Tuesday, April 03, 2007

"Flag" "Montebello" "Hoax"

(This was NOT a hoax. I know many of you who visit this article were searching on "Montebello hoax" or some similar string. Hence the title. Sorry if I misled you, but this was not a hoax. I'm sure you were hoping to find proof that we poor, silly conservatives were merely overreacting to a collosal joke, but it happened. If you still want to read about it, forge ahead. If not, sorry I wasted your time. - Woody)

When this incident took place last year, I wrote a post concerning the whole anti-America sentiment currently being tolerated by so many politicians in this country. What disturbs me most, however, is that deniers are already spreading the idea that this very recent history was, somehow, a hoax. Never happened. Just more overreaction by right-wing conspiracy nuts. This is indicated by the frequent appearance of those words in a search string that leads people to the post I wrote last May.

How I wish it was a hoax.

But the unfortunate fact is that it happened. High school students exercised their rights to free speech by deliberately placing our flag underneath the Mexican flag, and compounded the insult by hanging it upside down; a clear violation of flag etiquette, and a sure indicator of the political allegiances held by this coming generation of youth in this country. A slap in the faces of those who pledge allegiance to this country willingly and with meaning.

Setting aside for a moment the idea that these kids may or may not be in this country legally, I feel a little background may be useful in examining their protest. Most of these kids are probably third or fourth generation latinos whose roots lie in Mexico or any of the Central American nations. Statistically, their families probably entered this country illegally. Legal immigration has always been difficult, and one must generally be at least somewhat affluent before even attempting the process to enter the United States with our blessing. So their ancestors entered this country at a risk, willing to make whatever sacrifices may have been necessary in order to provde a better life for their families and their descendants.

Even today, most who risk everything to enter this country do so because anything - even living here illegally and risking deportation (or worse) - has to be better than whatever awaits them back "home." Sure, there are always opportunists and gamblers, but of the people I've come to know over the years they represent a relative minority. I still believe these protestors do not represent the vast majority of latinos who live, work, raise their families, and contribute to society in this part of the country.

Over time, having lived here for at least a couple of generations, the children and grandchildren of those pioneers become naturalized by default. These second and third (or fourth, or fifth) generation youngsters are in little, if any, danger of ever being deported. Most of them have birth certificates and social security numbers declaring them to be citizens of the United States. That their citizenship came to them through the extreme sacrifices of their ancestors seems to be lost on them. Because they feel that we're not somehow making their lives carefree and easy, they feel the need to strike back. We'll show 'em! We'll take "our" country back, and declare ourselves to be Mexicans. Not Americans.

It is, I suspect, an attitude that would embarrass their ancestors. As it is, it brings no honor to their cause today.

And so they protest. We (and I suspect my white skin places me permanently in that classification) are discriminating against latino peoples in this country. (I guess discrimination is a full time occupation for a white male in America; I apparently discriminate against latinos, blacks, gays, women, and liberals. How I ever find time to work, raise my family, attend to my church responsibilities, and sing in a chorale is quite beyond my ability to comprehend. I just do it.) We are somehow refusing to make life better for latino people by wanting our borders to be more secure than they are today. We discriminate by only allowing them to work in jobs that no one else - certainly not us! - wants. (Someone better tell that to my niece, the newly-hired burger-flipper!) (Although, to be fair, she's only working the register at the moment, according to her Mom.)

But the protest is a bankrupt one, morally. These protests have nothing to do with discrimination in America. This is about anarchy and their desire to live ungoverned lives of freedom and entitlement. Give us the money, no strings attached, and no one gets hurt! When you set foot in East Los Angeles, bro, you're on our turf. You play by our rules. That's the message these kids really wanted us to hear.

The flag flew upside-down. It was no hoax, and neither was the sentiment behind it.

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