We've all gotten them ... the conservative propaganda emails on various subjects. For me, they're like small windows into an unmerciful, ungracious, ugly place that I would never voluntary choose to enter.
However, when my face is forced to this window and I can't help but look at the ugliness, my reaction is primal and visceral. I have to close my eyes and turn away before the scene makes me puke.
I got an especially disturbing anti-immigrant email recently.
After I read it, "I did NOT want to see that," was the brightest thought that ran through my mind. Next was, "But now that I have see it, what do I do, what do I say, what do I write? This cannot go unanswered."
I decided to respond to the ugliness as best I could. I thought folks here would be interested in the exchanges that followed. [I have removed all identifying tags or notes to protect the innocent and the guilty.]
Here is the opening salvo ...
Subject: the bird feeder...what do you think?
I bought a bird feeder. I hung it on my back porch and filled it with seed.
Within a week we had hundreds of birds taking advantage of the continuous flow of free and easily accessible food. But then the birds started building nests in the boards of the patio, above the table, and next to the barbecue.
Then came the poop. It was everywhere: on the patio tile, the chairs, the table... everywhere.
Then some of the birds turned mean: They would dive bomb me and try to peck me even though I had fed them out of my own pocket.
And other birds were boisterous and loud: They sat on the feeder and squawked and screamed at all hours of the day and night and demanded that I fill it when it got low on food.
After a while, I couldn't even sit on my own back porch anymore. I took down the bird feeder and in three days the birds were gone. I cleaned up their mess and took down the many nests they had built all over the patio.
Soon, the back yard was like it used to be... quite, serene and no one demanding their rights to a free meal.
Now lets see... Our government gives out free food, subsidized housing, free medical care, free education and allows anyone born here to be a automatic citizen.
Then the illegals came by the tens of thousands.
Suddenly our taxes went up to pay for free services; small apartments are housing 5 families; you have to wait 6 hours to be seen by an emergency room doctor; your child's 2nd grade class is behind other schools, because over half the class doesn't speak English; Corn Flakes now come in a bilingual box; I have to press "one" to hear my bank talk to me in English; and people waving flags other than "Old Glory" are squawking and screaming in the streets, demanding more rights and free liberties.
Maybe it's time for the government to take down the bird feeder.
When you recover from the sick feeling in your stomach, keep reading. It felt I was stepping onto a field to challenge someone who's skills or abilities I did not know. What came out looks a little like verbal boxing: dodge, bob, weave, swing, feint, knock-out punch ...
I thought a few things after reading this. Mostly I just thought I was going to be sick, but after the nausea passed, here's what ran through my head like a freight train ...
ONE: I have a couple of bird feeders. They're wonderful. The birds are beautiful and delicate and sweet. I go out, the birds run. This writer probably watched one too many Alfred Hitchcock movies while drinking a few too many beers before penning this ... ahem ... er ... masterpiece.
TWO: Dehumanizing a people is how you make other people OK with watching their fellow human beings treated inhumanely. This writer has done a splendid job of equating immigrants with animal pests. Goebbels would be SO proud.
Posters like this one (fifth from top), which advertises the Nazi film “The Eternal Jew,” served to dehumanize the German Jews. The film “The Eternal Jew” itself compares the Jewish people to rats. By dehumanizing Jews, the Nazi leaders began to prepare for Hitler’s “Final Solution.” The Nazi leaders knew that when the deportations began it would be much easier for the German people to watch friends and neighbors shipped away if they associated them with rats or with age-old stereotypes about cheating with money. The propaganda was able to play off the existing racial difficulties in Germany has well as to enhance the original nationalistic pride of the German people that they were somehow chosen or holy. Anti-Semitic propaganda was common in wartime Germany, and often depicted Jews in league with communists or another hated group causing harm to Germans.
THREE: Please, remind this writer that we are all descendants of immigrants. Some of us are even the descendants of piss poor uneducated immigrants who came here on rusty stench-ridden pickle boats with nothing, worked their asses off, contributed their blood, sweat and tears to building the fabric of this country and left children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren who made life richer and better for all of us. I found this bit of reading the other day. It made me reconsider a lot.
"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-tossed,
to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door."
FOUR: I once held illegal immigrants in fairly low regard. Then one day I bowed my head and begged forgiveness after I heard a Latino man on the radio answer the question, "Why did you come here knowing you were breaking the law?" like this,
"Unless you have felt your heart break because your children cry in bed from hunger almost every night it will be hard for me to help you understand why we come here to work without documents."
FIVE: Don't ask me. I'm just another poor sinner trying to make my way in this world the best I can. But I do know one thing. I don't blame illegal immigrants for the situation any more. I blame those who recruit and hire them (the fat cats and big businesses, NOT the gu'mint) because undocumented workers are cheap AND because they will never go to the authorities about safety violations or dangerous working conditions or long hours or shorted pay or to collect unemployment if they're fired.
SIX: Ask Jesus what He thinks (Matthew 25), then decide what you think.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Asker of Difficult Questions and Steely-spined Refuser of Bullshit
I expected nothing from this. I was throwing punches into the Ether just hoping to get one person to see how damaging and dangerous words can be. The person who sent me the Bird Feeder story responded ...
Okay, I cut and pasted your words for the folks who got the email when I did and to the originator. I can trust you to put a reality spin on something stupid that I send. Thanks Gal, you have a way with words and a brain that actually works...unlike mine!
And then, I got a response from somewhere beyond the IP cloud. It is from someone whom I understand to be quite conservative on most matters and it came in totally unexpected, but more welcome than you can imagine ...
I don't know you & you don't know me...I am the x in xxxxx.
Xxxxxxxx is our neice. Lhh, I have NEVER replied to anyone I did not know. However, I read your comments and agree totally. We, also, love birds...We have bird feeders on our Deck and in our front yard. Yes, they poop and get messy. However, we get more joy out of watching them eat and bathe. We have beautiful finches, cardinals, robins etc. I just go out and clean the bird bath every other day and fill it with fresh water. We do not have our deck stained and pretty like our neighbors. It is natural and when God wants, he washes it! (We have had a lot of rain this spring, for which we are thankful.)
However, your comments were really about people. We have been to Mexico a few times. We visit Southern CA, where folks use Mexicans to do their house work and mow their lawn and garden. I know folks who have never done any lawn work or cleaned their house, because they get it done sooo cheaply! Not only is big business a greedy employer, but many well to do folks in certain parts of our country take advantage of illegals and pay them low wages.
Where we live, our daughter pays a caucasian lady to clean the main floor of her house, (5 rooms on the main floor), $100 every other week. Upstairs is extra. However, those illegals are not getting paid half that much! And they are not paying into SS or getting any benefits! WHAT A MESS... It is slavery all over again, only in a different way!
It may make you feel better to know that I did not forward
"The Bird Feeder". I recognized it for what it was...
Also, I am 72 and clean my own house, because I cannot afford to pay a maid of any nationality to clean for me. I am thankful that even with Arthritis & other health problems, I can still clean house...
Thank you for your brave response...It made my day...
Xxxxxx in Xxxxxx Xxxxxx
I was jousting at a windmill because I just couldn't let it pass without at least trying to stop it or slow it's progress. I can only hope I did the right thing. I can only pray it made some small difference.
Thoughts? Comments? Flames?