AS DISCUSSED IN RECENT POSTS, I think it is not a great idea to run after every fragment of inanity spewed forth by the irrational actors of the day. It bedazzles the mind and tricks the body into thinking someTHING is being done, and in the meantime just sort of bends your aura toward chaos just a bit too much. The whole battling/becoming monsters thing.
An argument to be made about immigrant babies and citizenship
A simple reform would drain some scalding steam from immigration arguments that may soon again be at a roiling boil. It would bring the interpretation of the 14th Amendment into conformity with what the authors of its text intended, and with common sense, thereby removing an incentive for illegal immigration.
To end the practice of “birthright citizenship,” all that is required is to correct the misinterpretation of that amendment’s first sentence: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.” From these words has flowed the practice of conferring citizenship on children born here to illegal immigrants.
That’s all! Nothin’ at all! A breeeeze.
By offering this as a way of “drain[ing] some scalding steam from immigration arguments that may soon again be at a roiling boil” Will is saying that before we have this discussion, the country ought do a “simple” reinterpretation of the 14th Amendment that brings citizenship into the light of the George F Will day. Why not, right? Why not simply appease the anti-immigrant crowd before any discussion can be had. Makes sense. While we’re at it, let’s also reinterpret the occupation of the Middle East as a Hug-Circle With Guns and spend a few billion more on drones and tanks before we tackle any discussion on whether or not the wars we wage are destroying our nation’s ability to thrive. Also, I vote tyhat the next time Manny Pacquiao fights, he should let his opponent smack him in the ribs a few times before the bell rings.
I’d call Mister Will’s having the lack of sense to launch this collection of letters into the blogosphere ballsy, but I could never in good conscience assume as much about the individual.
But let’s slow for a moment here.
To end the practice of “birthright citizenship,” all that is required is to correct the misinterpretation of that amendment’s first sentence: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”
From these words has flowed the practice of conferring citizenship on children born here to illegal immigrants.
And we see him tip his hand. Because that’s not the only way to size it up, is it? Is it really all about ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS? (Who must, of course, always be involved in much flowing and flooding, because that’s just what tides of foreign people do!) Clearly it is, for the Midnight Ham-N-Cheeser.
Let’s ask successful American pundit Michelle Malkin how she, for one, feels about Georgie’s Bright Idea. Had it been in place at the time of her birth, she’d never have been allowed US citizenship, and so her success owes much to the fact that our laws do bestow citizenship on children of foreign parents who are born here. Even a child born here while their parents are only briefly visiting, or on temporary VISAs, is legally a US citizen. I say good! Hey! It’s where you were born. Get it? It’s where you entered this reality called Living On Earth as A Human Being. And damn, it ought to mean something if you were born somewhere. That in some way you belong to that land, and it belongs to you. Not to mention how many bright and successful people, in particular, are children of immigrants!
But hell, Mister Wee Hour Kitchen Snack clearly retains a certain image of the USA and who is native and who is foreign. Despite any other trifling factors like the 14th Amendment and how it has faithfully been interpreted for years. In fact…is Mister Will arguing that laws often need to be reexamined in the light of current and modern conditions? I’d say he is! I’d say he makes a good case a rejoinder to all those who screech ILLLEEEGULZ; that we must not bear down now to enforce our current body of unworkable and outdated immigration laws, but rather that they must be reexamined in the light of modern and current situational challenges to our nation.
And while we’re at it, I must point out that these writers and talkers who actually mean to say THE USA IS BECOMING TOO MEXICAN will not be taken seriously or afforded a modicum of respect from my cocina until they learn to speak their minds. Say what you mean, Chicken Broth.
Let’s simmer away the fat from Porgie’s Pudding:
The explicit exclusion of Indians from birthright citizenship was not repeated in the 14th Amendment because it was considered unnecessary. Although Indians were at least partially subject to U.S. jurisdiction, they owed allegiance to their tribes, not the United States. This reasoning — divided allegiance — applies equally to exclude the children of resident aliens, legal as well as illegal, from birthright citizenship.
Divided allegiance. Mister Will is especially concerned with the potential of divided allegiance in those born in the USA whose parents were born elsewhere. And whose potential divided allegiance troubles Mister Will? Immigrants from Ireland? From Scotland? From Poland? From the UK? From France? From Iceland? From Sweden? Bet ya can’t guess!
Congress has heard testimony estimating that more than two-thirds of all births in Los Angeles public hospitals, and more than half of all births in that city, and nearly 10 percent of all births in the nation in recent years, have been to mothers who are here illegally.
It really isn’t hard to suss out—the ole Dobbs Derangement Syndrome. Yet another old white rich GeeOhPee-sian whose hold on his own fears and mental processing was lain to waste by 9/11 and who now trembles at the thought of the inexorable ENEMY WITHIN, viewing all brown people as foreign invaders and potential moles and enemies of the state. Nevermind the reality of the past few years. Talk about divided allegiance, yow!
I’m slowly stirring The Floofmatic SoupSipper’s metaphor about avoiding the ROILING BOIL and DRAINING SCALDING STEAM from the pot, and sniffing it out. What’s for dinner, George? The only goose being cooked is the apparition—that is the destructive illusion—of white dominance. Your suggestion is one that made me laugh because when we talk about the Last Gasp of Whiteness to be uttered in these next 50—? many years, it is just this: a breathy, rank wind that will only continue to sour and seize up the brain cells of typists like yourself.
