Sunday, June 19, 2011

ICE and the Dream Act

after the flood of poultry jobs receded
Coupla years back our former county commissioners passed a resolution stating that our local constabulary would not be dragooned into enforcing federal immigration laws, with regard to our large and probably mostly undocumented Latino labor force.  These folks--the undocumented labor force and their families I mean--had come to our rural county because poultry husbandry and processing had become big industries here, and there was a need for, um, very cheap labor.  It is said that many of the processors advertised in Mexico for labor.  Over a couple of decades our Hispanic population grew to many thousands, and this included thousands of children in our public school system--kids who'd come here as infants or very young children, who'd never really lived in Mexico or Latin America, who speak English as their mother tongue, who succeed in our schools, who aim for higher education and American life.

It grew politically convenient for Republicans to sturm und drang about this "illegal" menace.  The resolution by our commissioners became a hot political issue.  I recall vividly discussing the simple fact that thousands of these undocumented people--and their familes--were now established here, and that some mass effort to deport them would be obviously cruel and worse.  I recall using the word "empathy" when having such discussions--and I recall my shock when the basic concept of "empathy" was derided as nothing more than an example of "bleeding heart liberalism."  We have to put aside these mere feelings, I was lectured.  We have to deal with this menace.  You are for us or you're against us.

As there was going to be a second vote on the commissioners' resolution to stay out of federal enforcement, the Republicans whipped up a crowd to go down to the court house and make their feelings known.  People who supported the resolution showed up too--and soundly defeated the Republicans in public comment before the resolution was reaffirmed.  It was actually a rather glorious night for Chatham County democracy, and I was proud to have attended.  But since that night the Court House burned down, and the Tea Party was drummed up, and our late commissioners have been defeated by a Republican reaction that has led to many distressing results both here in our county, and around the country (see, e.g., Wisconsin, Tennessee, Florida, Michigan, and our own NC Legislature's current budget).  In particular, our new commissioners have voted to bring on ICE.  Whether this will have many practical results it's hard to say.  The chicken processing industry seems to be leaving the county these days, marooning thousands of folks who came here to work in those plants.  The whole "issue" might be in the process of fading away.

But I find Ms Bachmann's remarkable assertion that President Obama does not possess empathy the most flabbergastingly idiotic comment of the past week.  The Dream Act was an effort to deal with the problem of these thousands of children of undocumented workers in a fair and kind manner.  After all, these kids by and large want only to contribute to the common good, to be good citizens capable of achieving, of holding good jobs, of military service, of paying taxes (including social security).  They didn't come here by choice, and using children to punish adults is almost the example par excellence of totalitarian brutality.  When brutal force determines to crush opposition, it either wounds children in front of parents, or vice versa.  That is to say, brutality brushes all empathy aside, and has no thought to any long term consequence (since there remains the other side of the equation, obscured but not altered, that brutality is how in the end a terrorist is created--terrorism being to a significant degree another term for resistance, which is a fundamental human quality which even the muddled "tea party" salutes in its very nomenclature.)

And so.  Did Ms. Bachmann vote for or against the Dream Act, and what is her current view of this legislation?  My suspicion is, she was unalterably opposed to the Dream Act, just like the rest of the Republican Party.  In which case, the word "empathy" should be ashes in her lying mouth*.

*Ahh, a one second session with the google reveals this, from a Minneapolis newspaper of the moment:

"The DREAM Act — the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act — passed the House by a 216-198 margin Wednesday. CNN reports the vote was mostly along partisan lines. In Minnesota that was true, except in one case: Blue Dog Democrat Collin Peterson sided with Republicans Michele Bachmann, John Kline and Erik Paulsen in opposing the bill. Eight Republicans voted for the bill." 

For more analysis of Republican lying, see Mr. Riley's current post on Peggy Noonan's analysis of the Republican Presidential Debate in New Hampshire this past week.  As usual, Mr. Riley is right on the money.
Meanwhile, in the dusky corridors of power, far from the hubbub of television and poor Mr. Weiner's weiner:

'Scuse me while I throw up just a little.

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