Friday, July 18, 2008

Shenandoah, PA Authorites: Your Denial is Showing

For those of you who deny that the issue of immigration is racially charged, I ask you to read the following article regarding the death of a young man in Pennsylvania:

Immigrant's beating death exposes tensions in Pa.
By MICHAEL RUBINKAM, Associated Press Writer

SHENANDOAH, Pa. - Luis Ramirez came to the U.S. from Mexico six years ago to look for work, landing in this town in Pennsylvania's coal region. Here, he found steady employment, fathered two children and, his fiancee said, occasionally endured harassment by white residents.

Now he is headed back to Mexico in a coffin.

The 25-year-old illegal immigrant was beaten over the weekend after an argument with a group of youths, including at least some players on the town's beloved high school football team, police said. Despite witness reports that the attackers yelled ethnic slurs, authorities say the beating wasn't racially motivated.

Hate crime or not, the killing has exposed long-simmering tensions in Shenandoah, a blue-collar town of 5,000 about 80 miles northwest of Philadelphia that has a growing number of Hispanic residents drawn by jobs in factories and farm fields.

An investigation continues, and no charges have yet been filed, but police say as many as six teens were involved in the fight, which ended with Ramirez in convulsions and foaming at the mouth. He died early Monday of head injuries.

Crystal Dillman, the victim's 24-year-old fiancee, who is white and grew up here, said Ramirez was often called derogatory names, including "dirty Mexican," and told to return to his homeland.

"People in this town are very racist toward Hispanic people. They think right away if you're Mexican, you're illegal, and you're no good," said Dillman, who has two young children by Ramirez and a 3-year-old who thought of him as her father.

On Dillman's fireplace mantel hangs a medallion of Jesus that Ramirez was wearing the night he was beaten. Ramirez had an imprint of the medallion on his chest, marking where an assailant stomped on him, she said.

Police Chief Matthew Nestor acknowledged there have been problems as the community — the birthplace of big band musicians Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey and home of Mrs. T's Pierogies — has tried to adjust to an influx of Hispanics, who now comprise as much as 10 percent of the population.

Teenagers have sprayed racially tinged graffiti and yelled racial slurs at the newcomers, he said.

"Things are definitely not the way they used to be even 10 years ago. Things have changed here radically," Nestor said. "Some people could adapt to the changes and some just have a difficult time doing it. ... Yeah, there is tension at times. You can't deny that."

Police are still interviewing suspects and witnesses. Preliminarily, though, they have determined that Ramirez, who worked in a factory and picked strawberries and cherries, got into an argument with a group of youths that escalated into a fight in which he was badly outnumbered.

"From what we understand right now, it wasn't racially motivated," Nestor said. "This looks like a street fight that went wrong."

Retired Philadelphia police Officer Eileen Burke, who lives on the street where the fight occurred, told The Associated Press she heard a youth scream at one of Ramirez's friends after the beating to tell her Mexican friends to get out of Shenandoah, "or you're going to be laying next to him."

Shenandoah Valley High School principal Phillip Andras said he knew little about the alleged involvement of any football players. A call by the AP to the athletic director was referred back to the principal.

But the players' possible involvement has added to interest in the case. Football, along with the town's many block parties and festivals, is a major attraction; home games typically draw thousands of fans.

Arielle Garcia and her husband, who were with Ramirez when he was beaten late Saturday, said they had dropped their friend off at a park but returned when he called to say he had gotten into a fight.

She saw someone kick Ramirez in the head, she said, and "that's when he started shaking and foaming out of the mouth."

The Garcias said they heard the youths call Ramirez "stupid Mexican" and an ethnic slur.

Burke, the former Philadelphia officer, said she saw shirtless youths swarming around Ramirez, called 911 and went outside, when she heard a youth yell obscenities and make the get-out-of-Shenandoah remark.

Despite the witness statements, Borough Manager Joseph Palubinsky said he doesn't believe Ramirez's ethnicity was what prompted the fight: "I have reason to know the kids who were involved, the families who were involved, and I've never known them to harbor this type of feeling."

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Farmers Branch, The Birthplace of True Racists Heroes

My favorite defenders of the one true race heroes are the voters of Farmers Branch, Texas. Recently, they became the first city in the nation to prohibit landlords from offering the basic needs of survival renting to Mexicans illegal immigrants. The ban was approved 68 to 32 percent, the latter of which better watch their backs (taco-loving hippies).

The ballot is very important because it marks the first angry-mob public vote on a local government measure to finally crack down on Mexicans marrying our daughters and having ten kids illegal immigration.

"It says especially to all you bean-eating Mexicans out there Congress that we're tired of the out-of-control interracial breeding illegal immigration problem. That if Congress doesn't do something about it, the Ku Klux Klan cities will," said Tim O'Hare, a City Council member who is afraid that Mexicans will inherit the earth was the ordinance's lead proponent.

