Sunday, April 9, 2006

May 1, 2006 : The Great American Boycott

I was in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, March 25th on my way to a wedding. My friend's ceremony was at a temple near Japantown, and we were staying at the Figueroa Hotel near the Staples Center. That drive is normally around fifteen minutes, but on this day it took nearly an hour. It wasn't the legendary LA traffic that caused the delay. March 25th was the day of the massive protest/rally against HR4437. It was amazing to see that many people unified and pissed off about one issue to the point they would take it to the streets. Univision estimated the rally at nearly 2 million people; the LA Times, reflecting police estimates, estimated the rally at around 500,000. I was there, and while I have no idea what 500,000 or 2 million people looks like, I can sure tell you it felt like at least a million. I wish there were no HR4437, but I was glad to see so many people out against it.

Deportation? Learn English or leave? Say what? Another of W.'s half-baked policies about racism and straw men? You bet. It's startling how rapid institutionalized racism can take root. I don't want to get too apocalyptic here, but I wonder how much people can take before something gives. How long can government expect the masses to tolerate such policies, especially in the face of its own harmful incompetence? Folks, remember, we do not have to internalize the either/or, extremist, confrontational, fear-based world our president is creating.

It's wrong to believe that undocumented workers are responsible for the United States' economic problems. The wealth in this country is staggering. Add up how much Paramount Pictures spends in a single year to make its films. Do you know how much it costs to stage one car explosion scene in a single movie? Alex Rodriguez, baseball player, makes over 25 million dollars per year. A subsidiary of Halliburton (Kellogg, Brown & Root) has reported over $15 billion in revenue since the start of the Iraq War in 2003. And here's a frightening number--according to the U.S. Treasury Department, in his first four years in office George W. Bush borrowed more money from foreign governments and financial instiutions than all previous 42 Presidents combined. From 1776-2000, 42 Presidents borrowed 101 trillion dollars. In four years, W. borrowed over 105 trillion. And I am supposed to have anger toward undocumented workers and their hourly wages?

The No HR4437 group says this on its website, regarding the May 1 Boycott:

"The points of unity are: No Work, No School, No Sales, and No Buying, and also to have rallies around symbols of economic trade in your areas (stock exchanges, anti-immigrant corporations, etc.). Cities across the United States have marched during the week, therefore, in essence observing a regional boycott, which is only felt regionally. The March 25th Coalition against HR4437, calls for these regions to develop a national network that will 'connect the dots.' We believe with numbers we have power, the power currently necessary to keep the pressure on the White House to propose provisions that are just and fair for all immigrants."
Find out more here---May 1, 2006, The Great American Boycott.

33 comments:

soon-young said...

thank you for this post. i was thinking about these same issues today, actually.

Lee Herrick said...

isn't it weird, k? i think these things are ways to legitimize & fuel people's racism. i'm not one to march, but i might go check things out if there's a rally here.

Michael Parker said...

This is an excellent post, Lee! Thank you. I'm so glad these marches are taking hold. And they seem to be working on a political level; on the social level, however, it has created a great riff, as you have noted. Extremism is the new religion for many. It's very sad.

A. D. said...

lee—
thanks for this post. i think it's difficult for many to grasp institutionalized racism as racism per se—perhaps they only grasp the concept on an individually accountable basis: "i am not a racist."

of course, these are likely the same people who mistake instituionalized poverty among their "legal" fellow-citizens as laziness.

this we::them business, setting precedents for what jobs "americans don't want" and regulating legitimacy of peoples as citizens is all earmarked with ethnocentrism.

to think simultaneously that there are americans who don't want jobs at all because they're lazy, that there are american jobs that aren't good enough for americans but good enough for migrant workers, that these workers aren't good enough/deserve to be americans, and that any one deserves 25 million a year sheds some light on the american perspective—at least the perspective of those with influence.

those in power don't have to worry about the country's economic well-being as long as their own economic well-being is conserved. such is conservative philosophy—building their own defenses and defending borders.

of course this leads to institutions and marginalization.

sorry to ramble on.

Lee Herrick said...

AD, yeah, the cycle of investment/revenue protection and institutionalized racism is difficult to break, if not near impossible. it's so deeply and historically entrenched, that i think it isn't even noticeable for many. your comment is right on, though, and i appreciate the feedback.

on another note, i perused three candles...it's a nice journal/press you all have going on.

Lee Herrick said...

thanks, michael. yes, it is sad i agree!

