Thursday, May 31, 2007


No time this morning to do productive writing and research. Work is calling. But before I report to work I need to get a few things off my chest. This morning's news has several unrelated items that taken together strike me with a deep sense of helpless frustration.

The Maghreb is being recognized as a hotbed of growing and better organized terrorism. Al Qaeda is mentioned as well as other wannabe groups inspired by the AQ models. The ostensible target is, of course, Europe. Nothing new here, except when one considers the crude manner that Europe has been mishandled diplomatically since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq this threat from several countries in North Africa has a running head start. Thank you very much, Mr. With-us-or-agin'-us. Tony Blair is going down in flames politically and the UK police are having a hard time doing their jobs because the real and present threat of home-grown terrorism in Great Britain is thought by many to be "exaggerated." Real counter-terrorism requires a bond of trust between citizens and police and one of the most conspicuous results of the GWOT is a strained and spreading mistrust of police, not only in Iraq, but practically everywhere US foreign policy has poked it's fingers. Great Britain is now joining the list.

At home a xenophobic fear of foreigners, accelerated by the above mentioned GWOT takes the form of a backlash against immigrants. Today we learn that the University System of Georgia directs that any illegal aliens attending college must now pay out-of-state fees in addition to regular tuition. There is no problem with illegality, understand, as long as the money is there, but since they have no legal status as state residents they will be expected to pay out-of-state fees. What hypocrisy!

This anti-immigration populist tide reminds me of the segregation mind-set of the Sixties. The black population was essential to the economy and social fabric of the South, not only forming the infrastructure of low wages upon which an agricultural and service economy rested, but making life better for successful products of that economy as cooks, maids, yardmen, drivers and nannies. When we moved to Georgia in the fifties it was common to see ordinary white men driving ordinary cars around with a black woman in the back seat. She would be a domestic worker with no transportation being lifted to or from his home. My own family, with only the income of an auto mechanic, was able to have a "maid" from time to time.

When the Civil Rights movement finally got started there were cries of rage and frustration from those who saw only a bunch of "outside agitators" coming in and stirring up our Negroes. They were happy, don't you know. As long as they "kept their place" everything would be alright.

Today immigrants are the new Negroes. We want their cheap labor and are happy to have them at the lower edge of the economy. But the complaint that they "don't want to learn the language" is one of the first justifications we hear complaining about them. And yet when second-generation examples of pristine American values starts to show, the result is a slap in the face on the part of government in order to appeal to the basest of popular ignorance.

"Rule of Law! Rule of Law!" they cry. And all I hear in my mind is "States' rights! States' rights!" That was the cry of segregationists who wanted to "reserve the right to serve whoever we want." Which was code, of course, for NOT serving black people in public places. The same rule of law was used then as now to preserve and protect a mean-spirited and ugly aspect of our society that is badly in need of change.

This is disjointed and lacks links. But it feels better to have it off my chest. I could go on for a couple more hours, but this will have to do for now. I doubt if I will revisit this post. I may even delete it when I read it over later. But for today, at least, I said what I needed to say.

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