Monday, May 01, 2006

On my mind

Today is May 1, the date of the immigrant boycott. I am surprised my blogging circle has been mostly silent on this issue. Emotions, on the aggregate, have been pretty raw and high. The economic impact, as well as the human impact, is huge.

Did it help or hurt to hear an immigrants' version of the Star Spangled Banner? I have to admit to a moment of irony -- the first time I heard this rendition, I was in line at the drive-thru at Taco Mayo, where my (inauthentic) Mexican food was passed to me by a red-haired girl covered in freckles. Mmmm, is that my brain twisting?

I've had a hard time finding the translation of "Our Anthem," as the rendition is called. I understand there's a version due out in June with spoken inserts which absolutely will spark controversy and probably incite even more hostility in some areas.

Where do I stand? I'm still figuring it out. Illegal immigration from Mexico has been a hot-button issue for years. But it feels like things mushroomed very quickly with today's rallies across the U.S.

As I've been pondering this, a couple of things have come to mind. First, almost everyone here came from someplace else. Even those of us with white skin and freckles came here (our ancestors, that is) while this land was inhabited by someone else. I don't know what the native population's immigration policy was but I think they may have felt like they got the short end of the stick when the great-ancestors traded smallpox blankets for land. Anyway, to get back on track -- nearly all of us came from someplace else.

Yes, there are legal ways of entering this country and doing things the right way. But I have to wonder and think and pray about why it is so many people are risking everything to cross the border to come here. And why do we send mission teams to Mexico on spring break to try to build shelters and clean water supplies? I think there's a connection, don't you? People are starving and dying across the river.

Twice today I was in businesses where I discussed with the owners the impact of today's boycotts. I didn't bring it up either time. I was simply waiting for things to be done to my car when they brought up the topic. In both cases, the business owners were white men who were sympathetic to today's rallies.

"I wouldn't have blamed my guys if they had taken today off to rally," the muffler shop owner said. "I can't get any white guys in here to work because they're too lazy and they don't want to do things the way I tell them. These guys I hire are illegals, but they do good work and they treat my customers the way I want to be treated myself. But on the other hand, you can imagine what would happen if they hadn't been here working today. I'd have had to close the shop. And where would you be if I wasn't open to work on your car?"

Most of the rallies in my city were held after normal business and school hours, which I think added to the number of people who were able to participate. Restaurants and other Mexican-owned businesses did close, however.

Also in my thoughts on the topic: We could solve this whole issue by annexing Mexico. Take down the fence. Take over Mexico's resources and assets. Split up the country into new states. Find a way to combine our economies for the betterment of everyone.

If we want peace, we have to work for justice. Annexing Mexico is a flippant thought, I admit. But we can't keep pretending we're upset about starving people entering our country, when we rely on them to be such a big part of our economy.

Make them citizens, and then our gardeners and roofers and construction workers and muffler shop employees will be contributing to OUR national economy. Pretend offense contributes nothing to solving any problems.


In other thoughts:

I'm also more than a little surprised that my blog world has been largely silent on the issue of the genocide taking place in Darfur. How can we turn a blind eye to what's going on there? As a nation we need to step in immediately to stop the massacres. Thousands of Americans are rallying to stop the killings. Hundreds of thousands of people have died there in the past three years!

It is shameful that this issue is coming to the public's attention through the entertainment world. If that's what it takes, I'm glad that the likes of Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney and NBC's "E.R." are raising awareness. But really, how sad is it that we depend on those channels to let us know about this modern Holocaust?

Bush has met with seven Darfur activists who are asking for a special envoy to the region. And finally, he has shown some receptivity to that idea.

It's only taken three years to notice?


Genevieve said...

I have opinions about these things but I rant about them on a bulletin board I frequent and try to reserve my blog for cheerful and peaceful things (though I certainly did rant about copyright on the blog the other day.)

Mexico is rich in natural resources as well as having a resourceful hardworking populace. The problem with Mexico is that the government is grossly corrupt, as it is in much of Latin America.

It is the unwritten law of Latin America that hands in government are properly greased, any law can be broken. Getting into government is looked upon as a good way to get rich. That goes from top to bottom, from the President's mansion to the lowest of petty local officials.

Until the Mexican people can purge their country of the traditional abuses of power and plundering, squandering, and misuse of public resources, I don't think their condition will ever improve much.

