Tag: Founding Fathers

No, We Don’t All Need to Get Along

Good intentions abound. That’s the only reason people still embrace misguided ideas like “colorblind society,” despite the powerfully negative connotations that such phrases conjure up.

The latest nicey-nicey concept I’ve encountered (and no doubt you have as well) is the absurd notion that, for America to succeed, we need to put aside our differences. In essence, we all need to get along.

Where in the hell did this strange idea come from?

For the overwhelming majority of American history, we have not all gotten along.

For example, Hamilton and Jefferson didn’t say, “let’s be pals” when they were hashing out what kind of government we should have. They had more important things to do.

Even during the so-called Era of Good Feelings, America’s many slaves weren’t feeling the love and joining in group hugs.

Speaking of slavery, America didn’t even reach its centennial before we started shooting at each other over that touchy topic. And it was another century of violence and antagonism before the government said, “Maybe we should be nicer to ethnic minorities.” At no point in that process did we all get along.

Yes, one could argue that the country was united during World War II, but even in that case, all it took to bind us together was a global conflagration where millions of people died and the very survival of democracy was in question. In other words… good times.

More recently, we’ve come to blows over Vietnam and Iraq, over abortion and affirmative action, over gay rights and healthcare.

So when was this mythical time when Americans were of one mind? And why does anyone think this is a necessary condition in order for the country to thrive? Obviously, we’ve found a way to work around our internecine loathing.

The truth is that a nation as vast as ours — with its myriad subcultures, each enjoying a large degree of freedom — is never going to be truly united. To believe otherwise is to embrace the thinking of a child.

However, this Kumbaya concept is more than a pathetic pipe dream. It features an insidious aspect snaking below the surface.

We see this in the earnest pleas, even demands, for liberals to shut up and support Trump. Of course, conservatives would like nothing better than for progressives to give Trump a chance (which many liberals, inexplicably, are quite willing to do).

But why would leftists agree to a right-wing agenda that goes against every principle we have, and that could lead America into chaos? Apparently, we should do so out of blind patriotism and for the sake of the vague, abstract concept of “unity.”

According to this idea, striving to be friends supersedes the threat of decimating the country.

“Yes, thousands of people are dead now because Obamacare was repealed, but at least we’re all getting along, and that’s the most important thing. Yup.”

This is clearly insane.

And aside from the specifics of the current era — where a wannabe fascist seeks to make the nation great again for white supremacists — the fact remains that striving for unity at all costs is spectacularly naïve, even destructive.

The US Constitution is the result of Founding Fathers threatening to duel each other to the death. Slavery was abolished through warfare. Civil rights came only after decades of people refusing to back down, and not settling for getting along.

One of the virtues/flaws of American culture is our hyper-competitiveness. As such, one idea or principle usually emerges triumphant. Sometimes it’s a good idea… and sometimes it’s not. Still, as we know, the moral arc is long but bends toward justice (at least we hope it does).

However, progress is delayed even more when we smile and act polite in the face of idiocy or fanaticism or demagoguery. And there is no need to do so.

Because we have never all gotten along.

And we never will.

 

 


A Shining Moment

This past weekend, people all over America expressed patriotic fervor. After all, we live in a free country, full of natural beauty. And we strive for lofty goals of democracy and fairness, while extending a heartfelt welcome to immigrants of all types.

Ha-ha. Just kidding about that last part.

CALIFORNIA-FAMILIAS INMIGRANTES

You’ve heard, no doubt, about the demonstrations in Murrieta, California, where protesters blockaded busses carrying undocumented immigrants to a detention facility. The immigrants, “many of them unaccompanied children, were being brought from overcrowded Texas detention facilities for processing in California.”

The protestors waved American flags and chanted, “USA! USA!” They also indulged in some, shall we say, less-than-classy behavior (including the occasional slur). In any case, these uber-Americans forced the busses to turn around.

UTI1782821_r620x349

Now to be fair, it must have been a bit shocking for the fine people of Murrieta to learn that 140 undocumented people would be dropped off on their doorstep. And the protesters were quick to claim that it wasn’t, you know, a racist thing. Of course not.

But the imagery is hard to downplay.

All I’m saying is that is that it is not exactly courageous to terrorize busloads of traumatized women and children. And heckling poverty-stricken people is not the stuff of patriotic legend.

However, for all those people in Murrieta who still think they were standing up for America, well, let’s put it in perspective.

The Founding Fathers won independence. Lincoln freed the slaves. The Greatest Generation defeated the Nazis.

But you held up a sign and screamed vulgarities at little kids.

Clearly, it was hero time.

 


We Don’t Need No Education

When I was in grade school, the principal or some other authority figure would occasionally pepper the morning announcements with a dose of Spanish. He or she might get on the PA to say, “Today is Monday, or lunes,” or inform us that hola means hello.

Well, that kind of commie prank doesn’t fly in Texas, where almost 40 percent of the population is Latino.

