Email Exchange With My Brother-in-law About Illegal Immigrants

He is a nice guy, but a Lefty who always thinks the dark night of fascism is about to descend on America.



“The biggest about-face has come from Huckabee, long admired by the
immigrant rights movement for his policies as governor of Arkansas. Now,
however, he is toeing the hardest anti-illegal-immigration line of any
top-tier candidate, with… a plan, announced last week, to require all 12
million people here illegally to leave the country within four months or
risk serious punishment.”
– Los Angeles Times
An ambitious bureaucrat named Franz Rademacher, recently appointed leader
of the Judenreferat III der Abteilung Deutschland, or Jewish Department of
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, set the plan in motion on June 3, 1940
with a memorandum to his superior….. The memorandum included a definition
of the mechanics of Jewish evacuation out of Europe. Rademacher espoused
the division of eastern and western Jews. The eastern Jews, he felt, were
the source of the “militant Jewish intelligentsia”, and should be kept
close at hand in Lublin, Poland, to be used as a kind of hostage to keep
American Jews in check. The western Jews, he went on, should be removed
from Europe entirely, “to Madagascar, for example.”
Once learning of the new potential of the Plan, Reinhard Heydrich,
appointed in 1939 by Göring to oversee Jewish evacuation from
German-occupied territory, had Ribbentrop relinquish any future actions to
the RSHA (Reich Central Security Office). In this way, Adolf Eichmann, who
headed the office of Jewish evacuation in the RSHA, became involved. On
August 15th, Eichmann released a draft titled Reichssicherheitshauptamt:
Madagaskar Projekt, calling for the resettlement of one million Jews per
year over four years, and abandoning the idea of retaining any Jews in
Europe whatsoever.
– Wikipedia article on the Madagascar Project


1. The Jews were in Germany legally.
2. No one is advocating murdering illegals in the USA.
3. Do you think Huckabee’s plan would be popular? Is that a problem
in a democratic country? For each of the foregoing questions: yes or
no, and explain. One blue book.


The statements are true and the questions yes-no questions, but the issues
are complex. I wouldn’t have forwarded you this if I hadn’t thought it an
important issue for Republicans to discuss among themselves, as I’m sure
you agree.


I am generally pro immigrant. All my ancestors were immigrants, and
not wealthy emigres, but as far as I can tell, they were all poor or
lower middle class when they got here.. Yet I also understand that if
the perception that our border is totally unsecured is not rectified,
the public is going to have a backlash. The public is very legalistic
in its thinking. If you “broke the law” to get in here, you are a
criminal, and no different form a mugger or a drug dealer and we have
enough criminals in here already without importing any more of them.
What few citizens know is that the legitimate immigration process is
totally fucked. You are screwed if you try to play by the rules.
Typical government bureaucracy. We need to do two things. First,
secure the border and enforce the law. That will be dismissed as
racist and fascistic, but I don’t care. It is a necessary
prerequisite to getting a majority in this country to agree to
anything sensible. Second, we need to adequately fund and staff the
INS and rationalize the process so that legal immigration is conducted
in an orderly and expeditious fashion. It is not every day I say a
government agency needs a lot more money and personnel but this is the
moment. Churchill said he believed that in every situation you try
to win an unambiguous victory, then negotiate a very generous
settlement from a position of strength. Somewhat analogously, we need
to physically secure our borders, reassure the public that we are not
living in an anarchic situation, then go forward with sensible
No one is talking like this. Maybe I don’t get something. But that
is my analysis.
What I think will actually happen is we will have a backlash first,
which will be milked by all sides for political advantage. This will
inflict a lot of misery. Then, we will suffer all kinds of unintended
consequences. Then we may move toward some sensible solutions to the
two problems (1) porous borders, (2) totally broken immigration
Also, the argumentum ad Hitlerum is usually not an effective
rhetorical tool except with people who are already in total agreement
with you.


Sensible arguments in your previous email. I hope you can convey them to
the people who matter in this case, ie Republicans, not me. I guess my
juxtaposition was an argumentum ad Hitlerum but not everybody knows that
most of the Nazi hierarchy (perhaps not Hitler himself) wanted to deport,
not murder the Jews and that this plan was mainly abandoned for logistical


I have no particular influence with “Republicans” in any general sort of way.
I suppose I could blog it.
As deportation v. Genocide, the. Germans had a regrettable willingness
to go down the route of extermination. Their treatment of the Hereros
is was an interesting precursor to their Nazi-era genocidal conduct.
Bottom line, Germany was a very different kind of society. We are not
on the verge of mass violence here.


