Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Thanks to those who've e-mailed or left comments with recommendations for my upcoming "vacation". I'm all set and particularly a-quiver about seeing Wanda Jackson.
Xenophobia is fun. Every culture since the beginning of time has practiced it's fear of the "other" in some form or another, from rock throwing and mudslinging to the horror of genocide. In this, the United States of America is hardly alone, but it is our arrogance and hubris that pinpoints us. While pretending to the throne of The Great Society, we collectively forget history but for the deeds of Great White (apparently) Men, never-you-minding the backs broken on the wheel of labor and the stew, the olio, of culture that forged an impressive stamp on the malleable foil that we call a Country. We are moving from a land of color to a land of Black and White, a photo negative resounding in merely good and bad, all things reduced to it's basest reaction. I've never trusted anyone who says they see no color. It's important to see color, to acknowledge the difference inherent. I don't mean in terms of race and skin tone (though those always seem to play a part), but in the intricacy of interaction, and the values we place on ideal.
I watched the leader of the free world (ahem) tonite, practicing his own brand of fear and loathing on national tv. Many in this country agree with the idea we need to tighten our borders, spy on our citizens (Hi Mr. Cheney!), create a singular language, and eradicate any and all who make us fearful, for whatever reason we wish to create. We're addicted to spin, but not so much substance.
My father was from a coal mining family. Union workers all. My mother came from Quaker stock, and her family were farmers. Both had grandparents who could claim to be from somewhere else. Another time, another country. If they were alive, I wonder what rift would exist between them in regards to immigration, two forces of labor who might be diametrically opposed to the issues facing us in this present hour.
But I was raised on equal sides to believe the measure of a man and woman was taken in their labor, their work. I was also raised in equal part to believe that that measure was leavened by their compassion and humanity. Not very trendy sentiments this day and age.
I believe in the absolute dignity of all humans. I think everyone wants to provide food for their family's table, and a roof over their head. And when you take that away, when you take a man or woman's dignity away, you are poisoning the well we all have to drink from.
I honestly don't know what the answer to the immigration "problem" is. Both sides are very passionate about issues of rights and legality. It's tricky, and I wish we could all tread more lightly, more thoughtfully, less reactionary . The proposed solution seems to have some economically questionable roots, but I am no economist, so I really couldn't speak to that, and it's problematic when we start referring to human beings in terms of numbers and indicators. At its best, though, if we insist on approaching the issue in terms of black and white, the issue smacks of xenophobia. At it's worst it reeks of racism. Now, I'm being reactionary. I have an obvious political bias myself. Which takes us right back to the beginning, and here we go round again.
Some believe that the land belongs to all, and that it is not only impossible, but immoral, to claim possession of that which was given as a gift to all by some deity or spirit or somesuch. But we like our possessions. We like to own stuff, and we like the manufactured security it give us. And we will shoot anyone who tries to take it away, or make us share. Hell, we've already started shooting. A long time ago. And it's going to get worse. We're so very afraid.
What am I trying to say? I don't know. All this rhetoric seems sinister though, and I can't help but suspect the sentiment runs deeper in its implications than merely protecting jobs nobody wants to do, and protecting a language the President can't even speak. The long festering culture war has escalated, and may the whitest man win.
Woody Guthrie: This Land is Your Land (mp3)
Billy Bragg: Waiting For the Great Leap Forward (mp3)
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