Cheat-Seeking Missles

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Big Numbers

Followers of the "How to halve an Enzo" case, in which Stefan Eriksson, a Swedish immigrant managed to wreck a $1 million Ferrari Enzo on PCH in Malibu, will want to read up on the lastest details in this a.m.'s L.A. Times.

What caught my attention was not the allegedly stolen car collection, or the cocaine and firearms, but this:
[A spokesperson for the Customs & Immigration Service] said that the customs agency has placed an immigration hold on Eriksson so if he is released from the county's Men's Central Jail it will be able to take him into custody.

"He is potentially subject to deportation," she said.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the City of Angels, there was a bit of this going around yesterday:

Now, I don't know if these folks are here legally or not, but I imagine if the Immigration Service had been allowed to cast a net anywhere in any of the big demonstrations yesterday, they would have caught more than a few illegals.

But they didn't, and there was no statement I found anywhere from the Immigration Service regarding the demonstrations.

You could argue that unlike Ericsson, these people aren't breaking any laws; they're just lawfully expressing their freedom of speech. Well, actually, they're expressing our freedom of speech, and they are breaking that little itty bitty law about being here illegally.

What the two stories have most in common is big numbers. Eriksson is in the news because an Enzo costs $1 million. Wreck a lowly Porsch Turbo and you don't make the fishwrapper.

Have 100 people on the corner and you're not news. Raise tens of thousands in dozens of cities and people take notice.

As much as I don't like having to admit it, the "immigrant rights" demonstrations have been very effective. Many of us look at them and say, "Look how many illegals there are; we have to do something!"

But in my experience over a couple of decades of trying to influence public opinion, I've found that people find comfort in being on the side with the big numbers. It happened when Martin Luther King Jr. spoke in Washington, and it happened when Vietnam demonstrators turned out by the hundreds of thousands.

And it might be happening now. How many Senators and Congressmen can ignore crowds this big?

Photo credit: LATimes
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