Right on schedule: Times are tough, jobs are scarce, so the loudmouths look around for someone to bully.
The Sunday New York Times tells me:
1. Half of the 14.6 million people out of work have been that way for more than six months.
2. A group of senior Republican senators wants to revisit the 14th Amendment, which allows American-born children citizenship, regardless of their parents’ status. And, across the country there is frantic railing against plans to build Islamic mosques–especially a proposal for one near the World Trade Center’s graveyard.
Regardless of how you feel about people who come here following the ideal of freedom or those here who insist that they should be able to worship who/what/where they wish–you’ll surely agree with this:
If the Republican senators put their considerable energy, taxpayer-provided resources and powerful media platforms to work on solving the unemployment problem, they could do it. If the likes of mediagenic Sarah Palin, a vocal opponent to mosque construction, joined in…even better.
Instead, they are repeating mistakes of the past that will exact a price far greater than we can afford.
Keep your tired, your poor...
We perfected this behavior long ago, when the Civil War ravaged the Southern economy and led to a new kind of racism and segregation. The period called Reconstruction promised a lot to African Americans. Almost all of those promises were broken within a few years. Then, as now, citizenship was something to be denied, then granted, then denied again by the ruling class.
It took the South a century to recover and begin to thrive economically after legislation and social mores forced “free” blacks to the back of the bus and denied them the basic rights that came with citizenship for their white neighbors.
Along with the xenophobic and racist policies, the region got a culture that worked white mill workers (including their children) literally to death, and ensured they’d die in debt to the company store. Citizens and de facto slaves alike woke up to a land stripped of coal, timber and other resources by the same folks who promised that segregated mills would lead the South out of its poor past. Fast forward a few decades and see how it played out: The images seen around the world of dogs and fire hoses being used to govern are still synonymous with “the South” and “civil rights,” despite the enormous progress of the last 60 years.
We’re out of work, we’re broke, we’re scared and we’re going to fix it all by putting our collective foot on the necks of whomever we can keep down.
It won’t work this time around either.
(NYTimes stories: “Jobless And Staying That Way” by Nelson D. Schwartz and “I’m American. And You?” by Matt Bai. Also, “Across Nation Mosque Projects Meet Opposition,” by Laurie Goodstein.)