Sunday, July 06, 2008

An Act of War (by Phila)

The Right blogosphere has been very excited, lately, about reports that members of the Mexican army "invaded" a home in Phoenix and murdered its occupant (who appears to have been a drug dealer). The initial impetus for this story came from wingnut radio host (and former congressman) J.D. Hayworth, who got the story from Mark Spencer of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association. Spencer backed his theory up with a hearsay report that appeared in internal memos from the Phoenix Police Department, which he posted online (apparently in defiance of department policy).

Spencer's claim was then picked up by Fox News, which helpfully included a link to Hayworth's interview. Soon enough, bloggers were announcing that the Mexican Army had crossed the border to invade Phoenix, and calling it "an act of war."

As the story reverberated through hundreds of empty heads, it got weirder and more outrageous. All-American Blogger, for instance, concluded that "Mexican drug cartels are hiring members of the Mexican military to come across the border with full tactical gear and kill Phoenix police officers in their own homes," [emphasis added] and also informed Free Republic's elite cadre of revolutionaries and dialecticians that the "Mexican Military [is] Raiding The Homes of Phoenix Police Officers."

Both the ICE and the Phoenix PD have denied that any of the suspects were members of the Mexican military. However, Hayworth's radio station has phrased the denials in such a way that they'll confirm the darkest suspicions of immigrant-hatin' paranoiacs:
Phoenix police also did not confirm whether the men were from the military despite internal documents showing that they were.
In fact, these "internal documents" show only that one of the suspects claimed to be a member of the Mexican military. However, by cutting out that attribution, it's easy enough to represent it as the secret, publicly disavowed belief of the Phoenix PD.

And of course, official denials pose no problem at all for those who wish to believe this was an incursion by Mexican military personnel. On the contrary, the denials prove that the story is basically correct...or better yet, from the standpoint of emotional satisfaction, that the situation is much worse than they're letting on. This is the sort of narrative for which only two types of evidence exist: compelling and overwhelming.

Which is why stories like this one put the White House in something of a bind. If it denies that the Mexican military is crossing the border to murder American citizens, it's part of the conspiracy. And if it claims to be concerned, any action it takes that fails to satisfy the "border security" crowd's bottomless appetite for authoritarian brutality, bigotry, and stupidity will be rejected as capitulation or worse.

In my more dour moods, I assume that Bush's ability to enrage the Left still commands some superstitious respect among the gun hoarders and hyperpatriots and racists whom the Administration has played for suckers, even as a steady diet of unfalsifiable rumors and violent rhetoric brings their hysteria and hatred closer to the boiling point. It's easy to imagine things deteriorating once a more..."traditional" enemy of America takes office.