The long-anticipated because we can’t understand what the hell they might be plotting ordinance requires apartment managers to help cleanse our streets of those Home Depot loiterers verify that renters are citizens or White Canadians legal immigrants before leasing to them, unless one of them just finished their basement, is their gardener, or is their children’s nanny for half the price with some exceptions.

Property managers or owners who break the rule face tar and feathering in the city square a misdemeanor charge punishable by a fine of up to $500.

I completely agree with O'Hare that the city's racial purity economy and quality of life will improve if illegal immigrants are placed in internment camps and only released temporarily if someone’s got a hankerin’ for carne asada kept out.

Thank Hitler God that O’Hare and the other racists people of Farmer’s Branch finally had the utter contempt for a group of people courage to stand up for our communities and take a stand against crime because you know they are all gang members, unemployment even though most of our jobs actually went to China and over-crowding oh my god, there’s another one. I swear they are taking over!

Buy for your Country!

Today, this American woke up with the world’s worst headache. It was all I could do to crawl out of my Sleep Number Bed and have A Totally Organic Experience in the shower. While getting myself Fully Clean it was becoming painfully clear that I should not have been Thinking Outside The Bun at half-past Miller Time last night. Man, did I need to Spell Relief. But it wasn’t my fault, really. My toddler wouldn’t sleep without her Tivo-ed Bratz cartoon playing repeatedly and those damn Lunesta butterflies didn’t land on my Tempur-Pedic pillow again. Maybe the Xanax interfered with them or something.

Bob Greene says never skip a healthy breakfast so this morning we all Got Milk with some Cherrios (made with whole grain). While we were eating my thirteen-year-old announced he had been feeling The Best A Man Can Get and needed to know more about The 36-Hour Pill. “I had no idea my high blood-pressure and diabetes could lead to E.D.”, he whined. My suspicion is that he might be dabbling on The Coke Side of Life but nevertheless I told him we would start watching Dr. Phil together every afternoon on CBS and that we could look into getting him some Ritalin and maybe some Yazz for his girlfriend. The last thing I want to deal with is a Clear, Blue, Easy (especially with his girlfriend’s Nicole Richie problem). As for the Coke thing I heard Merck was running some free trials to help with that.

I didn't have time to Stop. Think., but about thirty minutes past Starbucks I was All Advil enough to Zoom, Zoom, Zoom the way to my job at Kaiser Permanente. I know it’s a tough place to work after all the rumors of homeless patient dumping (by mentioning this I am neither negating nor affirming these allegations) but I just Thrive there. You can imagine my disgust when I realized I had forgotten this month’s course of Botox and had left my Spanx by the Ionic Breeze. My Unsightly Belly Fat was literally hanging out all over the office! I wish I could afford to be like my female co-workers. Nothing Comes Between Them And Their Calvin Kleins and they are all so Easy, Breezy, Beautiful. Seriously, I could kill to look like them.

On the drive home I wondered what to get for dinner. I thought about Going Outback or Gathering Around the Good Stuff but for some reason I just couldn’t get Sweet Home Alabama out of my head so I decided to Bring Back Dinner. Whatever KFC stands for it doesn’t matter because my kids won’t eat anything but Extra Crispy drowned in Honey-BBQ Sauce. I got them a side of coleslaw too, because Dr. Oz can’t stop raving about the benefits of good fats. For dessert we all had Moolattes from DQ Country. If we can just remember our calcium we might be as gorgeous as Sally Field is at 60 when we’re taking our Once-Monthly Boniva (unless we have an acute liver problem).

Family Nintendo time is usually uneventful but something my oldest daughter said to me on this evening of International Friendship Day® has left me wanting more attention paid to National Security. After the kids were done playing their Kuma War – The War on Terror video game she looked at me with those Anna-Nicole eyes and said she was worried about the Fight for Peace in Iraq. I’ll never forget the tears on her Maybelline cheeks as she asked if Iraqi kids would ever get to trample each other for a PlayStation 3 or vote for Sanjaya on American Idol. After going through a box of Kleenex with Aloe I told her that if we just Stay The Course we will Win The War Against Terror and prevail against those Freedom Hating Islamic Facists. Later that evening as I washed down a double-dose of Ambien with a Coke And A Smile, I sincerely hoped I was able to reach my daughter’s Heart And Mind. How glad I am to live in a country where we’re free to believe whatever we want, I thought, as I fell into a deep, deep sleep.

The Bully Runs the Schoolyard

America is a big, fat bully.

You might think I’m a traitor for saying that. You might think that I shouldn’t be pointing a judgmental finger at the greatest country on earth, the all-powerful promoter of freedom across the globe, the place where I was born and raised.

My response would be that I do love this country and its people very much. I just hate its foreign policy. After all, I’m only here because my parents fled Guatemala after a CIA-sponsored coup that plummeted their country into the longest and bloodiest civil war in modern Central American history.

Sound familiar?

Yes, America, it’s time we faced the facts. In the eyes of the world we’re the ones who feign sainthood while intimidating the weak and stealing their lunch money. Others hate us for the zero consequences we enjoy. They hate us because we’re just plain meaner than they are.

