America Has Met the Enabler, and He is Us

America Has Met the Enabler, and He is Us
–by Mary Sanchez

To see this story in its original form, go here.

President Barack Obama is carefully creating the illusion that he’s serious about immigration reform. In a major speech in El Paso, Texas, this month, he pitched the idea that reform will strengthen the middle class by undercutting an underground economy of cheap labor, and will make the U.S. more competitive globally.

But what can Obama do to advance this reform? Some would say not much, given a Republican-controlled House of Representatives. He could be presidential, beginning with setting new policy priorities. He could halt further hefty contracts with the prison-building industry to erect more detention facilities. He could ensure that true criminals — violent offenders — will be deported, not the immigrant caught rolling through a stop sign or the hundreds of young people enrolled in college, the so-called Dream Act students.

Is Obama just covering himself? Making all the necessary talking points about “putting politics aside” and lamenting the pain of people “just trying to get by” so he can later claim, “I tried?”

If so, I don’t entirely fault him for it. Truth is, the Hispanic Congressional Caucus has been chewing Obama’s backside for months, reminding him that as a presidential candidate he promised a pathway to legal status and full U.S. citizenship for those among the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants who can prove themselves worthy.

But caucus members are saving face, too. Later, they can say to their constituents, “We tried.” As anyone paying attention to politics knows, the illegal-immigrant issue has been demagogued to the point of caricature. If you’re an elected official and you say anything the least pragmatic about the issue — much less show any compassion — your words can and will be used against you in the next election. Especially in a primary if you’re a moderate Republican.

One promising sign is that the administration has begun calling conservatives’ bluffs on the “border must be secured before reforms make sense” fallacy. In El Paso, Obama said his administration increased the number of border agents to the highest ever, deported the most undocumented immigrants ever, worked closely with Mexico on drug violence and screened 100 percent of rail shipments entering Mexico for guns and money.

And yet, he predicted, Republicans will probably “move the goalposts.” “Maybe they’ll say we need a moat,” he quipped. “Or alligators in the moat.” Yet we’ll know the day this administration or any in the future is serious about immigration reform when it unequivocally speaks the truth: Powerful interests in this country demand low-wage labor to do jobs Americans won’t submit to. Those interests include agribusiness and meat processors and the like, but they also include U.S. consumers — you and me. Yes, “those people” who have crossed our borders illegally are helping keep our cost of living low. You don’t need to employ an illegal landscaper or nanny to reap the benefits.

If we as a nation want to keep those costs low and also want to see our laws respected, we need comprehensive immigration reform. That means new policies to allow legal entry to guest workers, and a path to citizenship for many qualified illegal immigrants already here.

Instead, we have a bureaucracy, massively backlogged, meeting neither humanitarian needs of immigrants nor our own economic and security needs for low- or highly skilled labor. Americans also need to understand that we cannot deport our way out of this mess. The Center for American Progress estimated that the costs of a mass deportation would be $206 billion over five years, and possibly as high as $230 billion. That’s not going to happen, on fiscal grounds alone.

In El Paso, Obama’s prepared remarks included this, intended as a slight to Republicans: “When an issue is this complex and raises such strong feelings, it’s easier for politicians to defer the problem until after the next election.” Yes, and it would be very easy for Obama to keep tossing rhetorical platitudes in both directions with talk of “a nation of laws” and “that first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty.” Or he can set aside the flourishes and lead firmly, changing the policies and priorities within his administration.

To reach Mary Sanchez, call 816-234-4752 or send email to msanchez@kcstar.com.

Mexico: The House the US has Set on Fire

This article has been published on OpEd News.   If you like it, rate it and share it.  You can see it here.

Mexico: The House the US has Set on Fire

By Lara Gardner

opednews.com

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.

Imagine if the Tea Party was Black, by Tim Wise

Dear Mr. Tim Wise, You are a genius.  You are so dead-on correct, I had to repost this for anyone who stumbles across what I write here.  Readers if you find me, please read this, then pass it on.

The link to this story can be found here.

“Imagine if the Tea Party Was Black” — Tim Wise

Let’s play a game, shall we? The name of the game is called “Imagine.” The way it’s played is simple: we’ll envision recent happenings in the news, but then change them up a bit. Instead of envisioning white people as the main actors in the scenes we’ll conjure – the ones who are driving the action – we’ll envision black folks or other people of color instead. The object of the game is to imagine the public reaction to the events or incidents, if the main actors were of color, rather than white. Whoever gains the most insight into the workings of race in America, at the end of the game, wins.

