Saturday, April 01, 2006

Love Thy Neighbor Get Lost

Minuteman Project rally near Three Points, Ariz. Today

Turbulent times accompanied the birth of Hinduism and Buddhism in India, Confucianism and Taoism in China, monotheism in the Middle East and rationalism in Greece. All shared a core vision for building a better world that was both simple and drastic: Do not harm others.--Great Faiths Began With a Theme: the Golden Rule, by Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times 4/1/06

"We are living in a world united now — whether we like it or not —electronically, economically and politically…"
"The only way we can end this hostility is to learn to think that other nations are as important as ourselves," she said, "and to practice the golden rule — do not do unto others as you would not have done unto you — which was first proposed by Confucius about 500 years before Christ. It's the only safe way…"
… All you need to do is be kind to everybody. It doesn't matter what tradition you belong to. Compassion and kindness bring you into the presence of what monotheists call god, but which is also known as nirvana, Brahmin, or the Way.
--author Karen Armstrong, quoted by Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times 4/1/06

In the “hey get a life!” file, I’m a big proponent of causes. In life, the cause is everything, it’s all there is. Unless you have something to fight for, you’re wasting space in the planet while others are waiting to get here to help. Peace is a great cause. Better health care, honesty in business, prosperity for everyone—these are causes worth fighting for.

It’s Saturday night in Southern California (around the world it has been or will be, but this is southern California so we’ll focus on that). People are going out instead of staying home. They’re visiting friends, or in my case friends are visiting us. There’s plenty to do—go to the movies, see a play, rest on your sofa and read a good book. Hug your children.

If someone asked me tonight if I want to go to the border of Mexico and the US, sit in the cold on a lawn chair, in the dark, in the middle of nowhere (That big yellow border line you see on the maps isn’t on the ground—it’s just dark and cold and rocky), and wait to see if someone hiking from out of the dark is coming forward to sneak across the international border to enter the United States of America without going through proper channels—if that was what someone would ask me if I wanted to do tonight, I would say, “no.” Here are my reasons: In an order of priorities, catching people running across the US/Mexican border is not on my list; But even if it were, I don’t want to sit out in the cold desert and miss visiting with my friends and family; I thought we pay income taxes this month in order to hire guys to watch out for problematic invaders from foreign countries; I already had my night-time funnies at summer camp when I was ten years old in the cold in Massachusetts when we would sneak out at night just to prove we could do it, I don’t need to be running around a real desert with rattle snakes and other strange lizards and animals, not to mention the humans who might be there with guns even though they’re not real police.

Silly as that all sounds you get my point. In the 1930’s guys would get a pole and try to walk across a rope between two buildings 20 stories above the ground in Manhattan without getting killed by falling, in order to get some headlines. These days, Jim Gilchrist and his fanatic followers go to the US/Mexican border under the nomen “minutemen,” and notify the press what they’re up to in order to get headlines. I don’t know who’s more to blame, Gilchrist and his fanatics, or the Orange County Register for giving these guys a venue:

Nearly two dozen Minuteman border watch volunteers gathered today along a two-mile stretch of dirt road that divides Mexico and California, near the town of Boulevard, about 140 miles southeast of San Diego.
They are here to look for illegal immigrants -- and call attention to illegal immigration.

Some of the border watchers, bundled in hats and jackets to ward off a strong, chilly wind, looked through binoculars. Others set up lawn chairs.Orange County Register 4/1/06

Nope—it ain’t April Fools. Scroll down a few entries in this blog and you’ll find out all about Gilchrist and his friends. What’s sad is that they’re the few who will actually do this “vigilante,” as President George W describes them, bullshit, but they represent a huge number of fellow citizens who hate immigrants, and use all sorts of rationale to tell you and me why immigration, legal or illegal, is bad for this country. They’re all shooting blanks because the facts show that immigration is mostly good for the US, economically and socially. Facts are not the issue here.

