The Ottomans had an interesting method of assuring political stability. The sprawling empire operated on a system in which "millets," distinct ethnic and religious groups, were allowed to oversee their own internal affairs while giving absolute loyalty to the sultan and his government. Every now and then a millet would be ordered to pack up and head out for a new home, at times at the opposite end of the imperium, amid new neighbors -- sometimes the original residents, sometimes other refugees -- of alien origins, ethnicity, and religious belief. Christians among Muslims, Catholics among Orthodox, Bulgarians among Turks, Circassians among Arabs...the variations were nearly endless. In short order, the various groups would become so enmeshed in harassing and attacking each other that they could spare no time or energy to defy the status quo. The Ottoman state acted as a referee, occasionally bouncing an ethnic group that got out of hand, but in general letting the circus roar along while they, the rulers, involved themselves in life's finer things -- conspiracies against fellow officials or plans to conquer Western Europe. From their point of view, it worked. For nearly five hundred years, the Ottoman Empire remained a stable and ongoing concern. Some aspects of the policy remain with us today, long after the empire vanished -- it explains much of the recent chaos in the ruins of Yugoslavia, for one thing.
So -- any questions about immigration?
The American left has its own millet system, consisting of ethnic (and other) groups defined in large part by their grievances as victims of America. The left provides these groups with attention, representation, and handouts in exchange for their votes. This system has been in place for generations, and it has become the driving wheel of Democratic politics. It has worked nearly as well for them as it did for the Ottoman overlords.
The history of the left in this country is a history of division. Whatever conflict was current -- labor vs. management, class vs. class, race vs. race -- there you'd find the left, stirring things up in order to derive as much political benefit as possible. A workable democratic system demands a willingness to seek consensus and engage in compromise. The left prefers Balkanization and permanent conflict.
For some years now, it has appeared that the Leftist formula had reached the end of its string. The corrupt and crime-ridden unions were on their last legs, hemorrhaging members even as they drove jobs overseas. Blacks were steadily moving into the middle class and becoming less susceptible to separatist rhetoric. An attempt to transform the university student body into a permanent revolutionary phalanx on the Peronist model had only partial success -- students were willing to play while actually on campus, but after graduation, they went on to more interesting pursuits.
So how to keep the pot boiling? The answer was to go find a new millet -- or rather, to take advantage of the one next door, of the desperate people fleeing a serial kleptocracy, an uneducated, ignorant, and frightened mass open to all forms of manipulation.
This explains why illegal immigration is so important to the left. It explains why efforts to halt illegal border-crossings, a problem that wouldn't challenge a six-year-old, are executed so halfheartedly and so often left unfinished (see the recent "virtual fence"). It explains the irrational response to Arizona's effort to tighten up existing immigration law (not create new law -- Arizona's statute is no more than a reinforcement of existing federal law). It explains the insistence that any solution to the immigration problem provide for amnesty and citizenship for the millions of illegals already living within our borders. It has nothing to do with compassion, nothing to do with fairness or practicality or any of the other reasons offered by "reform" advocates. As is almost always the case where the American left is involved, what it has to do with is power.
The left wishes to use the illegals as a battering ram against the American polity, the same as they used labor, and blacks, and every other group they ever encountered. Illegals will become a new protected class, with privileges and entitlements denied the rest of the populace (including, ironically, current members of previous such classes). They will be discouraged from learning English, as occurs today under the doctrine of "bilingualism," to assure that they remain a separate presence. A vast bureaucracy will arise to "assist" the new citizenry, funded with billions -- oh hell, make that trillions, this is the Obama era -- and staffed with sociologists, ethnographers, psychologists, and other disciplines unimagined today. All will be of the same political persuasion. A permanent crisis atmosphere will be generated around the new class. The "Amnestee" question will lead to endless problems and ramifications and act as a permanent indictment of the country and its policies. The native population (not to mention legal immigrants) will grow increasingly embittered and angered. The former illegals will be rendered even more miserable than they are today.
The solution is obvious. There must be no amnesty. Such an action would simply drop a permanent inassimilable presence in the midst of American society. Current law must be executed to the fullest and, where necessary (as in all the border states), reinforced with new state laws. Illegals now in the country must be encouraged to regularize themselves according to recognized procedure. They must not be allowed, for their sakes and ours, to become clients of the left-wing establishment. The immigrant problem must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, according to individual circumstances. The notion that there is an acceptable mass solution is pure fantasy.
While this may involve some hardship -- and will certainly give rise to cries of "unfairness" -- it is in the long run the best solution for all concerned. Even the illegals will be better off. Becoming a member of a left-wing client class may not be the worst possible fate, but it's not far from the bottom either, as generations of welfare families can attest. American leftists did nothing for this country's workers once the union vote-getting machines were established. The same can be said of blacks in the inner cities once the political machines were in action there. The goal of power is simply to perpetuate itself. Actually solving problems might interfere with that process.
There is an air of permanence to the illegals problem. We're told we may as well accept the easiest solution, since it will always be with us. But that's not necessarily the case. Mexico has a falling population. In a few years, the country's difficulty with providing employment to its masses is likely to solve itself. (Those familiar with my attitude toward demographic predictions may wish to take this with a grain of salt.) It's possible that we'll be paying bonuses for Mexican guest workers a generation from now.
There are no permanent political problems -- or permanent solutions either, as the Ottomans at last discovered. Their achievement of true political stasis ended with the empire, once the terror of Christendom transformed it into the "Sick Man of Europe." Much of the 19th century was spent pulling the Ottomans out of one terminal crisis after another. When the Allies finally kicked in the door in 1918, the entire rotten structure fell in on itself. The American left is headed in the same direction. We must assure that the U.S. does not get dragged along.
J.R. Dunn is consulting editor of American Thinker and editor of the forthcoming Military Thinker.