Politics


It seems as though our obsession with image over substance in the West has not gone unnoticed by the world’s autocrats and dictators. As the Guardian has reported, London has become a major center for PR firms employed by states with, let’s say, not quite commendable human rights records who want to be seen as progressive, stable democracies (without actually having to go through the headache of becoming an actual democracy). And its working.

Rwanda, where in the run up to this month’s election the opposition has been contending with threats and assassinations, is perhaps the biggest PR coup. Sure journalists may be getting murdered and opposition leaders are being gunned down, but President Kagame has a Twitter and Facebook account, so surely he must be a progressive, forward thinking kind of guy, right? Most Western governments—including the US and UK—seem to think so.

The absurdity of the situation is not limited to Rwanda, though. As Francis Ingham of Public Relations Consultants Association says, “Autocratic governments are realising they need to be more sophisticated in the way they act rather than just telling people how it is.” Because God forbid a government should tell people “how it is”! Apparently Ingham’s idea of sophistication is as follows: say you’re a government whose members have been accused of war crimes and genocide. You may think the “sophisticated” thing to do would be to hand over those members to an international tribunal to face justice for the crimes they’ve been accused of and for the government to look into how to prevent such atrocities from happening again. Well, if that’s how you’re thinking, then you’re probably not working in PR. The better thing to do is to pretend that such crimes never happened and instead stick to those happy sounding talking points like peace, prosperity, and enterprise, just as Sri Lankan president Rajapaksa did in an article that was pitched to the Guardian by PR group Bell Pottinger: “We are ready to engage positively with anyone and everyone around the world who wishes to help us achieve our dream of a united and prosperous land and enable Sri Lanka to take its rightful place in the world as an island of unsurpassed beauty, enterprise and now peace.” Unfortunately, a UN war crimes investigation doesn’t quite fit into Rajapaksa’s PR message of peace and prosperity.

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So we’ve been hearing for the past couple days now how Republicans are lining up to repeal the 14th Amendent, which guarantees citizenship for those born in the United States (including those born to illegal immigrants). And most of the press has been lining up to report on the issue, but for the most part they’re all failing to report on one thing: this will never never NEVER happen. Changing the Constitution is not the same as just passing any old law. First, to even propose an Amendment, two thirds of both houses of Congress must vote for the proposal. That would mean that you would need Republicans to control two thirds of both houses of Congress (which is basically a mathematical impossibility) and, if you somehow managed to pull that off, you would need 100 per cent of Republican Congressmen and Senators to vote for the proposal (again, not going to happen). But even if the Republicans defied the laws of nature and controlled two thirds of both houses and voted unanimously for the proposal, they would then have to get 75 per cent of either state legislatures or state ratifying conventions to ratify the amendment (again, something of an impossibility given the extremity of the issue). Which means the 14th Amendment is not going anywhere.

So everybody calm down! The Republicans are not going to take away the 14th Amendment and to report on this issue like it is even an issue is to give legitimacy to the morons that come up with these policies. Next time they come up with something this stupid, ignore it! Because there is never going to be any substantive reform of immigration so long as everybody is distracted by non-issues like this.