So let’s begin.

Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters —the black protesters — spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were enforced by the government? Would these protester — these black protesters with guns — be seen as brave defenders of the Second Amendment, or would they be viewed by most whites as a danger to the republic? What if they were Arab-Americans? Because, after all, that’s what happened recently when white gun enthusiasts descended upon the nation’s capital, arms in hand, and verbally announced their readiness to make war on the country’s political leaders if the need arose.

Imagine that white members of Congress, while walking to work, were surrounded by thousands of angry black people, one of whom proceeded to spit on one of those congressmen for not voting the way the black demonstrators desired. Would the protesters be seen as merely patriotic Americans voicing their opinions, or as an angry, potentially violent, and even insurrectionary mob? After all, this is what white Tea Party protesters did recently in Washington.

Imagine that a rap artist were to say, in reference to a white president: “He’s a piece of shit and I told him to suck on my machine gun.” Because that’s what rocker Ted Nugent said recently about President Obama.

Imagine that a prominent mainstream black political commentator had long employed an overt bigot as Executive Director of his organization, and that this bigot regularly participated in black separatist conferences, and once assaulted a white person while calling them by a racial slur. When that prominent black commentator and his sister — who also works for the organization — defended the bigot as a good guy who was misunderstood and “going through a tough time in his life” would anyone accept their excuse-making? Would that commentator still have a place on a mainstream network? Because that’s what happened in the real world, when Pat Buchanan employed as Executive Director of his group, America’s Cause, a blatant racist who did all these things, or at least their white equivalents: attending white separatist conferences and attacking a black woman while calling her the n-word.

Imagine that a black radio host were to suggest that the only way to get promoted in the administration of a white president is by “hating black people,” or that a prominent white person had only endorsed a white presidential candidate as an act of racial bonding, or blamed a white president for a fight on a school bus in which a black kid was jumped by two white kids, or said that he wouldn’t want to kill all conservatives, but rather, would like to leave just enough—“living fossils” as he called them—“so we will never forget what these people stood for.” After all, these are things that Rush Limbaugh has said, about Barack Obama’s administration, Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama, a fight on a school bus in Belleville, Illinois in which two black kids beat up a white kid, and about liberals, generally.

Imagine that a black pastor, formerly a member of the U.S. military, were to declare, as part of his opposition to a white president’s policies, that he was ready to “suit up, get my gun, go to Washington, and do what they trained me to do.” This is, after all, what Pastor Stan Craig said recently at a Tea Party rally in Greenville, South Carolina.

Imagine a black radio talk show host gleefully predicting a revolution by people of color if the government continues to be dominated by the rich white men who have been “destroying” the country, or if said radio personality were to call Christians or Jews non-humans, or say that when it came to conservatives, the best solution would be to “hang ‘em high.” And what would happen to any congressional representative who praised that commentator for “speaking common sense” and likened his hate talk to “American values?” After all, those are among the things said by radio host and best-selling author Michael Savage, predicting white revolution in the face of multiculturalism, or said by Savage about Muslims and liberals, respectively. And it was Congressman Culbertson, from Texas, who praised Savage in that way, despite his hateful rhetoric.

Imagine a black political commentator suggesting that the only thing the guy who flew his plane into the Austin, Texas IRS building did wrong was not blowing up Fox News instead. This is, after all, what Anne Coulter said about Tim McVeigh, when she noted that his only mistake was not blowing up the New York Times.

Imagine that a popular black liberal website posted comments about the daughter of a white president, calling her “typical redneck trash,” or a “whore” whose mother entertains her by “making monkey sounds.” After all that’s comparable to what conservatives posted about Malia Obama on freerepublic.com last year, when they referred to her as “ghetto trash.”

Imagine that black protesters at a large political rally were walking around with signs calling for the lynching of their congressional enemies. Because that’s what white conservatives did last year, in reference to Democratic party leaders in Congress.

