Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Flag Daze: Oh Say Can You See the Red, White, and Green? Let's Wave-Off Immigration Hysteria

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Flag Daze: Oh Say Can You See the Red, White, and Green? Let's Wave-Off Immigration Hysteria

Article excerpt

SCREAMING EAGLE EMBLEM AMIABLY WAVED IN street demonstrations all over the country recently, but this flagging eagle didn't make Americans' chests swell with pride; it made a lot of their faces contort in anger. Turns out it was the wrong eagle. Not the beloved, purple-mountain scaling raptor who accompanies the flag of the United States of America, but its snake chewing, rio-skimming southern cousin, the Azteca birdie who screeches across the banner of that other U.S., the Estados Unidos de Mexico.

Nanoseconds after the predominantly Mexican demonstrators paraded for immigration reform in their variant of March madness, the sputtering classes erupted in a patriotic, saliva-drenched frenzy, denouncing any who dared fly the red, white, and green within our freedom-loving borders. This may have been the first time mass flag burning has ever been promoted by conservative media.

I find myself wondering, however, if it wasn't the colors on the flags they carried but the color of the skin on the faces of most of the protesters that propelled the outrage among America's talk radio and cable news demagogues. Aren't these the same guys you have to elbow out of the way on St. Patrick's Day? Columbus Day? Fill-in-your-favorite-European-descent-group-celebration day?

Our occasional attempts at "fixing" immigration do tend to bring out the worst in our political culture, generating the strangest of historical memory lapses, as the by-now well-heeled great-grandchildren of people abused by the "Know Nothings" of America's past step forward to berate whatever new generation of migrants land, tired and tempest-tossed, on these shores. Economists seem capable of reviewing the same data before informing us that immigrant masses are both a drain and a boon while usually dependable xenophobes, dazzled by the prospect of all that desperate, low-cost labor, transform into immigration cheerleaders.

Ultimately all the rhetoric from both sides of this particular political line is likely to be irrelevant. Movement is part of the history of humanity, migrations in search of food, water, safety, peace. Long before the advent of something called borders and entities called nation-states, people have been on the move from somewhere worse to somewhere better. …

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