I have to apologize to anyone that found Glenn Beck’s recent article about undocumented immigrants as slaves to be a good start for him – I just don’t see it. What I saw in that article is an attempt to make pro-migrant supporters seem as though they support modern day slavery. His claim is simply ridiculous just as it is when other anti-migrant people and groups make it.
The anti-migrant crowd has a few key points keep in their coffers for speech day, their blogs and some they’ll use to twist the pro-migrant movement’s fundamental humanitarian goal. The most lavish of these points is claiming that the undocumented immigrants are essentially modern day slaves.
The beginning of this article from Glenn Beck illustrates work that Americans do in an attempt to show that they will indeed take any difficult job. Well, I’d have to agree – America is a country full of people from all over the world and not all of them have elitist attitudes about work no more than they have as much money as Beck. However, the truth is that migrant workers have been a part of this country long before there were even laws to make it right or wrong. The whole idea of a migrant worker is they go where the work is and then return home after the work is done. This type of seasonal work is not, I imagine, what many Americans are looking for. Of course not every undocumented worker wants to be a seasonal workers. Most of them want to be citizens.
I will agree that pay is what brings the workers in because Americans don’t want the jobs. If toilet scrubbing paid a million dollars per year the job would have a line of people waiting to do it. So what we basically have in Beck’s story is a failure to address the real issue which is companies taking advantage of both legal and undocumented citizens. Barbar Ehrenreich’s book “Nickel and Dimed” speaks of her quest to make a living working retail jobs and Morgan Spurlock’s show 30 Days also tackled this issue has he and his wife attempted to live on minimum wage. Both of these attempts illustrate you don’t have to be an undocumented migrant to be exploited.
In this article he states:
The unspoken truth is that these businesses don’t hire illegal aliens because they can’t find American workers, they hire illegal aliens because they don’t want American workers. And it has nothing to do with wages.
Illegal aliens mean no workers’ comp claims, no age, race or sex discrimination lawsuits, no health care premiums, no unions, and no demands for raises, vacations or bigger offices. In fact, illegal immigrants are the perfect employees because they’re not employees at all; they’re corporate slaves.
Economist Dr. Thomas Sowell once said, “Blacks were not enslaved because they were black, but because they were available.” Can’t the exact same thing be said for illegal aliens? They’re available and we’re allowing them to be exploited in the name of cheap groceries.
I have to take exception with the above paragraphs especially. Here Beck claims that undocumented migrants make the best workers because they’re the easiest to exploit. Though this may be true it does not attempt to understand why the migrant would work these jobs. I believe this is a very important part of this equation. Instead of seeking to understand this Beck chooses to quote a black economist who believes that slaves were just a convenient vehicle for forced manual labor. “Because they were available” he states. Dr. Sowell is surely far more intelligent than me, but I believe he is terribly wrong on this one. There were many people available at that time and many were used as indentured servants, but the difference between indentured servants and slaves was that slaves were African and they were black. Not only were they from a culture considered crude and backward they also looked so different from the whites that enslaved them that turning them into non-humans was an easy task. Hitler did this with the Jews, but he didn’t have it so easy because Jewish people can’t be singled out simply based on looks. When you saw a black African man in the south you knew full well he was a slave. Very similarly today many see Hispanics this same way – all as “illegals.”
If Beck really wanted to tackle this issue he’d ask why it is he gets $10M dollars a year for speaking on television and radio. It’s quite a cognitive job (though I’d imagine there’s a staff to help him), but surely there is no toil or sweat involved. His job is very much an illustration of one of the major problems in this country – the fact that the rich feel entitled to gobs of money while in “the greatest country on Earth” we have millions who work hard but can barely afford to eat. Beck is paid because advertisers are pumping visuals into the brains of the very people he claims to defend. Maybe I’m missing something here, but that seems terribly wrong and dishonest to me. Does he even give to charity? I quick Google search produced nothing to indicate he does. (We know he likes to watch tazer videos – what does that say about him?)
To get back to the issue of slavery, it’s a sad truth that many people kept in homes until they can pay up and even women and children brought over for prostitution against their will(the recent movies Trade and Human Trafficking both dealt with this subject.) However, the existence of this terrible subculture does not in any way exemplify the 12 million undocumented migrants in this country.
Those people kept as slaves are done so through threats against their family and the fact that laws keep them in the shadows. For a person that has proven themselves to be anti-“illegal” migrant and has gone as far as to ask that we turn Mexican carcasses into “Mexinol” (a new fuel for our SUVs) I have a heard time believing they are truly concerned about the plight of undocumented migrants. Instead what I see in Beck’s argument is similar to what we’ve seem from other anti-migrants – a desire to make vilification contagious for both migrants and their supporters. In this way they can place blame onto the pro-migrant supporters as they must belong to a group advocating the terrible labor practices lurking in the shadows of our broken immigration system. This is an absurd argument which serves no purpose but to make the anti-migrant feel better about their views. This argument does nothing to help those people suffering from having to make the decision that an undocumented life in the United States is better than living in another country.
Beck’s article speaks of the median living conditions in the Tri-state area versus those of the immigrants that work so hard. Rather than speak to the inequities that come with low pay we get Beck’s $10M per year opinion and “view from above.” In his article he also states that if we gave $1,000 to every homeless person that asked for it we’d go broke. Well Beck can afford to give 800 homeless people a thousand dollars every month which equates to around 25 per day. Luckily he probably rarely has so see homeless people which would mean he’d never need to hand out the cash.
If Glenn Beck wants to become a compassionate voice for migrants then let him quite advocating their being turned into fuel (joke or not) and let him speak of issues not just because they bring big ratings and big checks, but because they need to be addressed. Given his vast financial resources and millions of viewers he certainly has the power to make a difference.
Mr. Glenn Beck. Give us something with substance. You have the resources, the clout and certainly the time. If you are truly compassionate for immigrants then let’s see it in your actions.
In a television piece Beck said much of the same thing and also quoted Dr. Sowell (Glenn Beck’s Real Story RE: Immigration Plan/War Spending Bill.