George F Will’s Someone’s in the Kitchen With My Deus Ex Machina post feels…so desperate. I can almost hear his mind as he lay there in the dark, cooking it up. Twitchy sad eyes fixed upon a Norman Rockwell painting as they grow droopy with sleep….Good lord…there must be some way of having less Mexicans in this country…please God…don’t let it all be for naught….I want my country back…..I want my country baaaaaa
THERE WILL BE NO MEANINGFUL IMMIGRATION REFORM. Not this year, and not next year. If it lurches up to the starting gate in any form, it will be in a cruel, misshapen, bruised, and weeping condition.
The Much-Vaunted LATINO VOTE
No, the question is how will those of us who took hope in hearing Obama’s campaign-trail passion on the issue react to this news, once it manifests? The immigration-talk theater being put on now between Democrats and Republicans boils down, as I see it, to a theatrical piece where the players joust to show their base who defeated/championed a legislative effort at all. Because they translate that piece of fantasy into votes for or against them when nothing passes.
The purpose of the charade is, too (and equally important), to let us down very gently in order to dull a wave of reaction that might hurt them at the voting booth. As was done with the Public Option popping in and out and in and out of play during the Health Care talks, until our nerves were greatly numbed to the idea of either outcome. These politicians are nearly sociopathic in their ability to read and manipulate large masses of people. That’s their job, they do it well, and they learn all the wrong lessons. But one they stick close to is blunt the edge of any potential progressive populist anger. That anger, after all, is not pro-corporation.
They tell us that our power lies in our votes. But does it?
The Democratic party assumes that Liberals and Latinos alike won’t defect, in the end. Even if they punt on the immigration issue. “After all,” they imagine us saying, as they play puppet games in the library whilst drinking outlandishly expensive cognac, “Democrats fought for health care! And what is the GOP today anyway, except a festering, miserable, fearful, warlike, racist contingent of the rich and the wanna-be rich? Surely no place for us there!”
Or…we stay home and do not vote. Or…we vote third party just to say fuck you, you cynical, cowardly, well-funded, well-fed, well-powdered power brokers. All of you.
I attended the march and rally for immigration reform on Sunday, March 21, in Washington DC. I shot a video of it for my weekly news/commentary video series, News With Nezua. This week’s piece—“200,000 Strong”—is featured at La Frontera Times.
Last Sunday, 200,000 immigrant-rights protesters shared the National Mall with a Tea Party crowd that shouted racial epithets and spat at members of Congress. Unsurprisingly, the media focused on the histrionics of the Tea Partiers, but Sunday’s immigration demonstration was an important manifestation of the movement’s building impatience. In its enthusiasm and optics — legal and undocumented immigrants chanting “Sí se puede,” singing folk songs, and waving both American and Mexican flags — the demonstration was reminiscent of the immigration protests in 2006.
Yes, you are right that it is “unsurprising” that “the media” focused on the histrionics of the relatively miniscule opposition. It is unsurprising in a context where an article writer like yourself poses the two as comparative entities in the first line of your essay! Ay.
Let me tell you something. The Teabaggers, and the NumbersUSA crowd were SO SMALL in the overall reality of that day that I never once bumped into them. I actually set out to find them, and could not. So that article (while not a bad one at all) begins disingenuously. Not malevolently, I just think the writer desired a certain entrance.
Further compounding the sense of unreliability in the text is the line equivocating the waving of “both American and Mexican flags.” Writer is stretching hard, here, to justify the mirroring that they propose between 2006 and now.
I shot photos all day. I took audio. I shot video–on both my camcorder as well as my iPhone. I interviewed the young and the old. I traversed the grounds from riser and Press tent to the street and the dirty dusty danced-up soil of the National Mall until my entire body hurt and I could barely walk anymore. I squatted, ran, walked, and even hung from one arm on a tree to get a good shot. There were maybe…three Mexican flags that I saw amidst the thousands I laid eyes on. And one was tiny and hanging from my own back pocket. You go ahead and peruse the images and video you find online. And if you discover any kind of ratio that would justify that article’s imagining of an equivalency between flag-waving, come back and tell me! (Incidentally, though a bit irrelevant perhaps nonetheless, I did see a handful of El Salvadorean flags, but RIFA went to a lot of trouble to avoid a replay of the 2006 march, where the sight of Mexican flags in the street caused many, many palpitations on the Right side of the aisle.)
What IS IT with reporters today? There is so much drama and passion and honesty and fight and meaning out there. You don’t need to make things up!
No, the message transmitted by the rally and march was strongly contained and crafted and directed. That much is clear. It was a good show. RIFA did a great job. White clothes (Mexican tradition as far as I know regarding marches and protest) for a positive, clean feeling; chants of “USA! USA!” to sooth the fragile trembling tissues of the Buchananites, who toss and turn nightly over visions of Indians leaping fences to plant flags bright with writhing cobras and hungry eagles in pure pristine AMERICAN soil; big showing of proudly self-identifying Christians for immigration reform….and so on. I don’t mind, I don’t think it’s anything but smart. You would have to take control of this message in particular if you were hosting an event that large, sure.
Anyway, human rights advocates understand (one hopes!) that being involved in a pro-migrant cause requires one to push back against many nation-deep memes that feed on Indian blood, a nation that overall prefers its darkies in cells and chains or at least busing tables.
And this is a show, after all! Politics is not about truth, and even when it is, Politics has two arms. One is draped in diamonds and silks and shows up on TV, and one holds a gun and leans its elbow into the dry sand of foreign nations as it clambers ever closer to the dizzying scents of petroleum and blood. The fine line between entertainment and war, says Rage Against the Machine.
So put on the show.
My video was not celebrating the chances of reform passing. I appreciate that La Frontera Times tweeted today that I “captured a celebration of hope.” That’s just what I felt was my imperative to do on the scene, once I was there and had walked around a bit.
