On a recent trip to Elko, Nevada to attend the annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering, I got some unexpected insights into the National Question.
Let me encourage all of you to attend a cowboy poetry gathering. The Elko event is the granddaddy of them all, but many others have popped up throughout the Rockies and the southwestern U.S.
Even if you live in tinhorn country, the journey to Elko—most likely via the Salt Lake City airport—is well worth the trouble.
Where else can you hear cowboys describe wide-open spaces, sleeping under the stars and their love of family, friends, animals, western lore and, most of all, America?
This year, one of the presenting poets was Wallace McRae, known to many as the "Cowboy Curmudgeon". McRae's daytime job is managing his 30,000-acre cow-calf ranch in Forsyth, Montana as president of the Rocker-Six Cattle Company.
After McRae finished reading his verse, he slipped into yarn spinning. He talked about some interlopers who had come onto his ranch one spring evening.
According to his story, word reached McRae at the main house that trespassers had been spotted camping on a far corner of his property.
McRae promptly grabbed his hat and coat and jumped into his truck. Another person in the house, knowing about McRae's volatile temper and his intense dislike for trespassers, said: "Better call the Sheriff, just in case there's real trouble."
The Sheriff and McRae arrived on the scene at just about the same time. As it turned out, the interlopers were two college botany professors hoping to study the flora and fauna in Rosebud County.
Singularly unimpressed with their academic mission, McRae ordered them off his property immediately.
The professors, sensing that McRae is no one to fool with, took off into the night.
With the potential dust up now dampened, the Sheriff asked McRae what difference it made to him if a couple of innocent, well-intended scholars camped out while they did their research. After all, according to the Sheriff's logic, McRae owns 30,000 acres.
Here, paraphrased, is McRae's reply:
"The difference is that this is my land…mine. I inherited it from my Scottish parents and grandparents. I worked hard to develop it. I poured my own sweat into it. If I invite you onto my property you will be my welcome guest. But if you are uninvited, you better clear the hell out."
McRae may sound like a curmudgeon. But remember, the botanists had not asked his permission. If he didn't defend his land, who else would come onto it?
McRae's problem with trespassers and his sympathetic Sheriff are the same as ours with illegal immigration and those who excuse it.
We too are often asked: "What difference does it make?" According to the tortured logic applied by illegal immigration sympathizers, we in America have so much, why can't we share it?
And just as the botanists mission may have been admirable, illegal aliens claim to be here for the most noble of all reasons…"to have a better life."
But my reply is the same as McRae's—America is our country. If we invite you here, that's one thing. But if you sneak in, no matter what your purpose is, you'll be asked to leave, pronto.
I can hear the reconquistas scream that America is not our country but properly belongs to Mexico. We double-dealing Yankees, so the thinking goes, stole it from Mexico.
As I have written several times, this is nonsense of the greatest magnitude. The Mexican-American War was fought, Mexico lost, a treaty was signed and money changed hands. No one in his right mind can describe that as stealing.
But for the sake of today's argument, let's concede that the U.S. stole Mexico.
Even if that were the case, the theft occurred over 150 years ago. In that century and a half, Americans—just like McRae—"worked hard to develop it "and "poured their sweat into it."
And now, illegal aliens want to use the U.S. for its own purposes…to enroll their children in schools that we financed, to get medical care at hospitals that we built and to drive on highways that we paved.
(While we're on the subject, pretty much could be said for legal immigrants too. As Ed Rubenstein recently pointed out, there are more of them. And, because of the "family reunification" scam, legal immigration is set on automatic pilot, as a practical matter out of the control of the American people and divorced from American interests as illegal immigration.)
Moreover, at least the botanists wanted to advance science. What public good is really served by current immigration?—once you realize that, as VDARE.COM has frequently reported, the consensus among labor economists is that there is essentially no net economic gain to native-born Americans as a result of immigration.
No one can convincingly argue that illegal aliens have played a major role in America's expansion. When the illegal alien invasion accelerated after the 1965 Immigration Act, America was already an advanced country. Despite the opinions of some, we require no outside help to keep improving it.
As McRae said, if and when we need you, we'll come calling.
Joe Guzzardi [e-mail him] is the Editor of VDARE.COM Letters to the Editor. In addition, he is an English teacher at the Lodi Adult School and has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.