In other words, imagine that even one-third of the anger and vitriol currently being hurled at President Obama, by folks who are almost exclusively white, were being aimed, instead, at a white president, by people of color. How many whites viewing the anger, the hatred, the contempt for that white president would then wax eloquent about free speech, and the glories of democracy? And how many would be calling for further crackdowns on thuggish behavior, and investigations into the radical agendas of those same people of color?

To ask any of these questions is to answer them. Protest is only seen as fundamentally American when those who have long had the luxury of seeing themselves as prototypically American engage in it. When the dangerous and dark “other” does so, however, it isn’t viewed as normal or natural, let alone patriotic. Which is why Rush Limbaugh could say, this past week, that the Tea Parties are the first time since the Civil War that ordinary, common Americans stood up for their rights: a statement that erases the normalcy and “American-ness” of blacks in the civil rights struggle, not to mention women in the fight for suffrage and equality, working people in the fight for better working conditions, and LGBT folks as they struggle to be treated as full and equal human beings.

And this, my friends, is what white privilege is all about. The ability to threaten others, to engage in violent and incendiary rhetoric without consequence, to be viewed as patriotic and normal no matter what you do, and never to be feared and despised as people of color would be, if they tried to get away with half the shit we do, on a daily basis.

Game Over.

Tim Wise is among the most prominent anti-racist writers and activists in the U.S. Wise has spoken in 48 states, on over 400 college campuses, and to community groups around the nation. Wise has provided anti-racism training to teachers nationwide, and has trained physicians and medical industry professionals on how to combat racial inequities in health care. His latest book is called Between Barack and a Hard Place.

Racism is Alive and Well in America

The following article is taken from The New York Times and can be located here.

Think Again
by Stanley Fish

Henry Louis Gates: Déjà Vu All Over Again

I’m Skip Gates’s friend, too. That’s probably the only thing I share with President Obama, so when he ended his press conference last Wednesday by answering a question about Gates’s arrest after he was seen trying to get into his own house, my ears perked up.

As the story unfolded in the press and on the Internet, I flashed back 20 years or so to the time when Gates arrived in Durham, N.C., to take up the position I had offered him in my capacity as chairman of the English department of Duke University. One of the first things Gates did was buy the grandest house in town (owned previously by a movie director) and renovate it. During the renovation workers would often take Gates for a servant and ask to be pointed to the house’s owner. The drivers of delivery trucks made the same mistake.

The message was unmistakable: What was a black man doing living in a place like this?

At the university (which in a past not distant at all did not admit African-Americans ), Gates’s reception was in some ways no different. Doubts were expressed in letters written by senior professors about his scholarly credentials, which were vastly superior to those of his detractors. (He was already a recipient of a MacArthur fellowship, the so called “genius award.”) There were wild speculations (again in print) about his salary, which in fact was quite respectable but not inordinate; when a list of the highest-paid members of the Duke faculty was published, he was nowhere on it.

The Associated Press Henry Louis Gates, Jr., during a book signing in 2006.

The unkindest cut of all was delivered by some members of the black faculty who had made their peace with Duke traditions and did not want an over-visible newcomer and upstart to trouble waters that had long been still. (The great historian John Hope Franklin was an exception.) When an offer came from Harvard, there wasn’t much I could do. Gates accepted it, and when he left he was pursued by false reports about his tenure at what he had come to call “the plantation.” (I became aware of his feelings when he and I and his father watched the N.C.A.A. championship game between Duke and U.N.L.V. at my house; they were rooting for U.N.L.V.)

Now, in 2009, it’s a version of the same story. Gates is once again regarded with suspicion because, as the cultural critic Michael Eric Dyson put it in an interview, he has committed the crime of being H.W.B., Housed While Black.

He isn’t the only one thought to be guilty of that crime. TV commentators, laboring to explain the unusual candor and vigor of Obama’s initial comments on the Gates incident, speculated that he had probably been the victim of racial profiling himself. Speculation was unnecessary, for they didn’t have to look any further than the story they were reporting in another segment, the story of the “birthers” — the “wing-nuts,” in Chris Matthews’s phrase — who insist that Obama was born in Kenya and cite as “proof” his failure to come up with an authenticated birth certificate. For several nights running, Matthews displayed a copy of the birth certificate and asked, What do you guys want? How can you keep saying these things in the face of all evidence?