As a…Journalartist or…an Artivist… (or someword that combines Journalism, activism, politics, and art), my job at these events is to capture and translate the mood and feel of the happening. To tell the truth as a journalist would—by showing you who was there and what was happening—and to send it flying with the power embedded in the poetic passport only an artist may employ to launch a truth into your heartspace. The “activism” part (if it must be called something, this will do) is simply in the fact that we all know, and it is not hidden in the video, that I do not pretend to be showing some middle-of the road, “neutral” piece, but am certainly there vibing with the people I am presenting. Nonetheless, I was not there to push any political entities’ agenda, nor to lie about what I see—and finally, not to claim that what I see is all there is, either. (Though I deny an equivalent number of Mexican and US Flags!)
Fact is, if it felt different in DC on that day, the video would have come out different. I soaked it all up, and I give it back. The day felt utterly positive, true, real, and beautiful. And that was not due to the speeches (which is why my video has hardly more than one line of those in it), but to the heart and soul and bodies and voices and needs of the people.
The very people who are being lied to and used by more powerful forces in a bid for continued power.
O, the People. Who is left to fight for the People? Many who won’t show up on TV. And if they weren’t out there doing their thing, we’d all suffer a lot more than we do. But as far as politicians and well-paid pundits? For the most part they are welded to the beast, to the iron tumbling beast that will soon find the bottom of the ocean. They shout into microphones, extolling the beautiful landscape along the way.
Indian Killers Vs. The Safe and Sanitized Left
The GOP grapples with a number of problems. But at the core, their main problem is their philosophy. It is not real. It relies on a reshaping of the Real which requires endless violence and delusion, rather than meeting the Real to see how we can learn from and nourish the human race’s organic arc. By their ideological nature, they cannot progress (“Conservativism” embraces stasis, tradition, a reductive approach, an exclusivity that stunts, withdraws, retracts, rejects; this philosophy cannot sustain itself) and so we see them tearing at themselves now. It’s ugly. It’s painful. There is no cure. The ideology has a fatal flaw that only grows more egregious and destructive as the rest of the world changes.
At heart, you can trace so many Right-Wing objections to the naturally-shifting ethnic demographics of the USA back to German philosophers like Johann Gottleib Fichte, with their notions of Romantic Nationalism. Undiscussed by the paid-for propaganda stations on your TV are how the very same notions of a cultural and national supremacy beset by invaders from within resulted in movements like Nazi Germany.
Surely nothing (aside from rounding up people and shuffling them en masse into concentration camps) is more Hitleresque than enacting laws and social norms and mainstreaming violent language that targets the spoilers of the Pure. (I make these comparisons very carefully, but know that half my family came here fleeing Anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe about 3 generations ago and I for one do see a disturbing overlap in this revulsed, persecutory, culturally superior aggression against Mexican immigrants today.)
And that is what the US Right Wing response is to today’s immigration issue, health care reform (which they imagine is a handout to people of color), and Obama’s presidency boils down to. From the laws creeping forth like chokeweed in Arizona, to guns and sleazy assassination talk as rejoinders to Democratic (centric and corporatist!) legislation.
SOSHALIST! FOREIGN AGENT! FASCIST PRESIDENT! ILLEGAL INVADERS! MEXICAN FLAGS! WELFARE QUEENS! AFFIRMATIVE ACTION! I WANT MY COUNTRY BAAAAAAAAAACK
The deepening fracture in the GOP echoes that which took down the 19th century Whigs—centering, as it does, around racism. The GOP cannot move into the future. It is, at heart, built to comfort and sustain the lives and ideas of elite whites, and mostly elite white property-owning men. And that is not today’s real world. As it was, the notion has always had to be brought to bear behind the barrel of a gun in the first place. That is another reason the GOP is dying. You cannot sustain a culture without respecting and revering women. And you cannot sustain a political party on a room full of old white men…and a living pinup. That’s for other types of partying…I suppose.
When the Right embraces a woman, it has to be a person who is racist herself, devoid of intellectual integrity, and crammed full of hypocrisy, condescension, and power lust [Palin]. When it embraces (and I use the word embrace purely functionally, not emotionally!) a black man (Michael “Bling is My Thing” Steele) it is a cynical and insincere motion used only to counter a larger political or cultural force (the election of Barack Obama). When the Right elevates a Latino/Hispanic like Alberto Gonzales, he by needs must abdicate his own family roots (lie about how they got here, disowning story and allegiance and pride and truth in the process) and aid the US war machine in killing hundreds of thousands of brown humans in Iraq. When the Right has an Asian American hero, such as in the case with John Yoo, he would of course have to be a cold-blooded advocate of testicle-crushing, torture-wheeling, bomb-dropping aggressions in the Middle East.
These Indian-killers in the GOP (and when I use that term I reference the illegal Irish immigrant Phillip Sheridan who wreaked holy historical hell on the American Indigenous during his tenure in the US military) cannot change their stripes. They can only fracture within as some members attempt even the tiniest departure from a reflexive racist stance, or die out, sputtering, hissing, contorting, and shrieking all the way.
I say “indian killers” because there is nothing more rational at the root of so much of their ideology—be it opposing non-white immigration, denigrating the civil rights era, or fearing a black president’s every move—than what was behind General Sheridan’s imperative to genocide-by proxy the American Indian by slaughtering every bison on the land, when not directly killing indians. It’s built into their DNA by now; To these sorts (despite what they say out loud, and they say plenty out loud!) people of color stand for all the evils in the world, and these types have a guilt that has perverted itself over the many sins leveled against the Other and projected itself skewedwise upon us, just as the notorious Gang of Perverts (GOP) is well-known for introducing punitive anti-gay legislation all while secretly engaging in meth-fueled, scuba-geared, rest stop stall-centric homosexual hijinks on the down low. To these spoilers and stealers, it is people of color who stand for crime, for corrosion of culture, for the faltering of White Empire.
