Friday, March 31, 2006

Protest? What about? Part II


This time it was organized by the students at the high school. This time, the reason given for the protest was to hurt the school in the pocketbook to get their point across. This time, they managed to alienate the people that were actually sympathetic to their cause. This time, they looked like nationalistic idiots.

I found out Wednesday morning that a group of Mexican students were planning to start a protest at Morning Break and march downtown to protest the recent immigration problems. When I asked a variety of students about why they were protesting. I got a variety of answers, none of which showed knowledge of the actual problem. Instead the comments ranged from "Bush is a racist" to "Whites don't like Mexicans" to "It was our land first anyway". This is not to say that I didn't try and explain the whole problem behind HR 4437, and the fact that it wasn't about the pass Congress because the President didn't support it. Facts be damned, these people were going to protest because they wanted to, period. A number of students also commented that the government would get the point better if students left school by making the school lose ADA funding from absent students. No matter how I explained to them that they were hurting more Mexicans by doing that, they refused to listen. Then I showed some of them headlines from Drudge last weekend, and then I showed them the new headlines. Last weekend, the headlines screamed about the immigration protests and the power of the common Latino. Now the headlines are full of stories about students cutting class, Mexicans exhorting nationalism, and racial tension. Nope, didn't even phase them. In the end, they walked away, draped in Mexican flags and colors with cars full of Mexicans, flying the flag of Mexico.

The school was fairly powerless for the most part. Seriously, what are you going to do about it? The campus supervisors lined up at the front of the school and handed out leaflets that stated, "Any student that leaves campus unexcused, without parent permission, will get a cut." That deterred no one. In fact, many Mexican parents simply signed off on the absence, another example of the grateful masses doing harm to the system.

The protest marched downtown, marched to the local Wal-Mart to express their disdain of "The Low Price Leader" mistreating illegals, and then did a couple of speeches about Caesar Chavez at the town plaza.

What was accomplished?

Well, those people that sympathized with the protesters at the beginning of the week weren't only angry, they were downright furious at how the protesters decided to make this an issue about Mexico, and not immigration. Out of the hundreds of protestors, almost no American flags were present, with a plethora of Mexican flags waving all over the cloudy sky. One thing was very apparent to many of the people, liberal and conservative, around Ukiah and at Ukiah High School. This march was less about immigration and more about Mexican nationalism.

What we are witnessing is exactly why I don't like the idea of multi-cultural based education. By not demanding a guest culture conform to the dominant culture of the nation, we have set ourselves up for what is upon us. The guest culture (namely the Mexican immigrants) is protesting that the host country is wrong in demanding that they adjust to our social order, our laws, and our political system. Because we have been so accommodating to this culture, for social and economic reasons, they now feel attacked when reality has finally caught up with the realization that, surprise, they are not in Mexico any more, and the United States has to protect its own interests, not the interests of a Third World Nation. It has definitely been beneficial to have migrant labor in the United States in terms of lowering price pressures (although I'll disagree that it was 'necessary'). But now the problems of an open border that is allowing an importation of poverty and risking national security can't be ignored.

Whether it is ignorance, comfort, or naivete, I don't think many of the immigrants realize how good they actually have it compared to the conditions in Mexico. Think I'm being insensitive? The simple act of fleeing a country by the millions explains a lot. Mexico has plenty of land (oil, area), plenty of labor (population), and plenty of capital (foreign investment potential), but an enormously corrupt government that has the balls to say anything about the U.S. border policy. Of course he wants the border open, he's exporting poverty to the United States!

80% of legal American citizens actually support HR 4437. 80%! My recommendation is that those same protestors might want to wrap themselves in the Stars and Stripes, and start calling themselves Americans.
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