Archive for May 3rd, 2006

Those of you who also read Ed Kemmick’s excellent blog, “City Lights,” are no doubt aware that I went off in the comments to a great post on illegal immigration.

It all started with a Kemmick story on a woman who married an illegal alien who was deported back to Mexico and can’t return to the States to be with his wife and child. By all accounts, the couple in question – Billings native, Josie Luna, and her Mexican husband, Gonzalo Luna – are hardworking, honest, religious, and decent folk. Their story is an antidote – and a reality check – to the vitriol spewed against illegal immigrants across the nation.

The lesson: immigrants are people.

Still, the column didn’t seem to awake any opponents to the realities involving illegal immigration – the complex web of economics, emotion, and human stories – but instead seemed to deepen the gulf between immigration hard-liners and…well…everybody else.

Admittedly there are many who emphasize the illegality of the immigrants’ actions as the basis of taking a firm stance against undocumented Mexicans in our midst. But there was still a weird nativist tone to many of the comments.

David Neiwert wrote a fascinating post about the re-emergence of racism in mainstream political discussion, racism that finds a natural home in the topic of illegal Mexican immigrants. In the post, he mentions the recent outcry about singing the “Star-Spangled Banner” in Spanish and links to a quote from John Chuckman:

There are roughly thirty-million Spanish speakers in the United States. The analysis here is interesting: an immigrant singing an anthem in his own language resembles someone changing the national flag. This argument does, perhaps unintentionally, reveal the real concern: Hispanics are changing our country, and we don’t like it.

I think Chuckman is spot on. Most virulent anti-immigrants spout garbage like, “they can’t speak English,” or other such nonsense, as if a language were what defines being “American.” (What I think makes an American an American may deserve its own post. Bottom line: if you live here, ta da! You’re an American.) It’s obvious they’re…afraid?…furious?…about the changes that are already occurring in our country to our language, to our culture, to the skin hue of our neighbors.

(In a truly fascinating side note, Neiwert compares the outcry to a Spanish “Star Spangled Banner” to the reaction to Jimi Hendrix’ rendition of the same song:

The creation of these effects was groundbreaking in its own right, far expanding the traditional techniques of the electric guitar. The rendition has been described by some as a generation’s statement on the unrest in US society, and others as an anti-American mockery, oddly symbolic of the beauty, spontaneity, and tragedy that was endemic to Hendrix’s life. It was an unforgettable rendition remembered by generations. When asked on the Dick Cavett Show if he was aware of all the outrage he had caused by the performance, Hendrix replied: ‘I thought it was beautiful.’


In any case, it probably wasn’t surprising that these ugly, nativist ideas surfaced in the comments in the Billings Gazette.

So, without further ado, I bring you today’s creeps:

Legal citizen: Are we expected to somehow feel sorry for [deported man, Gonzalo Luna]?

Yes. (It’s a bad sign when you need guidance on when to feel certain emotions. Is there medication for this?)

ethel: It is curious how, since the '90s, law and order have been degraded to where we are rapidly destroying what was handed to us in freedom by the builders of European descent. Now, interlopers and benefactees of our culture, economy and social services are calling us 'fat, white, lazy Europeans' and demanding that we leave 'their' country. The USA is barely two hundred years old, Mexico has been around for centuries; but which one is the producer and builder and which one is the same corrupt structure it has always been because of its own apathy?

Note how the “degradation” of US society started in the 90s…when Clinton was President! Hey, ethel, why not blame the Republican-dominated Congress? It’s also telling that ethel feels that our liberties, culture, and country were solely the gift of Europeans. So much for the African-American slaves who enabled the Jeffersons, Madison, and Washingtons to…well…survive. Or who contributed to our arts, politics, and letters. Or the Chinese and Japanese immigrants on the West Coast…well, you get my point.

Her points about illegals draining our taxes is a common theme among the nativists. Of course it isn’t true, either. Illegal immigrants actually contribute more in taxes than they consume. But to paraphrase Colbert, reality has a left-wing bias.

LAH: I have been following the news coverage of the protest on Monday for some time. It struck me that if any other criminals announced that they would be convening in a locale in mass the police would likely arrive and arrest them. It will be interesting to see if police across the country ignore the opportunity to round up these criminals.