The Right simply cannot abdicate that position, because to renegotiate these ideas would be to admit their stores of wealth and (relative) sanity are but founded upon falsity and evil.
The latest shape in which the GOP offers up its ubiquitous racial animosity and white supremacy is one choice vehicle to truly draw forth their ire and bile: the immigration issue. The white liberal faction of activism and punditry claims the GOP attacks the idea of immigration due for the most part to their fear of instilling a mass of future Democrat voters. Not really. Not unless the Dems are employing their own code language here.
It’s just what it sounds like. It’s not far from the thirst for racial purity that we associate with some very creepy chapters of world history. And it’s just as dangerous an impulse. And it’s dangerous, too, not to name it. Because how will we face and defeat this ugly, ancient impulse if we pretend it’s about voting booths? Anyway, voting booths are just about power, and the power the GOP wants to maintain and propagate is one that—again—would erase the Civil Rights gains, suppress your wage, declare your teeth and health a luxury that you cannot afford, and while you sweat in the sun mowing their grass so pretty, invade your ancestors’ land to steal more fuel to power your mower.
How is the GOP and the “conservative” mind attempting to enforce racial purity in today’s world? In so many ways. From the loop that the Criminal Justice system sets up to pack the prisons with black and brown, to the banks’ targeting customers of color and immigrants to exploit with higher rates and scams, to the erasure or minimizing in Texas’ textbooks of the achievements of people of color, to the ENTIRE IDEA of IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT which by now seems to be discussed as an item of faith, as if it is not a trumped up WAR ON TERROR part two. Yes, other things come into it, such as the State making money for policing and incarcerating this new population. Our war economy is failing us. And our nation knows no better way to make cash than go to war on yet another population. At this point states are blatantly justifying 287g programs and such because new prisons and detention centers are springing up in their towns.
And many Democrats are championing those same programs, and the same “heavy enforcement” talk, telling me that they need to do all this to convince the American people that these word games indicate the right approach to “our broken immigration system.” But you know what? Social justice is not a word game. It is a bloody fight and if your hands are clean, you may be on the dodgeball court, but you ain’t in the struggle.
A Progressive Lens
This war on people of color and on the indigenous of this continent (because oh yes, the CIA has its hands deep in Latin America, too, and has for yearrrrrs) rolls on. This must be seen and championed by “Progressives” or they’ve got nothing. There is no Progressive movement without that lens. Nothing at all at the heart. And nothing for the future of the movement but running around the exhaust pipes of the GOP for the rest of their own doomed existence. True justice lies in employing a fearless lens upon the birth and the current fractures of this nation and how this plays out in our international policies and wars and thus, our current state. And it has to do with Imperialism and white supremacy and exploitation of the Other. Way more than most liberals are comfortable examining, aside from a snarky line or two in a blog post. These truths of our imbalances maintained must become part of our national dialogue. We must accept nothing less from the Democratic politicians. You cannot blame the US for being a “soundbyte nation” if you are validating and employing and not fighting that tendency! Run from the GOP and their accusations of “Blame America First”? Retreat behind flag pins? Join them in talk about locking up and deriding immigrants? This is the way down. This validates the very party and ideology the Left ought lock horns with and do fierce battle.
In my opinion, confronting that comfort is the path forward. And maintaining that comfort simply makes you a meek aide to the Republican machine; less than they. For at least they know their cause and they stand behind it unapologetically.
Not that there is any shortage of opportunities to engage. And the immigration issue certainly presents a giant opportunity. And by all means, join in. It’s not for Mexicans that anyone ought do it, really. It’s because unless the People take up the cause of all the People, then the People will fail, divided by the professional manipulators who have everything at stake in keeping us apart.
Another of Obama’s hopes is Republican Senator Lindsay Graham. Recently, Graham was the one to come forth and say that immigration is dead this year. And because Obama had to go and push the Health Care thing. That’s Graham’s story and he’s sticking with it. You don’t need me to tell you he’s full of shit. The GOP must try to destroy Obama and all he does. And anything he does. This, too, is tied to their belief system. This is why they went crazy when Obama spoke in schools. For children to see a black man as President destroys a space in the mind that Republicans would use to plant their ideologies about racial superiority. Just that sight—of an articulate, handsome, well-spoken, kind and powerful black man—could alter the lives of those children in a fractal sense. One new image that provides a foundation for a series of other thoughts and beliefs, that very possibly do not lead to a worldview supported by Conservatism. So the GOP cannot rescind Obama’s electoral tidal wave, but their next best hope is that the nation feels the first black President was a failure. That—now that—could be worked into their ideologies. “Sure,” they’d say to their deluded children, “it was White Guilt and Black Racism that elected Obama. And maybe a bit his pretty speechifyin’. But mostly the first two, just like I tell you all the time about Affirmative Action. So he caught a boost into the Oval Office. He got to play dress-up for a while. But of course he failed in the end, Ruthy! He’s….well. He tried hard, you gotta give him that. And he sure could play some mean b-ball, eh kids?”
So let’s just get that straight and know that Lindsay Graham would never have helped Obama secure anything he believes could be successful for Obama, Democrats, or people of color. I mean, didn’t we just learn from watching the GOP tantrumize the entire Health Care debate how willing they are to work with the Dems? Lindsay, pleeeeease.
