There are many good reasons for Americans to be leery of the Chinese Communist Party and its dictatorship over one of the world’s largest nations.
But we here in Louisiana are not afraid. After all, the Louisiana Legislature is on the case.
The commies are the ones quaking, no doubt, given the enthusiasm of lawmakers in tiny Louisiana seeking to ban land purchases by dictatorships from not just mainland China but also from around the world.
We’ve seen foolishness like these bills before. At one time, it was Japanese companies which Americans foolishly feared were stealthily buying up our assets en masse, and somehow, in the future — however distant, no one could tell — using their soil to threaten the Land of the Free.
Well, the land of the more-or-less free, since private ownership of land is perfectly legal in this country.
The only one of the currently pending bills that seems to make any sense at all is would restrict foreign ownership of land near military bases and installations. However, the idea that land ownership — which is, after all, a public record — would allow a sneak attack on a National Guard base is far-fetched at best.
Lawmakers at the State Capitol should leave national security concerns to the experts.
Another, less serious measure is an example of legislators behaving like social media trolls, using some hysterical agitation on the internet as fodder for headline-grabbing legislation in an election year.
State Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs, pitched one of her xenophobic bills with some seriously over-the-top rhetoric.
Hodges told the House Civil Law Committee that her House Bill 537 fights against ''communistic'' countries because China is waging a ''stealth war'' by buying up valuable and strategically important U.S. land. Hodges argued her bill was necessary to protect Louisiana from ''infiltration and destruction from within."
Lawmakers in the committee and on the House floor riddled Hodges' bill with amendments — but, this being an election year and no one wanting to look sympathetic to China, the House went along with the charade and passed the measure by a whopping 76-24 margin. Now the Senate must address the larger question of whether such anti-business legislation should be sent to the governor.
A ban on foreign ownership of land is not in the interests of Louisiana, which has a hard enough time persuading businesses to invest here.
Some of Louisiana’s best-paying jobs come from foreign investment. Most of those companies aren’t on the legislative early warning screens, being from largely White countries in Europe — or Japan, which is finally, almost 80 years after V-J Day, an ally.
Somehow, when it comes to China, we still see some as a latter-day Yellow Peril.
"Many states — such as Texas and Florida — have recently passed legislation banning the Chinese from purchasing land or property in their state, including farmland and land located near military bases," Attorney General Jeff Landry commented on social media. "Louisiana has not done this yet."
And a good thing, too.
We doubt that such bans would be deemed constitutional if passed and taken to court. After all, free enterprise means exactly that, unless there is a clear and present danger to the public.
About those bans on Japanese investments decades ago — how did that work out? Well, they clearly were not stealth purchases. Japanese investments in the Waldorf in New York and Pebble Beach in California turned out to be huge money-losers.
And what would happen if a Chinese company buys — as one has — a major American producer of pork? In times of international stress, will patriotic Americans really follow Chinese orders to kill our homegrown pigs?