Dana Y. T. Lin said...

Excellent post.

Anonymous said...

Great post... I am only a 19 year old kid and let me tell you, not having rights is not very pleasent. Been in the us for 12 years and still no drivers license and having to pay international tuition for college is horrible. something must be done. sadly, none of my friends know my position.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lee Herrick said...

to the person whose posts i removed:

1) this blog is not a democracy like others where you can write whatever you want, calling immigrants names ("locusts," etc.)and becoming the poster-boy for xenophobic racism run amok. if you want to engage in such exchanges, there are other blogs or websites where someone will banter with you.

2) go read someone else's blog.

3) if you must share a differing view, do it with respect (without name calling) and an iota of logic. but seriously, wouldn't your time be better spent elsewhere?

4) if you are going to be so brave as to insult me (i wonder if you are the same person who told me i should be "ashamed" of myself because i wrote a favorable review of a book on north korea, which i have a feeling you know very little about except for the soundbites on conservative radio/tv)-----identify yourself: your name, blog, and anything else other than "anonymous."

5) refer to #2 again.

Anonymous said...

SO MUCH FOR FREE SPEECH!

Anonymous said...

Illegal means AGAINST THE LAW! Illegal immigrants got here by breaking the law! How simple is that?

By the way, there was no racism and no name-calling in this comment

Lee Herrick said...

thank you for your toned down response. we'll agree to disagree, but as i said, i really don't have the energy to debate you on this. but i understand your opinion.

are you going to identify yourself (name, location, blog/ etc) or not?

Anonymous said...

Actually there IS no debate, because my last comment was a true statement. How could you or anyone disagree with a true statement?

My name is Barbara, I am a 52-year-old widow, and I live in Northern California. I am a professional musician and I am an ALgebra tutor.

What is a blog?

Lee Herrick said...

barbara, first of all, truth is relative and subject to various (historical, among others) interpretations. crossing the border illegally is indeed against the law, and i am against breaking the law. but i cannot make the huge leap to therefore associate these individuals (be they hispanic, european, asian, etc.) with the rampant criminal behavior fear-mongers would have us believe in. there are many reasons for hate, but someone trying to work hard in this country is not one of them, in my opinion. i think people ought to worry about themselves a bit more.

undocumented workers may, in small numbers, tax our economy, but so do the thousands of (legal) north americans who abuse the worker's compensation laws, milking the system for years. so do the thousands of (legal) north americans who file unemployment and live on it (illegally) for years. if they would ever be investigated and found guilty, would we call them illegal americans/citizens? deprt them to "wherever they came from"? love it or leave it, huh? give me a break. you might want to look up the logical fallacy known as "false dilemma."

but my biggest problem with this, barbara, goes way beyond my thoughts on undocumented workers and way beyond yours---i simply do not like the fact that when our government (yes, george w. and congress) tells us that this is the subject of the day, we get ourselves in a lather and direct our negative energies toward hispanics (mainly), feeding the hate machine and actaully believing that they have a significant impact on our tanking economy. are you familiar with the size of the u.s. deficit? its spending and borrowing tendencies? and shall we enter a discussion of u.s. foreign policy and halliburton-type companies that create/foster dire economic conditions around the world? in other words, the issue is larger than one's disdain for immigrants.

you ask, what is a blog? barbara, you are apparently reading my blog. my website is a blog. and may i ask, did you just stumble upon my website/blog, or do you read it regularly for some reason? are you one of those lurkers?

i hope we can now agree to disagree, barbara (or whatever your real name is). you have a lot of hate towards "illegal immigrants," and i do not. so be it. if you want to post again, i will ask that you also e-mail me with an e-mail address that reveals your name. you may e-mail me at leeherrick (at) hotmail.

take care of yourself, and good luck with your music.

Lee Herrick said...

on seocnd thought, "barbara," don't e-mail me. i'm a bit busy to keep on with this. but it's been fun. cheers.

Anonymous said...

What's a "lurker"? Are you now calling me names? And you are very judgemental, saying that I "hate" illegal immigrants. I NEVER used the word "hate". (But you did.) I don't like people breaking the law, whoever they are.

And you also are implying I am a liar--Barbara IS my real name. Why should I hide that?

You are changing the subject and trying to sound educated by bringing up foreign policy and U.S. deficit. Don't you think I am aware of all of those things? Apparently not. But that wasn't the issue. "Illegal" immigrants was the issue. And the reason the focus is on Mexico is because thousands daily are crossing the BORDER between the U.S. and Mexico. Hello--the only other country whose borders touch our own is Canada. Look at a map!

