My article Mexico: The House the US Has Set on Fire was published on Huffington Post. You can see it here. If you like it, please pass it on or buzz it up. Thank you.
Mexico is a house the US has set on fire, then covered its doors and windows with bars, allowing the people inside to burn alive. Fueled by easy access to weapons from their neighbors to the north, drug lords have infiltrated all sectors of society, and now Mexico is arguably the most dangerous country in North America and one of the most dangerous in the world. Deregulation, privatization of government services, liberalized trade, and the “war on drugs” have made life and poverty in Mexico so unbearable that Mexican citizens risk their lives to try and escape the burning conflagration and come to the United States. The US created this mess, and, through “border reform,” seeks to keep Mexican citizens from attempting to escape.
Even more so than in the US, the rich have gotten richer on the backs of the Mexican poor. Thanks to corporate America’s demand for low wages, Mexicans confront American sweatshops, pollution, congestion, horrible living conditions, and no resources to deal with the increasing violence. As in the United States, agribusiness has destroyed the family farm. Wal-mart has put thousands of small, local businesses out of business. Free trade was sold as a means to improve the lives of Mexicans and Americans. It has led only to greater exploitation. American jobs were sent to Mexico to take advantage of cheap labor with little or no safety or environmental oversight. The “war on drugs” has made outlaws wealthy and created a dangerous and corrupt police state where no one is safe. Mexicans want to escape–how can we blame them?
Immigration reform is constantly on the US agenda, yet it isn’t really about reform; it is about racism, ignorance, and fear. Americans, suffering from decades of the same economic policies that are leading to greater poverty in Mexico, blame their woes on Mexico’s victims of those policies. The smoke and mirrors illusion that the rising level of poverty in the US is caused by liberal systems, government socialism, and immigrants is part of the same lie that keeps Americans blaming and fighting one another. As long as everyone is fighting each other, the bulk of the population won’t focus on the true causes of economic disparity taking over the planet.
While it is highly unlikely that this approach will happen, Americans need to reach out and support Mexicans and Mexico. Rather than turning immigration reform into a battle at the border, the US must eliminate trade policies that benefit only the wealthy. The US also needs to help Mexico build its infrastructure, providing access to basic services such as clean water and functional sewer systems, decent transportation, and a healthy environment. We must help it form a strong education system so its citizens can achieve their dreams. We need stronger gun regulations of our own so drug dealers on both sides of the border cannot get cheap and easy access to weapons. Finally, we must end the failed “war on drugs” that has made outlaws unimaginably wealthy and forces millions to live in fear for their lives every day.
Unless the US is willing to embrace difficult solutions to a complex problem, there will be no true immigration reform. Killing, jailing, or sending back those who seek refuge here is not any answer. Real reform is formidable and ambitious, but it is also possible. True immigration reform would make the citizens of Mexico want to stay in their homeland rather than escaping to a place where our worst is still the best they can hope for.
So Christmas morning, I got this lovely little story in my inbox from someone I work with. It tells how she hung a bird feeder in her yard and the birds came and set up nests and pooped on everything so she couldn’t enjoy her yard anymore, so she kicked out the birds and got rid of the feeder and now everything is all wonderful again. She then likens the whole thing to undocumented immigrants and how wonderful life would be without them.
Fuck that. And I got this shit on Christmas. I couldn’t believe it. So I wrote this in response:
I read the nice little informative story that is going around to the “good taxpaying American citizens.” What a friendly Christmas reminder how far from anything Christian anyone who believes this shit has become. Do you think Jesus would approve? I highly fucking doubt it. Jesus was like the undocumented worker, his parents searching for a barn in which to give birth. Or how about the story of Good King Wenceslas. Did you ever hear that one? You all probably hum the tune once or twice a Christmas season. I seriously doubt any of you know the words to the song and if you do, you clearly ignore them. You certainly do not know the true story behind the Good King. Good King Wenceslas was a king who took care of the poor. For this, his brother murdered him. How dare he share his riches with those who have less than he? But of course we don’t sing about that part; we sing about the good king who shared his riches with those less fortunate. We wouldn’t want to sing about the brother because he reminds us too much of ourselves.
How many of you, if actually faced with someone who needed something, would turn them away and say, “No. You didn’t fill out the proper paperwork so go starve. And by the way? We aren’t going to give you the medical care you need either. Who cares if your kid is dying of pneumonia because your kid is a little brown Mexican.” That’s what you are arguing for here. I don’t hear any of you screaming about the tax dollars that paid for me on the Oregon Health Plan when I had cancer (but of course, I am white and blonde so it’s okay to spend money on me). Your anger is displaced, and your argument is just plain stupid and wrong. You just want someone to blame because of your own unhappiness and it would be too hard to look in the mirror. You think shipping off some undocumented worker you never see is going to change anything for you? Get a clue-it won’t. Because the problem isn’t with the undocumented worker, but with this entire system. You sit there on your computer sending out your email in your warm house after eating your big, fat Christmas meal. How dare you? What on earth have you to complain about?
If you want to complain about how your tax dollars are spent, why not do something productive like helping to feed and clothe the immigrants who need it? Do this instead of going shopping. Why don’t you lay your hatred at the feet of those who really cost you your tax dollars? Why aren’t you protesting this useless, lying war that costs us billions? Why aren’t you protesting the spending of billions on contractors to go and rape and kill Iraqis (oh but that’s okay too because they are Iraqi and don’t know any better. They’re just going to turn into a bunch of terrorists anyway so we might as well rape and kill their children).
Of course you won’t protest the real problems because it is easier for you to sit and point fingers at the Mexican family whose values are different than yours than it is for you to place the blame at the feet of capitalism or this administration or the Reagan administration, or hell, even the Eisenhower administration, whose actions are all more responsible for the financial state of this country than the minuscule dollars spent on a few undocumented immigrants. It is so much easier to blame them because you see that they live several families in a house and have lots of children and you don’t like that because it is DIFFERENT from you. You see that as somehow disgusting instead of seeing it for what it is: a better situation for people who had NOTHING thanks to their government and ours. But that would require too much thought on your part and thought is not part of the equation, now is it? It is easier to write some hateful fucking diatribe against these people on CHRISTMAS than to actually DO anything about it. Why don’t you admit what it really is that bothers you is that these people are different than you are? Why don’t you admit your racism instead of couching your hatred in some sort of moral outrage at how your tax dollars are spent? Be fucking honest, if nothing else.
I hung out a bird feeder last spring. The birds didn’t come and build nests and sing and poop like your happy little metaphor. Squirrels tore down the bird feeder and ate all the food. I’d say that is a more apropos metaphor for what is really going on.
Merry Fucking Christmas