Cynically exploiting human beings

The current Republican party seems to have just one policy and that is to ‘own the libs’, whatever the cost to real, live people. The appalling publicity-seeking stunt by Florida governor Ron DeSantis in luring Venezuelan asylum seekers from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, has aroused widespread condemnation as a cruel and cynical example of such thinking, that having to deal with asylum seekers would make liberals reconsider their humane approach to desperate people seeking better lives. Texas governor Greg Abbott has done something similar, sending busloads of asylum seekers to Washington, DC. However, the residents of those areas have responded by helping out the arrivals.

This idea of sending people to other places to ‘teach the residents of those places a lesson’ has a sordid antecedent in the ‘Reverse Freedom Rides’ of the civil rights era, where white segregationists in the south sent busloads of poor black people, especially women and children who were likely to need public assistance, to Northern states, luring them to accept the rides by promising them all manner of good things. The southern segregationists were hoping to change northern opinion against desegregation. It seems like DeSantis and Abbott see no shame in looking like the segregationists of a previous era. It is part, I suppose, of their goal of returning the US to the 1950s, which they bizarrely see as some sort of golden age ideal.

NPR describes what happened back then, starting with the story nearly 60 years ago of one black woman and her nine children from Arkansas who were lured onto a Greyhound that was headed to Massachusetts where she was told president Kennedy would meet her and that she would be given a job and housing. It was, of course, false.

“It was one of the most inhuman things I have ever seen,” recalled Margaret Moseley, a longtime civil rights activist in Hyannis, in a televised interview a few years before her death.

Fuming over the civil rights movement, Southern segregationists had concocted a way to retaliate against Northern liberals. In 1962, they tricked about 200 African Americans from the South into moving north. The idea was simple: When large numbers of African Americans showed up on Northern doorsteps, Northerners would not be able to accommodate them. They would not want them, and their hypocrisy would be exposed.

[T]he prevailing sentiment was that the Reverse Freedom Rides exposed the callousness of the Southern segregationists, not the hypocrisy of Northern liberals. Private citizens from across the country wrote to offer their support. Some suggested housing the Reverse Freedom Riders in their own towns and homes; others wrote checks. The first donation arrived from Little Rock, where many of the Reverse Freedom Rides originated.

By the late fall, the scheme fizzled out unceremoniously.

According to Webb, the story of the Reverse Freedom Rides is not a tale of how the United States is battling the same foes forever. Instead, he said, it is a reminder of how bystanders can foil a racist plot. “The white conservatives, who were behind that campaign then, actually underestimated the decency of many ordinary people,” Webb said.

It was not an entirely happy ending. Although they were helped out, the Black families that were sent north had to still endure the racism that is endemic in the US except now they also had to learn to deal with unfamiliar culture, very different from the one they left behind, not to mention having to leave behind family and friends.

This disgusting idea may be yet another one that originated in the fetid swamp that is the mind of Donald Trump, who sees people as pawns to serve political ends, and then was picked up by other Republicans like DeSantis and Abbott.

In April 2019, historian Clive Webb was cooking in his kitchen with the radio playing when a news story came on. He paused as he heard President Donald Trump explain his idea of putting undocumented immigrants on buses and dropping them off in so-called “sanctuary cities.”

“They want more people in the sanctuary cites. Well, we’ll give them more people. We can give them a lot. We can give them an unlimited supply,” Trump declared at a news conference. “And let’s see if they’re so happy. They’re always saying, ‘We have open arms.’ Let’s see if they have open arms.”

I was glad to see that DeSantis and others may face some legal consequences for their actions, if it can be shown that they lured people to cross state lines under false pretenses.


  1. billseymour says

    I certainly agree with the main point of the post, but there’s a side issue that I think is more complicated:

    … [right wingers’] goal of returning the US to the 1950s, which they bizarrely see as some sort of golden age ideal.

    This was a time when the US was great…well, sort of…for white men at least.  It was a time of high marginal tax rates, strong unions, and a rising middle class.  Magazines like Motor Trend and Popular Mechanics had articles with titles like “Car of the Future” and “Home of the Future” (and I remember reading them as a kid).  Parents had the rational expectation that their children would have it better than they did.

