Our local paper keeps featuring opinions that seem in tune with the hate that permeates the discussion around illegal aliens.
First of all, yesterday, Rep. Hoekstra had a guest article, “Leave No Felon Behind.” (Note: The dang Sentinel requires registration in order to access their lame online edition. Once again when I wrote and protested, I received an angry response from their webmaster explaining to me how great an online registration was. Sheesh.)
Then today, local resident Alan Helvig writes “No Citizenship for Illegals.” His web site also has his article.
Hoekstra says, “Democrats in Congress and President Bush want to reward law-breaking, illegal aliens with amnesty.”
Helvig asks, “Well, Mr. President, exactly which clause of the Constitution are you preserving, protecting and defending by offering citizenship to illegal aliens?”
I am reminded of the careful but explicit public expressions of anti-semitism during WWII by politicians. Father Coughlin’s rabid radio sermons from the Shrine of the Little Flower preached hate then just like talk radio does now.
Coughlin and his followers even were thinking along the lines of Hoekstra and Helvig
“On December 18, 1938 two thousand of Coughlin’s followers marched in New York protesting potential asylum law changes that would allow more Jews (including refugees from Hitler’s oppression) into the US, chanting, “Send Jews back where they came from in leaky boats!” and “Wait until Hitler comes over here!” from Wiki article.
This is how Hoekstra puts it in his article: “It is impractical to immediately deport the estimated 11 million to 12 million illegal aliens in the country, but there are measures that can be pursued that would help resolve the problem and recognize the rule of law.” Gentler but still he wants “these people” out of here.
Helvig writes: “In order to establish justice, we must enforce all existing immigration laws. To insure domestic tranquility, we must stop illegal immigration and control the flow of all immigrants. To provide for the common defense, we must secure our borders and strengthen our border patrol. To promote the general welfare, we must require proof of legal residency for all public services, including emergency health care and especially public education.”
Just as the language in Orwell’s 1984 gradually weakens and becomes more the servant of the state, the language of these two men is firmly entrenched in the current framing and polemic of illegal immigration by people who do not like brown people. It’s that simple.
I am reminded of watching the camp busses arrive at the local Catholic church, a few years ago. It would be obvious who the coyote was. He was the one everyone (including me and the priest) would kowtow to. He was the man in charge. If he said go to Mass, everyone went to Mass. If he said, stay in the fields, everyone stayed in the fields. At least this was the way it seemed to me.
I was just the musician. For several months, the priest was gone. i remember him hiding away in the rectory and then there was no priest in charge. The Migrant Mass was floundering. I started attending even though I could not speak Spanish. It felt like the right thing to do, so I did it.
I remember eventually helping with the music ministry at this Mass. There was a man who played accordion. He and his children met with me one time to prepare materials for the musicians. He was a gentle man and his kids were charming. They spoke Spanish and I spoke English, our common language was music.
Later I heard that this same man had his hand cut off by a machine he had not been sufficiently trained to use. He would never play again.
Meeting people who actually work in blueberry fields is a different experience from listening and reading white people’s talk about the illegal alien problem. The people I met seemed as caught in their system as I am in mine. All of us seem helpless in the face of the people with the power. That would be the coyote, the Congressional representative and the local columnist.
I think the situation the US is in right now regarding illegal aliens is very complex. Our national government is broken and in the hands of business and other lobbiests. This is not exactly a prescription for problem solving.
I am sure that the people who live in the United States (legal or illegal) should be allowed to continue to live here. I think the wall idea is ridiculous. I think that fear and hate have clouded the discussion so much that it is almost impossible to make sense about it.
Something is drastically wrong with us in the United States. The illegal alien discussion (just like the terrorism discussion)Â is a symptom not a cause.
I would suspect the cause has something to do with the dishonesty and incoherence that pervades almost any public discussion. The secrecy in our government is also very destructive.
We are living in a time of emotional not rational thinking. I suspect that it is only rational thinking and discussion between people who differ that will save us from ourselves.