The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

And there... on the car door... was a SOMBRERO!

I first saw this story on Monday, and now that others are contributing their own interesting takes on it the time has come to officially make it a post.

The story is a strange one, but one that appealed to me right away given my penchant for writing about right-wing e-mail forwards that seek to exploit societal fears and paranoia.

When completed, the highway will run from Mexico City to Toronto, slicing through the heartland like a dagger sunk into a heifer at the loins and pulled clean to the throat. It will be four football fields wide, an expansive gully of concrete, noise and exhaust, swelled with cars, trucks, trains and pipelines carrying water, wires and God knows what else. Through towns large and small it will run, plowing under family farms, subdevelopments, acres of wilderness. Equipped with high-tech electronic customs monitors, freight from China, offloaded into nonunionized Mexican ports, will travel north, crossing the border with nary a speed bump, bound for Kansas City, where the cheap goods manufactured in booming Far East factories will embark on the final leg of their journey into the nation's Wal-Marts.

And this NAFTA Superhighway, as it is called, is just the beginning, the first stage of a long, silent coup aimed at supplanting the sovereign United States with a multinational North American Union.

This is completely new to me. I wouldn't expect to know it 'just because I'm from Missouri,' but it sounds like it's a pretty widespread "meme." Especially given that it's absolutely preposterous. At the same time, it's a GOP bonanza. Their bottom line uber alles economic policies have birthed and nurtured a working-class hostility toward immigrants, particularly Latinos, and they're more than happy to pretend that they'll be the ones tough enough to kick some immigrant ass. It's absolutely brilliant propaganda, fomenting political extremism in the very people that same extremism is exploiting and reducing to serfdom.

In his essay "The Paranoid Style in American Politics," Richard Hofstadter famously sketched the contours of the American tradition of folk conspiracy--a tradition that has, at different times, seen its enemy in Masons, Jesuits, immigrants, Jews and Eastern bankers. There's certainly a strong continuity between that tradition and the populist/nationalist ire that drives the NAFTA highway myth. Hofstadter's original essay was motivated in part by the activities of the John Birch Society, which today is one of the leading purveyors of the highway myth.

Highly recommended. Actually, more of a must-read.