    If we could go back to that, but without all the racism, misogyny, and general pridefullness and hatefullness of right wing white Christians, I’d be all for it.

  2. kenbakermn says

    Grudgingly I think DeSantis is partly (only partly!) right. I think it’s fair for all 50 states to participate in accomodating incoming migrants. But don’t send them to other communities without notifying those communities first and working with them to plan and prepare. That’s just a dick move. And don’t lie to the migrants about what is happening. That is inhumane.

  3. marner says

    I agree that having the border states shoulder a heavier burden is unfair.

    Governor Ducey in Arizona is also busing immigrants. He, however, appears to genuinely want to bus people who want to get to the East Coast. And why wouldn’t he? He is busing a small fraction of immigrants and plenty of them want to head in that direction. He is also coordinating with local people, providing meals and an EMT on each bus.

    I’d also note that the city of El Paso has also been offering a free bus trip to either New York or Chicago to new arrivals. El Paso is 82% Hispanic and their mayor was born in Mexico.

    We as a country are failing badly on this. And its not just Republicans.

  4. friedfish2718 says

    Leftists always act like delicate brittle snowflakes when the Right trolls -- quite successfully -- the Left.
    Mr Singham is no different from the run-of-the-mill Leftist. He offers no new insight into the matter of mass migration.
    Ron Desantis is the master troll, living rent-free in the Leftist brains. Of course sending 50 illegals to Martha’s Vineyard is political theater. Politics is 50$ theater.So what. The 50 illegals had a grand time at Martha’s Vineyard, laughing and smiling (they are already in the USA!!!) and given free trips about the country. Everybody -- except the Left -- had a good laugh exposing the hypocrisy of the Left: Martha’s Vineyard has lots of green space (set up tent villages!!!). King Obama’s estate was vacant and King Obama can prove his wokeness by taking in at least 10 of these illegals. King Obama shows to be RACIST!!!
    The Right has read Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”. Rule #5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”

  5. John Morales says

    snipe’run friedfishe:

    Rule #5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”

    Doesn’t work on Trump.

    (Doesn’t work on you, either)

    Anyway, you got absolutely everything wrong. And I mean everything.


  6. says

    “Mr Singham offers no new insight,” says the drive-by troll who shows up with nothing but incoherent insults.

    And what “new insight” is necessary here? What’s Mr. Singham supposed to do — make up facts instead of reporting what’s happening in the real world? Retrumplitarian stupidity and malice aren’t exactly new, and neither is human decency and common sense.

    The cartels are loving this.

    And our other dumbass drive-by-troll knows this…how?

  7. txpiper says

    “Before Abbott, Ducey, and DeSantis made headlines for sending immigrants where they are not wanted, Biden’s federal agencies flew or bused immigrants to several places where local leaders have objected.

    The flights appear to be related to federal attempts at resettling unaccompanied minors with relatives or approved sponsors scattered throughout the country.

    While this is a long-standing practice, the number of children crossing the border without their families has skyrocketed over the past year, putting a strain on the state and local resources available for those immigrants.

    And the Biden administration’s approach to resettling the undocumented immigrants, as well as its pick of destinations, has ruffled feathers.

    The Biden administration spent months, for example, flying immigrants to a suburban airport outside New York City despite concerns from some locals about the influx of children and young adults.

    Federal officials sent more than 2,000 immigrants to Westchester County and nearby areas between June and October of last year, prompting questions even from Democratic lawmakers.”

    Dumping unaccompanied minors is a peculiar way to go about seeking a better life.

  8. says

    “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”

    Alinsky was wrong about that, and when right-wing noncompoops quote him, it only adds to their consistent pattern of being dead wrong about everything.

    Seriously, when was the last time anyone other than a right-wing noncompoop ever mentioned Alinsky? He’s even less relevant than Chomsky. Y’all gotta try harder to keep up, if you want your ridicule to be potent at all.

  9. Holms says


    Of course sending 50 illegals…

    Illegals? American law specifically permits people to enter a designated port, even without a visa, to petition for asylum. By contrast, Desantis’ actions appear to be in breach of multiple laws.

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