Sunday, November 30, 2008

For Sophia on Thanksgiving

Dear Sophia

Today I opened up the blog and found a comment full of anger and hurt.  The signature said "Sophia."  Below is an excerpt of the comment.  I have taken out the offensive words and the statistics you provided.  I believe the statistics are wrong.  You quote a high rate of murders by undocumented immigrants.  According to well respected sociologist Ruben Rumbaut (considered one of the most credible experts on immigration in the U.S.); less than 2 out of 100,000 people incarcerated for murder are undocumented.  No this doesn't mean they get away with it.  Think about it... it is not logical for a person with little or no financial resources to have a good criminal lawyer.  People who are undocumented usually get public defenders who at times have been known to fall asleep during trials.

see dreamacttexas post:  The MYTH of Immigrant Criminality, November 17, 2008

Sophia's comment:

You want us to be up in arms about 1 ILLEGAL ALIEN being killed?  To... you, U.S. citizens' blood, means nothing (sic).  Stop you racist hate bating (sic)...Our blood is worth no less than theirs.   Where is the tears for my people (sic)?

My response to Sophia.  Yes, Marcello Lucero was only one person.  Many other people have been murdered in the United States, a few by undocumented immigrants, and many many by U.S. citizens.  What makes Lucero's death much more tragic is how it all happened.  The young men who attacked him live in a place where community leaders provoked U.S. citizens, telling them horrible things about immigrants.  The place is full of people like Lou Dobbs.  You add this to a few mis-guided angry young men and you have disaster on your hands.  

Think about it.  Why would a handful of teens want to go "beat up a Mexican?"  It means a number of things.

1.  They don't think Mexicans deserve to be treated like other people (remember they didn't say undocumented, they just used the term Mexican).
2.  Somewhere they learned that is it OK to physically harm other people.
3.  They must have felt there would be no consequences for their violent behavior.
4.  They must have felt they were doing something good for themselves.
5.  They were very very angry about something they felt had been done to them, either by the "Mexicans" or someone else.  There is a big reality about many people in the U.S. feeling they have been maligned or damaged by someone else.  The cause often falls on immigrants who are seen as taking too much of the shrinking pie.  There is real sadness, despondency, and rage - and that is getting worse by the day.  It is much easier to think that other poor people (i.e. undocumented immigrants) are stealing the pie that perhaps those that already have big pieces.  The gap between rich and poor in the U.S. is strikingly higher than it has ever been.  

The next question I have is, what could Mexicans have done to them to provoke such rage?

1.  Speak Spanish in public?  That seems to make people very angry.  It is so un-American to people who feel that everybody in the U.S. needs to be the same.
2.  Use American resources?  Get food stamps and other assistance?  (undocumented people cannot get food stamps)  Health care (yes, most places they can but why would you deny health care to someone needing it?  that seems like a crime in itself to me).  
3.  Make America look Mexican?  Well, there may be a little truth to that, but you can bet it won't influence the affluent neighborhoods.  The reality is that "the Mexican look" has taken over the working class neighborhoods.  But were those kids from the Long Island working class?

Last question for today. 

What makes a bully?

Lou Dobbs is a bully, so are Bill O'Reilly and Dick Cheney.  So were the boys from Long Island.  

I can look up some academic paper that analyzes bullies, but I'll leave that for the reader to ponder.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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