Monday, November 16, 2009
Tear Down This Wall, But Build Another Here, Here and Here
I know everyone has moved on from the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, but I've been meaning to make a point about this historic event for a few days now. So here goes: while the world is celebrating the end of the Cold War and the unification of one country that would ultimately become a world super power, our country remains rife with division. In fact, we're very close to building our own literal and figurative walls within our borders.
I feel this most when I think about immigration and gay rights in this country. Both debates have spun out of control to the point of hate speech - Lou Dobbs stepping down from CNN doesn't undo the thinking of too many Americans who openly refer to other human beings as "illegals" and who fear the take-over of this nation by an illiterate, incompetent, brown menace. After all, the Fox News Channel is alive and well. And so is the push for a fence along the U.S./Mexico border, as is the idea that "illegals" should not be covered under a new, universal healthcare plan. In other words, Republicans are happy to plunk down 10 billion dollars on a fence that people are already going to find a way around, as opposed to developing a smart guest worker program that provides a channel for immigrants to enter and leave this country legally and safely. That sort of thinking would benefit everyone, except the contractors building the fence.
But the Republican party is not aiming for visionary, problem-solving policy, so long as people are afraid that undocumented gay Mexicans are going to take over the schools and absolve heterosexual marriage, the GOP will be in business for years to come. That's why the party has decided to abscond the Latino vote altogether by voting in a near single block against President Obama's recent hate crimes law because it has a provision outlawing attacks based on perceived immigration status. In other words, the Republicans voted against the Matthew Sheppard Act because it also grants protection from violent crime against "illegals." (And y'all know I've been writing about hate crimes against Latinos for some time now - this is a real issue, people)
And then there's the issue of gay marriage - in 31 states Americans have voiced a resounding "no" to providing same sex couples the right to marry. The issue is as tired as it pressing - it seems stupid to think that some Americans can be so vehemently interested in controlling other citizens, but then, that's exactly what's happening - it's scary and it's un-American.
But that's where our country is at right now. While I have seriously considered building up my own wall and not engaging with people who don't share my beliefs, I realize that I would then be making these problems worse. So I'll remain open for dialogue, in spite of my lesser, more Latino and argumentative self, and I'll keep writing and advocating for change.