Another popular tactic, equating illegal aliens with serious criminals, like, apparently, pedophiles, drug dealers, and crooked Senators. (Later in the comments, illegals are compared to meth manufacturers.) Absolutist rhetoric like this is completely misleading. Would you call someone arrested for not pay parking meter violations a “criminal”? Me neither.

cme: I am curious. who paid for the hospital bill when the baby was born. I bet welfare did. one more reason that we don't need or want illegal aliens , immigrants, or what ever you prefer to call them, here. I would be among the first to call immigration on any one I knew was here illegialy. no exceptions. come here legally and I would help anyway I can. but otherwise, they are nothing other then a lawbreaker and should be sent home. in chains if thats what it takes.

Don’t let reality hit you in *ss on the way out, cme. Nowhere in the story does it say the Lunas were on welfare. In the comments it turns out they were both working citizens who paid for their medical bills themselves. Assuming Mexicans are on welfare = racism.

h: …There is something wrong when my little brother who is an english speaking American citizen is forced to learn the Pledge of Allegiance – in Spanish, not English.

Funny, people in Missoula pay for their children to attend the city’s “international school,” where kids are taught in Spanish. It’s actually a good thing to be bilingual.

vice: Here's an idea: let's borrow a page from the east Berlin playbook and land mine the border. Hard to cross illegaly with missing limbs.

Either a sociopath or a thirteen-year-old. Hard to tell the difference.

northeast montana: I am sure many of you have heard of how the "Star Spangle Banner" has been rewriten and sang in spanish. Truely we as Americans have to see a problem with this, as well as to have illegals in this country and think that it is ok. We are Americans. We follow the rules or are other wise punished for not. We speak English. That is what being American is all about. It is time we get rid of those who are here illegally and quite breaking down to there demands. This is our country. The "Star Spangled Banner" is song in English and only English and where we need to take care of our own people first. Not illegals that have figured out a way to get here. Go back to your own homeland!

To quote Ed Kemmick:

My favorite comment by far came from the woman who identified herself as a Hispanic and a legal resident of the United States. She found it odd that so many people who write about the sanctity of the English language apparently don’t mind mangling it themselves, with broken grammar and hilarious misspellings.

It goes on and on. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: the solution is inevitable and it involves amnesty, guest worker visas, and no border wall.

Advice the hysteria-driven crowd: get used to the idea of Mexican immigrants.


Interesting: some rightwing blogs are taking an anti-business approach to illegal immigration. Right Wing News: “If a business has so many workers participating in these pro-illegal alien rallies that it can't even keep the doors open, it's a pretty good indication that a large percentage of their work force isn't here legally and ICE needs to look into it. The more of these crooked business owners we go after, the better.” Donkey Stomp: “Many companies, like Tyson Foods, are closing their doors in sympathy for their cause or over a lack of workers (admitting that they hire cheap illegal labor instead of Americans or legal immigrants).” One assumes that when they receive their fax on the official Republican stance, they’ll be humming a different tune.

Bush let al-Zarqawi escape before the Iraqi invasion. Taylor Marsh: “…the Republicans are not only incompetent when it comes to our national security, but unfit to command in the dangerous world in which we now live.”

Orcinus has a incredible post up about the re-emergence of mainstream racism: “…there has been a regular onslaught of racist, clearly white supremacist ugliness floating around the anti-immigration forces recently, almost certainly whipped up by the pro-immigrant marches.” A must read.

Another fantastic post: Michael Stickings’ summation of the Bush disaster…“Bush Age: The Meltdown.”

Brandoland reveals the military has a faux-Iran set up 150 miles outside of Hollywood for training. Seems…I dunno…like a hoax?

The attacks on Colbert begin.

Peter King of Sport Illustrated does some reporting on New Orleans: “What I saw was a national disgrace. An inexcusable, irresponsible, borderline criminal national disgrace. I am ashamed of this country for the inaction I saw everywhere.”

The rebirth of protest music. Personally I believe these things need to grow. There was no protest music or viable anti-war movement three years after the first US involvement in Vietnam. ‘Tho the Iraq War is more unpopular than Vietnam at the same time…who knows? Anyway, an interview with Eddie Vedder…

Kevin Drum pitches in on health care, responding to Ezra Klein’s new post.

Ed Kemmick has an insightful post up about illegal immigration. It’s well worth the read, as is his column.

Pogie explains how Burns is waffling on ethics reform. I’m shocked. Really. Yup.

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