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Commentary :: Globalization : Human Rights : International : Labor : Media : Organizing : Politics : Race : Social Welfare
I will not remain silent while I can hear the screams.
25 Mar 2006
Modified: 26 Mar 2006
Rhetoric of Hate Floods National Debate on Bush's Illegal Immigration Legislation. U.S. President Calls for "Civil Debate."
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Amherst, MA - March 25, 2006. The mainstream media is now filled with coverage of some of the largest protests in American history. Immigrants and their many supporters have gathered in large numbers across the United States in recent days to protest pending legislation that would make illegal immigration a felony. This would turn some of the most vulnerable, helpless, and disenfranchised human beings into criminals and make their lives even more miserable and intolerable. On top of demonizing these suffering souls, President Bush and numerous members of the U.S. Congress want to build more walls along the U.S. border with Mexico. The symbolism of these walls seems as evil as the monstrosity of the Berlin Wall.
The intensity and passion of the rhetoric has reached terrifying levels. Even President Bush, the darling of the right, has called for a “civil debate.”
The people among the “working poor” in the United States, the homeless and jobless in this country which are impossible to miss to anyone who’s been to any city in America recently, as well as the “invisible poor” who live in abject poverty in rural areas, all share the same plight as these “illegal immigrants” do. They are regarded as below human: things to be used and thrown away at will. Without rights, without a voice, without value, without dignity, without anything, they are nothing.
Is the United States, the land of immigrants, with the Statue of Liberty greeting visitors to New York, the symbol of this great land of opportunity, really open to the “huddled masses?”
Any fool knows that Americans want cheap lettuce, and cheap shoes. How do they think these items arrive in the market so cheaply? These illegal aliens, the working poor, and the near-slave labor in foreign countries provide the cheap labor that allows Americans to buy cheap stuff. If they really knew what the “price” for that cheap item really was, could they look at themselves in the mirror? Could they explain these brutal systems of production that reduce human beings to things to their children? Have the descendants of immigrants in this country forgotten what cruelty their ancestors endured when they came to this land of opportunity? The cotton mills of Lowell, Massachusetts remain as a National Historic Park (see immigrant map above from ) and a reminder of what immigrants brutally endured during their attempts to organize against inhumane working conditions and poverty wages.
The treatment of illegal immigrants in the U.S. who have been forced down to the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder is no different than how mothers, fathers, and children in other countries, especially our neighbors in Latin America are treated. There is a horrid history of exploitation and oppression in the Americas. What the recent protests in the U.S. reveal, what the recent protests in France reveal, is that there is in fact, a class struggle of epic proportions being displayed for the world to see. Even in the face of violent threats, even in the face of a flood of hate-filled rhetoric, these people demand to be heard. And for those that can’t speak for themselves, they are being represented by angry, disheartened people who will screech their cries for them.
The media, the government, and big business in deliberate collaboration attempt to frame this global problem as simply a problem of lazy, smelly, foreign people trying to steal our stuff and our jobs. What the working people of the United States have not fully understood is the depth to which they are enslaved by this very same economic system. They think it is these poor, suffering souls who are the source of all of their economic problems. The suffering American working poor think that these powerless and desperate people are the reason that they don’t have a job. They can’t or won’t realize that big business and the government could easily work with a system that didn’t pit one group of poor against another, and that could provide jobs and a living wage to all people here in the U.S. and in all of Latin America, and the world. What we see IS, in fact, a class struggle. Live and on prime time TV.
The people in positions of power, the people in what has been referred to as the corporatocracy, are very well aware that they possess the means and the wherewithal to stop this at any moment they choose. However, it would require the admission that the corporatocracy needs the poor and working poor in this country to lubricate and fuel their money machine. Stopping the suffering and the destruction of the environment would require that the corporatocracy admit they also need the poor of other countries, including those in our beloved Monroe/Truman Doctrine Western Hemisphere to suffer and slave, so that a few in these countries can get richer and richer. This is not socialist or Marxist rhetoric – this is a fact. A visit to any major city’s public library should provide more than enough facts to overwhelming demonstrate that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.
Every one of us in the United States is to blame for this cruel and brutal state of affairs. We continue to buy the cheap stuff, ignore how or why it is cheap, and continue our daily lives as if what happens beyond our noses is none of our business. The issue of making “illegal aliens” into criminals is just the tip of an iceberg that is rushing to the surface. The cries and the pleas of the poor in our country and in our neighbor’s are real. We ignore these cries at our peril.
Will you simply allow the hate-filled xenophobes, the avaricious corporations, our rapacious government to terrify and brutalize these people, our neighbors, much like our very own ancestors that made this country of immigrants, or will you stop this sadism by blaring your voice loud enough for those in power to hear you undeniably?
Nothing has changed. If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. We are guaranteed “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Shouldn’t this be the guarantee for every human being on Earth? Shouldn't it?
I will not remain silent while I can hear the screams.
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