Nevermind that this immigration issue affects Irish immigrants, as well. Don’t even bother with that. This issue is about Mexicans. Period. That’s all we are talking about with fences and “invaders” and “culture changing.” Shit. Nobody is concerned about one more Irish fella at the pub on March 17! Pat Buchanan is not terrified that O’Malley’s will run out of bar seats under another wave of Irish immigration. This is about Mexicans. You know, cockroaches. Etc.
WASHINGTON, D.C.— El senador Lindsey Graham (R-SC) la figura clave del Partido Republicano en las negociaciones sobre reforma migratoria en la Cámara Alta, aseguró a La Opinión que los indocumentados tendrían que “declararse culpables de un delito menor para obtener su legalización”. A su vez, el legislador enfatizó que la reforma migratoria no tiene posibilidades este año en la Cámara Alta.
La semana pasada, el presidente del Subcomité de Inmigración, Chuck Schumer (D-NY) y Graham presentaron juntos una columna de opinión en The Washington Post, donde aseguraron que los indocumentados tendrían que admitir que violaron la ley.
“Para los 11 millones de inmigrantes que ya están ilegalmente en este país, teníamos que ofrecer un camino duro pero justo. Se les exigiría admitir que violaron la ley y el pago de su deuda a la sociedad mediante la realización de servicio comunitario y el pago de multas e impuestos atrasados. Estas personas estarían obligadas a pasar controles de antecedentes y ser competentes en inglés antes de ir a la parte de atrás de la fila y ganar la oportunidad de trabajar hacia la residencia legal permanente”, dice la columna.
Consultado por La Opinión respecto a “¿qué significa admitir que se violó la ley”, Graham aseguró “la parte que se refiere a la solución de la inmigración ilegal, es que van a tener que admitir que cometieron un crimen, declararte culpable de un misdemeanor o delito menor, pagar una multa y realizar servicio comunitario”.
Un delito menor es una ofensa criminal que resulta en un récord. Tiene un grado menor de severidad que las felonías, pero mayor que las infracciones civiles. En general, se le considera un crimen que se paga a través de prisión, libertad bajo palabra y multas.
It goes on. He is essentially saying that a) Immigration Reform is dead this year and b) his terms for signing a bill in any case involve the usual terms offered by the GOP such as learning English, but the novel and disturbing proposition that the undocumented community, before becoming proud and naturalized US citizens, admit to criminality and carry a misdemeanor crime on their record evermore. In addition, the newly-shamed and minted criminal class will do community service and pay a fine.
The Eternal Servant-Criminal Class
I am not surprised at these types of ideas coming from a Republican. From an old white Conservative man. Never mind that currently being undocumented is not even a criminal offense but a civil one! (ICE has got around this by charging people with document fraud, thus shuttling the cases into criminal court where immigrants often don’t have adequate representation and sign whatever they are told to, ending up in—yup, you guessed it—a detention center where the taxpayers support their imprisonment, rather than benefit from their working and adding to the local economy and workforce.)
Do you know that law officers already generally assume you are a criminal or have an arrest record if you are a person of color? Or at least that you were up to something recently! Or perhaps that your shirt smells like Marijuana. It’s true! That is why people of color get stopped for driving for no reason, get tailed in stores (hate this one, it’s very distracting) get harassed by cops in the first place. It is part of the Prison loop. See you as criminal, create you as criminal. Target you more, prosecute you further, assume guilt, search ’til they find some. Punish. Repeat.
Republicans like Graham and Sessions and so on are essentially incapable of viewing an abstract Mexican or group of Mexicans as ANYthing but something deviant, shameful, criminal, and destructive. Of course he wants ten million brown people to have a police record! In his mind it’s already one and the same, he aches to flesh his bias into life. As Joe Arpaio does by criminalizing those he feels are already criminal by nature.
And a police record will lead to further trouble with the law. It’s bad enough getting harassed more because of a name or physical traits, but to be harassed and then found to have a record already? As I said, these things compound each other, and sometimes, very fast. Punishments increase in severity, less lenience is given, you feel more uptight about further trouble, which might make you act funny around cops who are already looking at you funny…see? It’s a loop. And that’s the point of it.
So Lindsay Graham (R) is basically saying “Okay. I will agree to let millions more Mexicans into this culture, but they must play the roles in which I see them. This preserves my white supremacist culture, after all. I don’t want you here, but if you have to be here and you are already, then you are criminals. That fits the script.”
And Arizona is all over this, too. As I covered in the latter part of News With Nezua | Whoa Canada! (the specific Arizona segment is here on YouTube), a mesh of laws are being enacted in that state that turn the presence of any undocumented person into a violator of criminal laws, as well as anyone who transports them to work, or to look for work, or home from work. These laws (primarily enshrined in SB 1070) empower police and government workers anywhere in the state to stop anyone they think may be undocumented for any reason and require proof of citizenship…or be swept into ICEville. Yup. Bad, bad news. Bad, bad move. (Did you know the massive marches of 2006 were mostly in reaction to the Sensenbrenner bill which proposed the very same thing?)
That is essentially the ground that Graham is preparing for the entire nation.
You think cops harassing people of color is bad now? Just imagine. Watch that segment on the new Arizona laws, and imagine how that could play out on an entire nation where people of color or who have accents are already under fire or derision; already being scapegoated for the economic destruction wrought by greedy blue-eyed bankers. These laws that empower local police to increasingly view and treat the undocumented—and by extension, Latinos—as criminal suspects who owe obeisance at any moment (Your papers??!) serve as a very, very poor response to the shifting cultural face of the nation. In fact, it’s safe to say that this creeping violence and force is the last gasp of Whiteness, meaning to do by gun and prison what it cannot maintain by propaganda and illusion.
