frog's blog

Anuran, n. an amphibian of the order Salientia (formerly Anura or Batrachia), which includes the frogs and toads

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Borders are for the small minded

Jesus walked into Washington yesterday for a Holy Week revolution. Jesus is an illegal from the Spanish-speaking south.

Borders are for the small minded. Borders are for the short-sighted. Borders are for those who put nationalism above humanity, humility, spirituality, obvious truth. The white-bread American myth has come to its end; the race-mixing multiracial love-child of the present is the promise of the future. What one American politician called the “Rainbow Coalition” a generation ago came into fruition in the streets in April 2006.

In one of many late semester workshops with my composition students, a student pledged to do a ‘zine entitled “I am not a Mexican” for a final project. This will not be an anti-Mexican rant; she is from Florida, and her people are from Venezuela. She is tired of people assuming she is from Mexico.

A bilingual revolution of black, white, yellow, red, and brown swept America over the last few weeks.

The right-wing wingnuts got their boxer shorts in a bundle because the protesters carried Mexican flags. So today, the protesters carried American flags. Of course, at the bottom of the argument comes the obvious truth that flags are symbols, rags, mass-produced synthetic cloth probably made by foreigners working for substandard wages in a sweatshop somewhere.

Borders are illusions, but the hateful repression the reactionaries would bring on our brown-skinned brothers and sisters from the south is not an illusion. The gun-toting racist militias of the southwest are not an illusion. The global economic disease that breeds billionaires on the backs of the billions is tragically not an illusion. The idea that one must crawl, swim, jump, run, hide, or otherwise dodge the police for the privilege of working for $5 an hour only emphasizes how the global serfdom better known as capitalism has created the crisis, has perpetuated the problem, and pitted person against person.

Of course, the Latino and Latina are not the enemy of the white male working class who consume Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity broadcasts like last supper bread and wine. As the ruling elite continue doing the divide and conquer dance on the calcified brains of the obedient masses, they’ve somehow convinced folks from the middle that they have more in common with their President than with their neighbor who also might be their gardener, nanny, and assistant household engineer. George Bush—who does a great job pretending to be a good ol’ boy, tough-talking bubba—is a poseur. Those who would close the border to raise the minimum wage and give their less-fortunate cousins $10 an hour have a short sighted isolationism in their hearts, where a new kind of internationalism is needed. How about a global minimum wage of $10 an hour?

The April 10th mobilization as the weeks of protest preceding it seems marked by a singular message of basic civil rights. It’s message is nothing extreme; in fact, some have framed the fight as downright patriotic. Simplistic patriotism does not summarize my version of the story, but as rhetoric and direct demand, it’s worth noting.

If these rallies teach us American-born white people anything, I’d venture that it’s the importance of being actively anti-racist, of learning race and class, of maintaining a radical analysis concerning both. Just as we’ve unlearned our heritage and welcomed the children of other Diasporas, we will welcome the brown as we’ve welcomed the black as we all become an increasingly hybrid, mixed race, cosmopolitan culture.

Surely, the rampant xenophobia and vulgar nationalism that characterizes the far right’s response to this issue accelerates the discussion and amplifies the rhetoric. It wants everyone to take sides. It’s the reactionary’s version of being politically correct, a sort of litmus test to determine the depth of one’s so-called conservative values.

So, I’ve chosen my side. I’m with the illegal, the Spanish-speaking sister and brother, the proverbial other. I’m with the demand that no one is illegal, and until this is as universal as April rain, I hope the people continue to take to the streets like a Tennessee tornado.


At 12:01 PM, Blogger Grace said...

Bravo! Well put!

and lets raise that minimum wage 12 dollars an hour so we can live in L.A., N.Y., San Fran., etc., without having to choose between groceries and utilities.

While we're at it lets change the laws regarding rent increases...lets enforce the laws regarding slum lords...ok
i'm getting off track...

just wanted to cheer you on.


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