Dirty Words (Part 2)

…and now the conclusion to “Dirty Words,” part 1.
Word of Caution: Please take my following words with a spoonful of sarcasm.

3. Immigrant / Illegal Immigrant

Ever since illegal immigration became a hot-button issue (right around September 11th), our nation has gone from focusing on how “those Muslim terrorists” got into our great nation to diverting their attention to all the illegal crossing of the Mexican border. It still perplexes me that a lot of Americans consider this issue to be in crisis mode. I think the mass media exaggerating a lot and leading us to believe that all of these illegals are crossing the border and stealing jobs from our dear blue collar workers. Oh, wait, don’t most people from Ohio believe that NAFTA is the ruining their economy. I don’t think we should be so quick to blame Mexico for all of our problems just yet. There is plenty of room for policy reform. Coincidentally, I am also prepping for a class debate tomorrow over multinational corporations and the “race to the bottom.” Just Google “race to the bottom” + NAFTA for some fun!

Now, back to the issue at hand. Ever since immigration became this big problem, we went back to the good-old American pastime of hating foreigners/people different from you. Never mind the fact that many Americans trace their ancestry to other European nations. It’s different this time around because once all those previous immigrants assimilated. Plus, once they got over the language differences and mostly suppressed their former identities**, they all realized they were White (and Christian) so they shouldn’t hate each other too much.

This time around these immigrants don’t want to assimilate. They want to speak their native language and (maybe, some broken) English. They want to exhaust all these social service programs such as welfare and section 8 housing but not actually contribute to society in a productive manner. And some of them don’t even want to bother with the formal, red-tape ridden process of naturalization. So instead of applying for a resident alien card (aka green card), they “cross the border” and come steal our jobs. It’s as simple as that.

I read somewhere (probably CNN) that only 56% of illegal immigration occurs through the Mexican border. So, where does the other 44% occur? Well, from deduction, it would have to be through airports, by boat and the Canadian border. By the way, we should care more about that Canadian border more since some of those terrorists crossed it before they blew some of our building up on Sept. 11th. Instead of getting our panties up in a bunch over putting a ridiculous fence across the Mexican border, we should worry about other issues. Why are these men, women, and children from risking their lives to illegally enter the United States? What socioeconomic, environmental and political issues are plaguing their home nations? What can we as American citizens do to improve our relations with Latin America? How can we secure our borders without making us intolerant to those different from us? Those are the real questions we should be asking ourselves.

Oh, and I do take offense to people linking the words “immigrant” and “illegal” to Latinos. As a Latina woman, I can attest to the fact that immigration is an important issue to our people in this election cycle, but it is NOT the only thing we care about. And we don’t particularly enjoy being considered a voting block either. There are 20 countries that make up Latin America (21 if you include Spain). How could it be possible that Latinos are going to vote the same? Just because we speak variants of the same Spanish language does not mean we feel the same about certain political issues. To assume that all Latinos are the same is equal to suggesting that all English-speaking are a voting block, too.

It is ignorant to hate others simply because they are of different national origin than you. You cannot pick where in the world you are born, just as you cannot choose what color your skin is or what gender you are born into. It is also ignorant to assume that all Latinos are illegal immigrants. Many came here legally. Many Latinos are also second and third-generation Americans. Many of those also can’t speak Spanish. But what links all of us is our love for our shared sense of culture and past. Of course, Americans have their own hilarious culture, too. I think it is a testament to how great this nation is that so many people from around the world would risk everything just to live here. Go America!

That concludes this discussion on “Dirty Words”. Did I leave any good, juicy ones out?
Leave a comment.

-Jade, The Intern

**well, you know that isn’t true…especially with Italian-Americans and Irish-Americans. On a side note, Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! 🙂

Dirty Words (Part 1)

Words are essentially a collection of letters that together make sounds and are commonly understood to refer to a object, person, idea, thought, etc. (Please don’t quote me on that, I am not Webster’s Dictionary). Words have meaning. Over time, words that by themselves didn’t mean anything specifically are then given meaning by historical events, such as the words “Affirmative Action” did not mean anything before the Civil Rights era gave them a specific meaning.

I have noticed that along with our regular vernacular, there are a whole bunch of “dirty words” in the English language. Now, I am not talking about the conventional swear or cuss word. I am referring to words that are used to insult or hurt a person or a group of people that otherwise shouldn’t be insulting at all. Some of these words are used in certain circles or in discussion of certain political topics while others have become dirty words due to current events or past historical events that have attached negative connotations (and feelings) to them.

So let’s review a few current “dirty words”that are thrown around the media:

1. Liberal

Ah, yes. If you are a Republican or Conservative there is nothing worse than being called a liberal. It is a straight up insult! Just go into Google and put in the terms “Senator John McCain” + “liberal” and see how many right-wing political pundits are up in arms about McCain being the presumptive Republican nominee. This is ridiculous! Since when is it preposterous for a candidate or any politically active person have both conservative and liberal viewpoints?

