March 21, 2008

The United States: Now A Private and Exclusive Country Club, Run by Monsters

As discussed in more detail below, the following is very far from the worst example of the United States' inhumane and indefensibly restrictive immigration policies. But it is still another sickening and reprehensible sign that the moral inversion of America today is all but complete:
Sebastian Horsley, a British author who has written an eyebrow-raising memoir detailing a life of rampant drug use and voluminous encounters with prostitutes, was turned back at Newark Liberty International Airport on Tuesday as he tried to enter the United States for a book party and New York news media tour.

Mr. Horsley, whose memoir, "Dandy in the Underworld," was published last week in paperback by Harper Perennial, a unit of HarperCollins, said he was detained by United States customs authorities for eight hours and questioned about his former drug addiction, use of prostitutes and activity as a male escort.

"I’m absolutely shattered and upset and gutted about not being able to come to America," Mr. Horsley said in a telephone interview from London, where he had returned on Wednesday. "I was very much looking forward to meeting everybody."

Lucille Cirillo, a spokeswoman for the New York office of United States Customs and Border Protection, said she could not comment on specific cases. But in an e-mail message, she said that under a waiver program that allows British citizens to enter the United States without a visa, "travelers who have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude (which includes controlled-substance violations) or admit to previously having a drug addiction are not admissible."
This is utterly appalling on several levels.

Except for a brief period at the very beginning of our nation's history, America's attitudes and laws concerning immigration have been deplorable. I've written about this subject in considerable detail, in three essays in particular: "The Triumph of Racism," "Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor -- But Not Too Many Jews, and Not Too Many Iraqis," and "A Nation of Lepers, Criminals and Parasites."

Permit me to remind you of a few especially salient points from history, and of some critical principles involved. "Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor..." first dealt with the deadly, viciously hypocritical immigration policies of the U.S. during the 1930s and 1940s. I quoted from a Jacob Hornberger article that discussed two books on the subject. In part, Hornberger wrote:
An American cannot read these two books without total revulsion at the reaction of his own government to Hitler's policies against the Jews. Both authors detail the methods by which American politicians and bureaucrats, while maintaining an appearance of great humanitarianism, used immigration policies to prevent Germany's Jews from escaping to the United States.

Morse writes:

"In 1938 the Nazis burned every synagogue in the nation, shattered the windows of every Jewish establishment, hauled twenty-five thousand innocent people to concentration camps, and forced the Jews to pay 1,000,000,000 marks for the damage.

"Five days later, at a White House press conference, a reporter asked the President 'Would you recommend a relaxation of our immigration restrictions so that the Jewish refugees could be received in this country?'

"'This is not in contemplation,' replied the President. 'We have the quota system.'

"The United States not only insisted upon its immigration law throughout the Nazi era, but administered it with severity and callousness. In spite of unprecedented circumstances, the law was constricted so that even its narrow quotas were not met. The lamp remained lifted beside the golden door, but the flame had been extinguished and the door was padlocked."
The underlying political principles include these:
In my earlier related piece, I offered some excerpts from an article by Sheldon Richman. I'm certain that many readers were puzzled and possibly very taken aback by this paragraph of Richman's in particular:
But ["illegal" immigrants] came into our country without permission, conservative talker Tucker Carlson and his ilk say incessantly. Without whose permission? The whole population of the United States? The federal government? Why the assumption that either of those aggregates can have the right to give or withhold permission for someone to relocate here? This is a country, not a country club, and rights are natural not national. If someone wants to come here and can do so without trespassing on private property, that's his right and his own business.
As my previous essay indicated, this view that "permission" is required for an immigrant to come to the United States is hardly limited to conservatives; most liberals believe it, too.

Note that this was not the case in nineteenth-century America, as Hornberger discusses. Americans could travel anywhere without passports "or other evidence of governmental consent," and foreigners could come to the United States as they chose, for the government was prohibited "from interfering with the right of people everywhere to come to the United States to live and work." I also note that the idea that anyone in this country needed to ask "permission" from the government to engage in virtually any activity (assuming that it did not violate anyone else's fundamental rights) is directly antithetical to the original conception of the United States. (and as I documented in a recent installment of the "Dominion Over the World" series, for much of our history Americans could freely purchase almost every drug whose purchase and use is now criminalized.)
Remember that last point, which is directly relevant to the case of Sebastian Horsley.