I found your "blog" not by "lurking" (that sounds so rude)but by googling "Great American Boycott". I wanted to find out more about it.

And truth is truth, it is NOT relative. Either you break the law or you don't.

Anonymous said...

Barbara, your comments are right on target. This debate is about illegal immigration, period. The pro-illegal immigration supporters are being absolutely disingenuos when they characterize the debate as being anti-immigration. When people have to lie and and play word games, it is clear indication that what they support is clearly wrong/indefensible.


John Creasy

Anonymous said...

Lee, you may want to look up the Bandwagon Fallacy and do a little reading yourself. How can you really justify illegal immigration by whining "but some north americans abuse the system too"? I am of course in favor of punishments for these people, just as I am in favor of punishments for anyone who breaks the law. And yes, immigrating to a country without the consent of said country is in fact breaking the law. If you really believe what you posted, why don't you post your address, and I will come live at your house. Obviously you would support giving me full family rights, wouldn't you? Because anything else would just be hypocritical...

As far as I am concerned, this has nothing to do with racism, and is not aimed at any particular group. All your argument proves is that overly PC influences in this country have groomed us all to believe that any display of disapproval is a personal attack, and that by playing the "race card", you believe that you can trump all opposition. I'm sorry, but all it does is show a lack of understanding of the issue, and the hispanic community is not doing themselves any favors by espousing similar arguments.

Barbara said...

Wow! I am so glad that I wrote to this site. We've got a good discussion going now! Thanks, everybody. I hope you're reading this TRUTH, Lee.

Anonymous said...

Barbera is quite correct. Truth is truth, it is not relative. Perspective and opinions are relative. Lee your facts concerning President Bush are incorrect. He supports a method of legalization and has derided mass deportations. You really should get your facts straight before popping off on Bush. I think Bush is on your side here. The boycotts are related to ILLEGAL imigration, not immigration as a whole. Those that support living wages should be clamoring for a clamp down on the employers if they employ illegals. These employers depress wages by hiring illegals that are willing to work under the radar for less than minimum wage. Hate is not the issue here. The issue is the unfairness of rewarding those that break our laws with "amnesty" while those that go through the proper legal process wait for decades to come in. I too found this site by googling the May 1 boycott. I am not a lurker and my name is Bob

Barbara said...

You are right, Bob. Thanks for some more truth. And thank you, too, John. Isn't it interesting how Lee now has nothing to say?

Anonymous said...

It's not about racism. It's about starting out in a new country, the USA, on a premise of illegality. If a person's first act in the country they purport to want to adopt is a crime, that criminal doesn't belong here.

Anonymous said...

Corporate America should uniformly respond by firing anyone who identifies themselves as an "undocumented" illegal alien. The police should stand ready to arrest, detain and deport.

Anonymous said...

With this controversial boycott coming up, I'd like to put in my two cents worth.

First of all, I am very sympathetic to those who may lose their jobs and be deported. However....

Did they NOT realize that they risked getting deported should they be caught and immigration laws enforced? As for true fairness, how about my chinese grandmother (and others) who legally filed and waited the red tape to get to the US legally? How would you feel if others cheated by "cutting in line in front of you"? Wouldn't these same "illegals" feel cheated if legal Americans were allowed to cut in front of every line for gas, groceries, etc. before them?

Look, I do sympathize with the suffering of these mexicans, but simply that they lived here many years does not negate the "crime" of crossing the border illegally. If a street criminal was not caught for 15 years, would you give amnesty due to the fact since then he "turned good" and had a real job?

No doubt this problem is not easily solved. But it is mainly because of the lack of enforcement for so long that the impact is this great.

Paul Revere said...

America is a white country, it'll stay a white country, REMEMBER THE ALAMO !

Barbara said...

Now now Paul, be careful. Lee will call you a racist!

The bottom line is: if we reward people who have broken the law, it will just be a green light for MORE to do the same, and come here illegally, because they know they can. Those who have done this should be deported.

Everyone here, but the Native Americans who were already here, is an immigrant or is descended from an immigrant. People have come from many different places to spend their lives in this free country, the envy of all the world. But they all did it legally, with respect for the laws of the land, and with gratitude for the freedoms they enjoy here. What we are seeing now and what is of major concern, is something totally different--disregard for the laws and disrespect for our country and its freedoms.

