Archive for August 7th, 2010

Wanted: Illegal Immigrants Behaving Badly

August 7th, 2010 No comments

In my “There Is No Immigration Crisis” article from last Wednesday, I wrote the following:

Republican politicians still think it’s the mid-1980s and that getting people all riled up about illegal immigrants is a great way to win elections. If stories that support their portrait of Mexican immigrants as violent criminals can’t be found, conservatives simply invent them.

Well, I didn’t even know how right I was. I recently learned that the Tea Party Nation has a forum on their website calling for people to send in stories about how they or their businesses have been harmed by illegal aliens. Also, they’d really like to see photos or videos of illegal immigrants doing bad things.

I had to see this for myself, but when I went to the Tea Party Nation’s website I found that I couldn’t access that page unless I was a member. Ah hah…I see. Well, they don’t know who I am so there’s no reason I can’t become a member. I signed up, making sure not to include the URL for my blog or my Twitter name, as a quick glance at either of these accounts would reveal to them that I am in fact the Enemy. All I gave them was my name and location, and a few hours later I was in.

Having successfully infiltrated the Tea Party Nation I went back to the link to the page in question, entitled “The horrors of illegal immigration” and discovered the truth for myself. Here is the entire message—the one they only want their members to see:

The drum beat for Amnesty is here. The Obama Regime and the drive by media are pushing Amnesty with stories about illegals who are just here “to make a better life” for themselves. The media is ignoring stories of the horrors if illegal immigration. At TPN, we want to highlight some of these stories. We need your help.

We have set up a forum for stories of illegal immigration. If have been the victim of a crime by an illegal, or if your business has gone under because your competition uses illegals, or if you have lost your job to illegals, we want to know about it. If you have photos and videos of illegals or their supporters doing outrageous things (like burning the American flag or putting the Mexican flag above ours, or showing racist posters), please share those as well.

We need to get the true story out about illegal immigration and we need your help to do it

Stop by and contribute. Take the time to read some of the other stories and share them. We must stop illegal immigration. The future of our country, for our children and our grandchildren, depends on it.

Note to Mexicans: If you want to make some quick cash, you can shit on the American flag while a conservative video-tapes it, but keep in mind that it’ll be all over Fox News for weeks.

The worst part is that conservatives will read this and not even give the slightest thought to what a dishonest, disgraceful tactic this is. The reason we hear so many stories about illegals just trying “to make a better life” for themselves is because most illegals really are just trying to make a better life for themselves. They have no interest in committing crimes and risking deportation. They’re certainly not going to be marching down the street burning flags left and right.

The thing about conservatives is that they project the things they do onto other groups. The fact that they want images of Mexicans “showing racist posters” is extremely telling. They have no qualms about letting their own people hold up racist posters at their rallies, but it doesn’t register to them that the idea of a Mexican holding up a poster slurring white people is absurd. They apparently live in this alternate universe in which illegal immigrants all rally together holding up signs saying, “Suck it, gringos—We’re here for your jobs!”

The alternate universe they live in is of their own creation. Nobody is less conscious of confirmation bias than they are. They ignore all facts that contradict their pre-existing beliefs and dismiss everything liberals say simply because they’ve decided that liberals must always be wrong. But if they get their hands on anything at all that confirms their biases—even a heavily-edited, out-of-context video—they will leap all over it and shout from the rooftops: “See! See! We were right all along! Told you so! We told you so!

Then when the video is debunked they just say “whatever” and wait for the next thing.

And apparently if the next thing doesn’t come quickly enough, they go out searching for it. It’s as though a detective were to say, “Bring me all the evidence you can find, but only if it implicates our top suspect. If you can’t find any, just plant some.”

But definitely stay tuned for photos and videos that appear to show illegal immigrants doing bad things, because you can be sure they’re coming. At least now when your Fox News-watching relatives hit you with it, you can tell them why it appeared in the first place.

Calling the White House Won’t Kill You

August 7th, 2010 No comments

I have to confess that I’m not a very good activist. Oh, I’ll sign any petition you send my way and I’ll always include a personalized message. I’ve even been known to donate money from time to time, as I donated this past week to Firedoglake’s campaign to end marijuana prohibition. I tossed a few bucks to the Obama campaign back in 2008 as well (I don’t regret it—as disappointed as I am things would have been a lot worse under the other guy). But the best way to get a message to your elected leaders is obviously to call their office and actually speak to someone, and that’s something I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t been doing.

I really have no good excuse. I just hate talking on the phone. I even hate talking to friends on the phone, let alone people I’ve never met, let alone people with political power. There’s something about calling a U.S. Senator’s office or the White House itself that I can’t help but find intimidating.

As a writer I have complete confidence. Whenever I add a personal comment to a petition signature I take the time to craft a clear and concise remark that I know will not only drive my message home but make me come across as a constituent who knows what he’s talking about. But talking is different. The words just come out of your mouth and then they’re out there and can’t be deleted or rearranged. Unless you know exactly what you’re going to say, you risk sounding like a fool.

