Monday, May 15, 2006

Ah, Mr. Floor! Please meet my good friend, Mr. Jaw.

As if I needed more evidence that the libertarians of the world tend to be really kooky, witness this article on the immigration problem by Vox Day, in which he makes this rather startling analogy:

If it took the Germans less than four years to rid themselves of 6 million Jews, many of whom spoke German and were fully integrated into German society, it couldn't possibly take more than eight years to deport 12 million illegal aliens, many of whom don't speak English and are not integrated into American society.


And I wonder why he could refer to President Bush as "Dear Jorge".

But anyway, setting aside the unfortunate emotional component of this analogy -- one isn't going to make a convincing case with a lot of people by favorably citing one of the greatest acts of state-sponsored evil in history -- Day clarifies things in this blog post:

Actually, I compared it to what the National Socialists did between December 1941 and June 1945. Perhaps you've never heard of concentration camps - really death camps - such as Dachau and Auschwitz. Before they killed the Jews, the National Socialists had to identify them and transport them. The point, as seems to have escaped you and many other morons, is that it is quite clearly possible to enact deportations on the scale required.

Setting aside the odiousness of the rhetoric here and focusing purely on the analogy which poses the whole problem as a simple matter of classification, it really doesn't work.

First, Day's dating of the Holocaust is suspect. The "Final Solution" wasn't codified until late 1941, but Day's use of the date implies that up until that moment, the Jews were perfectly free to wander about Germany at will. This is false. Many historians actually date the "official" beginning of the Holocaust as Kristallnacht, two years earlier and two years before the beginnings of the death squads. The Kristallnacht was possible because the Germans had already been doing years of groundwork. The first concentration camps, for "undesirables", were built in 1933, eight years earlier.

Second, Jews tended to be highly concentrated and were easily distinguishable from Teutonic Germans, due to racial characteristics. The locations of Jewish villages and Jewish ghettos in cities were well known. This won't apply to the "illegal immigrants", who may not tend to assimilate with American society, but who do tend to be less-than-distinguishable from perfectly legal Latino communities and who don't tend to live in exclusive ghettos and villages. One reason the Germans found it so horrifyingly easy to kill six million Jews is because they already knew where they were, and it didn't take a massive Government operation to find them. The Jews were living in places where they had lived for decades, even centuries. Telling a Jew from a German was quite a bit easier than telling a legal immigrant from an illegal one.

Third, consider the problem of scale. Germany isn't nearly as big as the United States. True, the greater concentration of illegal immigrants will be found along the US-Mexico border, but remember: the four states that directly border Mexico themselves comprise over twice the geographical area of Germany.

Fourth, Day doesn't consider for one moment the fact that because the Jews were slated to be killed, the means by which they were transported to their doom were fairly horrifying in themselves. They packed the Holocause victims, en masse, into rail freight cars. That's a big reason they were able to do all this in four years. If Day wants to accomplish what he thinks to be a similarly scaled mass deportation in a similar period of time (setting aside the fact that the two tasks would actually not be similarly scaled), is he really suggesting that we pack illegal Mexicans into freight cars on trains bound for Tijuana?

Finally, there's the uncomfortable fact that the Holocaust wasn't the sole product of the German government. The German people were, sadly enough, more than willing at that time to scapegoat the Jews for the difficulties they had experienced. The Holocaust was perpetrated not merely by a government, but by a culture that was willing to perpetrate it. Anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States is a pretty powerful and vocal thing, but it doesn't match the force of the German anti-Semitism of a hundred years ago.

(Link to Vox Day's article via Digby.)


Anonymous said...

Just goes to show you how difficult labels make things. That's about as opposite a view of immigration that libertarians espouse as you can get.

Kelly Sedinger said...

In my experience, just about any kooky position that exists will be espoused by one libertarian or another.

LC Scotty said...

A fan of Vox Day's with a similar reaction to yours.

K said...

This is incredibly interesting. I'm going to send to a friend. Kooky indeed.

Anonymous said...

Very true, J. Libertarians are truly a mixed breed.

The truest of libertarians generally advocate for as little government involvement as possible, and the govt. would definitely have to be involved in rounding up illegals.

I think some people just latch on to the term "libertarian" 'cause it sounds cool.

As an aside, I see he labells himself a "Christian Libertarian" on his site. I notice that there seems to be an inverse relationship between the prominence of the term "Christian" on a political blog and the level of Christian values held.

Pat said...

kevinp, where I come from we call that "Buffet Christianity."