In today’s civilized and progressive era, everything will be by law and decree and politically viable and sound and acceptable. And yet, the jails continue to grow. And grow too small. And be it in Haiti or Iraq or Mexico, it is still a certain kind of dweller on this planet doing the plundering. The Marines and police are still sent in to secure the Imperialist hustle in every market on the planet.
And the Democrats are often the ones tearily waving them goodbye as they embark on their patriotic journeys.
And Ye Shall Reap What Ye Sow
Bill Clinton recently admitted to what many have been saying for many years: that creating conditions that flood a foreign nation/entity with imports from the US while disabling that locations ability to farm and produce food for themselves wreaks destruction on an area. This is actually a pretty important statement for him to make. (Must be why after the first day, the article is buried and took me a while to track down!) Because the US does this…as a pattern. And when you stop and think about it, there is no more confusion about my level of emotion on how my own birth-nation treats humans around the world, known here as “immigrants” or as “illegals” or “illegal immigrants” by all the GOP and some members of the Democratic party. Because it’s a very nasty and disgusting and immoral and deceptive way to act. And I expect better from this world, in this time.
You cripple a nation’s agricultural market so that THE USA MAY BENEFIT from this NATION OF BROWN PEOPLE. This destroys the market in Haiti, as it did in Chile, as it did in Mexico. It’s not an accident. It’s not that Clinton is just realizing it. This is how the US stays strong and economically viable. China makes a lot of things we use! I would be lost without all my gear imported from China. China has a leg up exporting because they make SO. MUCH. STUFF. The US exports by creating famine conditions and then conveniently being around when people are hungry. In essence. I’m being a bit dramatic, but good, because it all ends up the same. It’s like locusts. We strip them down so that we can fly. It’s vile. But that’s not the end of it.
When these people flee, and come here—the much-trumpted LAND OF OPPORTUNITY and LAND OF PLENTY—from those lands that are economically stunted or crippled, we consider them criminals. We say they have to admit what wrong they did. Even Democrats insist that they be punished, this low person on the ladder! Dems and GOP insist they be shamed! It sickens my gut. Where is the discussion of what the US has done wrong in this? Better yet, a way forward where we can do right by what went wrong? An intelligent cause and effect talk? This is tyranny of the strong, to punish these tiny humans scattering about in the wake of imperial boots that tear through towns collecting our bounty.
Bill Clinton has made it clear that he understands this. And if this tiny piece of truth could make its way into our national dialogue on economy, foreign policy, and immigration? It would upset and rearrange the entire trajectory. Or it would have the potential, at least. We know it wouldn’t have a chance in the murky, corrosive depths of US political discourse.
And then people even on the “left” want to talk about a “soundbyte culture.”
The Democrats are now talking about sending in guns, or having some special type of arrangement with Mexico so our Marines can go in and join his drug war that has spiraled out of control and is eating human beings every day. It’s not like they can run through the desert to escape the war. I suppose soon our troops will be waiting for them there, and our bullets firing upon them from Mexican rifles.
Bill Clinton’s tears mean about as much to me as Glenn Becks’.
The Democrats are doing their job. As a friend of mine is fond of saying, and recently wrote about journalists: it’s not that they aren’t doing what they were elected to do, it’s that people are confused about their purpose. And the Democrats’ purpose is to siphon off genuine populist outrage on the Left side of the spectrum. To give us the Good Cop to the GOP’s Bad Cop. That results in our being “trapped” into a Two Party mindset. The dynamic is a powerful one, because it taps into a couple things personally (nevermind the practical chances/difficulty in electing a third party candidate). One, most people who are scared of outcomes or of being in a scary situation (or perhaps I should call it “uncertainty”) will choose the easiest way out. For another thing, The Good Cop/Bad Cop routine presupposes you don’t have enough personal strength to offer yourself a third option in what currently presents as a binary, and a pressing one. These are generally sound assumptions to make with most people, at most times. And of course, there are other reasons that are systemic.
But however you shake it out, the current Democratic party is a pretty inadequate choice for people truly interested in social justice; in a sound, healthy, vibrant society that respects human rights and has the confidence and joy at heart that a thriving culture would. No, the American voting public is, sometimes, like beaten children ready to take what we are given because our imaginations and hope has been kicked in until it cannot expand any further.
Given: The way the GOP is veering downward and righty-right-righto-right as of late draws the distinction between them and the Democrats a valuable one, admittedly. Also, while the insurance reform bill that was just passed does enshrine the worst parts of the capitalist system, as I think Taibbi said, and is a giveaway to the corporate moguls, the current GOP was really rubbing its Class War Club quite unabashedly and certainly is off on an irrational trajectory that ends in abject class war. Beck telling us our teeth are not a Constitutional right. Oh, I’ve got a few things to tell Mr. Beck and people like him about teeth! But that’s for another time.
That said, even with the historic healthcare legislation achievement, the Dems will continue to fund the utter destruction of our neighbors in the world. Be it in Afghanistan, where the CIA now operates as if another branch of the military; in Pakistan where drones drop down death on the daily; in Iraq or wherever the US Pentagon decides we go next without needing to call it “war” and thus launch it legally. And people will continue to flee these nations (if they live through it) and many will make their way here. The US—both Left and Right—will continue to speak of these migrations as violations of our law and border, a law and border that are like one-way doors for bullets, bombs, and people and through their precise functioning undermine any and all we say about opportunity, fairness, and liberty. The US will continue to lock people up in the already overburdened and ridiculously blooming prison system. Movies like Blindside will continue to win Oscars and make white America feel it’s a good place, at heart. And once in a while, the Democrats will make a big show of passing a center-left piece of legislation.
