Monday, July 10, 2006

The racist streak in immigration debates

I've avoided most of the immigration debating. So much of it seems just a lot of posturing and saying the right words to satisfy their own supporters or play on emotions and knee-jerk reactions to influence others to support them. It isn't really a debate so much as a shouting match. People aren't trying to understand the other side in order to show them they're wrong--they want to bully their own views on others. OK, same can be said for most political discussion.

Anyway, I got this link from my father-in-law that brings up some good points, and really reveals the ridiculous racist arguments that are dragged up by those proposing a tough (aka heartless, cruel, mean-spirited) stance on immigration:

Immigration and the Curse of the Black Legend

Now, that doesn't completely address the question of the illegality of people sneaking over the border. I'm sympathetic with the idea that we shouldn't be rewarding law-breaking. Clearly something needs to be done with the system. I just don't believe that turning ourselves into a police state, surrounded by iron walls and all that is really the answer. Is the guest worker program? It might be part of it. Combining that with tightening the security...maybe. Welcoming people from all over, including those whose ancestors, language and culture existed here before our own did? Yeah. Definitely. And recognizing the truth of the history of our country, the immigrant experience of even the earliest colonizers, the people who were here before the English settlers.

And most importantly, absolutely not allowing any of this racist rhetoric to have any influence on our country, our government, our world.

4 comments:

SNAKE HUNTERS said...

Daniel:

A writer and educator! Well, you
might say as much about me. I've
been working on my Bachelor's for
some time now. My elusive subject is "Common Sense", and I cannot find it in the curriculum!

History, Politics, Religion, & War.

So, I continue writing, hoping to find my niche. reb

www.lazyonebenn.blogspot.com

Lesli said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lesli said...

Okay, as a white chick who lives for Chile Rellenos, I feel like this is my time to speak up :)

(actually what follows is a disjointed ramble. I blame being slightly sick)

A large part of my required Texas history courses in school were spanish history (what with that covering the first half of texas history and all). I think the part of the article referencing Spanish colonialism is a little too gentle on the Spanish (eg "sure they cut off a bunch of people's hands and forced them into slave labor, but America did bad stuff too!") None of it is untrue, it just feels weird. Certainly forced conversions and enslavement are contrary to the moral dictates of america as written, and yeah, they hated catholics. I'm pretty sure the spanish thought we were barbarians for being protestants who made little to no attempt to bring god to the natives, just waved around plague blankets so we could grab their land. They did more torture, we did more genocide, but there's not really anybody who's unfairly victimized, I think, by those reputations.

Illegal immigration actually does hurt the lowest bracket of american labor by flooding the job market. Those are our boys and girls who need the most help. At the same time, denying these guys the work they come over for is hurting just as many people who have the misfortune not to be americans. I'm torn on either side of that aspect of the debate.

I think the guest worker program, though, is the worst solution. It encourages the exact sort of exploitation that immigrants are most vulnerable to. Disposable labor at depressed wages, with very little in the way of legal protection. All in the interest of making it easier to be a giant aggro business, because that was really hard and those are the people who really need the government's help.

Personally, I think we should make it easier for people to get naturalized, to stay with family as resident aliens, and to have legal protection. But then again I also know the "give us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses" poem on the statue of liberty by bleeding heart, and was raised on the assumption that we're a nation of immigrants anyway.

god I'm rambling. But I've written so much I'd feel guilty about deleting it.

Anyway. I like conjunto and churros and tex mex and I'm glad they're up here where I can get to them, rather than way down in mexico.

And yeah, racism and patriotism and all the flag waving jingoism and alarmism and whatever other isms you'd like to jam in there. I think everybody does that sort of thing naturally, because it's really comforting to have an "us" and a "them" that we're better than. I certainly feel that way about Republicans.

I think that part's an unfortunate but unremarkable part of the makeup of every human psyche. I think ours just gets the spotlight because we're driving the unnecessarily large gas guzzling SUV of a country that is america.

I probably shouldn't have cough syrup.

Also, damn you for making me sign up for a blog in order to post this rambling pointless response in your blog! GRAR!

Daniel Ausema said...

Welcome, Snake Hunters. And Lesli, good to have you finally cave in and join :) I understand the problem you're saying about the worker program. I've gone back and forth on it, probably because I haven't educated myself enough about it. It does strike me as still preferable to the reactionary solutions of the extreme right-wingers...but it's quite possibly not enough better to be actually good.

The main thing I dislike is the racism disguised as 'protecting the american way' rhetoric. As if there were only one American way.

Ah well, as Wendell Berry says, I'll pledge allegiance to the flag and hope to live in that free country for which it stands. Someday maybe we'll get there.