No, but a mass deportation–or voluntary enforced by “severe
punishment”–of 12 million people is being proposed for demagogic reasons.
Those have not led to good results. (I don’t think our own past treatment
of indigenous peoples indicates we will commit genocide.)
BTW, the Wikipedia article mentions Lublin and I am coincidentally reading
“The Magician of Lublin” by Isaac Bashevis Singer. It’s great so far —
it could be described as dripping with sensuality, where having sex and
eating a butter cookie are both described in an earthy, concrete, very
real way…also very philosophical.
Hard to believe that Broadway could have turned his writings into “Fiddler
on the Roof.”


Some politician shooting his mouth off is not likely to be the first
snowflake of a hard winter.
Wild proposals have to get turned into law. Then they have to get
enforced. And they have to get past legal challenges.
Our system is built robustly to be resistant to the kind of concerns
you are raising.
Of course eternal vigilance is mandatory.
I think the way to deal with these troubling comments is to insist on
details from the candidate. There would not be any.


I hope you’re right.

5 thoughts on “Email Exchange With My Brother-in-law About Illegal Immigrants”

  1. “Hard to believe that Broadway could have turned his [Isaac Bashevis Singer] writings into “Fiddler on the Roof.”

    Yes, it is hard to believe. That is probably why they based the play on the stories of Sholem Aleichem (nom de plume of Solomon Nachminovich Rabinowitz, 1859 –- 1916).

  2. Some things to keep in mind about the Holocaust. The victims were mostly the inhabitants of the countries that Germany conquered.

    There were about 600,000 Jews in Germany when Hitler took over. About 160,00 German Jews died in the camps. Many fled before WWII began. Some died of natural causes during the Dozen Year Reich. A few survived.

    The rest of the 6 Million were Polish Jews (almost half) and the Jews of countries such as Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Greece, Romania and Ukraine, although the ones who accepted Soviet protection (my mother’s family is an example) survived. The Bulgarians refused to turn their Jews over to the Germans.

    Jewish communities in western Europe were also devastated, but they were much smaller to begin with.

    The Jews may have been in Germany legally, but the Germans were not legally in Eastern Europe where they did most of their damage.

  3. …a Lefty who always thinks the dark night of fascism is about to descend on America.

    I’ve always ascribed this phenomenon to what I call, “Dungeons and Dragons” for intellectuals. While playing D&D and similar role playing games, people imagine themselves as characters in an exiting alternate reality. It’s an utterly safe adventure that takes place only in one’s mind.

    I think people who go hysteric over minor political disagreements seek the same kind of imaginary thrill. By investing their opponent with such malice they in turn transform themselves into shining heros waging titanic struggle against ultimate evil. It elevates politics from a dry discussion about fixing potholes to an operatic battle between good and evil.

    All that’s missing is the 20 sided dice.

  4. “No, but a mass deportation–or voluntary enforced by “severe
    punishment”–of 12 million people is being proposed for demagogic reasons.
    Those have not led to good results.”

    Surprisingly few people have heard of “Operation Wetback”, conducted by Eisenhower in 1954. The goal was to round up 1 million illegal mexican immigrants, and return them deep into Mexico. By driving or shipping them 100’s of miles into Mexico, they made it harder for the illegals to return to the US. About 80,000 we actually rounded up and deported. Another 600,000 returned to Mexico voluntarily to avoid capture and deportation. Many people say that mass deportation would be impossible, but it only requires political will.

    By the way, I agree fully with Lex: illegal immigration should be curtailed by effective enforcement, and legal immigration should be provided as a realistic alternative by clearing the backlog for legitimate immigration applications.

  5. Lex, you say “It is not every day I say a
    government agency needs a lot more money and personnel but this is the

    The reason it’s the moment is that controlling a sovereign country’s borders is part of what governments are supposed to do. That, together with national defense, police and courts are the most basic functions of government even according to most libertarians. And I think you’re right: we have to get control of the borders and rationalize the legal immigration process before most anyone will really be willing to think non-viscerally about the illegal immigrants.

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