And this dirty word is used on both sides of the political spectrum. Political pundits have also accused Senator Barack Obama as having “the most liberal voting record” in Washington. More liberal than any other Democratic nominee (well, it’s only Hillary Clinton left…so his record is supposed to be more liberal than hers). What is liberal being equated to here? Is liberal supposed to mean unpatriotic? Does being liberal mean you just don’t believe in God and in our savior, Jesus Christ? Does being a liberal mean that you just have no moral standards? I think not.

As proof of this, just pick an hour to channel surf between CNN, MSNBC, FOX News and the prime time cable news programs to see how often the word liberal is thrown around as something that one should be ashamed of being. I like to think of this dirty word to be equivalent to how women and girls accuse each other of being sluts. One woman will accuse another of being one…then a debate ensues where the accused must defend themselves against the title and prove (through some long list of personal merits, church attendance records, her upbringing, and statements on her commitment to her boyfriend/husband/community/family/ the environment/pets) that she is and could never be a slut. Yup, I think that analogy fits just right.

2. Muslim

I missed the memo that came out after September 11th that all Muslims are extremists that are trying to kill all Americans (which includes me now…see previous post). I missed the second memo from George W. Bush that said that those Muslims that attacked us are in Iraq too. I think it’s incredibly sad that the United States government has gone from being supported in their war against terrorism (do you remember how many countries stood in solidarity with us right after the attacks?) to being hated by most state governments for ignoring the UN and going to war with Iraq. Whatever happened to diplomacy? Whatever happened to going through the right channels and not undermining the international organizations put in place after WWII? This is why we are in this mess in the first place…

Anyways, somewhere along the way we Judeo-Christians became convinced that the whole nation of Islam was against us. Millions of Muslims became discriminated against and harassed for practicing their religion and wearing their traditional clothes. Many others were discriminated for just being Middle Easterners who looked like “one of them,” regardless of whether they were Muslim or not. America was looking for someone to blame, to ostracize and demean for the actions that were committed against our country. We did everything short of establishing internment camps and locking up every Muslim in them – just like America did with Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor. History almost repeated itself!

I personally do not know any Muslims…but I believe that they are just like any group of faith. Most people in any faith (about 99%) will be good, honest, hard-working individuals who love God, love their home, love their neighbors and are just trying to do the right thing every day. Then there is always a small percentage (1% or less) that ruins it for everyone and gets all the media attention. They are the ones with extreme beliefs and who see no contradiction between honoring their beliefs and killing innocent bystanders. Most Muslims are not bad people, just as most Christians and Jews are not.

Just turn on any of those news channels and see how some fear-mongering politicians are trying to spread rumors about Barack Obama being a Muslim….as if it is a bad thing to be. A picture was re-released this week of Obama in Kenya in 2006 wearing traditional clothes that were given to him as a gift. It’s just clothes people. Wearing a turban doesn’t make you a terrorist. This is probably one of the most non-threatening pictures on earth. If you are afraid of this picture, then you must have some serious disconnect from world cultures. Also, whoever is spreading this photo in order to get people to not vote for Obama is just a horrible human being. Shame on you! Shame on you for making Muslim a dirty word! You sir (or madame) have offended millions of Muslims around the world for insinuating that any politician that puts on a turban (or other traditional clothes) must be a terrorist or an anti-American.

I’m not even a Muslim and I am offended! Moving on…

Part 2 of “Dirty Words” will continue next week…..

Please feel free to leave your thoughts and comments!
~Jade, The Intern

My Oath of Allegiance

Last week I was sworn in as US Citizen. Below is the oath of allegiance all naturalized citizens have to recite (while raising their right arm):

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God…”

Saying the above stirred within me so much emotion. At first I couldn’t help but laugh during some of the passages I read aloud, mostly because the language of the document would make most non-fluent English speakers trip over every other word. I then began to feel remorse, as if the Constitution of the United States was trying to strip me of my ethnic and cultural background – the things that have defined me most of my life. I felt as if I was being told that it is time to stop resisting the “melting pot” and just assimilate already.

But see, it’s never going to be like that for me. I will always love my country of birth. The words of its coat of arms will always be engraved deep in my skin, living and breathing inside of me. I am reminded of my roots every time I hear any reference to Latin America. I am reminded of my roots every time I have a conversation with my mother and father. I am reminded of my roots every time I look into a mirror.

However, I have lived in America most of my life and feel humbled and thankful that I have been fortunate enough to have been. I am thankful for all the Constitutional amendments that have allowed me to be a fully participating citizen of the United States of America (particularly, Amendment #13, #14, #15, #19, and #26) and all the Supreme Court decisions that have allowed me to obtain my education (and jobs, proper medical attention, etc) here without any unjust limitations.

I am proud to be an American. I am proud of my past. I am proud of it all. And I finally feel at rest that I don’t have to fear deportation anymore! Thank God!

~Jade, The Intern