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?