Wednesday, May 24, 2006

If it Walks Like a Racist—or Drives a Border Patrol Buggy Like One

As if it weren't imbecilic enough to do something as flat-out ridiculous—not to mention futile—as buliding a fence (!) along the U.S.-Mexican border (or rather, contracting Halliburton to build it), our English-challenged president and his merry gang of Rethuglican senators are now busily working on legislation that will make English the official language of the United States. And no, I don't know what that means, or how it will be of any benefit—to anyone, anywhere—or how the government could ever conceivably enforce such a law.

But Molly Ivins, writing for Truthdig, says it so much better than I:

AUSTIN, Texas—Last week, Bush visited Yuma, Ariz., to tour a portion of the U.S.-Mexico border by Border Patrol buggy. Maybe Jorge was doing a little measuring for the $3.2-million-a-mile fence the Senate recently approved, which I guarantee will be really helpful.

Are they insane? As Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano observes, “Show me a 50-foot wall, and I’ll show you a 51-foot ladder.”

Meanwhile, Republicans in the Senate have constructively declared English the national language. That’ll fix everything. Every foreigner at our borders will stop and say: “Gosh, ma foi! English is the national language here. Good thing to know. I’ll begin speaking it immediately.”

Yes sir, you want a solution, call a Republican.

Indeed. But, as Molly points out, this anti-immigrant, anti-furriner mentality has got to go if President Bush is as committed to "protecting the American people" as he claims, and if Congress, too, is serious about mounting any real defense against extremist Islamic terrorism.

This is a war that is being fought with the wrong tools—and, in Iraq, at the wrong time, in the wrong place and against the wrong enemy.

It never did call for tanks, jets or carriers—just a combination of good detectives and good intelligence. In other words, smart, clever people with language skills. All of which we have fully available to us because of ... immigration. Lebanese, Iraqis, Iranians, Syrians, Pakistanis and Indonesians have all become Americans, and in so many cases we got the bravest of the brave—those who fought Saddam, the ayatollah and Assad, Lebanese who saw their country torn apart by religious factions. These are Americans who know the culture and language of the Middle East and other Islamic countries, and who care deeply about how it all comes out.

By all means, reform immigration with this deep obeisance to the Republican right-wing nut faction and their open contempt for “foreigners.” But do not pretend for one minute that it is not a craven political bow to racism (yes, racism—I am actually calling them racists, although they pretend it hurts their feelings. Try reading their websites and see for yourself), and to nativism, to xenophobia and to Know-Nothingism. Just don’t forget what you are throwing away in the process.

One has to wonder when they will wake up. Or perhaps a better question might be, When will we wake up from this bad dream?

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