Thursday, March 22, 2007

Geography Lessons

by Sara

All right, that does it. Somebody needs to do a fundraiser and buy the Minutemen a map. Or do the whole country a favor and send them back to school for a mandatory geography refresher.

"See here, guys? This big country up at the top? That's C-a-n-a-d-a. It's cold and prosperous and does not have any Mexicans. There are lots of Chinese and Indians and even a fair number of Muslims (no, Jim, we don't spell "Muslim" with a T and two Rs -- please erase your work and try again) and a whole lot of white European people from all over the British Empire. But Canada has almost no Mexicans at all. Isn't that interesting?

"Now, boys, let's look at this horn-shaped country at the bottom of the map. We call that M-e-x-i-c-o. That's where all the Mexicans come from. In fact, it's about the only place Mexicans come from. That's right, Chris: Mexico-Mexicans -- it does sort of sound the same, doesn't it? Good observation. Think you can remember that until, oh, say, after lunch? Good. Then let's move on..."

This kind of geographical confusion is the only possible explanation for today's announcement that the Minutemen will be back on the northern border (that's the one with Canada, for any geography-challenged Minutemen who may be reading this -- remember, there are no Mexicans in Canada -- it's OK, you'll get the hang of this) again next month. Evidently, they greatly enjoyed their vacation up here last year, in spite of the fact that they spent a month sitting in the back of their pickups on lawn chairs 24/7 for four weeks and caught no Mexicans to speak of (because there are no Mexicans up here, as I think I've mentioned).

Which suggests that catching Mexicans may not even be the point. It may be as simple as the fact that sitting out in lawn chairs in the green, temperate fields of northwest Washington in April is just so much more pleasant than sitting out in those same chairs in the middle of the Sonora Desert in June.

Or, maybe, as they announced in their press release, it's not about Mexicans at all. Maybe they really are coming up to “deter drug smugglers, illegal aliens and terrorists who can slip through the borders.”

Um, guys, I hate to break it to you, but BC's world-class bud is right up there with film and timber on the list of major exports; and the gang that controls the lion's share of the cross-border trafficking in it is called the Hell's Angels. (You may have heard of them.) They are not retired. They are not brown. They speak English at least as well as you do (having gone to Canadian schools, which still insist on literacy in at least one, and preferably two, languages). They do not sit out in pickups in lawn chairs with walkie-talkies.

They do, however, do this for a living. They carry real loaded semi-automatics, which they use with some regularity. They are not nice to people who get in their way. I'm just, y'no, gently suggesting that you might want to re-think this "deterring drug smugglers" part.

As for "illegal aliens." There are a lot of them down on the border with Mexico (that's where all the Mexicans are, remember? Good! I knew that, with a little work, you'd get this!). But not many at all up here on the border with Canada. Also, this may or may not matter to you, but Canada gets really persnickety when America messes with their citizens -- you might want to google "Maher Arar" to find out more about how well that goes down up here. Just sayin'.

Also: I know it's hard, but try to imagine this. In Canada, the Charter of Rights (that's like the American Bill of Rights -- yes, Tom, I see your hand; come see me after class, and I'll explain what that is) actually protects the rights of brown people. Even immigrant brown people. Even Muslim and Mexican immigrant brown people. I know. It's just really different up there, isn't it? You might want to be just a little bit careful about this, 'K?

Which brings me to that "deterring terrorists" thing. Some of you already know first-hand that it's not all that easy to spot illegal Mexican immigrants coming over the Arizona border, even if you've got really good binoculars. So I'm just wondering: How will you know when you've found yourself an inbound Canadian-spawned terrorist? Oh, I see. They'll be Muslim. Or Mexican. Or brown. Are you sure that'll work? Really? Well, OK. Good luck with that.

How about a hint? If you want to find brown Canadian terrorists in western Washington, you can spot entire terrorist families, complete with dogs and children, crossing the border in vans every weekend. They come down from suburban Vancouver to spend their Al Qaeda Swiss bank account funds buying sneakers and sunglasses at the Tulalip outlet mall, which is owned by the Tulalip Indian tribe. But do be careful -- the Tulalips are brown, too, even though they're Americans -- I know, it's just so confusing! -- so be sure it's a gen-u-wine terrorist you've got ahold of, and not somebody whose ancestors were here 10,000 years ahead of yours and may still consider YOU an illegal immigrant, OK?

Finally, I've just got to share a little-known fragment of Minuteman global philosophy that the Bellingham Herald coughed up while covering the blessed return of this year's flock of fat old armed racists (couldn't we just have swallows, like San Juan Capistrano?). According to Washington State Minuteman leader Bob Baker, “No nation has ever succeeded with two different languages."

OK, make that a geography refresher plus a history update. Either that, or we need to figure out who's going to gently deliver the heartbreaking news of their "failure" to quadralingual Switzerland, China (with a minimum of six), and India -- which recognizes a breathtaking 23 official languages.

Can't read a map. Never read world history. Come to think of it, maybe night school isn't the answer here, after all. Maybe, if they're volunteering to be our front line of defense against the brown horde, we just skip this whole border nonsense, raise the enlistment age to, oh, say, 70, and ship these big old yellow elephants directly to Iraq.

You guys want to play soldier? Have we got a sandbox for you! And I guarantee you'll learn some lessons about world geography and culture you'll never be able to forget.

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