Tuesday, April 11, 2006

We are America

I'm back from a brief hiatus (spent visiting graduate schools and agonizing over the decision) and I'm excited about the huge pro-immigrant rallies taking place around the country. This Washington Post article seems to be pretty typical of the positive coverage that the rallies are getting in the national media. The bit about the shift on the part of organizers to include more American flags and less Mexican flags was particularly interesting to me. Even though many Americans seem to sympathize with immigrants families and reject harsh measures (the article says that three-fifths of the population wants to provide immigrants that have lived here for some time with a path to citizenship), there is still a lot of xenophobia, and the imagery of an "immigrant invasion" is all over in places like Fox News (during a 30 minute show that I saw last week, Sean Hannity showed a tape of Mexicans streaming across the border 15 or 20 times).

So although I think it is great that immigrants are standing up to the digusting and hateful bill passed in the house, I also think that a lot of commentators are going a little too far with their predictions that these rallies are the start of an immigrant/Latino political movement. Most of the immigrant parents in the night ESL classes at the school went to the rally in downtown New York yesterday (article here), but from what I can tell most of the immigrants around here are just plain scared of what is going to happen. And while the rallies are big enough that they can go without worrying about being deported, I just don't see the accompanying political consciousness that would turn these rallies into a powerful movement, at least in my little part of New York (it could be very different in a city with a more homogeneous immigrant population). I want to hear what my kids are thinking about all this (the youth movement is the most exciting part of this), and hopefully I'll report back with some interesting findings.

No comments: