Analysis Culture

Are We a People Divided? On the border with President Trump

President Trump visited my new home town, McAllen, Texas yesterday, providing me an opportunity to see for myself the fractures in our society over the divisive issue of border security. McAllen is on the border with Mexico and an area of Texas that is solidly blue. Democrats have a firm grip on the political offices at every level of government; the local media is vehemently anti-Trump and against the border wall. The population is over 85% Latino, but that changes slightly in the winter months when thousands of “Winter Texans,” who are overwhelmingly white middle class retirees from the northern states, fill the hundreds of mobile home parks situated throughout the Rio Grande Valley.

The Rio Grande Valley (RGV) is a four-county region consisting Hidalgo, Cameron,  Willacy, and Starr counties. It is one of the fastest growing regions in the United States with a population increasing from about 325,000 people in 1969 to more than 1,300,000 people by 2014. The RGV has sizable veteran population and an excellent VA health system.

RGV

When news of the President’s visit broke, the local media announced several protests being organized by various groups along with directions on when and where to show up to participate. I decided to attend these protests in order to see with my own eyes how an anti-Trump protest would unfold in my new home town. I was expecting a large, angry, potentially violent mob, but what I found filled my heart with pride.

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The protesters occupied one side of a main thoroughfare in a mall parking lot facing the regional airport and the pro-Trump crowd assembled on the other side of the street. Because the protester’s side allowed a clear view into the airport where you could watch the President’s plane land, there were hundreds of Trump supporters (including myself) among them. Based on what I have seen in the media regarding anti-Trump protests, I expected to experience some level of animosity as I moved through the crowd, taking pictures and trying to chat up a few protesters. What I actually experienced was zero animosity — the few veterans I spoke with who were carrying protest signs were civil and friendly. People with MAGA hats, pro-Trump signs, and American flags mixed in the protesters with no issues at all.

The only heated argument I witnessed was between a Hispanic woman who was pro-Trump and what appeared to be a white woman who was vehemently anti-Trump. I say “appeared” to be because of the protesters accent. There are plenty of people who appear to be Caucasian Americans but do not speak a word of English here. Labels designed to divide us are meaningless on the ground and appearances can be deceiving. Like virtually all veterans, I find the efforts by corporate media and politicians to divide American citizens into racial categories with competing interests appalling.

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The only heated exchange of the day which was not really that heated. The two women were just talking past each other.

By the time Air Force One touched down, the crowd of Trump supporters outnumbered the protesters (which was remarkable given the amount of support the protesters had received in the local media). I’m a Trump supporter, so this was encouraging, but not as encouraging as the level of civil discourse and tolerance on display between both sides.

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There are a few ground truths on the border which are not well known to people who do not live here. The first is that Mexican citizens can legally cross the border and come into the RGV any time the want to. They cannot go more than 25 miles inland, which is where the Border Patrol checkpoints are established, without a green card or visa. The second is that drugs are not a public health crisis here. There is no opioid epidemic — the public health problems down here are obesity, diabetes, hypertension and tuberculosis. The Tuberculosis problem (and it is serious) comes from south of the border.

Illegal drugs do flood across the border, but they don’t stay here. The problem with the flood of drugs is the temptation placed on local law enforcement to turn a blind eye for substantial pay offs. That is why the federal government prioritizes identifying and prosecuting rogue lawmen.  With drug smuggling comes not only corruption but violence, which was evident yesterday with the discovery of a pile of some 20 bodies in a border town just west of McAllen.

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Mexico’s president says an undetermined number of bodies have been found in the northern Mexico border state of Tamaulipas in what appears to have been a mass killing involving drug gangs.

Another important point about the border wall proposal is that it will not be built along the entire border. In the more remote parts of Texas, livestock and wildlife depend upon free access to the Rio Grande river for water. A wall makes sense in some areas and no sense in others. And a wall on the border is not going to keep every illegal migrant out of our country anyway, what it will do is introduce enough friction into a potential border crossing to thwart a majority of those attempting to make the trip. That’s the point and a point I have heard exactly nobody make in the media.

There is no question that we need to control our southern borders better, the debate is how we are going to do that. I don’t know how this will end but I do know this: in my adopted hometown, people on both sides of the issue can talk about it without rancor, anger, or animosity and that makes me proud.

And I almost forgot. An Antifa protester showed up, dressed in black with his face covered like a Ninja. I discovered this when I saw a bunch of TV news cameramen sprint headlong into traffic to film something happening behind me. I turned to see the Antifa guy being hustled into the back of squad car. As I approached, the police were talking to a young woman who accompanied the ninja telling her to “shut up, go away, or go to jail.” We don’t play Antifa in Tropical Texas, and I’m proud of that too.

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clluelo
Member

The press are the ones pushing the devide and funny enough non Americans ( liberal trump haters from Canada are frothing maniacs ) . Most Americans are civil to their neighbours

Recon 6
Guest

Cl… to experience civility in this manner was surprising to me…so many ppl appear to be consumed by the ‘divide’ as to be “frothing maniacs” as you say, unfortunately… jmo, I believe this plays into the narrative of the ‘dims’ in order to propagate hate, dissension and divide the People…best…6

clluelo
Member

Unfortunately the micro coverage by the media if the far left and right seems to give people permission to behave like screeching monkeys . And that is never acceptable to the majority of civilized people

homanj1
Member

Hey CL-I always have to laugh at our cable tv coverage. Virtually everything being said about President Trump right now on left cable was being said about President Obama not long ago on right cable. Lawless, inexperienced, uninformed, violating the constitution with their pen and phone. Illegal presidential orders. Same thing about Boehner the obstructionist and now Pelosi the obstructionist. Both just want to fight with the opposition party President in office. Congressional inquiries for this and that with the pompous privileged few will soon follow. It’s all theater to try to get re-elected and gain power. My 2 cents.