Meanwhile, no branch of our government is doing much to help heal the world at large, or at least slow the destruction and degradation of our global community and its future.
It can be a scary thought if you dwell on it. Dancing helps.
Fear Felt Up High
And so the Democratic Party is now feeling a bit of anxiety over the immigration issue. I know because I am contacted sometimes by Democratic aides in DC. The Washington-Blogger relationship is new, and I’m sure they are not quite sure what to do with it, but I credit them for approaching and making contact with me and making an effort to…well. I guess that is the question. What are they after? How do they see a blogger? We know the protocol for the Press and the White House…but I am not quite that. All these areas are new. I am open to how they flesh out. But I am certainly not here to simply pass on messaging. I am not a tri-corder, or whatever Colbert called the MSM. No, Jim, I’m a blogger. And that means I’ll not just pass on what was said, but how I perceive that statement, or various statements. I’ll report on it, but I’ll report on it, and I’ll report on me, too! REPORTING ON IT! It’s like frakken Gonzo Ummagumma up in here.
After my multiple talks, I began to feel such a desire on their part to have me carry out certain actions and spread specific messages that I replied that they should find a way to pay me! This of course sent them off running for the moment. Not to mention it would ultimately be a unethical. That remark was my way of hinting that I don’t do specific jobs that other entities benefit solely from unless I’m paid or want to.
But I’ll pass on their words in case you do want to, or in case they are valuable. In that sense, sure. I’m happy to help. And they said to pressure Graham. Activists should be “outraged” about Graham’s proposal to criminalize immigrants. We should pressure the GOP so that they come on board to Obama’s side (bill?) and feel the heat.
But what bill? What leadership? Are they really asking bloggers, now, to fulfill Obama’s promise to the community?
Oye, if the nation can see or hear or yawn at what’s been going on so far with the immigrant community, well. As I said, we are pushing back against some deeply entrenched imaginations of what brown people are and so on. It’s a tough economy (I know, it’s hitting me hard) and it’s easy to begin hoarding and fearing. Especially when the government feeds that impulse! As I said to to both of them in so many words, how do you expect the grassroots to get excited and work for you? You are out there saying all these things about immigrants! Helping to spread fear and a punitive outlook! I laid out my thoughts as I’ve done here to them, to one of them. I brought up the larger global picture of what is going on in immigration. He said, true, “but this is a soundbyte nation.” And I said that I don’t want to treat my country like it is stupid. Why are the Democrats not educating people on this? Why do they bow to the Right with the talk of criminality and punishment? I talked about blaming the weakest link in the chain and about the Tyranny of the strong. And I said I had to take serious disagreement with the idea that making the People comfortable involves playing into the criminalization of Mexicans and immigrants. Nope. Not buying it.
I didn’t really know what they could do with everything I said. Maybe they passed it on, maybe they just wondered why they called The Angry Mexican in the first place and left it at that.
But I had to speak on why I had no passion really to run errands for the Democrats’ capitulatory, cowardly asses. “You need 60 votes for anything” one said, over and over. Which is fine. But who is leading the charge? Not Obama. Not the tiniest bit. And who made beautiful speeches to la comunidad via NCLR events and so on? Wait for it…yup. That was Obama.
After speaking to both an aide to a major Democratic player in Congress and their Hispanic Outreach person, I can tell that they are sweating our reaction. New Media, activists, advocacy groups, the People. Why? Probably because they don’t plan on moving anything. President Obama tells the GOP that they have to offer up a bill, or that he said he was open, but he needs more of them on board. Reid’s office states it will introduce something by the end of the year if nothing happens. Schumer and Graham are out having beers and swatting at piñatas or something as they talk about how to extract the most shame from one square mile of tomato skins.
President Obama won’t be leading this charge. I love the man, no doubt. But look, son. He wouldn’t even come out swinging for his old disabled aunt. You think he’s gonna risk his ass over ten million Mexicans? No, I know stall talk when I hear it, and he won’t be championing the issue. He’d already be out there.
Today and Tomorrow
Which is why I began this piece with the question how do we react to this? Now? Let’s think and plan and know now, so that by the time it’s made inarguably clear through the ole up/down/up/down Public Option style desensitization method, we already know our plan. Do away with the doubt and hope so we can get practical. In what way? I don’t know. I guess that depends. It might be a purely personal plan, having to do with voting, or lifestyle or living area, brand of pop-tarts you buy…I can’t imagine. But despite our own personal reactions, we have to understand that this is not a tiny let down or broken promise, nor should it be. I can’t call it for you. But I think it’s safe to say despite the excuse-making, we were had.
That the Democrats will continue deporting Latin Americans at an astonishing rate (1,000 a day now?), enacting laws that devastate communities and punish individuals for what is really a larger issue (next we can punish the seals for drowning as our industries melt their icebergs) and our charming, sweet, and eloquent President will most certainly not use that enlivening tenor to educate the US masses on what they really need: to understand exactly what is going on that ties the health care issue together with the economy, our international policy, and immigration. The GOP will continue to react as if despoilers of the Pure need to be fought within her borders and across oceans, and never will the entire picture or truthful dialogue be presented to the People so that something—some real thing—might change in this whole setup.
Finally, as expected, the Democrats will stall on immigration and offer feints and tuff-guy soundbytes, but they will not come through, nor will they break it all down and get real with the People.
They can’t. The Good Cop, no matter how comforting, still needs you to fear the cell for his shtick to work.