But that’s ok because we’re the good guys, right? It’s important that we keep the rest of the world in check so that evil interests don’t obtain nuclear weapons. This is how we ensure the safety of all humanity.

Never mind that the United States is the only country that has ever actually used nuclear weapons, dropping them on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, killing over 200,000 people, the majority being civilians.

It’s an open wound in the history of mankind just like old scars from the bully in the schoolyard.

But that hasn’t fazed us so far. We still boast the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons in the world and continue to invade countries decade after decade, from Korea to Vietnam to that pesky Iraq war (take two).

Yet in Iraq we’ve expended every precaution to avoid civilian casualties. We went there not to harm the innocent but to liberate them from under the thumb of an evil dictator. We brought with us sophisticated weaponry as to comply with the restrictions regarding civilians in the Geneva Conventions:

“…the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever … violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture… outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment… the passing of sentences … without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.”

I guess our bombs aren’t so smart after all. Hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi people have been killed since the onset of Operation Iraqi Freedom, many more than died under Saddam Hussein’s rule.

And to top it off we’ve changed the rules of the playground to allow for torture, to keep uncharged detainees in secret prisons for indefinite amount of times, and to deny those people their right to a trial.

Can you say “Concentration Camp”?

OK, so we’ve committed a few war crimes here and there and made a joke of Habeas Corpus. We’ve participated in these types of practices before. Why all the resentment towards us now? What’s the big deal?

Aside from the obvious the big deal is we live in the age of information. At the fingertips of billions around the globe are images of naked men on leashes, dead Iraqi children, and the unassuming faces of the young men and woman we continuously place in the heart of danger despite You-Tube’s numerous videos of our Commander And Chief boldface lying about our purpose there. It’s a runaway train we’ll never catch.

In our uncertain future the Internet could be fastest kid that finally outsmarts the bully.

He could make it home and tell his parents. He could get teachers and other elders involved. He could stir the pot and make the bully afraid to go outside, a lone victim of his own cruel choices.

I still wish justice for the bully at my school. I sometimes imagine him living in the worst conditions, wallowing in the fruit of what he’s sewn. I know it sounds harsh but I feel justified in my lingering. He hurt me at a most vulnerable time and, after all, I’m only human.

And apparently, America, so is the rest of the world.


What happened to our great nation?

It’s been less than a decade yet so much has changed for the worse. We find that our sons and daughters are losing their lives for a questionable cause. We watch as the citizens of a country we were supposed to set free wallow in violence and despair.

And the world stands by with contemptuous eyes as our laws condone the torture of inmates and habeas corpus is treated as something that gets in the way of “freedom”.

Aren’t we supposed to be the good guys?

And then we remember.

It was 9/11. It was the horrific and unjustified nature of that event that prompted our hysteria. We needed to make someone a target. We needed to make sense of it all. But most of all we needed to be sure that it would never happen again and in the process foolishly positioned ourselves in a more vulnerable place than before.

Many of us feel that it’s too late to turn things around. But that’s the thing about times like these; within the hopelessness lies a great opportunity.

It’s a chance to make a change when the naysayers are pre-occupied. A chance to experience the kind of history we achieved during the civil rights movement. To take fifteen steps forward after ten steps back.

So how do we catch this ray of hope? It’s coming up in the 2008 election, where for the first time in history we can elect a president who not only represents the virtuous ideals of an America seemingly lost but represents us in another way as well.

To put it bluntly, well, he looks like us.

We are not a country of one race. We are not a country of one religion. Our diversity is what this land was founded upon and yet the world is sneering at us as if we all believe that the poor don’t deserve to be rescued from catastrophes and those who pray more than once a day should be stamped out, war after war after war.

Not a good strategy so far.

Here’s a better plan. We elect a representative who embodies inclusion rather than exclusion, intrusion and persecution (with no prosecution). We elect a president that personifies the ability to reach across broken lines of communication and show everyone that America believes in equality, fairness and the kind of freedom you can’t enforce militarily.

Not only that, he is able to complete a sentence and is quite eloquent to boot.

His background is in Constitutional Law, and he reminds us that it’s times like these that adherence to The Constitution is most needed. So that things don’t get out of hand.

He has experience working for the betterment of the poorest in our nation. Which, if he were elected, would immediately appeal him to billions across our globe, making our country a safer place.

Let’s face it. We need a hero.

And by hero I don’t mean the “cowboy” kind. We need someone who can save us, not make things worse. Has anyone every wondered what happened to the cowboy’s family when he went off to shoot the “bad guys”? They drowned when the levee broke.

May that never happen again. May we never watch as our building’s crumble and may we never stand by as our own citizens drown in our unprepared-ness. And, I’m going to say it, our prejudice.

That’s just not who we are anymore. We are a county of inclusion. We are the melting pot of the world, ready to choose the right person for president not only because he is the best for the job but because he represents all of us. Because he gives us and the world hope for a more peaceful future.

Because after all that’s happened we need his kind of “audacity” to get ourselves out of this great big mess.