clluelo
Member

All theatre and bad theatre at that . I am tired of them all

Grace
Guest
Grace

Don’t paint all Canadians with the same brush, we would never to that to our American neighbors. We may not all like your President but we are certainly not frothing maniacs.

clluelo
Member

I am Canadian , of course I didn’t mean all , but there are many frothy maniacs unfortunately . I have seen the most uncivil behaviour and I am ashamed of them . And please don’t use the word we because many of us would not be so rude to comment on our neighbours .

homanj1
Member

CL-it seems that in our country we are doing our best to piss off our worldwide partners in other countries to include trade agreements with our closest neighbors such as Canada. As for me, when you say frothy and Canadian in the same sentence, I have fond memories of having a few Labatts with my friends from the North. Or hanging with Fred Eaglesmith at a music venue. Cheers……

Mason
Member
Mason

Exactly Baba! I am “anti-Trump” full disclosure, but Trump came here too, Evansville IN. Guess what? Hoosiers are an amicable lot. No riots, no screaming, no police dragging off protestors etc. Just a bunch of folks hanging out to see Trump and Air Force One. Your points on the “wall” (can’t type that without thinking Pink Floyd) are exactly right, friction points, and how it should function. I may be “anti-Trump” but I am not “anti -wall”, the kind of which you speak.

susanh
Member
susanh

“We don’t play Antifa in Tropical Texas, and I’m proud of that too.” Outstanding, Tim! Your hometown has a lot to teach the rest of America. The media and the previous president have stoked the flames of racial divide – they have been pretty successful.

JoyB
Guest
JoyB

I think some of the protests are purposely held in areas where people are less likely to behave and where the organizers can get away with bringing in more protesters who reflect the same opinions and are willing to do anything to show their support for their side (Antifa is a perfect example). I also think that “the Wall” is an oversimplification of the multiple things that we need for better border security- the drugs passing thru near you, end up on the streets here in Chicago (except pot because of legalization). People also love to ignore the human toll… Read more »

yankeepapausmc
Member
yankeepapausmc

Tim,

Too many people bringing heat…not light…to the border. Politicos with agendas on both sides. The “wall” is not a panacea… On the other hand people who insist on calling illegals “immigrants” ignore the actual immigrants who waited…who went through the process.

One thing is sure; a nation that can’t control its borders and rationally manage immigration will eventually lose its sovereignty…

-Yankee Papa-

susanh
Member
susanh

Spot on, YP. “One thing is sure; a nation that can’t control its borders and rationally manage immigration will eventually lose its sovereignty…” I don’t understand how this isn’t obvious to EVERYONE. Or maybe it is and there are those who understand perfectly that this is a great way to bring America down.

Mitch
Guest
Mitch

This is some of the best reporting I’ve read in a while. You need to give classes to the big news networks on how to do journalism … both conservative and liberal. You are open about your positions yet give details and nuance about both sides. This is also something one could use to actually approach a problem constructively. Really good job Freq!

Susan B
Member

Good article, Tim. It’s good to read this type of news in a positive way. There are respectful citizens out there. They just don’t seem to make good click-bait for the MSM.

JoniS
Guest
JoniS

Great reporting Tim! I’m a native Texan. “We don’t play Anitfa in Tropical Texas…” 😂😂☺️ That is the truth! I’m also proud of that. I’m proud of how your new home town acted towards each other. I know that doesn’t fit with the mainstream media view of how we are supposed to act so, of course, it won’t be on the news. Texans have a great sense of community. We may have different political views or different ideas of how to solve a problem, but in the end, we are all part of the same community. We live and work… Read more »

homanj1
Member

Joni-I was just with a bunch of folks from Austin and Nashville. Mostly musicians and songwriters. Many had new songs about the great divide between sides. They were mostly about healing wounds and living peacefully together. Seems to me that Antifa and the far left radicals are at one end of the spectrum, and there is a far right group at the other end of the spectrum. The news folks focus on the outer edges of society where the controversy lives. Makes for interesting news. I’m guessing the vast majority of us live in the boring old middle where we… Read more »

Mason
Member
Mason

https://hiddentribes.us/a Read this, it is exactly about the boring middle.

homanj1
Member

Thanks Mason. Great report

JoniS
Guest
JoniS

LPD you are right that the news wants to focus on the extremes of both sides. They make more noise and a more interesting story. I just read a chat with a friend of mine and his friend who is rancher on the southern border of Texas. The rancher is in the thick of it. People cutting his fences, killing cows for food and breaking in places in his ranch for food, water and clothing stealing what they can. Some ranchers have had to send their wife and children off to safer places because they don’t want their children walking… Read more »

BabaKen
Guest

Flashback to 2009,2010 – we are sitting on the Baba Deck – you were all enthralled with local ops, as we were too with the SSF / Reachback – I think I said – Brother, we are gonna need you in Dot USA – things on the homeland were not so good – Thank You for staying engaged and sharing good shit./ babaken

Bill Roach
Guest
Bill Roach

Thanks, Tim. I enjoy your writing and our occasional visits. Pleased we met through MCL.
Semper Fi!

GsGirl
Guest
GsGirl

Great article!

Robert Chappell
Guest
Robert Chappell

Baba Tim, you’ll be happy to know that Michael Yon is sharing your stories on Facebook. (That is when he isn’t being black listed) i found you through his writings. Keep up the good work.

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