I know I’m not alone in my research and understanding of this issue, but lately I’ve been feeling a little lonely about taking the hard stance that the US should allow immigration without all the red tape and start talking about helping the Mexican economy so the low pay scale of Mexican labor doesn’t force so many Mexicans to want to leave their homes out of desperation. The good ole USA might be great for us here, but home is home no matter where you started. That’s why they come here—not out of greed or to make mayhem—foreigners leave their homes and families to come to our country to try to make a better life for themselves and their families. Now that’s a cause worth fighting for!
Today I feel less lonely. One erudite, articulate voice, who always speaks rationally and reasonably, Tim Rutten of the Los Angeles Times, writes a clear piece about the sloppiness and irresponsible presence of one Lou Dobbs on CNN:

Ever since Fox News took over the top spot in the cable news ratings, CNN has thrashed from one failed strategy to another. At the moment, the network's reporters and anchors bleed all over every story they touch.

Does anybody really care how they feel about doing their job? Apparently not, if the ratings are to be believed. The most recent numbers show that even the hapless MSNBC's Keith Olbermann has eclipsed CNN in his time slot among the most desired viewer demographic.

The network's one modest success story is Lou Dobbs. His shtick is to take a page from Fox's playbook and retool the talk-radio sensibility for the tube. No real reporting, just lots of opinion aggressively presented with a recurring focus on the requisite obsession — in his case, illegal immigration and, to a lesser extent, what the correspondents on his nightly program have taken to calling "so-called free trade." Night after night, he rages against illegal immigrants and "unconscionable acts," like the Senate's Kennedy-McCain bill. How far does he go? Well, in a report from the Cancun summit Thursday, viewers were told that illegal immigrants were bringing leprosy into the United States.

"Fair and balanced" already is taken, so one supposes that Dobbs' slogan will have to be "bully and bluster."-- Lou Dobbs: Bile across the border, By Tim Rutten Los Angeles Times 4/1/06

While Rutten’s criticism is more about CNN allowing Dobbs the platform, and Dobbs misusing and abusing his position on a news network to extrapolate his personal bias, Rutten still gets to the meat of the immigration issue and those who are the bigots, by using the appropriate quotes:

As for Dobbs' distaste for any display of ethnic origin — it is, at least, consistent. In a recent televised exchange with Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza, he explained how offensive he found it when demonstrators displayed Mexican flags:

"I don't think that we should have any flag flying in this country except the flag of the United States. And let me tell you something else, since we're talking about double standards ... I don't think there should be a St. Patrick's Day. I don't care who you are. I think we ought to be celebrating what is common about this country, what we enjoy as similarities as people."-- Lou Dobbs: Bile across the border, by Tim Rutten Los Angeles Times 4/1/06

Meanwhile, back at the border, there is a lingering smoldering sludgy smell about to envelop this nation. It is the creeping stench of ethnic hatred, and the mistrust, anti-humane vitriol, and physical violence that human prejudice and fear engender. This bigotry is as old as human history, and the greater wisdom of our higher selves to overcome it, like the relentless ocean tide, can come none too soon.

In another outburst of brilliance from a Los Angeles Times regular, Dana Parsons, comes the cry for an end to this spat, despite the depth of the animosity on both sides of the issue:

Out of that mishmash of statistics, you could make the case that immigrants don't hurt the job market and are assimilating into the culture. Yes, they're a drag on social services, but that lessens as they move up the economic ladder.But those findings don't soothe all the frayed nerve endings that are part of the overall immigration debate, such as the "lawbreaking" that defines it and the sense that the "cultural identity" of the country is changing…

… Demographer Mark Baldassare, a former Orange County resident and now research director of the Public Policy Institute of California in San Francisco, thinks the issue has reached a critical mass. "It seems to me like all sides are at the point where denial doesn't work anymore," he says, noting that in the last five years, he's picked up a sense of the pervasive nature of the immigration debate in the country.In a functioning society, that would demand a solution. I ask Baldassare if he's confident it is coming. "It depends on how much presidential politics gets in the way," he says. "But I think there's a reasonable chance something will happen this time around."
-- It's Time to Settle This Immigration Issue, Once and for All Dana Parsons, Los Angeles Times, 3/31/06

Human nature says there is no solution, and that yes, “something will happen this time around.” Hope it ain’t something awful.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments signed Anonymous will not be published.