Monday, July 14, 2008

Ignorance And Hatred And The Price Immigrants Pay

[Cross-posted at Firedoglake.]
It would be a good thing, really, to have a rational national debate about immigration. But at every turn, the nativist right makes clear that it’s far more intent on promoting bellicose bigotry fueled by ignorance and hypocrisy. The more ignorant and stupid, it seems, the better.

Down in LA this weekend the National Council of La Raza held its annual conference, and Barack Obama spoke there. Now, the nativist contingent, as well as its willfully misinformed movement-conservative defenders, love to attack NCLR as "racist" — because they ignorantly translate "La Raza" as "the race." We’ve dispensed with this senescent little turd previously, but to quickly recap: "La Raza," as the Wikipedia entry accurately explains, is correctly translated not as "the race" but "the people," since it refers generically to "the people of Latin America" (or more narrowly, "of Mexico"). It’s generically a multiracial term, not a racist one.

And so, sure enough, the nativist protesters showed up outside the gathering and broadly waved their ignorance about. As kyledeb at Citizen Orange reports, the signs read as follows:
"Support Americans Not La Raza",
"La Raza Means ‘The Race’",
"La Raza Stop the Hate Against Americans",
"La Raza, Neo-Nazi, KKK, Racist Groups",
"Obama: 50% White, 43.75% Arabic, 6.25% Black, 100% Brown RACIST"
But that’s not all they were trotting out to the scene:
Just as I was about to turn away from filming a man holding a sign of a boy urinating on the phrase "La Raza", I heard him begin to chant, "Fuck You Brown Boy. Fuck You Brown Boy. Fuck You Brown Boy." The San Diego Minuteman supporter was walking up a ramp to the convention center and was speaking to another full-grown man that looked to be of latino descent to me.

In all fairness, I have no idea what the latino man was saying to the San Diego Minutemenn supporter. It could have been just as hateful. I followed them until they parted ways and just as I was about to stop filming again, a group of people walked through chanting, "Viva La Raza. Viva La Raza." The Minuteman supporter then went at it again, "Fuck La Raza. Fuck La Raza. Fuck La Raza."
It’s easy to dismiss all this as just so many heated words. But then you see incidents like the massive raids in Iowa, where children are separated from their parents and huimans treated like cattle, and realize that it’s much more than that. The toxic effect of this kind of ignorance produces human travesties — like the one in Tennessee in which a very pregnant Latino woman was taken to jail, then transferred to the city hospital when her water broke, where she was shackled to her bed, and forced to deliver her child under those circumstances.

Political Salsa
has all the details:
– A woman, three days before delivery of her fourth AMERICAN child, was wrongly arrested and incarcerated.

– Her water broke while she was in jail; she was transported to Metro General Hospital.

– When the nurse asked her to undress to get into hospital clothes, the sheriff’s guard was asked to leave for the moment. He — yes, he — refused. So she had to undress in front of him. …

– Then, while in labor, she was handcuffed by her wrist and ankle to the bed. I’ve seen women in labor, and they constantly are shifting positions to try and get some sense of relief, if that is even possible. Now consider the pain if handcuffs prevented your movement.

– Thankfully, the handcuffs were taken off two hours before she delivered. But then she was restrained again in bed a day later. And every trip to the bathroom required leg shackles. When the nurse strongly objected, the sherrif’s department stayed absolute. The nurse said the new mother would not be able to clean herself properly with shackles. The sheriff’s guard said it didn’t matter; he was doing his job.

… — It also didn’t matter if the baby received the critical mother’s milk in its first days of life. The child was removed from its mother, and Ms. DeLaPaz was returned to jail.

– The final injury inflicted upon this CIVIL/MISDEMEANOR offender was the denial of her use of a breast pump to express her milk for the baby and her own comfort. The nurse again strongly objected, but the sheriff’s department again played law enforcer, physician and God.
The child later was diagnosed with jaundice — a result of not getting its mother’s breast milk.
Sure, it’s just one mother, one kid. But when ignorance rules our discourse and drives our public policy — including our law enforcement — you know that whatever comes out is not going to be good. Scenes like these, incidents like these, are repeated endlessly, usually never reported. And a hundred other little human travesties like them follow as well. It happens a drop at a time, but the toll adds up.

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