Listening to broadcaster Glenn Beck and political dreamer Sarah Palin lead a group of ideologues into trying to believe that God only likes people who are exactly like them (not that they don’t believe that already) makes me wonder what the followup event will be.
The event held Saturday at the site in Washington where slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his “I Have a Dream” speech made me think that this was an attempt to undermine that memory, and perhaps turn the site near the Lincoln Memorial into the spot where Glenn Beck once spoke. Although I don’t expect decades from now that anyone will issue a stamp memorializing Beck or Palin the way they did for King.
IT IS ABOUT trying to take a legacy that seriously undermines their cause, and try to divert it into something that could support their warped way of viewing the world.
In short, what the conservatives ideologues tried to do to the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. this past weekend is remarkably similar to what some in their ranks have tried to do in recent months to Cesar Chavez.
The founder of the United Farm Workers union occasionally gets quoted these days when nativist ideologues feel like digging up Chavez’ remarks about immigration policy.
Chavez had his problem with people coming here from other countries to work, send money back to their homeland, then return there someday themselves, although anyone who seriously reads what he said will realize he had no problem with the idea of someone wanting to come to this country to have a new life – provided they were determined to set up their permanent home in this country.
IT IS TRUE that a selective reading of Chavez can twist his words to make him sound like a nativist baboso.
But it is also true that the people who do that are guilty of twisting the truth, similar to the job that was done on the King legacy in Washington on Saturday.
Because the factor that made Chavez, a California-born man of Mexican ethnic origins, suspicious of his ethnic brethren was the willingness of the corporations he often fought against during his life to use foreign nationals in this country as scab labor.
That’s right. When the workers threatened to go on strike, these corporate types would look for foreign labor to fill the jobs. Not only did it keep their companies going and reduce the financial losses somewhat, it probably also was demeaning to some of these workers that a “foreigner” came in and took their job – even for a little while.
CHAVEZ RIGHTFULLY SAW that these unvisaed laborers were ripe for exploitation, and he wasn’t against those people as much as he was opposed to the way corporate America would want to use them for their own financial gain.
Whereas the modern-day ideologues who are quick to lap up a few selective words of “wisdom” from Chavez (while spending the rest of their time denouncing him as a “communist” and a rabble-rouser, similar to the way King was talked about by allegedly-polite society during his lifetime) are the ones who view the problem as being the workers – not the corporate entities.
I suspect that Chavez, if he were still alive today, would have made the leap to realize that the way to prevent these non-visaed workers from undermining the rest of the workforce in this country would be to push for real immigration reform – largely because it would undermine the reasons why some companies prefer to hire them (ie., they’re cheap labor who won’t complain when their rights as workers are violated).
Chavez’ interest was in the plight of the actual worker. Too many of the people who want to now use him to undermine immigration reform are interested in the companies who would prefer to dump on the workers.
IT IS BECAUSE of this attitude toward Chavez that I must admit to feeling something in the way of sympathy for those who view the Beck/Palin rally in Washington as an attempt to hijack the King legacy, because I know there are those who would like to do the same with Chavez.
Because of all the rhetoric that I heard spewed on Saturday, there was really only one line that struck me as being honest. And in all fairness, I must admit it came from the mouth of Sarah Palin.
It was her line that went, “I must assume that you too know we must not fundamentally transform America, as some would want. We must restore America and restore her honor.”
By “restore,” she means returning to a time when some people in our society were supposed to accept it as mere fact that they were second-class citizens, and others were just supposed to accept the idea that they didn’t exist in this country.
WHICH MEANS HER idea of “restore” entails many people leaving, even though they are a part of our society. Which ultimately, in my mind, makes events such as what happened in Washington this weekend nothing more than evidence of how delusional the ideologues truly are.
They can’t seem to accept the early 21st Century, and seem to think that if they shout loud enough that everybody will believe we’re back in the early 19th.