Enemies (and losers)

"Protest roils Riverside (N.J.)" report Joel Bewley and Nancy Petersen of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

This kind of story about the so-called "immigration debate" is becoming routine. Pro-immigrant groups organize a march, waving American flags. Counter-protesters heckle them, shouting that they don't belong in America.

The pictures are worth 1,000 words.

Be sure to check out Photo No. 8 in the slideshow, captioned: "Counterdemonstrators cheer a car passing by with a Confederate flag."

The Inky reports that this was not an isolated incident:

… hundreds on both sides of the street cursed, spit and shouted at [the pro-immigration marchers] to leave and never come back.

Some in the crowd were intoxicated. Some waved Confederate flags, while others thrust their right arms up to resemble a Nazi salute. Dozens had signs calling for tighter border control.

So, OK, the Real True American anti-immigration crowd waves the Confederate flag and does the Nazi salute. These two things — the Confederacy and the Nazis — share a delusional and inevitably violent notion of racial superiority, but they have two other things in common:

1. Both were enemies of the United States of America.

I don't mean enemies in the sense of State-Department-travel-restrictions and chilly diplomatic relations. I mean all-out enemies. They attacked American troops who fought under the American flag. They attacked the American flag — and the republic for which it stands, its military, its people, its Constitution.

(Euphemisms like "the Union" don't change this fact. If anything, they serve to underscore the fact that "rebel" is a synonym for "traitor," which is generally considered a particularly odious kind of enemy. "With malice toward none, with charity for all… " etc., but let's not push it.)

2. Both lost.

This is an unavoidable fact, probably the second most important fact about each of these enemies. The Third Reich? Losers. The CSA? Them too.

The most important fact about each of these losers is not just that they lost, but that their ideology is wholly discredited. It is sometimes the case that a true, just and honorable ideology falters, for a time, because its proponents have suffered a military defeat, but that is not the case for these two enemies of America. They suffered military defeat, in part, because they were driven by ideologies that were not true, nor just, nor honorable. They were ideologies of Holocaust, of violent, lethal racism, and they collapsed under their own weight. They didn't lose the argument because they lost the war, they lost the war, in part, because they could never win the argument.

I've noted before (see "The Minutemen commit Sodomy") that immigration policy is complex. But there is nothing even slightly complex about the spectacle that unfolded Sunday in New Jersey:

Some waved Confederate flags, while others thrust their right arms up to resemble a Nazi salute.

These demonstrators have declared their allegiance, explicitly, with the enemies of America.

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  • Stephen

    Revisionists showing up to inform the rest of us about the “real, true and noble” reasons for the Confederate betrayal in 3. . .2. . .1. . .

  • cjmr

    That’s not just a Confederate flag. The crest in the center proclaims “The South will rise again!” You can get to some pretty scary websites by googling that…

  • Arturus

    I make no illusions about the nature of the CSA. The civil war was fought for a whole slew of complex reasons, but slavery was at the heart and soul of it. However, I have mixed feelings on the issue, because I like confederacy as a system of governance. The balance between federal and local power is a difficult one to make, but my preference is for localizing wherever possible, which is one of the many things I like about the green party.
    I guess that largely I regret that the southern conferderates soured this system in the eyes of america. The EU, on the other hand, is largely a confederacy, although they don’t use the term. I’ve long thought that the only way to have a unified world government like science fiction is often fond of is through a confederacy.
    The racist part of their ideology is dead, but the confederate ideology lives on, although it shuns the label for the bad associations.

  • cjmr

    If you were to tell my next-door neighbors that the racist ideology of the CSA is dead, I’d suggest you stand well back. And wear ear-plugs.

  • Chuchundra

    The Confederacy was treason in defense of slavery. That really just sums it up.

  • Rafe

    I’m not sure that the Confederacy was actually a confederacy, any more than many countries with Republic in their names are republics.

  • Gus

    Aww, damn, The point about “treason” has already been made. So, excellent post, & I agree. “You lost, get over it.”

  • Mnemosyne

    I guess that largely I regret that the southern conferderates soured this system in the eyes of america.
    Actually, we soured on the confederacy system long before the Civil War — the very first system of government that we tried was a confederacy, aka the Articles of Confederation. After almost a decade, we scrapped them for a federal system because they didn’t work as a national system.
    The European Union works (sort of) because it’s a loose grouping of disparate countries all with their own culture, language, etc. And it still doesn’t work as smoothly as our federal system, with its interstate commerce clause, etc.
    Back on topic … I guess if these morons had their way, I would not be enjoying my dinner of tomato-garlic pita bread spread with hummus, both of which I purchased from the — gasp! — immigrant vendor at my local farmers’ market. And that would make me sad.

  • Corbie

    The EU might work economically, but it doesn’t work militarily.
    The reason such a system didn’t work in the US is that we had to unite against outside threats (War of 1812 etc.) and needed an economic and political entity that had enough centralized strength that we could defend ourselves against outside threats (and raise the taxes necessary to do so).
    As I recall, that’s one problem the Confederacy ran into — they had some problems centralizing the war effort, because it was counter to their decentralized political philosophy.
    The people who propose a strong “states rights” agenda usually run up against this reality sooner or later. There are some things that the nation needs to do as a whole.
    On the other hand, sometimes local solutions really are better than national ones, and states should have the ability to innovate. I hope the experiment in Massachusetts re: universal health coverage really does work, and provides an example for other states (and eventually, perhaps the nation as a whole).
    It’s all about balance, neh?
    The problem is that the states’ rights issue has been so intertwined with bigotry (Jim Crow laws, laws against interracial marriage). It’s funny how proponents of states’ rights are all for it for their own pet issues (bans on abortion and gay marriage) but against states’ rights when states pass laws they don’t like on those same subjects.