He missed the point. No evidence would be sufficient, just as no evidence would have convinced some of my Duke colleagues that Gates was anything but a charlatan and a fraud. It isn’t the legitimacy of Obama’s birth certificate that’s the problem for the birthers. The problem is again the legitimacy of a black man living in a big house, especially when it’s the White House. Just as some in Durham and Cambridge couldn’t believe that Gates belonged in the neighborhood, so does a vocal minority find it hard to believe that an African-American could possibly be the real president of the United States.

Gates and Obama are not only friends; they are in the same position, suspected of occupying a majestic residence under false pretenses. And Obama is a double offender. Not only is he guilty of being Housed While Black; he is the first in American history guilty of being P.W.B., President While Black.

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Regardless of your politics, having a black man running for president has been good for one thing:  it has sussed out all the secret racism that has been seething under the surface in this country for years.  People who felt unable to express their nasty views publicly seem galvanized by the knowledge there are others just like them and are now willing to put their racism out there on display.  Terrorist attacks too have brought the issue to the fore, letting racists vent their hatred against people from the middle east all in the name of supposed fear of terrorism.

Obvious loathing for Mexicans isn’t even a secret.  Public officials and citizens claim to want immigration reform to “protect American workers.”  They tout limited Spanish instruction in southwestern schools and propose English-only referendums sold under the patronizing aegis of wanting to help Mexican children assimilate into American culture.  It’s all just racism.

I have often suggested it has not been publicly okay to be racist against blacks, but a person can get away with being racist towards Mexicans and Arabs.  Hating blacks is moving back out of the closet.  Perhaps the acknowledgment that it is going on will help kill it once and for all, although I don’t expect this to happen overnight.

Racism is the epitome of ignorance.  It is the Parable of the Cave come to life.  It is the philosophy of The Other.  It brings some sort of pitiful security to the hater who feels some protection in perceived superiority, unwilling to admit base and immoral fears.  I personally cannot fathom why someone’s skin color should scare someone enough to hate them, but it happens.  It happens all the time.

Racism is confusing.  There are members of my family who are blatantly racist. My mother was the oldest of seven children.  When my mom was six, my grandmother divorced my biological grandfather.  With three children in tow, she married a Navy man and had four more children.  When the youngest child was 8, my grandmother developed cancer.  Over the next four years, she lived and died a harrowing death, her body completely eaten by the disease.

By the time my grandmother died, my mom had moved out, married my father, and had two little girls.  The rest of the children were in various phases of growing up.  My mom’s step-father was the man I called Grampa.  He was the generous person we visited on every holiday.  When my biological father physically abused my mother, my Grampa helped her out, offering financial and emotional assistance.  He did not date or remarry until his youngest child was in her early twenties and married.  He was a Navy man who fought in World War II.  He was a good man who worked hard and took amazing care of his family.  And he was a racist.  He is still a racist.

I know others with similar family members, the grandparents who give them everything yet hate black people, the step-father who was kind, but rails against Mexicans in restaurants.  It is such a complex problem.  Interestingly, in all of the cases I know of good people with loving family members who happen to be racists, none of us are willing to do much about it except to sit silently, thinking these people are old and will never change, that they have good in them too.  Perhaps in our complicity we are perpetuating the problem.  I don’t know.  It is truly a conundrum.

Lowering the Glass Ceiling

See this piece on Huffington Post:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lara-m-gardner/lowering-the-glass-ceilin_b_128346.html

I would like to take you on a journey of the imagination…

Imagine that Sarah Palin is not a woman, but a man.  We’ll call him Mr. Palin.  Mr. Palin has been mayor of a small town in Alaska, and governor of that state for less than two years, a state whose entire population is less than that of most US major metropolitan areas and in this position.  In this position, Mr. Palin is being investigated for questionable conduct.  Imagine that he obtained his passport within the last couple of years, and that he considers foreign policy experience living next door to another country.  Take it further and imagine he believes the earth was created in a few thousand years, that dinosaurs roamed the earth with humans, and that creationism should be taught in public schools.  Suppose also that this man believes women should not have the right to choose, and that rape victims should pay for their own rape kits.  Imagine Mr. Palin hunted moose from a helicopter and sought removal of environmental protections for polar bears. Imagine he has no knowledge of financial markets, the cold war, weapons systems, or Middle Eastern history.  Imagine all of this and more.

