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Political Talk Show Host and Internet Radio Personality. My show, In My Humble Opinion, aired on RainbowRadio from 2015-2017.
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Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Life in an Arizona, and Mexican, border-town
Now… it should go without say for any of my regular readers that I am completely opposed to this new law. It’s beyond racist – it’s downright fascist. It’s the kind of thing the Nazi’s did to root out suspected Jews and that we did in our country, prior to the civil war, to Blacks and Freedmen and escaped slaves living in the North, who, lacking the proper paperwork, faced deportation and enslavement to the south. There is such a long, dark and despicable history of this kind of nonsense that I fail to see how “Show me your papers” can be remotely acceptable to ANY American.
Or, as the Mexican-American driver who picked us up and drove us to the plant said, “You can be pulled over now for driving with a sun-tan.”
I was a bit surprised that there was not MORE venom, to be honest, but perhaps he figured he should keep things polite in mixed company. That and this particular gentleman is also one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met, so maybe that's just not his way. Seriously, it’s like taking a ride with Cheech Marin. He even looks and sounds a bit like him. But I digress.
The other thing that surprised me at first was that I saw no support, at all, from ANYONE, regarding this law. And you’d think in a border town, you’d have a considerable amount of support. I mean… if there’s a THREAT, it’s going to hit them first, right? But I as talked to more people, I found over and over that the people in border towns have a unique perspective on the issue: To them, the issue of immigration has a HUMAN face to it. They invariably have friends and co-workers on both sides of the border. To them, these people that will now face this unreasonable harassment are their friends and their neighbors and co-workers and in some cases employees. They LIVE with and WORK with and PLAY with these PEOPLE. And thus they see them as PEOPLE. And when you put a human face on a problem, it becomes a lot harder to look another human in the eye and say, “No. I will not help you. I will not protect you. I will not respect your rights, or your humanity.” The only people who can look at someone and say that, who can look as some, living and breathing right in front of them and feel nothing but fear and hatred, are racists.
Now, I’m not suggesting that those living farther from the border, who feel this same fear, and who support the law, are racist. Not at all. If you’ve never MET a Mexican, then there’s no reason to expect your opinion of them to be educated by more than stereotypes, and the imagery that Fox News shows you, with the intention of feeding that fear. The racist is merely the person who, upon meeting someone who doesn’t FIT the stereotype, refuses to let go of it. I’ve met precious few people who have actually gotten to actually know Mexicans, who still buy into the stereotypes afterwards. And those that do? Well, they’re either cops or racists. And I say cops, because police officers are another group that have unique perspective on humanity: They typically only ever see the worst of it. So while I don’t excuse a cop who’s racist, in that case, I can at least understand where it comes from. All the [name your racial subgroup]’s that s/he’s interacts with are usually being arrested and charged with crimes. And while they should recognize this fact, I can’t fault someone as much who’s merely reaching the conclusion that the data they have supports. Although… as my relatively racially insensitive cousin would attest to, even after going on a fairly racist tirade about all the various immigrant groups he’s had to deal with: There’s no trash like white trash. Even in his Right-Wing eyes, they’re STIILL the worst. He still dreads the trailer-park call more than any other. I find that oddly and ironically amusing. But I digress.
As for the stereotype? Let me tell you something about Mexicans: These people work hard. They work like dogs and get paid SHIT. And I’ve met no shortage of Mexican managers and engineers that are smart as whips, and work harder than I even try to. I consider myself to be fairly intelligent (if you’d gathered that yet) but I’ve stood awestruck at some of the things these guys have come up with, and the production lines they’ve designed and built. No way I could ever do that. No way in hell. And I’m an engineer! And the line operators? Oh my god, break neck speed, with many, many steps in each operation, and yet this plant has won quality awards! So these people should be the poster children for hard work and ingenuity, and instead they’re described as lazy and stupid. And do you know what they’re paid for this, including the cost of benefits? $65 dollars a WEEK. For a 40-hour shift! Now, I do realize that $65 dollars goes a little farther in Mexico than it does here, but still! For $65 a week, you’d be lucky to get me to even show up! Let alone give a shit about the job, or do it well! And the ones that DO come here? Those hardened criminals, who’s only crime is walking across an arbitrary line in the sand as the sought a better life for themselves and their family? These people work the SHITTIEST jobs available, again get paid SHIT, and in this country get NO benefits for doing so. These people work hard in a way that puts most Americans to shame.
I thought we were a country that valued hard work? I thought we were a country that valued entreprenuerial spirit? That valued that drive to excel, to build a better life for yourself and your family? That celebrated a person who, like my father and so many of our parents, the first in their family to go to college? Well… apparently only if your brown skin really did come from the sun, and wasn’t something you were born with.
Well, these people are my colleagues and co-workers and many have become my friends. And I’ve had a human face put on that stereotype and on the "problem" of immigration, and I can no longer abide the racial sentiments of those who have experienced no more of the Mexican culture than what Taco Bell has to offer. I CARE about these people, because I KNOW these people. And I won’t stand by while their hard work and talent and ingenuity are slandered.
As far as I’m concerned, Governor Jan Brewer and Senator John McCain are unfit to serve the public, for giving into to this fear and xenophobia.
I plan to do a separate post on stereotypes before doing one on immigration.