Time once again to report on the doings of our monthly (or so) book club that meets in a local microbrewery. Beer of choice: no single one dominated, but I had Existential Porter, a very dark beer that I often choose, though several of the other guys find it too sweet.
Our book: Coyotes: A Journey Across Borders With America's Illegal Migrants. It was a fascinating book, a nonfiction account that was originally published in 1987 and recently reissued with a new forward. I've made no secret of the fact that I consider the arguments of Coloradan politician Tom Tancredo to be pure racism--his rhetoric and that of others of his ilk is all about playing on racist fears, some of it conscious but given the number of people supporting such extreme views, I have to believe a lot of it is subconscious. And that's when it's most dangerous, when we don't think we're being racist but there's an unacknowledged foundation that these ideas build on.
I'm not saying that all who advocate for immigration reform are racist, but at least the rhetoric being used should give us pause before suggesting what to do.
We had some good discussions on the book. Some of it's dated--today there are many more undocumented workers who aren't involved in agriculture at all, and there are many more women who come across as well. But the underlying images, the stories of these workers and their families back home are powerful, even twenty years later. Even with the time that has passed, we ended up agreeing that the book makes it pretty clear a fence on the border is pure silliness. And we also agreed that the public debate too often offers only very limited and opposite positions, where what seems needed is either in between or some sort of third option that's neither end.
Here's a quote from the afterword:
Like most previous waves of immigration, Mexican immigration leaves some citizens worried that there are becoming too many of "them," and not enough of "us," that we as a nation may drown in the tide of foreignness. But if there is any truism about immigration to America, it is that "they" soon become "us"... This is as true today as it was in the early 1920s, or during the previous century.That matches my experience as a grandchild (and son-in-law) of immigrants from the Netherlands, of growing up in an agricultural community that attracted many migrants (and working side-by-side with them in the onion fields and Christmas tree fields), and in studying the issue in college and getting to know those in the Hispanic community around there.
So anyway, enough of a lecture. Our next book is a John Irving book, The Water Method Man. Probably not until mid-January.