Wednesday, February 28, 2007
I Have Met La Raza And La Raza Is Me
Newspapers lie. They have to. If they went around just telling people stuff that was true, we'd all be well-informed people possessed of a knowledge and perspective about the world unhindered by sensationalism or paranoia or the yellow tincture of hopelessness and fear fed to us by a cynical press. And then, if that were the case, what the hell would we need newspapers for, right? Information? Fuck that. I can get information. Between the internets and the Bible and the kid I buy weed from, there really isn't a lot about the universe that gets past me.
It is from the newspaper that I learn what I should be scared of, what parts of my everyday life are going to kill me, that it's OK to linger and linger and linger over the details of Britney Spears' vagina pictures so long as I wrap it in some bullshit argument about the effect it has on the self-esteem of young girls.
So newspapers lie. It's part of the implicit contract between service and receiver of said service. They ratchet up the melodrama of what should be rather staid reportage (multilateral negotiation sessions with North Korea! Dow Jones! Dick Cheney's plane!) and boil them all down for me into nice, easily digested headlines I can skim just enough to activate my irritable bowels.
That's why I get knocked kind of sideways when I read newspaper stories like this one.
Apparently, all of a sudden, immigrants are good for us.
Like broccoli. Anyone interested in reading about broccoli? Unless it's tainted with e coli or is the father of Anna Nicole's baby, fuck you, broccoli.
Of course any rational person already knows, deep in the heart of hearts, that immigrants are good for the overall health of our country. It sort of what we're about underneath the ridiculous facade of NASCAR and AYSO. The necessary social place of modern immigrants from Mexico, Central America, Africa and Asia is the same as the one that used to be covered by Germans or Poles or Swedes or Italians or the disgusting Irish or even freed African-Americans post-Civil War: cheap, exploitable labor.
Just as old an idea is the tacit agreement that they will do the work while we will provide the necessary function of scapegoating them as the focus of all our social ills until such a time as they (or, more likely, their grandchildren) buy houses in our neighborhoods. It's just the way it's done. The transitions are awkward and painful, I know. I've seen School Ties. But in the end, we all as a group reach an understanding. Mostly about how much we hate Matt Damon.
But now I have a newspaper telling me something that is neither sexed up nor scary. And I have to live with the idea spoken openly that immigrants actually provide a necessary complex of socio-economic benefits. What the fuck am I supposed to do with this?
They cover lower-paying jobs, leaving the rest of us free to compete for higher-status ones that pay better and require at least the benefits of a US public education and a basic grasp of English. Which means I also found out: those two things are not mutually exclusive! Worst day for preconceived notions since the day that Doogie Howser guy came out as a homo.
Not only do they help fire our economy, but apparently they are by and large strongly law-abiding and make up a statistically irrelevant portion of our prison population, especially compared to American-born people of the same ethnic persuasion.
Jesus, this is depressing. I guess the only thing to be glad of is that I'm not part of that goddamn Minuteman Project. I'd have hung myself by now.
Without the Mexican immigrant bogey to blame all my troubles on, what the fuck am I, Whitey McEntitlement, supposed to irrationally villify? I mean, the article clearly shows that...
...wait... I think I... oh man, I think it's...
Oh! I got it! The problem? American-born people of Mexican descent!
Citizens? Sure. English speaking? Yes. But probably somewhat bilingual. You can never trust someone who speaks more than one language, especially if one of the other ones is some kind of gutter Not English.
Also, since they're speaking English and enjoying the benefits of our education system, they out there RIGHT NOW competing for jobs that would otherwise go to OTHER American citizens. They swell our schools and our welfare rolls and our health-care budgets all just because they were born in this country and enjoy all the freedoms and benefits all citizens should expect. Just because they're Us, they think they're Us.
And what do we get in return? The lame excuse to get shitfaced on Cinco de Mayo. Which, OK, is pretty sweet. Any excuse to show up drunk on a work day.
The same scam worked for the Irish with St. Patrick's Day. This is why Prohibition failed: too much pressure on a large immigrant population to ingratiate themselves to the country at large without the benefit of alcohol. What else were they going to charm us with? Corned beef and cabbage? My colon politely declines.
This whole episode has been pretty troubling. Some other undeserving famous person had better die within the next few days just so I can get my head right. I nominate Paris Hilton.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 1.7