Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Red Scare II: Mayday! Mayday! It was May Day all over again
¡El pueblo unido jamás será vencido!
"The people united will never be defeated"
—Chant heard during the protest marches on May 1
On Monday I commemorated the landing of the Unelected Fraud (also known as the National Embarrassment) upon the decks of the USS Abraham Lincoln. But there was a more significant event: We saw some of the largest marches since the Sixties. We saw a general strike and boycott, practically unknown in the U.S. And we watched what surely must be unique to our times—public demonstrations by a massive number of non-citizens.
The media didn't know what to do. CNN showed images of the marchers filling several city blocks, then "balanced" them by interviewing some Hispanics "leaders," seated around a table, who opposed the action. Yesterday online the Washington Post's main page said "Impact of Boycott for Immigrants Unknown," though the actual story title was "Boycott Gives Voice To Illegal Workers." The Chicago Tribune asked "Was Congress Watching?" but left it unclear just what the Congress was supposed to see.
Putting all the burden on the Senate (since it was actions by the House of Representatives that brought on the protests in the first place) the Tribune's editorial ended equivocally—
Did Monday's protests move the participants closer to citizenship, or to expulsion? If that question is to be answered--if the emerging American consensus on immigration reform is to become law—the Senate must now act and then negotiate. But marching to the Senate's beat makes for a mighty quiet shuffle of feet.
No advice there. But the NY Times knew which side it was on—
The worst among our citizens and politicians are eager to depict illegal immigrants as criminals, potential terrorists and alien invaders. But what we saw yesterday ... were regular people: the same types of assimilation-minded moms, dads and children we wistfully romanticize on holidays devoted to, say, St. Patrick and Columbus.
If these extraordinarily positive events were a protest of anything, it was the idea of the immigrant as temporary and unwelcome guest worker....
A silent, shadow population is speaking with one voice. The message ... is clear: We are America. We want to join you.
It's a simple message. It should be sinking in by now.
Times reporter Randal Archibold covered the protests in L.A. and noted that
The protesters, a mix of illegal immigrants and legal residents and citizens, were mostly Latino, but in contrast to similar demonstrations in the past two months, large numbers of people of other ethnicities joined or endorsed many of the events. In some cases, the rallies took on a broader tone of social action, as gay rights advocates, opponents of the war in Iraq and others without a direct stake in the immigration debate took to the streets.
The movement's been hijacked and innocent Hispanics have been deceived!
Sr. Guterriez was extremely sane and articulate but sported a heavy Spanish accent. Subtitles might have helped. Ms. Sanchez on the other hand was all perky, anglophone and glib, and you just knew that one of her ancestors had sailed aboard the Pinta, Niña or Santa María. Well, I'm used to stacked decks.
Ray Suarez asked Gutierrez to speak to the mission of the protest, to which he responded—
What I envisioned ... is that the American people are going to begin paying attention to the very just quest by immigrants for legalization.
I think that, as every poll is beginning to indicate, the tide is turning. And today's boycott ... is going to make Americans move fast in the direction of doing the right thing, of urging Congress and the president of the United States, who have been politicking on this issue for way too long.
And, you know, ultimately I think that the American people is going to see right through all the politicizing of this issue....
The American people aren't going to see through anything if Ms. Sanchez can help it. Here's where I spilled my jelly beans—
RAY SUAREZ: ... First, as Juan Jose suggested, did this get America's attention?
LESLIE SANCHEZ, Impacto Group: I really think, overall, it's a fizzle, and I know it's probably too early to tell, especially on the West Coast. But the reason I say that is we have to look at what the intent of this was.
The intent, according to many of the organizers, was to wreak economic chaos. It [is] not a coincidence that they picked May Day, the international socialist day of the worker, to celebrate this.
This is not like the protests you saw in March and April that were organic, in the sense that they were Hispanic-sponsored immigrant groups, faith-based-oriented Spanish language radio, and they came together collectively to talk about the things my colleague here just mentioned.
This animal today is completely different. I think it's much more politicized. It's organized by umbrella groups that have an intent other than immigration reform. And I don't think they've got, you know, what they said they wanted all weekend, which was havoc on American cities.
Why, according to Ms. Sanchez, what we had just witnessed was nothing less than a Communist plot to overthrow the American government! And notice the simple, guileless, even "faith-based-oriented" nature of the original protests. But now these poor protestors have been deceived by their puppet masters!
Back in the Fifties and Sixties you heard this kind of red-baiting rhetoric all the time. It was thought that black people only wanted their civil rights because the Communists were "stirring them up" and putting radical thoughts in their heads. But with true Communists now rarer than the giant panda, even I was surprised to hear such an accusation in the Year of our Lord 2006.
It didn't faze Moderator Suarez, however. Without so much as a follow-up question such as "Would you care to name names?" Suarez continued the interview as if nothing remarkable had been said.
Fortunately, Mr. Gutierrez was able to respond—
RAY SUAREZ: Juan Jose Gutierrez, is it so different? Did the immigrants from many places, but certainly from Latin America, out on the streets of the country today put forward those ideas, that Leslie Sanchez says they hold, by staying away from work, by not spending money?
JUAN JOSE GUTIERREZ: No. What the people did today is that they took an American position for their constitutional and civil rights in this great nation. Nothing could be further from the truth that, just because some people from the left happen to join us in solidarity, that that in itself describes the remarkable historic event of today.
And responding to another of Sanchez' points of misinformation, Gutierrez added—
You know, when this lady is talking about the American people, you know, she makes a whole lot of mischaracterizations that have no base in reality.
Ms. Sanchez has given us a preview of some of the rhetoric to expect. But don't dismiss it just because it's dated and ridiculous. If reality has a liberal bias, as Stephen Colbert quipped in front of the National Embarrassment, it still lacks the media outlets to get the message out.
So if you hear any nonsense about these protests being engineered by Communists or socialists, remind the speaker that in the United States May 1 is Loyalty Day. And that's the law!
Just when I was getting comfortable in the Holocene (8/28/04)
The truth about the truth (10/13/04)