Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Blame Game

Short laundry list of problems we face today;

- Out of control deficits
- Economic crisis
- Ongoing state of war
- Starbucks which close before 10PM

So who is to blame for these issues? That's easy.

Anybody who's not us.

The total impact of illegal immigrants on this country's economic standpoint is all but negligible in the face of the real problems we face. Illegal immigrants did not cause the housing crunch, float trillions of dollars in bad loans while betting against them, or just flat out rip people off. Yet there's a tough immigration law in Arizona that almost went into action save for an 11th-hour ruling against it, and a similar law is being proposed now in Florida. The reasoning behind it all, more often than not? Illegal immigrants cost Americans jobs. They also take our health care and are bad for the economy.

No, they're just easy targets. We come down like a ton of bricks on the individual illegals, but when was the last time you heard anything in the news about the places hiring them being made to pay for their crime? How many of the jobs they do are in serious contention in the job market? Are there that many immigrants taking all the good IT work and office jobs around the country? Is Arizona's pool of the educated yet unemployed suffering because there are too many immigrants taking the jobs they need a degree to qualify for? Or is it that a heretofore unknown majority of skilled laborers prefer to work as farmhands, delivery boys, or underpaid manufacturing line workers?

The good jobs aren't out there because super-wealthy, American-born men and women made a fortune off of exploiting loopholes in our system or doing things that are bafflingly legal yet absurdly detrimental to the economy. Some of them, but not many, were punished for it. Most just got a stern talking-to by Congress followed by a bailout. Meanwhile, nothing has been done to try and move past the boom-and-bust cycle economy we live in which inevitably leads to long recessions and the kind of baseless finger-pointing established by the Arizona and Florida bills. You're not out of work because there's a Mexican driving a truck back and forth for a ranch somewhere making $3 an hour. You're out of work because the people at the top decided screw you, I'm at the top.

On a personal note, I am all for an aggressive reform to our immigration system. Illegal means illegal; there are perfectly valid ways to enter this country if you want to live and work here. However, realistically, they pretty much suck and it's not hard to see why people avoid it where possible. We want to stay on top of immigration, we have to attack the reasons why it's so easy to get in to this country, not the people taking advantage of our terrible system. If we're really that concerned with jobs being taken, we have to find the people giving out those jobs and force them not to use undocumented workers and make sure everyone working for them is on the books and making at least minimum wage. Drug trade a concern? How about we tackle the education and social welfare issues which attract drugs to a given community rather than fighting a war on drugs which has been a complete failure?

Let's find the people actually here to exploit the system and take advantage of the country and kick them out, and find ways for people no different from your ancestors or mine to stay here and become real Americans.

Of course, illegal immigrants are only half of the imagined problem the country is getting up in arms about. The other is the whole idea that freedom of religion extends to religions we don't like.

It seems America isn't particularly high on mosques right now, but nor is it particularly high on understanding what does and does not constitute a mosque. Ignoring for just a moment (I will come back to it) the idea of preventing a people from peacefully pursuing their religion, this really got started with plans to build a Muslim Community Center near the World Trade Center site.

The general consensus was "we don't want a mosque in sight of the 9/11 attacks." Other opinions were "This is an insult to the victims of 9/11," "Islam has a history of building mosques over the sites of their victories," and "mosques are monuments to terrorism."

In regards to the New York City plans, I suppose it's completely understandable that the city might harbor some resentment and not want a mosque visible from the World Trade Center site. What makes it confusing is that the planned building is two blocks away, will not be a mosque, and not look different from other buildings surrounding it. Yet some people act as if they're performing the equivalent of putting a Japanese monument next to Pearl Harbor.

Oh wait.

Anyway, so New York has some grounds for complaint, but did I miss the news of Muslim terrorists attacking Murfreesboro? Or Chicago? I can't imagine Fox News would've neglected to inform me about the attack on Riverside County.

So what we have here is a growing number of Americans deciding that the rights guaranteed under the Constitution just don't apply if we don't like the extreme elements of your religion. This is totally understandable; after all, Christian extremists have never taken part in anything so horrendous as what Islamic jihadists do.

Nothing like genocide, elimination of liberal elements, destruction of the environment and native cultures, and more genocide. And that doesn't even get into whether or not abortion clinic bombings and the shooting of doctors constitutes terrorism (it does).

Bottom line is; there are some pretty bad Muslims out there, and the way they're portrayed by today's media doesn't really do them any favors. What tends to get forgotten are the millions of Muslims in America living and working here peacefully, just like every Catholic, Jew, Methodist, Hindu, Agnostic, Wiccan, or Sun-Worshipper* that's not also a total jerk. Speaking from what I think is a pretty reasonable outside perspective, however, I've never had a debate with a Muslim about religion that was any more or less fervent than what I would get from a devout Christian. The practitioners of humanity's major religions all carry their (remarkably similar) beliefs close to their hearts and want the right to express them fully and peacefully, while disregarding those which don't ring true on a personal level or that they understand to be a corruption of their faith. So, and this may come as a shock to you, just because there's a Muslim cleric out there putting a jihad on America doesn't mean they're all going to start strapping on dynamite vests anymore than one Christian leader's beliefs means everyone is going to protest at military funerals because there are gay people in the world.

So to wrap up, yeah, we've got problems, and we rely on our duly elected politicians to take care of them for us. Only, those politicians aren't going to take on problems that won't look good on the campaign trail. That makes it incumbent upon us to demand that the real problems are the ones being tackled, not the scapegoats or red herrings. Or just hope one comes along smart enough to know the difference, and charismatic enough to convince us, too. In the meantime, though, when we start thinking about our problems, let's make sure we keep a clear head when assigning blame.

*religions listed in order of how seriously they are taken by the rest of the world


David Pratt said...

Keith Olbermann, riding my coattails yet again.

B.Graham said...

1 - it is EXTREMELY expensive to become an American citizen.

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Oh. Um. Just kidding, guys. Give me your wealthy and white. You can keep the rest; thanks though.

2 - I bet you a hundred bazillion gazillion dollars no one is protesting a Baptist church being built near an abortion clinic that was bombed.