This past week, on May 1st to be precise, our country witnessed a second wave of immigration reform rallies that were noted more for their violence (by the police) than for their size. These rallies weren’t nearly as large as those held to influence the mid-term elections last year. Those rallies were also in response to particularly harsh anti-immigration positions by some members of Congress (positions far less likely to pass with Democrats in charge). However, these demonstrations increasingly pose a problem for me. They are no longer just about immigration (to be fair I wonder if they ever were). They are rallies by the working class against the elite. I worry that conflating these two separate battles will lead to a maelstrom. I worry more that these battles will increasingly become inseparable and that we will start to move toward a culture as in Europe where class and race seem to be inextricably tied and often lead to violence. Our strongest defense against self-immolation as a nation is to fight to de-couple race and class.
p> It might be useful to first understand what happened at one of these rallies. Here is a good clip that will give you a feel for what it was like to be on the ground in L.A. both before and after things turned bad:
As most of you know, SM’s readership is quite diverse. We have 13-year-olds that read us and sometimes send us nice comments. We also have older readers who might enjoy our unfiltered perspective. One such reader, Ruchira, emailed me about her daughter. Here is an excerpt from her blog:
Most of you have by now seen news reports of the May Day rally at MacArthur Park in Los Angeles which turned violent when some demonstrators threw bottles and cans and the LAPD opened “fire” with rubber bullets and charged into the crowd with batons (the CNN report here). Although the incident is reported in the media as an “immigration rally,” the afternoon event at the park was an International Workers’ Day gathering where undocumented workers too demonstrated for their rights.
My daughter was present at the afternoon protest rally as an observer on behalf of the National Lawyers’ Guild along with other attorneys. She was caught in the middle of the melee when she tried to help move the back of the crowd away from the advancing police line. During her efforts, she was charged and beaten by a policeman. (full report on Indymedia here.) Some other attorneys, journalists, photographers and other non-protesting bystanders too were beaten and injured…
According to my daughter who reported Tuesday’s incident to her parents only on Wednesday (!!!), the Indymedia reports are a bit breathless and somewhat erroneous. She did not receive a blow to her kidneys. The policeman slugged her with his baton at least four times in the stomach. Oh, the report left out another detail. My daughter was also shot in the back with a rubber bullet! She is shaken, angry but otherwise okay and did not need to make a trip to the hospital.[Link]
This far into my post I am sure some of you are struggling with the same thing as I am. Was this an immigration rally or an “International Worker’s Rally?” The day chosen says a lot:
May Day also refers to various socialist and labor movement celebrations conducted on May 1, unrelated to the traditional celebrations, to commemorate the Haymarket martyrs of 1886 and the international socialist movement generally. The latter event is an important holiday in Communist and Socialist countries. [Link]
Is waving the flag of Mexico and other Central and South American countries on a day traditionally associated with Communism the best way to secure rights for immigrants in this country? Doesn’t it do the cause more harm than good? Lou Dobbs, with all his “throw the immigrants out bluster” demonstrates this point quite well by seamlessly mixing anti-communist rhetoric with anti-immigrant rhetoric:
What a spectacle, what a mess. What a day for thousands and thousands of illegal aliens and their supporters to march through the streets of many of our biggest cities demanding amnesty for illegally entering the country.
Tuesday was given over to illegal aliens and their supporters to demand forgiveness for using fraudulent documents and assisting others in entering this country illegally. What a day for illegal aliens and their supporters to demand not only amnesty but also the end to immigration raids and an end to deportations.
May Day was a peculiar choice for those demonstrations, a day in many countries in which international socialism is celebrated and a reminder of those old Soviet Union military parades.
It was also an unfortunate and ironic choice on the part of the organizers of the demonstrations. May 1 in the United States is actually Law Day, a day first established by President Eisenhower in 1958 and ultimately codified into law in 1961 at the beginning of John F. Kennedy’s administration. The purpose of Law Day is to give all Americans an opportunity to reflect on our legal heritage, and by statute, encourages “the cultivation of the respect for law that is so vital to the democratic way of life.”
