Stranger Danger
How I Abandoned My Principles and Took Over Congress

by Allan Uthman

Every week, the news gets weirder. The division between sense and nonsense blurs or grows more irrelevant to editors and news directors. And the ethical distinctions I once imagined to exist between the Republican and Democrat hordes grow fainter.

I have always been annoyed by Republican assertions that Democrats “don’t stand for anything” or “have no new ideas.” Why, after all, must ideas be new? The Democrats have had the best kind of ideas—old ideas, ones that worked. Progressive taxation, labor regulations, livable wages, trade tariffs—these ideas may be old, but they’re the ideas that transformed the average American from a miserable serf to a privileged suburbanite in just a few decades. Why abandon them for newer, dumber ideas? Just for novelty’s sake?

But the “don’t stand for anything” charge is cutting this week. As Democrats improve at manipulating issues in a media climate tilted against them, their grip on moral superiority, tenuous at best, slips precariously.

Like it or not, racism plays a big factor in party affiliation, especially among those who couldn’t find North America on a globe. It was the Democrats’ endorsement of the civil rights agenda that lost them the previously solid South, eventually leading to the current Republican hegemony. In all ways, Republicans have plied their ranks by pitting them against an evil Other—black and Mexican freeloaders, godless communists, Northeastern intellectual elites, amoral Hollywood liberals, feminazis, and now Islamofascists.

To top it all off, a still-unpublished study reported in the Washington Post last month, “found that supporters of President Bush and other conservatives had stronger self-admitted and implicit biases against blacks than liberals did.” Maybe next time they’ll discover that men tend to watch football more than women.

Obviously, not every Republican hates black people or foreigners—some simply hate taxes, or just liberals. But a key facet in the current security-vs-liberty debate is whether it’s okay again to implement racism as a policy yet.

That’s how I know White House is not only blindly hypocritical to charge Democrats with xenophobia on the Dubai Ports World issue, but also wrong. It’s the dissenting Republicans in congress who are using the issue to appeal to their Islamophobic voters in an election year.

You’ve got to hand it to the Republicans. Even when they’re finally turning on the Bush administration, they still find a way to do it without making any sense. It’s not the warrantless wiretapping, or torture pics, or any others out of the endless litany of illegal scandals Bush has created which is bothering Michelle Malkin, Cal Thomas, or congressional GOP members. It’s outsourcing.

But the Democrats’ sin is less forgivable. I suspect that most of them know this whole thing is a joke. This is a DLC wedge issue, a mirror-image Rove tactic, a cartoon with no caption, and it’s actually working. You can almost see the joyful looks on the faces of the invertebrate Harvard dinks who came up with it, like the Wright brothers the first time the product of their labor didn’t just fall over and catch fire.

The controversy is a custom fit for Hillary Clinton and other Democratic presidential contenders, desperately stretching to straddle centrist, security-conscious suburbanites and angry bring-them-home-now lefties. The proxy element of a state-owned corporation gives racially self-conscious Democrats a comfortable distance from which to discriminate. A more direct racism-for-security trade-off, like profiling, would be too personal, too unseemly. This issue is the perfect foil with which Democrats can illustrate to voters that they get it, too, that Muslims scare the shit out of them.

None of the details of the deal in question seem to matter much, but just for fun: Dubai Ports World is owned and controlled by the United Arab Emirates, a small oil-rich nation with a high standard of living and the typical oppressed migrant worker class on the Persian Gulf Coast between Saudi Arabia and Oman. Dubai Ports already has operations in many other nations, including such terror strongholds as Germany, Australia, and Hong Kong.

Now they’re acquiring a British firm called P&O, which operates 6 ports in America, for close to $7 billion. Essentially, the names at the top of the letterhead will change, and the profits will roll in a different direction.

