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Wednesday, February 22, 2006 

Border Wars

It seems with all the Cheney hoopla, Texas has started it's new operation "to take back our border." It seems Gov. Rick Perry decided boost his ratings since he really doesn't have any achievements to run on. Perry, like BushCo, will quickly latch on the current fear-factor that will either frighten the people, play to their prejudices or greed. So this time around, Perry's latest bogeyman are "drug smugglers and illegal immigrants."

As the 2006 governor's election campaigns gear up, Perry figures he might as well cashing in on this latest fear:
Gov. Rick Perry launched a new border safety initiative today dubbed "Operation Rio Grande" to combat growing violence, though he warned that border law enforcement remains mainly the federal government's responsibility.

"The state will not wait for Washington to take all the necessary actions," Perry said.
The governor cited examples of escalating violence, including an armed standoff last month between state authorities and apparent drug smugglers wearing Mexican military-style uniforms in Hudspeth County.

Perry noted other border security problems, such as the apprehension of four Iraqis headed to the United States by Mexican officials and the discovery of a crime organization's weapons stockpile in Laredo.

Things must be so bad at the border, Perry had to activate the Governor's Emergency Management Council to handle the problem. It is an all out war.
A state operations center will serve as a coordination point for state, local and federal officials and will be a hub for incident reporting for law enforcement agencies up to 100 miles from the Rio Grande, Perry said.

Other action includes dispatching a DPS "rapid response" team of troopers to trouble areas; assigning DPS narcotics, motor vehicle theft and criminal intelligence investigators to conduct patrols and surveillance and assigning state law enforcement aircraft to the border.

The plan also involves the deployment of a DPS SWAT team, Texas Department of Criminal Justice canine search teams and Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens, in addition to helping develop regional SWAT teams. The Texas Rangers would investigate alleged incursions by the Mexican military along the border.

Man the barricades! Hide the women and children, y'all, the border is under siege!

Last year, the State Department issued a travel warning for the Mexican border, singling out Nuevo Laredo in particular as a destination to avoid. The media has also jumped into the bogeyman bandwagon, such as Time's "The Brewing Border Wars."
The month-long, bi-national celebration of George Washington's birthday recently began in Laredo, the Texas border town where debutantes and politicians gather to attend balls and watch the Mexican Army join the parade—the only place in the U.S., in fact, where a foreign army is allowed to march down the street. Parade organizers say the 108-year tradition is evidence of the close ties between Mexico and Texas, but those ties seem lately to be fraying as the 1,250-mile border becomes increasingly dangerous. To the east of Laredo, renegade Mexican Army commandos are part of the Zetas, a brutal drug smuggling gang, and Laredo's sister city, Nuevo Laredo, once a favorite spot among Texans for weekend shopping trips, has been wracked with kidnappings, political assassinations and even a shootout between police and drug gangs near an international bridge.

The mass media is not the only one to portray, a possible border war, the local media as well. Midland's KWES has done a three part series on the Border Sheriff's Coalition's "Operation Linebacker," which also could be found on South Texas Chisme. (See here, here and here). It is interesting how the talking heads at KWES can make things sound so ominous.
It's a place that appears to have no boundaries ... an area so vast and so isolated, that most would have no idea an everyday war is being waged, right here, in Brewster County.
Dodson and his deputies are on a mission ... to stop illegal immigrants and drug smugglers from getting into the United States ... a mission known as 'Operation Linebacker.'

"Operation Linebacker is an operation dubbed by the Border Sheriff's Coalition," Dodson explained. "'Linebacker' meaning, just like a football team, we're trying to help out the Border Patrol."

Is it really that simple to manipulate the American public? Apparently so. Sure, we don't think of ourselves as being susceptible to propaganda, or that we are even exposed to propaganda. But we are, it is called advertising. In this case it is not only trying to shoehorn people's attitudes in a particular direction, towards a certain product, but also towards a vision of a culture where the product and the company selling it can flourish.

Not convinced? Why not view the PBS series Frontline, called The Persuaders, which you can view it online. Part 5: "Give Us What We Want" is the most important one of the series, it discusses how right-wing political consultant Frank Lutz uses focus groups and Happy Meal McLanguage to sell people on policy by using words like "responsibility" and "integrity" regardless of actual merit.

They are selling this, like the Iraq War, the Patriot Act and the Bush tax cuts, despite the obvious absurdities and contradictions in their position, mostly because they can throw some buzzwords in or, better yet, completely lobotomize the language associated with the issue in a way that is purely Orwellian in intent. For example, in Texas and the Southwest, the buzzwords thrown around are "illegal immigrants" and "drug smugglers"; but Florida, its different, refugees. In the Southwest, is all about roundups and deportation, in Florida, the right wingnuttery act like they really care.
Gov. Jeb Bush along with Sen. Mel Martinez put in calls to the White House on behalf of the 15 [Cuban refugees], while South Florida's Cuban- American U.S. House members launched a lobbying campaign to convince the Bush administration to change the controversial "wet-foot, dry-foot" policy.

Here is some food for thought, in Know Your Enemy: Political Contradictions of the Right M. Junaid Alam wrote:
Right-wing ideology is mostly a game of smoke and mirrors. Outside the narrow segment of the very wealthy, it achieves its appeal by cleverly capitalizing upon the inchoate prejudices, suspicions, fears, and insecurities prevalent among the public. The method is simple but effective: for any given problem, introduce a few crucial codewords and phrases that both eject said problem’s real dimensions and inject as many emotionally-loaded, jingoistic, and anxiety-inducing intimations as possible. These Trojan horses, once inserted into public discourse, arouse the appropriate psychological insecurities and pre-existing prejudices, and soon come to reshape the framework of public discourse itself. The trick is to recognize this game from the outset – and to reject and dismantle the imposed framework - instead of hopelessly banging on the walls from inside the asylum.

So how bad are our borders? According to a 26-year Border Patrol veteran, Democratic Rep. Silvestre Reyes, it is the same old one trick pony.
"We've had an ongoing issue with drug trafficking on the border that goes back to when I was in the Patrol. Yes, it flares up from time to time at different parts of the border, but that's the way it's always been," said Reyes, who also was a Border Patrol sector chief.


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  • From Tejas, United States
  • Un Xicano who is tired of the current status quo.
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