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Days of Temperate Disappointment and Mild Annoyance

On Drugs, Internet, Immigration our government sucks canal water

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, May 03, 2006.

Like our drug laws, the southern variant of which Vincente Fox just drop-kicked out of Mexico’s judicial system today, and like internet media reality – for which our aging judges have as much fondness and interest as they do for Hip Hop and Jell-O shots - the US government is so out of touch with its immigrant citizens and so dependent on large business financing of elections - just like those very immigrants are for jobs - it is corruptly calcified and cannot react, much less be proactive. To call the proposed immigration laws and strictures we’re discussing the produce of drunken Enron execs is to be kind. In all three areas – drugs, internet, immigration - our inability to honestly articulate the present without fabricating the past makes it impossible to control the future.

We’ve been incredibly fortunate so far, and my limited experience with the new immigrants suggests we still are. But this institutional incompetence cannot long continue.

When I was on probation and working depressing jobs, I made the acquaintance of several men and women from Mexico and South America. They worked as hard if not harder than any of us, were religiously on time, and were a pleasure to be around. They did not bring any home issues to work with them, possibly because they were wary of saying something they shouldn’t regarding their own or a friend’s legal status. That was refreshing beyond the norm.

The guys were of variant skills and full of the juvenile bombast that affect males everywhere, and indistinguishable from anyone with whom I went to high school or college. The women, though, were different than I suppose I expected and different than what many long time Americans expect. First, they were really happy to be here – really, really happy. Second, few if any had a child, even though some were in their early thirties and had been, or were, married. Third, most were primarily interested in NOT being a baby factory, and in having a life not devoted to household drudgery. In short, the supposed reactionary cultures of Hispanic American Roman Catholicism had produced reaction, all righty: a significant proportion of women who were more advanced in their thinking than many in reactionary, Protestant, God fearin’ Kansas or deviate Mormon Colorado City, where if it ain’t in the Bible, it ain’t true. Radio ain’t in God’s word, so you can’t hear this, can you. See?

I don’t know what the Spanish equivalent of sarcasm is to the English “yeah, that’ll happen,” but I know the facial expression that goes with it from watching ladies at the lunch tables chat in Spanglish. One young woman, mother to a daughter then three and married to an Anglo American contractor, was talking about her husband wanting a son, and how it was so important to him, but she didn’t want any more children at present and there had been some sort of ultimatum, which apparently moved her not at all. She wasn’t going to keep having kids till he got his son, and her facial expression pretty well conveyed that. At one point someone said “I don’t wanna be my grandmother.”

On May Day this year, the first of what will possibly be a number of Days of…. well, not Rage but Temperate Disappointment and Mild Annoyance…. went off with no real violence and a lot of good will. Seventy-five thousand people marched in Denver, a huge crowd for Colorado, in support of Immigration Reform. Hundreds of thousands around the nation, maybe more than a million. A lot. But it wasn’t the stunning numbers hoped for by those who chose May Day for the marches. May first was once the major communist holiday derived, ironically, from the slaughter of innocents in Chicago’s Haymarket Square, and the Olde Left seizes on anything to fight the old fights, even though most of its enemies are dead or transmogrified into oppressive unions and other variants. Fortunately, America’s memory extends not back to the Soviet Union.

Some businesses closed in anticipation of workers not showing up, but in all the nation did not halt, the economy did not buckle or much notice. It is difficult for either the xenophobes or those wanting to steal back California for Mexico to claim a victory. It’s clear that large numbers of immigrants did not participate. Some of them, without question, were told they’d be fired if they didn’t show up for work. Some didn’t need to be told.

But a large percentage of them apparently went to work without quibble, wishing the marchers well but having larger goals in mind. I don’t know what precisely can be divined from this, but it feels good, somehow, and hope they’re here long enough to get a government worthy of their enthusiasm and our patience.