Paul, your comment does lead me to something else. This country's language is English and our National Anthem should be sung in English. I find it appalling that it has been rewritten and recorded in Spanish! You don't hear the Italians or the Swedes or the Poles or any other immigrants singing our National Anthem in THEIR language!

Gayle said...

For the poster who wants the national anthem only sung in English, you are being very silly. I believe the anthem should be sung in every language. We are a nation of immigrants and all peoples should be able to sing the anthem in their native language, or whatever language they understand. English is not the official language of the US.

Anonymous said...

All people should be treated fairly and given the opportunity to go forward in life. But, no other group of people as the has come to America and received pampered treatment as the Hispanics. Now too sing the anthem in spanish is disrespectful to the country. When the African Americans made their anthem, Lift Every Voice, it was inclusive too everyone, not taken out of context, what the Hispanics want is America the second language in its own country. Immigrants are visitors, respect the extended opportunity. In addition, if your are illegal, how can one stand and protest in another persons backyard after running from ones own. These demostrations are unlawful. The civil rights demostrations were the loosing of bondage of an oppressed people who was taken from a land in force and deprived of life, liberty and worth. No one has taken these new immigrants, they are running from a homeland to take anothers homeland and screaming unfair practice when in fact, they have no legality. If our government wanted to crack down on illegal immigrants, wait until Monday, May 1, 2006, and every American who does not presently have a job, go to any place of business where help is needed and ask if this public place need help and put the American public back to work.

Anonymous said...

I really like what you wrote it is so true I can totally relate to what you are saying I am glad that you are educating people, because some think otherwise, I am happy to see human beings that think like you. Good Going!

Gayle said...

Anonymous is not educating anyone with his mis-information. First of all, he feels threatened by a simple translation of the national anthem. He operates out of fear - so much so that he can not even post his name on a blog and identify himself. Second, he assumes that the rallies and demonstrations are being organized and held by illegals - they are not. They are organized and attended by American citizens exercizing their constutional rights to demonstrate who believe that HR4437 is oppressive to immigrants and immigrant communities by criminalizing the entire community who associates with them intentionally or not including stores, businesses, family and clergy members. The rallies are organized to protest HR4437 and to demand comprehensive immigrant reform to overhaul an antiquated citizenship process, to demand protections for those immigrants (Mexican and otherwise) who are currently being taking advatage of (literally raped and pillaged) by others who seek to transport them here and opress them by employing them here under inhumane conditions and non-living wages. The demonstrators are seeking a path to citizenship for others not an inhumane guest worker program which demands full responsibilities and no rights as proposed by HR4437. As Lee stated early on, HR4437 fuels racism and is a way to legitimize it. Clearly little chicken Annoynous does not understand why the demonstrations are taking place. Third, Annonmous really and truly believes that while the illegals are out on May 1, employers will hire Americans when in fact, employers who hire undocumented workers do not want to hire Americans. They want to pay cheap wages, cash, have no taxes on their employees and to take advantage of their fellow human beings and their own government. Who is criminal here? If there were no opportunity here in America for the undocumented they would not come. The true criminals are the racist, extremist employers to hire the undocumented. Anomyous #1 & #2 your ignorance is showing.

Lee Herrick said...

barbara, in response to your comment, "isn't it interesting that Lee has nothing to say," i thought i would mention that i was in los angeles for three days with a group of students, and upon returning i found out my sister had emergency surgery, and lastly, my wife and i just moved into a beautiful new home and will be without dsl for a short while. even had i been at home with nothing to do, quite honestly your arguments bored me, and i was not enticed nor threatened by your baiting tactics.

i don't expect an iota of understanding from you, since i do not know you and you owe me nothing (and vice-versa), but i will also add that i have very little interest, as a i stated before, in engaging in online debates of this sort. if you want to engage in a bitter and personal argument, i am not the person with whom you should be speaking. such discussions aren't for me.

lastly, i hesitate to do this because i would like you all to continue the discussion (albeit elsewhere), but i will be ending the comments here and disabling them from here on out. as i'm sure you know, there are MANY other (much better) outlets for this discussion than my blog (especially since i am not very patient with name calling, anonymous posting, baiting tactics or taunting). one of you can continue it elsewhere if you have the huge need to do so. obviously you can/might use my blog as a starting point for the discussion, and from there, have yourselves a ball.

Take care, everyone.