Millions of American citizens are going to agree with Dobbs. The way he writes it, it’s hard not to. If immigration rights=workers rights/socialism then this battle will be lost (or at least remain at a standstill) before it begins. Those who support immigration reform and those who support workers rights must be more strategic in their thinking. I support both groups but I lose my ability to articulately defend them when I can’t tell them apart. A dark-skinned communist mob will be all that the other side sees.
racist pig lou dobbs
Dehumanizing the dehumanizers? How unconvincing.
How the hell is Lou Dobbs a racist???? I guess speaking out against illegal immigration make one a racist.
I just love how in Mexico illegal immigrants from Central America are treated so much worse, but the left doesn’t say a word.
Is Lou Dobbs a racist? I’d say yes, he’s practicing a latent form of racism, when on an almost daily basis illegal immigrants are being blamed for much of our country’s woes (remind you of anything?). Evelyn Shih says it well:
But again — i’d like to bring this back to the fact that Americans and hardworking immigrants were shot at with rubber bullets and beaten with batons, when they were NOT provoking the police. You saw the video above. The story so far (which is being further investigated) is that a few teenagers threw rocks and bottles at the police. at ONE point. People who were not affiliated with the organizing groups of the rally. We’ve got all the technology in the world, and the most advanced nation (some would say), i think police can safely figure out who’s throwing bottles at them and who are mothers and children who are walking away (common theme: not provoking anyone). Can we be a bit upset about that instead of comment on whether lou dobbs and the “illegal alien invasion” of non-people (as many regard them) represent what americans want to hear? Does this remind ANYONE else of the nonviolent rallies that Gandhi led, where police were unprovoked yet still beating up Indians? (Do this isue have to connect to indians in order for the issue of police beating up on people to get some emotion?)
Does this remind ANYONE else of the nonviolent rallies that Gandhi led, where police were unprovoked yet still beating up Indians?
please elaborate. pretty please? Let me learn from you.
No. To compare this with Gandhi’s nonviolent protests is either hyperbole or grotesque misrepresentation.
I know Amitabh. I’m heading over to France now to join the riots.
Segolene lost, I wonder if the riots in France had anything to do with it.
I have feeling this is gonna be start of a trend in Europe where backlash against immigrants will help the right, win in many countries in Europe.
Well I guess this will be the last time I will ever read this blog. I guess I just assumed the “Mutiny” part of the name was an irreverent joke, and “Sepia” was the important part.
But I’ll still put my 2 cents in: This was not an “immigrant” rights rally, it was an illegal alien’s rights rally. For this one reason, since most Indians are here legally, this story has absolutely no place on a forum like this. Civil rights are one thing, and illegal border crossings are another. Bringing racism, skin color, and blame against people of European descent into random stories over and over again seems to be more and more what Sepia Mutiny is about. That’s sad because I don’t think all Indians are of a leftist or socialist persuasion, although you might think so because of all the crypto-communists posting here. A lot of what’s going on in India and to Indians around the world is being ignored here to further the agenda of a few people.
Anyways peace out.
Quite frankly, dark skin is more of a stigma in India than in the US, at least if you are a woman and intend to get married.
I think the problem is that the Indian culture very much sees the society consisting of people that are superior and inferior, fair skin being superior, and dark skin being inferiror. This is even more true in the muslim community with all Indins going to the arab world working in arab households.
Well, before the british there where no such thing as a hindu, there where only gurus. Hindu Unity is largley a british construction taken up by Vivekananda and later the Hindutva. Funny isn’t it that our most conservative thinkers have copied muslim piety and the british concept of India having one uniting religion that makes us a nation state.
I don’t understand how you can SEPARATE immigration from workers’ rights. Corporate globalization allows goods and capital to cross borders unfettered, but denies “labor” (i.e. workers, i.e. human beings) the same access to the “free market.” Connect the dots, mang.
