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Friday, July 21, 2006

American melting pot - boiling

An Oklahoma candidate for the 5th Congressional District has a campaign commercial that physically makes me ill. He joined the National Guard a couple of years ago -- a noble move, but one I'm certain done with ambitious calculation. He sells his military service like many candidates sell their "Christianiy" these days. The one commercial states that he joined the National Guard after 9/11. Yes. Way after. He's cheapening the honor of military service. In this one particular commercial, the "Captain" has another "military" man speaking for him. The man is a member of the militiamen -- the "self defense force" as they call themselves.

As a Hispanic American, I cringe, not because I think that illegal aliens should be allowed carte blanche, but because of the whole situation. Similar to the Pilgrims and other immigrants who landed on these shores long ago, those crossing the borders today are seeking a better life. In today's world, they are more like refugees from nations that are no longer safe and no longer afford them a way to make a living. Yet, America, the land that once was a refuge for thousands - millions -- of people looking for a better life is shutting the door. The primary reason I hear is simply that these people speak Spanish.

It's racism disguised as a concern for country.

This evening I attended a meeting of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists - Oklahoma Chapter. I met wonderful people, talented people -- all of whom spoke both English and Spanish and usually another language fluently.

One was a graphic artist that focuses on new technology and creates the wonderul flat screen interactive information panels that you see when you walk into many buildings, as well as web sites and other projects. Two were television anchors, a talk show host, reporters and one a film maker that just attended her first premiere of her first film and is headed to New York to premiere the film there. Another was an actor in her film.

They hailed from Bolivia, Mexico, Peru, Honduras, Columbia and America. We shared conversations about our work and our cultures, each learning from one another.

And we all shared comments about the impact of open-warfare on Hispanics.. Those of us born in America to American parents and grandparents and their parents, and those immigrants who are in this country legally, all are subject to the discrimination. Ads like those of the Oklahoma candidate add fuel to the fire of racism. There is little discernment between illegal immigrants who speak Spanish and even Americans who speak Spanish.

Congressman Istook, running for Governor of our fair state, wants English to be the official language. Why? It was after all a Spanish Queen and King who financed the trip to the New World by an Italian. Ask a Native American what the official language of this land should be.

There are no easy answers. Hispanic Americans and legal immigrants get just as frustrated as anyone else about the problem of illegals. But maybe, instead of sealing our borders and shooting people, we should extend them refugee status. Then our government and leaders should demand that their countries (and they are not all from Mexico) fix the problems in their countries so that these people can live in their native lands. Because if you ask them, they'll tell you that they love their country. They just can't live there anymore.

It's time to look for a different solution to the problem.

1 comment:

V-Grrrl said...

I know this post is incomplete, but it's sad to see that "hispanic" is the new "black" in American culture.

Immigration is a complicated issue, here in Europe as well as at home in the States....