"I've been waiting for your column on the Ghana- Nigeria thing," the cabbie said. "Nigeria has shipped thousands of illegal Ghanaian aliens back to Ghana --on just two weeks' notice--and I just know you're planning a nasty column on the Nigerians."

"Would you mind telling me just what the Nigerians were supposed to do?" I asked him. "It would be one thing if the Nigerian economy were booming. But with Nigeria having its own economic problems, they couldn't afford to have 800,000 illegal outsiders soaking up what jobs were available. It seems such an obvious thing that I don't see any point in writing a column on it."

"I see," he said. "So if the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service people loaded several thousand undocumented Mexican workers onto trucks and dumped them back across the border you wouldn't find that worth commenting on?"

"That would be terrible," I told him. "You have to have some sense of the economic pressures that are forcing these poor Mexicans to come here in the first place. You have to have some sense of humanity. Besides, the Mexicans are taking those dreadful but necessary jobs that Americans don't want, and in that sense they are doing us a favor."

"The same sort of favor the Ghanaians were doing the Nigerians," the cabbie said. "The way I read the accounts, the Nigerians made exceptions for the skilled foreigners and those who worked for government institutions. The only ones they sent packing were the unskilled people--the household workers and farm laborers who were taking the jobs that Nigerians didn't want."

"Good heavens, man," I said. "A sovereign government must retain the right to control its borders and manage its own economy. Surely you're not suggesting that Nigeria should just ignore the influx of more than half a million Ghanians, not to mention the other West Africans, into the country."

"I was only suggesting that you ought to be consistent," the cabbie said. "You are all business when it comes to illegal Ghanaians in Nigeria, and yet you get all mushy-minded when the illegal immigrants are Mexicans in the United States. And when the illegals are black shantytown squatters in South Africa, you come on like a first-classs bleeding heart."

I asked him please not to confuse the issue by introducing the South Africans who, as everybody knows, are brutal racists. Surely, I reminded him, he must have seen the news photos of the South African authorities bulldozing the Capetown squatters' camps where blacks from the Transkei are trying to hack out a bare existence. Even the American State Department objected to that brutal action."

"I know," the cabbie said. "As I recall it, three blacks, including an infant trampled to death by fleeing women, were killed when the Crossroads camp was razed. The State Department, several congressmen and, of course, you journalists, put up quite a howl about that. Yet, when the news reports say that several Ghanaians died in accidents or else starved to death in the Nigerian expulsion, I don't hear a peep out of you."

"I don't believe what I'm hearing," I said. "You, of all people, defending the South Africans."

"I'm not defending the South Africans," the cabbie said. "All I'm saying is that if it's a violation of human rights when white people do it to nonwhites, why isn't it a violation when black people do it to blacks? You ought to write a column explaining it."