Recently, the principal of a middle school in the city of Hempstead told her students that they were forbidden from speaking Spanish anywhere on the school property, even if it was a private conversation.  And yes, she announced this policy via the PA system, just to make sure everybody knew she wasn’t fucking around about it.

Microphone_studio

Clearly, this was an attempt by a government employee to make English the official language at a government-funded institution (which is unconstitutional) and to limit the free speech of US residents (which is way, way unconstitutional). So the school board, in the parlance of the day, responded by declining to renew the principal’s contract.

That means her ass was fired.

Of course, it’s always interesting to note how true patriots are quick to eliminate other people’s rights because that’s, you know, the American way and everything. Such individuals rarely have any knowledge or interest in the US Constitution, which is the document they supposedly revere.

But in case there were any people in Hempstead who supported the principal’s attempt to be a one-woman language police force, they may have been brought up short by the man at the school board meeting who “read a list of American Founding Fathers who spoke multiple languages. They included Benjamin Franklin (French) and Thomas Jefferson (French, Italian, Spanish and Latin).”

So it’s clear that this idea goes against the Founding Fathers themselves. Damn, what’s an English-only aficionado to do? Certainly, they cannot take comfort in the fact that “there’s no evidence that speaking Spanish hampers learning English, and…in most of the rest of the world, it’s common to speak two or more languages.”

In essence, kids in Hempstead can keep jabbering away in English, Spanish, Spanglish, French, Latin, Elvish, or whatever else they want.

Good for them.

 


Yeah, Right

So the United States has resumed its wild, impetuous stab at having a functioning government. After this latest farce, internet sites are alive with comments along the lines of the following:

“We need to kick out every member of Congress and start fresh.”

I know we live in a country where nearly half the citizens people can’t name the vice president, but I find it hard to believe anybody is so ignorant of the political process that he or she thinks voting out all 535 members of Congress is a realistic option.

capitol

We’ll start with the fact that elections are staggered (hence the term “midterm election”). As such, I doubt anybody’s rage is going to last another five years or so, which is how long it would take to excise all the offending congressmen and women. And we’ll add on the stat that while most people hate Congress, they tend to like their own reps, so we will likely see most of these supposedly toxic incumbents return.

This idea is even less practical and more insane than the delusional belief, which I’ve written about before, that we can easily deport 11 million undocumented immigrants.

In the interest of saving time, here are some other political ideas I’ve heard recently that appear just as likely to happen.

“We need to separate into two different countries. Red states and blue states.” (I’m pretty sure we fought a war about this, and the outcome was rather conclusive. We appear to be stuck with one another for the foreseeable future.)

“We need a task force of really smart leaders who will come up with bipartisan solutions to our problems.” (That’s what Congress is supposed to be.)

“We need to mandate IQ tests to make sure people are smart enough to vote.” (Anyone who thinks an IQ test accurately measures political acumen probably doesn’t have a very high IQ.)

“We need to confiscate every gun in America that’s not in the hands of the police or military.” (It amazes me how liberals think that Second Amendment advocates—many of whom are paranoid and all of whom are armed—will somehow go along with this idea.)

“We need to use Jurassic Park-type technology to reanimate the Founding Fathers so they can tell us their original intent regarding the Constitution.” (OK, I made this one up, but wouldn’t that be cool?)


On Second Thought, Keep Your Tired and Poor

In the two years that I’ve been writing this blog (that’s right, we’re coming up on the anniversary), my biggest surprise has been the frequency with which I discuss immigration. Certainly, I thought that it would be a major topic. It’s difficult to discuss contemporary Latino culture without at least addressing it.

But I figured I would create a few posts pointing out some basics, such as the following:

  • We demonize the undocumented
  • We hypocritically profit from their labor
  • We claim that race is not an issue
  • We latch on to simplistic answers

I figured after that, I would only touch upon the subject now and then. However, crazy news keeps popping up regarding our love-hate (or at times, hate-hate) relationship with immigration. This is perplexing in a nation that was founded by immigrants and their offspring.

For example, it’s recently come out that more than one hundred illegal immigrants have died in federal detention centers over the past six years. More amazing is the fact that, according to the New York Times, the people in charge of these facilities “used their role as overseers to cover up evidence of mistreatment, deflect scrutiny by the news media, or prepare exculpatory public statements after gathering facts that pointed to substandard care or abuse.”

Basically, lots of noncitizens were being neglected, and perhaps even abused, in these centers. And the reaction of officials was to cover it up. I’m sure part of the reason for this hush-hush treatment is because immigrants are, you know, not really people.

This development comes at the same time that a recent report has assessed the economic impact of immigration reform. The report found that creating a pathway to legal status for the undocumented would pump $1.5 trillion into the economy over a decade. The report said that taking the opposite approach – that is, deporting everybody whose papers are not 100% in line – would cost the country $2.6 trillion over the same time frame.

Of course, we don’t make decisions based purely on dollar considerations (well, maybe Rupert Murdoch does). But these figures are a compelling argument.

Before we get to talk about citizenship and legality, however, perhaps we should make sure that people aren’t being killed in government-run institutions. Yes, that would be nice.


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