Friday, May 7, 2010

A Plethora of Ignorance

Ok, I really will try to reduce the one-month gap between posts on here. Literary irregularity is a loathsome thing.
One thing that is great about the internet and the massive amount of television, radio, film, and print media is that so much information can spread so quickly. One unfortunate thing about it all is that a lot of people can spread misinformation just as quickly, and this misinformation becomes fact. You may remember just a few years ago that reporters were telling shocking stories about the behavior of folks in New Orleans after the hurricane, and it turned out that many of those reports were ridiculously exaggerated. (Unfortunately, not all of them were.) (Also, this makes me wonder why the massive flood in Tennessee that has left much of Nashville underwater does not get more coverage. Thirty people are dead because of this flood. I have yet to see the President flying over in a chopper, showing solidarity with his fellow citizens. There hasn't been a major nationwide telethon to raise funds. If slow response to a disaster gives Kanye West the opportunity to claim that President Bush (the guy who had Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice in his cabinet) hates black people, then can we infer that President Obama hates country music?)
But I digress. Lots of people are up in arms over Arizona's new anti-illegal immigration law. Celebrities such as Shakira and Bishop Tutu (are they even citizens here???) have spoken out against it. The Phoenix Suns showed solidarity with Arizona's Mexican nationals by printing "Los Suns" on their jerseys, providing a rare opportunity to seem dumb in both English and Spanish. (Make up your minds...either stay "The Suns" or go all the way to "Los Sols." Lousy bilingualism doesn't do anyone any good.) (Also, more than one commentator has noted that the Suns play in an arena with secure points of entry and they require entrants to present tickets to get inside. Those found inside without proper credentials will be promptly escorted out by security. I should not need to point out the irony of this.)
Anyway, if you have questions about the new law, I recommend that you read this article by one of the people who crafted the law. Every legitimate objection I've heard is addressed, because the writers of the law expected people to challenge it, though I doubt they expected the backlash to be as bad as it has. Thousands were out in the street protesting, vandalizing, throwing things at police, getting arrested. (Contrast this to the controversial Tea Party rallies, where even allegations of rude comments towards Congresspersons have not been substantiated by video or audio evidence.) But the point I want to make is that when even the President criticized the law by claiming that a family going to get ice cream could be harassed, he was wrong. Only someone who is committing another legal violation, i.e. speeding, drug trafficking, kidnapping, and who cannot provide evidence of legal residence in the US can be given a background check for illegal entry, and only then by federal officials. All these people are protesting because a state law reinforces a pre-existing federal law. Also, a whole lot of the people criticizing the statute do not live in Arizona, where the law has broad support in such numbers that many legal immigrants and minorities support it. (I should disclose that though I've never lived in Arizona, I used to live in New Mexico and constantly heard stories about the illegal mind-altering substances that crossed the border. I guess that's why it's called the "Land of Enchantment.")
What really ticks me off is the amount of willful ignorance that is coming into play. I know, many people who oppose the law are concerned about the civil rights of those who are here legally and might be discriminated against because of their appearance or accent. (Check the link above--the law is written to account for such bias!) But it is possible to oppose allowing illegal immigrants to stream across the border without opposing legal immigration. I have known, worshipped with, and worked with people who came here from Thailand, China, Turkey, Mexico, Australia, Kenya, and Canada, among other places. Several of my friends from those nations are now US citizens. (I appreciate them because they chose to have something that I was granted at birth--US citizenship.) One of my best friends during some of my Army training was my roommate, who was originally from Mexico, and I can't imagine having a better friend to get me through some of the tough times. I do not hate immigrants. In fact, I respect immigrants so much that I think that others who want to move here shouldn't disrespect their fellow immigrants by breaking the law.
Sometime later this summer I plan to drive thirty miles up the road to the Canadian border. You think they'll let me across without my passport?

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