I’m thinking I should start a new blog entitled “Bus Stories”. That seems to be where some of my best material comes from these days. So, I was on transit last week and listening to three men converse. They were all older white men and were discussing the Rockville incident. The topic turned to immigration and DACHA, though they did not use those terms. They were uniformly against giving Dreamers ANY sort of help, be it schooling, healthcare, or housing. They agreed that anyone here who is an “illegal” should be sent back to where they came from, period. When I spoke up in defense of DACHA, they turned to me and said, “I don’t care how they got here, they’re illegal. What part of “illegal” don’t you understand? So they were brought here as children? NOT MY PROBLEM!”
Several things stuck me about this exchange. The first was the the absolute lack of any glimmer of compassion in their voices. And these men all would probaby describe themselves as good Christians. I knew one of them outside of the conversation and had always found him to be very friendly towards every rider of the bus. That was before this election legitimized showing bigotry, though, and I’ve noticed an increase in racist remarks from people I’ve never heard make them before Trump got elected. The second thing I noticed was their uniformity of tone. There was no real back and forth in this conversation. Even the phrases they used were identical. It sounded more like they were trading slogans than really talking. I felt odd, like I was eavesdropping on a secret club-house meeting. Maybe a steady diet of Fox news does that to you….Even when my progressive friends and I get together, we do argue.
I want to say to these men that YES, IT IS YOUR PROBLEM! And it is my problem, too. And it is is OUR problem because we live here and immigrants live here and how we deal with them says volumes about who we are and what our actual values are. Are you going to live according to those “good Christian values” you presume to uphold, or do they only apply to your white neighbors? This country was founded BY IMMIGRANTS. WE ARE ALL IMMIGRANTS! Just because YOUR ancestors got here a little earlier than some of the others and had whiter skin does NOT make you better! And YOUR brand of religion is not any better than that of the “illegals” you purport to despise or of the Muslims you want to ban or even any better than the unbelief of the atheists like myself. We are all in this together. You can say it is “not my problem” and try to stick your head in the sand but you live here. The draconian laws over immigration will ultimately trickle down to affect someone you know. The taxes that get imposed to build more private prisons to hold those that Trump (#notmypresident) and Co. want rounded up will affect YOU. We’d better start thinking about this.