Sheldon Richman correctly states that (my emphasis), "This is a country, not a country club..." Of course, Richman is referring to the political principles that only briefly animated the United States in its earliest years, and that are all but obliterated today. But look at the various groups of people that the United States has targeted with anti-immigration vitriol, seeking to bar them from entrance to our own Holy Land throughout its history: Jews, the Irish, Slavs and as described by Peter Quinn: "[I]n 1924, with the support of eugenicists and Klansmen alike, Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1924, which effectively cut arrivals from Eastern and Southern Europe by 80 percent, a limitation that stayed in place through World War II and the Holocaust." This list is far from complete -- and I have not even mentioned the unreasoning animus directed at "illegal" immigrants today. See "The Triumph of Racism" on that subject.

And now you are "not admissible" if you have been convicted of a "crime involving moral turpitude" -- even if you have already suffered whatever penalty might have been imposed and are now free, although you are not free to enter the United States -- or if you "admit to previously having a drug addiction." Obviously, you should lie about it.

In short, if the United States government decides you are not the "right kind" of person, you are not wanted and you will not be admitted. Following general principles of truth in advertising, I suggest we immediately rename America:
The United States, a Private and Exclusive Country Club
This should properly be followed by a brief warning to prospective applicants for membership, as well as to those requesting only brief visiting rights:
Please be advised that our membership requirements are restrictive in the extreme. We maintain the most rigorous standards of admittance, and only allow a select number of new members to join each year. If you think you have cause to wonder whether you are the right kind of person for our club, you are not.
With regard to Mr. Horsley, his "crimes" involved drug use and prostitution. If we are talking about voluntary behavior engaged in and chosen by adults --


There is no political theory and no theory of rights that coherently and legitimately makes them crimes. As deeply shocking as it is to the ruling class and most of the commentariat today, your body actually is yours. As long as you violate no one else's rights, what you do with it is your business and no one else's. It is certainly not the state's business. (I briefly touched on this point in my discussion of the Eliot Spitzer story. As detestable as Spitzer's record is in many respects, and even though he was victimized in some of the identical ways and by the same means that he delighted in inflicting on others, he still should not have been targeted for anything to do with prostitution.)

These are the final paragraphs of the Horsley story:
"God bless America, land of the free, but sadly not the land of the depraved," he said. He referred to the recent resignation of Eliot Spitzer, the former governor of New York, in the wake of revelations that he had frequented prostitutes. "I’m not a politician, I’m an artist," Mr. Horsley said. "Depravity is part of the job description."

He added that he regarded his memoir as "a very moral book in the same way that Bret Easton Ellis’s ‘American Psycho’ was a moral book." He added, "I’m not a bad person."
I appreciate Horsley's irony in the face of injustice. It should go without saying that in light of the metastasizing American surveillance state and the numerous ways in which individual liberty is destroyed daily in this country, to say nothing of the Horsley story itself, "land of the free" is now the dream that has gone. And let us set aside judgments about whether Horsley as a person or in his work is "depraved." Again, if we are speaking of adult behavior that impinges on the rights of no other person, it is none of the government's business whether Horsley, you or anyone else is depraved. If you choose to be depraved in any or every area of your life, that, too, is your inalienable right. Or rather, it used to be. You once had a right to be "a bad person" on your own time, so long as you did not force your evil on anyone else.

Finally, consider the following. Sebastian Horsley is a private citizen, who happens to have written a book. He was detained for eight hours, questioned extensively about personal behavior that is not criminal by any reasonable and valid standard, and then sent packing back to London. Your kind is not wanted here, he was told. And the United States government used its considerable power to enforce its judgment.

At the same time, the United States government begins the sixth year of a criminal and illegal occupation of a country that never threatened it, and it has murdered more than one million innocent people. It appears to me, as I think it would appear to any sane human being, that these are actual crimes -- and crimes on a world historical scale, of a scope that is stupefying and almost ungraspable. Has even one person been called to account for those crimes? No. And with the deeply corrupt collaboration of the Democrats who have controlled Congress for over a year, no one ever will be.

For the United States is not just any exclusive, highly restricted country club. It is a country club run by and for a profoundly immoral and corrupt ruling class, led by those who order and direct genocidal murder and those who aid them in their monstrous crimes.

Contemplate the brief trajectory: this is where we are, in just over two hundred years. How awful, how horrifying, and how deeply tragic.