits unmentioned, as well, the 1000 pound gorilla in the corner: there is no "illegal Mexican worker problem" in the US. Any employer that can make use of illegal Mexican labor is a happy employer. Any illegal Mexican laborer that succeeds in finding employment with such an employer feels he has met with a great measure of success.

Virtually every other remaining American falls into two small groups: those that have no contact with illegal workers and those that simply feel the satisfaction that no organized group exists to protect American workers. Mr. Stevenson's torch hopes to inflame these last two groups. Whether or not there's enough kindling there, however, is doubtful at best.