If this were true, and Sarah Palin were a man, would he have even been on the longest list of potential US vice-presidential candidates for any political party?  It would be unthinkable.

Why are the standards for this woman running for vice-president so much lower than they would be for a man?  Shouldn’t the standards be the same?  To determine whether someone did not get a job because of something other than merit, simply slip whatever that person is not into the position in your mind and ask yourself whether the same standards would apply.  If there are disparities in the standards required between two people seeking the same position, it is quite likely that discrimination is occurring in some form, even if it is allowing someone to be worse at something in an effort to pretend there is no -ism taking place.

Here, we have a woman running for vice-president who is grossly underqualified.  Those who support her claim that her position as a vice-presidential candidate is evidence of women shattering the glass ceiling.  Actually, the opposite is true.  Allowing her to take a position for which she is not qualified and giving her extra points for being a woman is the ultimate in sexism:  it is using gender as a qualifier rather than merit.  Beyond the obvious arguments against her abilities, her position as a vice-presidential candidate assumes on some level that a qualified woman could not perform the job.  Sarah Palin’s place on the Republican ticket does not shatter the glass ceiling, it lowers it.

Inconsequential Blabbing

Well I managed to move out of the house I owned and rebuilt over the course of four and a half years.  You know, the first time I received an offer, tears formed in my eyes, but I knew it had to be done and moved forward.  Then that sale fell through, then the second sale fell through, and by the time of the third sale, I was so sick of the entire process, I never thought I’d be rid of the place.  During the sale that actually went through, there were numerous requests and addendums and all kinds of annoying crap that went on.  In addition, I had rented an apartment and begun moving stuff there I wanted to keep.  I needed to organize the stuff I did not want to keep in order to have a sale and get rid of it all.  During that week, I got to the point where I was so sick of it all, I didn’t care anymore.  I just wanted the process to be over.  When I finally visited the house for the last time to pick up my dogs and run a vacuum through the place, I felt nothing really except relief.  On the day the sale closed, I went over to meet the buyers and show them some stuff about the place.  I walked through showing them all the details, seeing this house I had lived in and loved, and felt no remorse or sadness of any sort.  I guess it was time to move on.  I made the house beautiful.  I am glad someone else will enjoy something to which I contributed.

I do not like the fourth of July.  I do not like fireworks. I do not like crowds of people, even if they are gathered together to listen to somewhat decent music.  We went down to the blues festival on the waterfront yesterday.  We walked back and forth through the incredibly dense crowds (so dense the fire marshall closed the place and only 10 people could enter for every 20 who left).  At one point we were at one end of the park and headed down to one of the stages.  As we walked, I noticed all the people sitting on their blankets facing the water.  There was a stage to their left and a stage to their right.  I wondered to myself why they were facing the water and surmised that perhaps it was to listen to both stages.  Then it dawned on me, genius that I am, that the people were there and facing the water to watch the pretty fires in the sky at dark.  Thousands of people were all mashed into that small space, smelling and rolling and milling about so they could spend a half an hour watching noisy fires in the sky.  My goodness.

I bought a Macbook.  I am typing on it now.  I am in love with it.  I like my desktop computer all right.  It serves its purpose.  But this thing is cool. It has so many features and runs so smoothly.  I am loving the steps that are left out.  On a pc, there are so many extra steps to arriving anywhere compared to this.  I also got an ipod.  I had one last year, but had to give it back to the ex-boyfriend who gave it to me.  Lucky Lara, welcome to the twenty-first century.

So now I have a little extra money, but I need for it to last.  I had a mini panic attack this morning considering all the things I am going to need to spend money on in the next few weeks.  I do not want the money to all end up gone.  The weird thing is, the more I have, the less inclined I am to want to spend it.  But I can be remarkably frugal (Macbook and Ipod notwithstanding).  I just have to pay attention.

This is a boring post.  I realized I had not been writing enough.  I have been staying up too late, and when I’m not working or doing things, I’ve been lying on my bed like a blob trying to catch up on sleep.  I recognize, however, that I have to write something, even if it’s boring, preferably every day.  It’s that old showing up I’ve committed to myself to do.  Since I’ve written less in the last two weeks then I’ve written in the last six months, I’ve got to recommit or I’ll end up out of the habit and I can’t do that.  So here I am, showing up and writing boring stuff.  Wheee!