The controversy? They’re Arabs. Two of the 9/11 hijackers were from the UAE, but most were from Saudi Arabia, and Bush literally holds hands with those guys. The idea that these obscenely wealthy royals in this business-friendly, moderate state are secretly working with suicidal terrorists to infiltrate the US is patently ridiculous, a screenwriter’s paranoid, oversimplified fantasy. These guys are into making money. If their operation was found responsible for an influx of smuggled terrorist paraphernalia, it would be very, very bad for business.

There are real reasons to take issue with this move—typical corruption, for instance: Treasury Secretary John Snow, who replaced Paul O’Neill after O’Neill resigned and put out a book slamming the Bush administration’s economic promiscuity, heads the department which signed off on the deal. As the New York Daily News put it:

“Snow was chairman of the CSX rail firm that sold its own international port operations to DP World for $1.15 billion in 2004, the year after Snow left for President Bush’s cabinet.

“The other connection is David Sanborn, who runs DP World’s European and Latin American operations and who was tapped by Bush last month to head the U.S. Maritime Administration.”

But this is just the sort of slimy corruption Bush has been getting away with from the beginning. There’s no reason for something as routine as bribery or favor-trading to elicit this kind of hysteria. Certainly, it can’t possibly bother Bill Frist or any of the other Republicans protesting the deal.

No, for Frist and his ilk, this is about visceral, fear-based racism, the GOP’s biggest draw. The basic problem here is that Bush is not acting racist enough for rank-and-file Republicans. The facts are superfluous—the company has “Dubai” in its name, and the nation that owns it has “Arab” right there in its title.

The Democrats may realize that this is a non-issue in reality, but who can blame them? In the new bizarro political landscape, up is down, black is white, and impeachable offenses are tiresome. If xenophobic ignorance works, then what the hey.

For the White House, this is, as everything, about their true god: money, and the unfettered global trade agenda.

The result is a total editorial clusterfuck, splitting the New York Times from the Washington Post and Sean Hannity from Rush Limbaugh. Nobody knows what the hell is going on. The coverage is pathetically obtuse and redundant, the same two-sentence arguments repeated forever with nary a new fact to be discovered.

Don’t get me wrong; if it takes these bastards down, hey, whatever works. And it is a sweet irony that the same propaganda fright-fest that elevated Bush to imperial status is now backfiring on him—also with regard to illegal immigration—and may even cause him to finally veto a bill.

What troubles me is not so much that Clinton and Schumer would seize this opportunity to finally turn the bullshit-hose onto the guys who opened the spigot—I wouldn’t expect more from elected officials of either party—but how easy it has been to bring common Democrats on board with them. The blue-team mentality, a predictable but unfortunate response to the Republicans’ naturally loyalist tendencies, is out of control. A quick glance at some discussions on this topic over at Democraticunderground.com is enough to give me the chills. These people are beginning to eerily resemble their right wing counterparts.

Picture it: thousands, maybe millions of these people, all willing tools of the party, honorary DNC operatives in sync with the message of the day, little Roves in reverse. None of them would have ever given a damn about this ports thing if they hadn’t been instructed to. But now that they see the issue gaining traction and hurting Bush, nothing else matters. One is crowing about his new method of “framing” the debate, while another has prepared rebuttals to “the xenophobia charge.” They’re dead serious, and they don’t tolerate dissenters. The truth of any particular issue is subservient to the great cause of victory. In order to defeat the enemy, they have become him.

If you’re a Republican, and you’re dumbstruck at the lack of sensible commentary on the ports controversy, can’t understand why it’s even an issue, and are astonished at the craven manipulation of Democratic leaders who simply know better than to think it represents a credible security risk—ha ha. Welcome to my world. This is what the rest of us have been feeling for too many years now. Your exasperation is like candy to me.

But if you’re a Democrat, you have to feel a certain sense of loss if the only way you can win is through abandoning reality and cynically manipulating perceptions just a little better than the home team.

Democrats have finally cracked the code. They’re shaking their keys, and the little babies are dancing. This is what it takes to convince Americans that you’re “strong” on homeland security: running around grabbing your jock in a flight suit and shouting “fuck Arabs” to a chorus of hooting baboons.

We win. Hooray.

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