Day Without a Cohesive Message

I don't know if the "organizers" of today's "Day Without an Immigrant" activities knowingly borrowed their title from the movie "A Day Without a Mexican" (see also the short film by the same director, especially the user comment at IMDB), but it appears that they do share the same self-defeating premise.

A while back, when T & I watched the movie, I was hoping for a thoughtful examination of what would happen if our crutch of cheap, illegal labor was kicked out from under us. Instead, the movie depicted the disappearance of all SoCal residents with Mexican blood, descending into pointless hysteria in reaction to a phantom bloc of bigots that hates Mexicans, legal or il-. (The movie centers around the only Mexican left, a woman whom the media turns into a freak show, and who is distraught because her continued existence is a denial of her Mexican-ness. <SPOILER?> Turns out she was adopted, but when she opens herself to her true Mexican-ness, she too vanishes. It was so touching, I almost cried, but then I realized it would be wasteful in light of our perpetual water shortage.)

Today's events display the same schizophrenia, with immigrants both legal and illegal encouraged to stay home from work/school (or not, depending on which activists you listen to), but definitely not to buy anything. So even if there is an economic impact from today (first thing this morning, I already heard an "organizer" lowering expectations in an NPR interview by saying "even if there's no economic impact, the point is we've made ourselves heard…") what am I supposed to say? "Well, immigrants, y'all got a point thar, I retract my earlier position that we should revoke green cards and recent citizenships and kick furr'ners out the country"? There is nobody, even in the furthest, xenophobic, Pat Buchanan Right, that is against Legal Immigration. Today's protests and boycotts are opposing a threadbare strawman with barely a body, not to mention a brain.

I wish somebody would produce an honest remake, "Day Without an Illegal Mexican". I wish today could have been a well-organized, fully-supported "Day Without an Illegal Immigrant". As a matter of fact, let's stretch it from a day to a week or a month, even a year! I welcome a little well-deserved economic consequence. In the spirit of prevailing relativism, the preponderance of lawbreakers is held up as a reason not to enforce the law. Well, millions of Americans (including myself) speed on the freeway on a regular basis. But by signing on the dotted line of the drivers license application, we all officially recognize that we are subject to penalties if we're caught. And if there were a massive crackdown on speeding, well guess what, I'd take my lumps, pay my fine(s), and conform my behavior to the law. If there are myriad businesses/industries who would be devastated by removal of their illegal labor, well, that's what they get for profiting from illegal labor! (Wasn't the abolition of slavery devastating to the cotton industry?)

Call me naive, but I would like the opportunity to pay fair-market price for a basket of strawberries harvested by workers getting paid a wage an American would be willing to work for, rather than a price subsidized by the exploitation of cheap, illegal labor (and while I'm being naive, I wish the U.S. would stand up for freedom and human rights, and issue a boycott against China).

Anyways, let's hear it for the true legacy of Day Without an Immigrant: Day Without Traffic Congestion.

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3 Responses

  1. This event, and the mentality that’s driving it (prevalence = rightness) reminds me of the Elian Gonzalez affair. Hundreds of Hispanic Americans surrounded the home where Gonzalez was staying, daring the government to come in and take him.

    Then the government came in and took him. They screamed unfair. Too many SWAT members! Body armor, riot shields, rifles — too much force, too quickly! (What was the federal government supposed to do, walk forward bare-handed for an even fight?)

    I gather from these events that, in some situations, Latino culture has low respect for the rule of law.

    Every culture does, I suspect. But this impression about Latino culture is unfortunately reinforced in my mind from my experience of living in Puerto Rico for three years, where I routinely saw widespread littering (highway shoulders looked like strips of landfill) and flagrant running of red lights (as long as everyone keeps driving, the other guys with the green can’t go). Did you know that in a traffic jam you can get an extra three lanes out of the left and right shoulders? As long as you’re willing to wash the crud out your tires later on.

    I’m with you. Legal workers and legal minimum wages, even if that means higher prices for the rest of us. Let’s bring them in on the up-and-up.

  2. I asked Alex if he was going to skip work just because he could. His response was, “I’m not a Mexican, I’m an American”. And I guess I don’t know what to think about the whole situation because I haven’t given it enough thought. However, I do like having my whole huge lawn done for $70 a month. But my lawn guys come on Mondays and they didn’t show up on May 1. Their “point” got across to me until I realized, “they were supposed to get paid today, they’ll be here first thing in the morning”.

  3. The organizers themselves are confused as to what point they are making. Do they want simple amnesty and citizenship for all illegal aliens? Do they want no border security? Do they want all the territory that General Santa Ana sold us back? Do they want migrant worker permits?

    They are confused and we are confused. More discussion has been stirred up on my blog on this topic:
    http://jimost.wordpress.com/2006/04/13/my-immigration-rant/

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