Thursday, January 31, 2013

Señor Orwell's script

So now the vaunted "Latino lobby" feels powerful enough to try to define the terms of the 'immigration debate:'
A conservative pro-immigration reform group has issued talking points to Republican lawmakers, telling them to avoid referring to the children of illegal immigrants as "anchor babies" or calling for the construction of an "electric fence" on the border, among other things.
The talking points, published by BuzzFeed, went out to Republican lawmakers on the Hill as momentum builds for an immigration bill that would legalize most of the country's 11 million illegal immigrants. The memo urges lawmakers to call illegal immigrants "undocumented immigrants" and to avoid terms such as "aliens" or "illegals." Another phrase to avoid? "Send them all back."
"Conservatives get a bad rap when it comes to immigration reform because of a few people who say things that can be taken to be offensive," said Jennifer Korn, executive director of the Hispanic Leadership Network, the center-right group that sent the talking points on Monday. "It all means the same thing, but the way you say it matters."
I agree that both sides need to remember we are talking about human beings--that racist and abusive language is not helpful.  But to have an honest discussion, it's inevitable that some 'offensive' terms come into play, because:

- If you entered this country without permission and proper paperwork, then you did so ILLEGALLY
- If you remained in this country after expiration of any valid visa or permit, then you did so ILLEGALLY
- If you entered this country just in time to have a baby that could be declared a U.S. citizen under a twisted interpretation of the 14th Amendment, in the hopes the li'l citizen could then sponsor dozens of relatives, well, what else do you call that but an "anchor baby?"

Here's what *I* find offensive--neutering effective policy discussion by substituting euphemisms for plain language.   Nor can you have it both ways: if all these hard-working "undocumented workers" are still just 'doing jobs Americans won't do,' then why they hell are we paying ANYBODY unemployment?  Given the choice of flipping burgers or going hungry, more people might become grateful just to earn a paycheck at all.  

As I've said many times before, this doesn't have to be about race--though some of the new arrivals send mixed messages in that regard.  It IS, at a minimum, about culture and customs of governance.  Rather than assimilate to the patterns that made this country attractive in the first place, many of the newcomers (not just Latinos) seek to recreate their homelands, just augmented with stuff from Walmart and Best Buy.  What happens when this demographic wave gets strong enough these newcomers no longer feel a need to couch their demands as 'suggestions?' 

We need MORE 'offensive,' plain-speaking discussion, if we're to avoid an even more offensive future.  Don't think for a moment "it can't happen here."

No comments:

Site Meter