I don’t know the name of this tree. I call it a Lazy Tree (among other things, most of which aren’t printable) because of the way it spreads. First it starts sending branches out on one side; then it gradually declines to the other as if to balance the load. Eventually it hits the dirt, rotting but sending its scion onward and upward by the dozen to become new Lazy Trees. It can’t just drop seeds or shed spore like a normal tree. Its theatrical collapse, instead, takes out everything below it for perhaps a couple of hundred square feet, leaving no competitors for its nasty offshoots.
And the offshoots similarly spread… until, within a few years, the forest is an unwholesome litter. Other trees can’t grow. Briar and vine proliferate. The fauna are dominated by vermin, fire ants thrive, and the bird population thins out. Man didn’t do any of this, except insofar as clearing ground will leave the margins free for the opportunistic lazy assassin; for while most other trees are highly sensitive to invasion, this one will practically grow under your feet. Nature has an ugly side to her. She doesn’t necessarily flower into Eden if left alone: she can also produce pestilential jungles capable of exterminating entire species.
Now follow me if you can… and if you dare. Human society has its species of Lazy Tree. It’s called the internationally organized gang: the cartel. Its very dissolution in police raids and gunfights with rivals seems to nourish the growth of its tentacles from one location to another: that is, it spreads and spreads by dying, by giving death. Children are sucked into it and become bestial predators, no longer recognizable as human beings by the time they reach eighteen. Young girls are kidnapped and forced into prostitution. Journalists are bullied into silence or murdered. Politicians and judges are paid off or blackmailed. The forest becomes overgrown with life-throttling crimes of a vast diversity—but addressing any one of them here or there must prove fruitless as long as the mother-plant continues its suffocating collapse into every cleared area.
Gangs on the scale of Central American drug cartels are not urban crime such as West Side Story romanticized. These aren’t kids stealing hubcaps. This is civil war spreading across national boundaries. In many cases, it has a political (or quasi-political) component—or perhaps I should write that the cartel’s activity clarifies how much politics has to do with wealth and power and how little with the governing of the polis.
In a war, we don’t treat our adversary as a citizen entitled to due process under the law. He aims to kill us, so our first order of business is to kill him. If he surrenders his arms, we put him it a cage somewhere and keep him there until the war is over. He has no legal counsel; he receives no hearing.
This is how we should treat the threat posed to us by invading cartels: like the guerrilla war that it is. Indeed, because our enemy declines to wear a uniform, he has no right even to the privileges guaranteed under the Geneva Convention. We should bring our troops home from unending wars against other guerrilla outfits like the Taliban and array them along our southern border. We should fire upon armed Humvees that trespass across our boundary; and if they fire upon us from the border’s other side, we should return fire, principle with interest. We should oppose these murdering thugs until they lay down their weapons, or until they lie down and don’t get up.
Indeed, we should link arms with the Mexican government and pursue this rotting vegetation deep into its heartland until it is extirpated… but, of course, that will never happen, because the government of Mexico has long been thoroughly penetrated by the rot of the cartel at every level. Judges dish out light sentences; prisoners are set free by their guards; villagers who “illegally” acquire self-defensive weapons and resist are disarmed by the police and sent to those cells newly emptied of murderers.
The corrupt Mexican system’s complicity in this social decay is but one reason why nothing I write will ever leave this page. Obviously, we haven’t the stomach for doing the task at hand. We prefer to give free medical exams (read “taxpayer-funded”) to border-hopping children, many of whom will be shuttled back south to pose again as the offspring of butchers who violate them or hold their family hostage. “No, no, no… don’t say that, don’t see that! La-la-la… we’re not listening, we’re not listening!”
And so we lose the war. Or perhaps we finally engage at a point when it becomes truly bloody, and when those children about whom we advertise such concern become collateral damage by the tens of thousands. Read Anabel Hernand’s La Verdadera Noche de Iguala (“The Truth About the Night of Iguala”) if you want a glimpse into the future of the United States. I haven’t yet finished the introduction, and I’m already seething. Hernand lost her father to cartel thugs, but she has chosen to continue his work. In 2014, an extremely well-organized band of Zetas invaded her neighborhood posing as government agents and demanding that everybody stay quietly inside. These men in black then proceeded to dismantle her own home’s security system and search it through and through for any sign of herself or her family. Providentially, no one was there. She adds the chilling detail that they took nothing—not a ring or a coin or a computer: nothing except the hard drives of the security cameras.
This is the expeditionary force of a rebel army—an army from hell. On September 26 of 2014, forty-three children were kidnapped in a series of buses that were driven from Iguala to a site of execution… by cartel operatives. The details of the massacre remain unclear—because, as Hernand has already stressed in her book, the Mexican government held its investigation very close to the vest. That the children were murdered and then incinerated (or perhaps murdered by incineration) is uncontested. The degree of government involvement in the atrocity, however, is shrouded in obscurity, though Iguala’s mayor was most certainly a participant and his wife, in fact, was the sister of two recently slain cartel officers.
We’re at war, and we don’t even know it. We’re seeking out wars in Syria and Afghanistan as an already healthy flame spreads throughout our southwestern states. Like Mexico, we are being betrayed by the very people whom we elected to defend us—and the Mexicans who are illegally fleeing the conflagration to our relative safety are simply a means, witting or unwitting, or carrying embers.
Tall briars, dense vines, sinister rustles in the brush… and no more birdsong. No more grazing deer. This is the Eden that our gardeners are fashioning for our children.