"Caught me 'nother load o' illegal aliens,"Nat growled, pushing through the door of the Hog Trough Grill & Feed and flopping his skinny bones into a chair at the big round table.
Nat hasn't looked too good since Mrs. Nat died. But he's handling his grief in that time-honored manly way -- saying nothing and throwing himself into hard work. In this case, patrolling the Lyons Ranch on horseback, searching for illegal aliens trespassing on his land.
As he sagged into the chair he nodded toward the street. There, between the Hog Trough and the Statue of the Drunken Cowboy sat Nat's dusty red Dodge pickup. In its bed, trussed up like pigs and probably peeing themselves with terror, were two men and a woman.
"Yep. Them's illegals alright," Marty Harbibi agreed. "You c'n tell just to look at 'em. The way they're dressed. Gives it right away."
Now, as we all know, illegal aliens are the crisis du jour across the U.S. of A. Which frankly seems a bit odd.
Cynics might note that illegals have been pouring across United States borders for decades, bringing a complicated mix of troubles and benefits. Little is new. But those same cynics might also observe that the federales always need one thing or another to stir us up & persuade us to hand over more of our freedom, privacy, and common sense.
So -- voila! -- just when old, familiar crises like the wars on drugs, terror, "gun violence," poverty, etc. are looking a little raggedy around the edges, "swarthy furriners" (America's favorite historic bugaboo) suddenly threaten our nation's sovereignty and security once again. Handy, that.
That said, though, the problem is real.
"Takin' our jobs," muttered Janelle-the-Waitress.
"They don't speak no sensible English," added Marty.
"Most of them work very hard," Dora-the-Yalie protested. But even she agreed that many don't come with useful skills.
"You don't know what sort of plagues they might be spreading," someone growled.
"In some cities," sniffed Janelle, slopping
diluted tar coffee into Nat's cup, "there are so many of 'em you can hardly recognize America in America any more."
And worst of all, too many crave the fruits of freedom without having the slightest notion of what freedom really is. Millions of ignoramuses expect jobs but condemn free markets. They don't get that prosperity requires sound money. They demand safety while condemning self-defense rights. They beg for "ownership" granted by federal handout. They want ...
Well, frankly, it's impossible, what they want.
But alas, all the solutions to the problem seem just as impossible.
Can't build a wall to keep illegals out. The United States shares 1,953 miles of border with Mexico and 5,526 miles with Canada. Take a look at our thousands of miles of Atlantic and Pacific seacoasts. They're borders, too. (Bet you didn't know that we even share a territorial border with Russia, of all places.) And all that's without considering who might come in by air.
The biggest army in the world wouldn't have enough soldiers to cover even our shortest international boundary.
Networks of sensors? Checkpoints? Razor wire? C'mon. Illegals would still cut, blast, tunnel, bribe, climb, shoot, and otherwise make their way through.
National ID cards? Oh, pardon me, I know we're not supposed to call them that. What I mean, of course, is the harmless and beneficial Real ID drivers license which, despite being federally mandated, federally specified, federally databased, and required for all travel, work, all "public" services, and all entry into federal buildings, is absolutely not a national ID card. Sigh. Determined illegals will always forge 'em, get 'em by bribery, or manage to live without 'em.
Ah, but that's not the point, is it? The point is this: A country laden with razor wire, checkpoints, sensors, soldiers, and snipers in ghillie suits -- a country whose citizens' movements can be tracked and controlled at will -- is a country that can keep subjects caged inside far more effectively than it can keep "furriners" out.
Yes indeedy. Let's all get so roused about the threat du jour that in our haste to demand a total security state we voluntarily surrender everything that makes America worth having. In the time-honored way of American governance, let's solve one genuine problem with "solutions" that are genuinely worse.
At this point I must offer a teeny, tiny apology. I may have accidentally mislead you into thinking we were talking only about little brown-skinned people. But you see, the main "illegal alien" problem isn't exactly the one the media's hyping.
Marty was right, for once. You really could identify the illegal aliens in Nat's truck by the clothes they wore. All three were in dorky, unHardyvillian business suits.
To make the identification positive, Nat fished in his pocket and threw the strangers' business cards on the table: Internal Revenue Service; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; Department of Health and Human Services.
Dangerous creeps like these are forever trying to weasel their way into Hardyville. Millions have already weaseled into every corner of the U.S. of A.
Yep. Illegal aliens are destroying America. And what could be more illegal, or more alien, than millions of swarming agents of an all-consuming government, unrestrained by any constitution, running amuck and devouring the substance of our land?
They destroy productive jobs through regulation and taxation.
They speak only Bureaucratese and Legalese, obfuscating, confusing, conniving, co-opting, and corrupting the culture along with the language.
Some work hard but the skills they practice are less than useless to a free country.
They bring in plagues of rules and regulations, violent death, economic stagnation, inflation, fiat money, perpetual war, national ID cards, "gun control," warrantless searches, taxes, inflexible bureaucratic arrogance.
In some cities, there are so many of 'em, with their completely foreign culture, that you can hardly recognize America in America any more.
And they prate the jargon of freedom while working every day to destroy what's left of the real thing.
But here's the scary part: most Americans still manage to believe that the biggest threat of all will somehow save them from all the lesser (real or made-up) threats.
Is that nuts, or what?
There at the Hog Trough we all looked again at the squirming, panicked, arrogant, high-handed, tax-sucking devourers of freedom in the back of Nat's truck. A crowd was gathering around them and some of the faces looked a tad unfriendly. Carty, who had been uncharacteristically quiet all this time, turned to Nat.
"Catch & release?" he asked. "Or shoot, shovel, and shut up?"