Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Racism Is Alive and Well in the Heartland

Well, they did it. The town of Fremont, Nebraska, population just over 25K, passed the Arizona-esque anti-immigrant ordinance making it illegal to hire or rent to "illegal aliens." Yes, I prefer the term undocumented. I'm one of those people who find it somewhat unsavory to call another human being illegal.

And no, I'm not saying let's throw our borders open. We need to fix this problem, improve security, all that. It's a complicated mess. But laws like this are so fueled by racism and ignorance that it makes me sick to my stomach.

A friend of mine over on the Facebook keeps tossing out this topic for discussion. Some of the responses are really nauseating. Some of those posters are avowed Christians. I wonder if they take their Christian hats off before talking about other human beings like so much unwanted garbage. Can't figure out how that works.

When I think about the "illegal" people I know, I don't think of them as lawbreakers, any more than I think of myself as a lawbreaker when I occasionally drive over the speed limit. I might justify driving too fast by saying, "But I don't want to lose my job/appointment with the chiropractor/good seat at the movie."

Likewise, many of the people who cross the border justify their lawbreaking with excuses like, "But my children are hungry." If I had children, and was in a situation where I could not provide for their health and safety, I'd do whatever I could to change that. I'd cross borders to feed them, and probably wouldn't wait the years required for the uncertain process of getting legal permission to do so.

I've often wished for a national strike day where all the "illegals" took a day off. How many factories and restaurants and landscaping services (and countless other businesses that work in the background of our lives) would continue to function? If they took a week off, it would be a national emergency. And my classroom would be a sterile place indeed.

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