But . . . but . . . but . . . it's nice here!

How come everybody wants to come to the United States if the United States is so bad?

--George H. W. Bush
I've spent a lot of time in the past trying to explain to people the connection between US policies in Latin America and illegal immigration. The equation boils down very simply: We send guns and trained killers down there, they send back political and economic refugees. For some reason, right-wingers get very upset when I ask them to address that.

There's an e-mail being forwarded around where an Iraqi woman in line at a store makes some sort of comment about how the US shouldn't be attacking Iraq and gets "put in her place" by somebody who explains to her that if she'd stayed there and stood up to her government, we wouldn't have to be doing it for her. Which, of course, completely misses the point that without the protection and assistance of the US government, Saddam might actually have been taken out of power before he ever invaded Kuwait.

And then there's the argument above, offered by Old Bush in response to criticism of Young Bush during a question-and-answer period with students in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The same basic argument is a staple of right-wing commentary, especially pertaining to foreign policy. And, indeed, in this case, all of the criticisms Old Bush is reported to have been responding to were related to US foreign policy generally, and his son's approach specifically.

Under analysis, the comment borders on comical. Think about it for a moment.

"If our foreign policy is so terrible, why do so many people want to live here?"

"If we're such a threat to the world, why do people want to live here?"

"If our policies aren't working to promote freedom and democracy abroad, why does everybody want to live here?"

"If all we're doing is enriching ourselves at the expense of weaker nations, why do people want to live here?"

Doesn't really work, does it?

Of course, by constructing the question so imprecisely -- referring to "the US" as opposed to our impact on the rest of the world -- right-wingers get to mask how ridiculous it is. But this is what they're really asking.

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