Astroturf Rhetoric

Many posts ago, the blog discussed the political terms “Astroturf” and “grassroots.”

Now Wild Bill has sent along an example of Astroturfing, whereby citizens receive emails (spam?) that instruct them how to send a prefabricated message to elected officials.

Of course, no single part of the political spectrum owns this technique. It’s standard operating procedure now. After receiving an email “from” Vice President Biden, who sent to his closest several million friends, one may be invited to “donate now” or “tell Congress” thus and such. The grassroots, the, become illusory, ginned-up by the trees running whatever political operation.

This particular bit of Astroturf rhetoric, however, comes from Roy Beck, President of something called NumbersUSA [no space], and here is the e-letter one is invited to send of clicking on PRESS HERE TO SEND NO-COST FAX [bolding and brief annotations added]:


Arizona has just passed the most sweeping, pro-American and pro-legal immigrant immigration enforcement law in the country, and you should follow suit by making sure all states enforce America’s immigration laws. [Beck’s constituency may overlap with the one that covets states’ rights and therefore doesn’t want a president to follow suit thusly; and on Orwell’s behalf, note the cliche, “sweeping,” and the dead metaphor, “follow suit”]

Arizona’s new piece of legislation, SB 1070, does even more to keep its residents safe. The legislation:

* allows police officers to ask for proof of residency if they suspect an individual is in the country illegally

* allows illegal aliens to be jailed and fined up to $2500

* bans “soft” immigration policies at local police agencies that prevent officers from asking about a suspect’s immigration status

* allows Arizonans to sue if they feel a government agency has adopted a policy that hinders the enforcement of illegal immigration laws [can’t citizens already try to sue state governments?]

* prohibits people from blocking traffic when they seek or offer day-labor services on street corners [Oy, so much here: blocking traffic is made a central concern, while the hiring of alleged undocumented visitors is left to continue; also note the ironic juxtaposition of day-laborers (minimum wage at most) and the $2500 fine above]

* and makes it illegal for people to transport illegal aliens if the drivers of vehicles know their passengers are in the country illegally and if the transportation furthers their illegal presence in the country.

[No sense of charity, Christian or otherwise, here; you can’t give someone a lift to the hospital without worrying about getting arrested. “I’d like to emulate the Good Samaritan, but there’s a law against.” And how are the police supposed to know you know your passenger is illegal? Is there a new radar device for that–one that can look into your mind? Maybe it can detect when I’m about to switch the radio to an AM oldies station and, for my passengers’ sake, stop me. “License and registration sir: I think we’ve heard ‘Take It Easy’ by the Eagles enough for one lifetime.”]

You and Congress should be ashamed that states are being forced to enforce federal law because the federal government doesn’t have the backbone to do the job. Please observe the will of the American people and make sure our immigration laws are enforced!

[Wait! I’m confused. Up top, the letter urged President Obama to make sure all states enforce immigration laws, but the close of the letter tells the president he should be ashamed that states are being forced to enforce such laws; rather than a backbone, the president will need a Logic Cuisinart]

(Your Name Will Appear Here)


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