Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Harder and harder

“Illegals are like fleas on a dog... By definition, they are a class a criminals, and you romanticize them. I am voting against the tax increase. Perhaps we can starve them out without benefits.”

This kind of rhetoric regarding illegal immigrants is ugly and disturbing, to say the least, but what is even uglier and more disturbing is how common it now is. It is not only all over talk radio and the internet; it is at least cited in mainstream newspaper columns, and most of the Republican presidential candidates tried to outdo each other in saying how tough they would be on illegal immigrants.

The quote above was in a recent newspaper column - a column in the Los Angeles Times by Hector Tobar. The columnist, who often makes it clear that he takes great pride in his Latino heritage, wrote that this is what a guy named Steve wrote to him after a column Tobar wrote about literacy in Spanish-speaking household.

Never mind that what this guy Steve says is completely illogical - and to a dangerous extent. Not voting for the tax increases on the November ballot is inane. The vast majority of the increased funding won’t go to illegal immigrants. It will go to desperately needed services for us all - schools, healthcare, home-care for the elderly and disabled, police, fire, road maintenance, libraries, parks, etc. As Tobar says, “But starving that old dog called California won’t kill the fleas, Steve. It will kill the dog.” And, yes, there is fraud, ballooning pensions, etc., but this calls for restructuring, not destruction and the slashing of services we all rely on.

What is really disturbing is the dismissing of people not only as “illegals” but as “fleas” that are to be “starved out.” It’s the dismissal of a certain set of people as less than human.

But, as I said, this anti-illegal immigrant talk, as disturbing as it is, isn’t new. What is new and thus even more disturbing is people saying that young adults shouldn’t get help and aren’t being responsible. A while ago, I wrote about a letter in the L.A Times ridiculing the provision in the new healthcare law allowing kids to be covered by their parents’ health insurance until they are 25. Who knew that this is bad, that it keeps children from grows up?

A letter in the Times last week stated, “Unfortunately, our government encourages delayed adulthood by requiring parents’ health insurance policies to cover children until age 26, thus incentivizing the delay.

The people who write these letters can’t stand other people having it easier than - or even as easy as - they did. I guess I’m not surprised that a recent study by the Pew Research Center found that 54% of Republicans reject the idea that the government has a “responsibility to take care of people who can’t take care of themselves.” But I’m still disturbed.

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