DESPITE my many misgivings on how What-May-Become-CIR is shaping up, the energy at the rally on Sunday in DC was undeniably strong, fresh, vibrant, positive, and loud. More like a loving block party, concert and picnic than a “march,” the National Mall hosted hundreds of thousands of people supporting our fixing the broken immigration system. I’ll have a video for you (the next News With Nezua video) that I am going to use to convey some of that energy to you.
Because there are separate aspects of any “cause” or political issue. Which is what makes the whole thing so frustrating sometimes. We all forget, we all remember, are reminded, when we talk it over. We begin pushing for the very best we can, as we should. Ideals lead the way. Then some others get angry and say that the first group is being too purist, or non-pragmatic. Compromises must be made. Then your undocumented friend says those compromises are cruel and unneeded and unnecessary. And then another undocumented friend says, hey—I’m willing to make those concessions. Then another citizen friend says but I am not willing to have a biometric Social Security card, and we shouldn’t let that be ushered in using this issue. Then someone else passes a link about a protest or march action and then someone else says isnt there more to making change than protests, than making noise? And then you attend a massive gathering like this in the absence of any movement from the white house after all the beautiful speeches made to la comunidad and you remember that every gathering is not about making an immediate change. Or rather, more comes out of something like this event than just definitive legislative action.
Sometimes you need to be around people who feel as you do, who look a bit like you, or have a name like you—especially when those things are under attack by various groups and voices in our nation. Especially when you are out there working that activismagic-whatever you do, making your heart visible and evident in the world, trying to chip away at wrongness because that gives you a lust for life, that makes you feel you have done more than take from the world. And that good things can happen, and that you are not alone, and that you stand with hundreds of thousands of other people. And that even though the people who would stab the very balloons out of the hands of mimes may be given too loud a voice at times, on the other hand, the people who know that justice is a right all humans have can gift each other with a very powerful weapon to place in the arsenal. And the event had a lot of that energy. It was very comforting to know that with so many Latinos around, even if we were dissimilar in many ways, we were standing together at the moment for things that go so often unchampioned or unmentioned by the most powerful voices in media, if not altogether slurred and derided. We were, for a handful of hours, a city of solidarity and flava and positivity.
And at the same time, all those aforementioned currents that can sometimes complement and sometimes contradict, were in play.
I saw a number of people who work this scene, the regulars, the activists (undocumented and citizens), some org people, some new media people…you get to know each other after a while! We always see each other at these events. Our feelings on what is right and what is possible overlap in places. And not in others. And always varying at different times, perhaps, depending on how the issue is playing out in Congress or on TV or in the White House. And to see that weave of multiplicity on the issue just in that group of people gives you a peek into how tough it has to be to move legislation with so many people in government, many whom are not just sometimes at variance with, but directly opposed to each other’s value systems and desires and ideologies, and many who don’t even deal in good faith, who are simply making decisions on cynical and power-based motives. It’s a wonder anything gets done. And it explains why so many of us on the Left are beaming sunshine out of our blogholes because the White House just passed insurance reform that still leaves us with a health care system that should hide in shame compared to that of many “less powerful” nations—not to make light of the very big deal that is this bill being passed, nonetheless….
One of these activist type friends I know—he is involved with one of the current orgs that speaks for/stands for/benefits from the Latino&Immigration type issues—was a bit bitter about the event. It was “cynical,” he said. “Why aren’t they telling people” that this is a big hoo-rah event when in reality, Schumer and others are lining up a nasty little deal before they even consider trying to sell it; a deal that involves National biometric ID cards/SS cards, and passing an English test (who says you have to speak English in the USA, we still don’t have any “official language,” after all!), admitting shame and criminality in being here at all (I’m still waiting to hear the US govt explain the reneging on NAFTA as well as many other actions that contribute to global inequality and spur immigration in the first place!) and blowing more money on a militarized and harmful border mentality and weaponry/wall, as well as funding (in part) Felipe Calderón’s drug war that has claimed over 17,000 lives by now. And I understand what he is saying. These things are not acceptable, in reality. At least not to me as a citizen. And I do live here, and have to live here for now. And so I feel I have a right—while not speaking for anyone else—to take part in pushing, shoving, nudging the world closer to where I feel it should be. Beginning here.
At the same time I could have said “Okay. Fair enough. But if that is cynical…then why don’t you tell that truth through the org you are attached to?” Because he does not, either. Nor do they. They stand for good things, too. But not the whole truth. Does anyone? Does anyone think the whole truth stands a chance in this nation? And yet you can’t really aim any lower and have too much self-respect. Because you know invariably that ideal will fall short, being channeled through an imperfect vessel—be it your own humanity, or Congress.
So it’s never cut and dry. We all have our interests, we all have to make a living, we all have to make compromise, we all have our hands stained from rowing in the Empire Ship, and even in those moments we truly want to do only good, only the right thing, that still doesn’t mean we’ll agree on what exact shape that Thing will be. We come from different places. We stand in different places. We’ve had different beginnings. I’m still personally trying to learn how to be true to my own vision, and at the same time make room for yours. In a way, I guess at heart, that is what the USA is supposed to be about. (At least judging by the mantras children are pressured to speak to the flag in school.) Lately I feel we are not being too successful at making that vision happen. But maybe as a nation born squalling and bloody and steeped in lust and reverence for property, as well as violence and exploitation of the Other, we just take smaller steps than those that satisfy me right away.
What is there to do but to keep putting energy toward such an idea, and toward fighting the good fight?
Which is why I thank Reform Immigration for America very much for making my trip possible. I appreciate the help in getting there, and the no-strings freedom to report the way I report. Speaking of which, I have to get back to editing the video. Meanwhile, here’s a slideshow of the fotos I took. Maybe they will give you an idea, for now, of what I’m talking about….