  • Perry

    I have to take issue with the assertion that the counter demonstrators “thrust their right arms up to resemble a Nazi salute.” Based on the pictures it does not look like they are doing a Nazi salute. Most seem to be waving their fists which is not the same thing as a Nazi salute. I don’t defend their actions, but I insist on more proof before I accept some reporters interpretation of their actions.

  • Beth

    Perry, and everyone, might be interested in David Neiwert’s excellent coverage of the minutemen, particularly their neo-Nazi connections, over at Orcinus. The still photo may be arguably ambiguous, but keep in mind that the reporter was there to see the entire gesture, and there’s no ambiguity whatsoever about that flag (the one in front of the confederate flag) in the first Orcinus article.

  • bulbul

    The EU might work economically, but it doesn’t work militarily.
    Yep. And why is that? Because there are elements and even some countries which are opposed to the very idea of common defense. Instead, they insist on holding to to the Euroatlantic defense framework, which translates to – no offense – “do whatever the US wants us to”.

  • bulbul

    The still photo may be arguably ambiguous
    You mean this one?
    No it ain’t. That’s the Nazi salute (“heiling”) all right.

  • bulbul

    Ah crap, bad link. I meant this.

  • Beth

    “The still photo may be arguably ambiguous”
    You mean this one?
    No I meant the Inquirer photo. I agree the photo you linked to is pretty straightforward, and when combined with that second photo (from my first link), which more clearly identifies the red flag in front as a Nazi banner, it leaves no doubt whatsoever.

  • Dina

    The EU might work economically, but it doesn’t work militarily.
    Never better.

  • Dave

    Bulbul’s picture illustrates the Nazi element in something or other, but not the Riverside counter-demonstration. That hillside in the background doesn’t look like New Jersey and one of the demonstrators seems to be holding a California flag.

  • Kristin

    This sounds so familiar. Researching the 1920s Klan, I’ve turned up a lot of “reasons” for a popular resurgence between 1915 and 1924, but this sentence made me stop and note: “It will happen again.”
    Leonard Moore, Review Essay, “Historical Interpretations of the 1920s Klan: The Traditional View and the Populist Revision”
    “By the 1920s, the ‘modern age’ had established itself to a point where native white Protestants who identified with the traditions of hte nation’s rural and small-twon poast could expres their displeasure only through extreme and futile movements such as Prohibition, fundamentalism and the Klan. By joining hte Klan, defenders of America’s lost Arcadia could heap hteir anger on two closely related symbols of modernity: the city and the urban immigrant. . . The Klan appears ot have acted as a kind of interest group for the average white Protestant who believed that his values should be dominant in American society.”
    The 1920s Klan were spouting 100% American slogans and “End hyphenation” they also gained many supporters whom they though owed their allegiance to another country, king of Pope. I don’t see the K K K making a comeback just because their name is synonymous with hate crimes, but I think a Know-Nothing Party emerging from within the Republican base is just around the corner.

  • JPL

    Fred Clark- can I print this out as part of a leaflet to distribute around San Diego?

  • Fred

    JPL —
    Feel free — just keep an eye out for those idiots in the photo bulbul linked to …

  • bulbul

    No I meant the Inquirer photo.
    My bad. The photo I linked to is from one of the articles you linked to.

  • Beth

    My fault, bulbul, for being confusingly terse.
    The photo wasn’t from Philly. It was Laguna Beach, July of last year. I linked to those articles to show that neo-Nazi elements do show up at anti-immigration rallies (along with neo-Confederates). Also, the reporter would have seen the entire gesture -and so could have easily distinguished between a nazi salute and, say, a wave. Those two facts make it entirely plausible that some counterdemonstrators were indeed “heiling.”

  • supposed to be working

    Could we all please remember, though – and this can be seen in the photographs linked to – that though the neo-nazis etc are on the anti-immigration side, the anti-immigration side is not composed largely of neo-nazi and similar groups. They are a minority in the cause, and to allow them to represent the anti-immigration cause is cherry picking.

  • Beth

    They are a minority in the cause,
    That’s certainly true.
    … and to allow them to represent the anti-immigration cause is cherry picking.
    Well not exactly. The neo-Nazis oppose the Iraq war, too, but you’ll never see a picture like that from an anti-war protest. The heilers wouldn’t dare try something like that in that crowd. Not that they’d be likely to join up with an anti-war group anyway. Too many Jews, Muslims, gays, and other yuckky types.
    If you read the links from my first comment, you’ll see that while “mainstream” anti-immigration groups like the Minutemen make a big show of barring neo-Nazis and other extremists from coming in the front door, they’ve left plenty of backdoors open to them. Showing neo-Nazis at anti-immigration rallies is less cherry-picking than providing an extreme example of the racist elements that are all too common there.

  • jw

    Probably a dead topic by now, but what I noticed in the first few pictures was the choice to use pictures of the pro-immigration group speakers in mid-speech poses that made them look angry. The faces around them seem to suggest that it’s not angry speech, unlike some of the later pictures of teh anti-immigration crowd.

  • sharaloth

    um, Corbie, I dearly love pointing these things out (which is probably why i shouldn’t) but the US didn’t have to unite against an outside threat in the war of 1812. Check out who the aggressor was in that one, it was CANADA that had to deal with an outside threat (Upper Canada and Lower Canada, both still british colonies, but receiving little to no support from Britain due to the much bigger Napoleon problem they were dealing with).

  • ajay

    we had to unite against outside threats (War of 1812 etc.)
    The “outside threat” in this case being Canada’s continued existence and refusal to be annexed. Canada was a threat in 1812 like Poland was a threat to Germany.