This is my opinion based on what I've read over the years and my personal experiences with Latin American governments when I lived in South America a couple of years.

We probably have to accept and grant some sort of legal status to the millions of illegal Mexicans who are already here, but the border needs to be sealed.

Certainly, we must try to stop the killing in the Sudan.

I guess it will be all right with our leaders from Hollywood if we go to Darfur and try to stop the killing and probably replace the evil Sudanese government and disband its Janjaweed goon squads. I mean, we don't suspect the Sudanese government of having WMD's and Darfur is not a major oil producer, so it will be OK if we do that?

Because after all, it is well documented that Sadaam Hussein attempted genocide on various ethnic groups in Iraq, ran people through plastic shredders, etc., but it's not OK for us to be in Iraq. We didn't ever need to go into Iraq, according to many who speak in the wisdom of their hindsight. Diplomacy would have been enough.

So all I can figure out is that it is the lack of WMD claims and the lack of oil in Darfur that would justify flexing our muscle and probably losing American lives there.

Sorry to be cynical. I just can't help seeing some inconsistencies in the altruism. I do realize that people are suffering in Darfur and we have a moral duty to try to help them.

Sarabeth said...

Here's the insensitive side of me about the immigration issue: if you want to live here--get here legally, learn our language, and assimilate into our culture. Plenty of other immigrants have done this and still retain their ethnic identity.

However, my husband asked me if I would break a law if my children were starving or in danger, and the answer was yes. Of course I would do everything in my power, legal or illegal to help my children which is certainly the situation for many of the Mexicans who come to the US.

But, your point that most of us come from immigrants doesn't really hold water with me. Most of my ancestors arrived here in the 1500's and 1600's. What my genetic predecessors did can't be put on my shoulders.

Darfur? Horrid.

Did you know that the Taliban were stoning women way before 9/11? Did we do anything then to intervene in the horrible conditions in Afghanistan? No. Only when terrorists supported by those thugs hiding behind the word of Allah attacked us did we care what abuses were being done to women and others in that country.

I predict that it will take much more than just general disgust at the situatiion in The Sudan for this administration to do anything about it.

Did you really want to hear all that? Makes me sound like quite a witch, huh?

Trixie said...

Not at all -- I posted this to generate discussion and comments. I want to know what others think. This is certainly out of the general character of my blog, where I try to focus on the things that are important to me in my daily life (micro view rather than macro).

I appreciate what you both have said so far and hope others weigh in. Come on guys, this is one of the few times I open my doors to political comment, so you better take advantage of it while you can!

Sarabeth said...

Okay--tell me what you think. I put up an informal poll on my blog.

CrystalDiggory said...

Well, here's my two cents...I don't have a problem with immigrants, but if they want to become citizens they should stop waving the Mexican flag, first of all. I lose a LOT of empathy for them when I see that flag being waved in my face and in front of the cameras. It's like their hearts are in Mexico, but their bellies are here. That ain't gonna cut it.

And, we don't need a Spanish-national anthem. If they want to call it a protest song or a song for immigrants longing to be free, or whatever, fine -- but if they want to sing a Spanish national anthem, they can sing it in Mexico.

If they want citizenship, fine, I would like them to be over here legally, too. I'd like to see them pay taxes, be able to get better treatment from companies who exploit them for cheap labor, and all of that BUT just like every other immigrant who wants citizenship here, they have to take the citizenship test and that test is going to be in English, not the language of the country they're leaving.

Lastly, I want the border sealed. Let them come over on work visas or a guest worker program and then apply for citizenship when they get here, but it's got to be done in a more orderly fashion than what we have now. Opening the borders and letting everyone flood through for unconditional citizenship, like the more radical Mexican leaders are asking us to do is just crazy. I think the rallies they had across the country have alarmed a lot of American citizens out of their complacency about the matter and I would be surprised if there wasn't a backlash from it.

The Mexicans could have the citizenship they want if they would just meet us halfway on a few things, but the more radical of them don't want to do that, and I think it could hurt their cause in the long run. A lot of them already speak English, so I don't know why this is such a hot-button issue of them. Why is learning the English language in order to gain citizenship make them so crazy?

Well, those are just my thoughts. It may have been more than two-cents. :)

Teditor said...

Yes, I've updated. Don't gimme crap, lady. :-)