Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Death from a Distance

One of the functions I perform at the airport where I am employed is to run cargo to their respective flights. On occasion the “cargo” is a box labeled “HR,” oblong in shape, and generally six feet in length: “Human Remains.” Such encounters with mortality seldom cause one to consider their own eventual date with that inevitable destiny, hoping that their time is still some considerable distance away. But on three occasions I have encountered such boxes that are less than three feet in length. Boxes of such length can denote only one thing: that the deceased is an infant. A sad thing, very disturbing. I didn’t care to know the names of the adults, but of these souls I did; all three names were Spanish. Their eventual destination was Mexico.

For all the feverish propaganda about how “Mexicans” are disabling the public services sector all by themselves, and that they are here to abuse America’s much-lauded (at least by those who haven’t used it) health care system, the “system” clearly was an abject failure for these most vulnerable citizens; not to mention a testimony to the conditions that they live in. And make no mistake: these infants were doubtless born in this country, making them U.S. citizens. But why would any parent want them permanently entrusted in the “care” of a country of hypocrites and fascists who would say “Those babies shouldn’t have been here if they didn’t want to die."

“Real” Americans seem to have a yen for justifying murder, if the victim is of the currently despised scapegoated group. After the unarmed 14-year-old Mexican was shot to death by border patrol agents while he was standing on the Mexican side, the border patrol PR team hurriedly released a press report “justifying” this killing by listing thirty-odd “incidents” where agents were “injured” by rock-throwing kids. Everyone and his/her brother and sister were perfectly satisfied. In the U.S., the public has become so inured to frequent reports of police killing unarmed civilians, that they assume the victim must have deserved it; it doesn’t do to think too deeply upon the fact that we have an army of people who have a license to kill, as long as they do it “judiciously.” Thus when the completely innocent and unarmed Amadou Diallo was felled by 19 bullets fired from police weaponry in New York City, an all-white jury in Albany saw fit to merely congratulate the killers for their marksmanship (they shouldn’t have, since the police fired 41 bullets at practically point-blank range—a less than 50 percent degree of accuracy). The “natives” don’t seem to understand, however, that foreign countries might take exception to American law enforcement killing their unarmed nationals with the same unaccountable impunity.

Other recent “incidents” have excited commentary that range from indifference to joy, depending upon distance from the scene of the crime, and level of simple human decency, which seems to be in short supply these days. There was no pretense at due process when a Latino man who had lived in this country for 18 years, had a wife and five U.S.-born children was tasered and kicked to death by border patrol agents. He shouldn’t have been here if he didn’t want to die. Before young white thugs were given wrist slaps for murdering Luis Ramirez in Shenandoah, PA, the locals reasoned that “If he didn’t want to die, he shouldn’t have been here.” A federal grand jury later found evidence of the involvement of law enforcement officers (including the police chief) in aiding and abetting the killers; I won’t be holding my breath waiting for the denouement of this case.

In Long Island, where a gang of white thugs singled-out a Mexican-looking man, and beat him to death with armaments consisting of a baseball bat, two-by-four, and chains. Fan reaction? “If he didn’t want to be killed, he shouldn’t have been here.” As if it was a “natural,” perfectly reasonable impulse. Can’t these connoisseurs of hate come-up with anything more creative?

White folks become annoyed when you talk about such things. They say things like that never happen, and when they are confronted with the evidence that it does, they say (as an individual) that they are not responsible. But collectively they are very much responsible, because they condoned it, or said nothing to stop it. Back in the “good old days” blacks in the South (and “Mexicans” in the Southwest) were frequently lynched, for the “usual crime” of violating the “sanctity” of white womanhood. In reality, even contemporary investigations would find that lynchings were “justified” in this way in only a minority of cases, but it made good press—as it does today. White women said nothing, because being “victims” made them seem “important.”

Life, meanwhile, goes on. Arizona is now considering a law denying birth certificates to babies born in the state if their parents are determined to be illegal. Perhaps such a law will warm the hearts of those who are indifferent (or feel joy) to the thought of dead Mexican babies. feel Of course the problem with the law is that it is not only unconstitutional, but it is a law that once again puts the onus on the individual, not the state, to prove illegality. And it is, of course, aimed against a specific group—Latinos. One-quarter of all illegal immigrants in this country are Asian, African or European; because the media has not focused on them, they will be ignored in the equation. Latino immigrant rights activist should now demand that these people receive “equal” treatment, or demand to know why they are not. Non-Latino immigrant activists are obviously keeping a low profile in regards to their own illegals, hoping that media and political establishment continues to pretend they don’t exist. Meanwhile, how many “native” Americans actually have their birth certificates, let alone carry them with them everywhere? Again, the anti-Latino discrimination has an aroma that is particularly foul to every sense of common human decency.

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