Plus, I always figure that plenty of other people must be calling these offices anyway so what difference would my phone call make? When the staffer draws up the list of what issues people called about and how many called on each issue, my call would make the number 247 instead of 246, or 3,174 instead of 3,173. No big deal, right?

But of course I know that’s the wrong way to think. Every little digit counts. And what you really want is the staffer to tell the senator or president, “We’ve been getting calls all day about suchandsuch. You’d better take this seriously.”

So yesterday when I got an e-mail from CREDO Mobile—a company that proves not all corporations are evil—warning me about an upcoming deal between Google and Verizon that would mean the beginning of the end of net neutrality, I not only signed the petition but I followed it up with a call to the White House comment line.

Net neutrality is probably the most under-appreciated issue of our time in terms of its importance. I’ve written about it before, but it’s worth repeating that if we open the door to allowing corporations to provide faster service for certain websites and slower service for others, it paves the way to complete corporate control of the internet. Seeing as how the consolidation of power by multi-national corporations is the single biggest threat to humanity that we currently face on this planet, it is absolutely essential the internet remain out of their hands.

See how eloquently I can express that point in written words? Of course the e-mail from CREDO provided me with a script telling me exactly what to say when I reached the comment line, but I scoffed at that and figured I could make my point well enough in my own words.

At first I figured I was just going to get some kind of automated “leave your comment after the tone” thing, which I would have been much more comfortable doing. But the automated message I got told me to hold the line for an operator. No way—an actual human being is going to take my call?

I couldn’t help but feel a powerful nervousness rising within me as the phone rang. I don’t know where exactly calls to the White House comment line go—if it’s actually located in or anywhere near the actual White House—but naturally you imagine that your call is going directly to the secretary of the president himself, sitting right outside the Oval Office. I make a few clicks on Skype here in Germany and halfway around the world someone who works for the President of the United States hears their phone ringing.

I was ready to wait on hold for as long as it took. That would give me ample time to figure out exactly what I wanted to say. Imagine my shock when someone came on the line after only ten seconds. Seriously? Ten seconds? The White House must get a million calls a day—how can they have someone picking up the line within ten seconds? I can’t even call the Dell Computers service hotline without waiting on hold for a half an hour.

“Thank you for calling the White House comment line, would you like to make a brief comment for our records?” said the voice on the other line. It sounded like a nice, middle-aged black lady. I was picturing Shirley Sherrod.

Of course as soon as I’m actually speaking to someone I draw a complete blank. “Yeah…um…” I begin, now regretting that I’d tossed the script, “I’m reading about the deal between Google and Verizon on net neutrality, and um…”

Total blank. The silent pause seems to stretch on for an eternity. “Okay…” the woman says in a friendly tone. I realize I’ve already made my point—the recorded number of people calling the White House on the net neutrality issue will now be one higher than it otherwise would have.

“Yeah,” I continue, “I just wanted to comment that I really hope the president keeps his promise on net neutrality, and not to let the internet go…” I was going to say “to the corporations” but the woman said “Okay” again and I figured there was no need to go into any explanation of why I care about the issue. The president isn’t going to ask why people called to support net neutrality—I think he gets it—but he is going to ask how many people called, and whatever the final digit in that number may be it will be a direct result of my phone call.

“Okay, thanks for your call,” the lady said, and I said “thanks” and hung up. I know I must have sounded like an idiot, but the lady was friendly enough for it not to bother me. She actually gave me the impression that she was glad I was calling about net neutrality—that perhaps she cared about the issue too and was happy to have people calling in about it so she could tell her bosses that she was getting lots of call about it. I imagine that most of her calls are probably from Tea Party wingnuts screaming at her to tell her boss that he’s a filthy commie bastard who’d better stop destroying America or else. A call from a nervous liberal must be the most pleasant kind of call she gets all day.

Anyway, the whole experience was a bit of a rush, and it took several minutes after hanging up the phone for my pulse to return to normal. Damn, that actually felt really good, I realized. “Hell yeah!” I said to myself. “Civics! How awesome am I? Doing my part as a U.S. citizen and all that.”

Of course now that my “call your representatives”-cherry has been popped I plan on doing a lot more of it. Today I intend to call both of my senators and tell them they’d better throw their full support behind Elizabeth Warren to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That’s currently the most important fight going on when it comes to financial reform, and I wouldn’t feel right unless I did my part. I’ll probably call the White House again to get my feelings about that on their records as well.

So to all my fellow citizens I’d urge you to get in the habit of calling your representatives as well. The times we live in are just too important not too, and circulating online petitions just isn’t enough. Apparently it’ll only take a few minutes and the person you speak to will probably be as cordial as can be—after all, these politicians wouldn’t want their liaisons to the public to be rude assholes, would they?

The number for the White House hotline is 202-456-1111. Why not call them now?