I discovered Nina Simone.  I am in love.  Her voice gets under my skin, in my belly, fills me. I can’t explain it.  I hear her singing and I never want to turn it off.  Apparently she was a classically trained pianist who was not allowed to perform because she was black.  They let her sing instead.  Maybe it’s something behind that story I hear in her voice. Maybe it’s the grief of an entire race.  When she sings certain songs I feel something deep inside, a visceral response in my belly and chest.  There are a few other artists when theys sing that take me to that place.  When I hear music like this I feel like it channels me into that creative energy field, that primal place where I have to write and feel like I will expire if I don’t.  Weird.  I don’t think I’m explaining it well. I’m obviously not tapping into that place right now because I can’t seem to describe this.  Anyway, she’s brilliant.

Wow

That’s about all I can say.  Wow.  Today I was listening to Talk of the Nation on NPR.  They were talking about the primaries, Edwards dropping out, how it’s all shaking down.  Anyway, this guy called in and identified himself as a “White, male Southern Democrat.”  He voted for Hillary in the primary, even though it won’t count.  He then informed Ira that even though he’s a Democrat (supposedly), he’d vote for McCain over Obama because Obama is black.  He said he has “Lots of friends who feel the same way.”

For Christ’s sake, people, are you fucking serious?  You have to be kidding.  What is it with people?  Their thinking (if you can call it that) makes no sense.  They claim ideologically to believe in the Democratic party, but wouldn’t want a black man for president because of the color of his skin?  How does that affect his ability to do his job?  Is this caller afraid that Obama won’t get respect as president because he is black?  He couldn’t articulate a reason, other than he’s black.  He’d rather have a woman than a black man.

Man, I hope one or the other of them wins, just so it isn’t a damn white man.  I want something other than what has been to challenge these people out there who CARE about this stuff.  The only difference it makes is in their reaction to it!  If there were no reaction, if there were no “other” in the color or the gender, then the job would be what is important.  Instead, in their racism and misogyny they create issues that don’t actually exist.

Gads.  I sometimes wonder if there will ever be change.

The Great Debaters

I saw The Great Debaters last night.  I spent a good deal of the film feeling even more fired up that we need to continue to fight racism in this country, only lately the racism is more obviously against middle easterners and Mexicans.  It is as if racism against these groups is acceptable, as racism against blacks was not so long ago.

I feel so strongly that as a white person, the thing I can do to fight racism is to call it when I see it.  Racism is racism is racism.  I will not accept racist emails in my inbox clothed in the mask of righteous indignation about how our tax dollars or spent or sent as some deceitful public service message claiming to be about “protecting” me from terrorism when it is really bigotry, and not even much disguised bigotry.

I get SO angry that this continues.  As I watched The Great Debaters last night, I got even more fired up about the email I had received on Christmas day.  I came home and felt that fire and wanted to DO something and wondered, what can I do?  I can write.  I lay in bed unable to sleep with the desire to write something, anything more than just an angry response to a bunch of bigots.  As I did this, I conceived a novel.  I have all of the characters.  I have the location.  I have the basic premise of the story.  And I am going to write it and hope that ONE person reads it and THINKS and gets as fired up against racism as I did when I received that racist bullshit bird poop email and as I watched The Great Debaters.

It is time for those who hate racism in this country to stand up against the racism that is allowable now, racism against middle easterners and Mexicans.  It is time to say that racism against these people is NOT okay.  Ever.

How Comfortable Would I Be With My Words?

On Christmas morning I received an email from a friend that I am sure she did not write, but passed on because for some reason she agreed with the sentiments behind its words. The email was undisguisedly racist and sounded like something Bill O’Reilly or one of the other hate radio mongers would write. I, being the sort who has no compunction about speaking up at emails like that one, wrote my own diatribe against it. I was pretty angry when I wrote it, and the force of my anger is behind the words.

This morning another friend who commented on my comments said when he writes something when he’s angry, before sending it he asks himself if he would mind his words if he read them a year later. That’s probably a good policy, especially for someone like me who can be a bit, mmmm, unrelenting when on the offensive.

So for the email I responded to yesterday, if I ask myself how would I feel about my words if I read them a year from now? Just the same. And I would probably get just as mad.

Racism is Racism is Racism is Racism

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