Friday, August 12, 2011

Is it racist to oppose the Mexican cross-border program?

If American truckers are opposed to cross-border trucking with Mexico, are they racists? If they are concerned with issues like safety, jobs, national security, fair treatment – is that racism? Concerns for other issues like immigration, customs, reduced tax revenue for roads, lack of clear enforcement – is that racism? Of course it isn’t. That’s asinine, but U.S. truckers are getting smeared with this ugly word way too often to keep ignoring it.

Do you recall back in 1992, when the North American Free Trade Agreement controversy was raging and Texan Ross Perot – then a presidential candidate – made his famous “giant sucking sound” statement? He was describing the effects of NAFTA on American jobs. He was immediately labeled as racist, but was nimble to debunk this. He simply pointed out that the top myth used by NAFTA proponents is that NAFTA critics “are racist.”

Perot criticized the media for falling for the pro-NAFTA crowd’s cheap ploy – playing the race card. To this he countered: "The fact that American workers don’t want their jobs moved to Mexico is not racist.”
Perot said the “quickest way to discredit a critic, discount an argument, or intimidate an opponent in U.S. politics is to label that person a ‘racist.’ It happens time and again because it works.”

I was discussing this the other day with a veteran of the U.S. trucking industry and I asked him if he opposed the cross-border trucking program with Mexico because as a white guy, he didn’t want Mexican truckers in this country. He said, “Are you kidding me? Why would I think that?” He went on to explain that he had huge respect for the people of Mexico. Then he had his own perspective on Mexican truckers.

In fact, he thinks as drivers, they are incredibly skilled.

“Have you seen some of those roads? Some of the pickup and delivery areas?” he said to me.

“You have GOT to be a really handy driver to navigate those roads, find your way, and successfully deliver the load. What those drivers have to deal with is incredible. And that’s not even considering their personal safety and fear of cargo theft and other crimes. I totally respect Mexican drivers. This has nothing to do with race.”

Back to Ross Perot. He made a good point all those years ago that still holds true. He reminded the public that once somebody calls another a racist or cites a racist agenda, it’s grabbed up like crazy by the media. As Perot says, “the victims are then forced to prove they are not bigots.” In the case of American truckers accused of being racist over this Mexican trucking pilot, it ain’t so.

It’s a tactical ruse.