What would an “immigration rally,” divorced from class issues, look like to you? I just cannot imagine such a thing. It would be ridiculous, like some whack, corporate-sponsored, fetishizing feel-good free-for-all.
You can’t be serious about this. This point does not hold up on any level. “Inheriting” gangs would imply that the problem did not already exist in the US in the first place.
I too am somewhat offput by the loud socialists and communists on this board, many of whom indicate their views in their handles (ScarletGuju, Quant Trotsky, anarcho-Skih-atheist). And there is plenty of white-man hatred/envy here, it is a running theme of SM. But I hope you won’t leave SM altogether since that’s not all that it’s about by a long shot.
India needs CAPITALISTS to enlarge the pie, not socialists to redistribute the current pie. That has been tried already.
to the extent that our gang problem intersects with poor race relations, illegal immigration has a lot to do with it:
Racial Hate Feeds a Gang Warâ€™s Senseless Killing
You can’t be serious about this. This point does not hold up on any level. “Inheriting” gangs would imply that the problem did not already exist in the US in the first place.
MS-13 did not exist here before we imported the problem. It holds up very well on that level, Trotsky. And again, I don’t like your handle (or the casually accepting view towards communism displayed here, as in the title of the post). Communism equals poverty and Trotsky was a twisted man who did no good for anyone.
I know Amitabh. I’m heading over to France now to join the riots.
Not surprised. You are after all a scum. Good luck, my fellow racaille!
Only a second gen Indian could be a communist, we who actually lived in the desh know what a horrible choice it was by our leaders.
we who actually lived in the desh know what a horrible choice it was by our leaders.
Not fair. You don’t have to have lived in India to appreciate what a bad idea the Nehruvian Five Year Plans were.
I am amused by your offputtedness. Thanks for the laugh! By the way, I’m an anarchist, so please don’t lump me in with the socialists and communists. I believe in doing-it-yourself and non-hierarchical ways of making decisions/sharing power. Communism advocates centralized authority and top-down decision making, and communists have not been kind to anarchists, historically, so I resent your lumping us together.
But to expound on my original comment, do we agree that the main reason anybody emigrates from their homeland is for economic opportunity? Given that, how is it possible to divorce the immigration issue from the class (i.e. economic) issue?
An earlier commenter worried about the intimidation that might be experience by Spanish speaking immigrants or illegals. Please, outside of riot/demonstration situations–save your fretting. Spanish speaking persons in this country are among the least intimidated people imaginable. We must already choose #1 for English, even in New England. Most of us are here because immigrant ancestors wanted a better standard of living, not because they wanted a brown(er) country, duh. 75% of Mexico wants to come here and is on the way, even as the white “elites” of that country cackle gleefully as their poorest and darkest say adios. Now if having more brown people around makes you feel better, you’ll be happy, but this will not improve the average standard of living of anybody except a handful of “elite” who profit from cheap labor and a weakened middle class. Back to that intimidation. The government wants more and more Mexicans here for reasons of their own. Far from intimidating them, the government gives or lends them taxpayer money for health care, schools and housing. Your taxes are among them, but hey, they’re brown so it’s like helping like. My best friend’s husband was once an illegal alien, who had grown up an impoverished peasant. He taught himself English and crossed the Rio Grande twice or thrice. Finally he was almost disemboweled by an El Salvadoran (ES & Mexs no like each other) and in the aftermath, it came to light that he was illegal. They sent him back, and my friend had no alternative but to marry the man and make him honest. The day he became an American citizen was one of the happiest of his life. He detests illegals. He knows the influx is bad for all concerned. After all, he once was one. I don’t know what the moral of that story is, other than “life be complicated.” One expedient might be to just give the southwest back to Mexico, although the U.S. did pay for it–little known fact. Thing is, I don’t think the Mexican elites would want those compatriots they thought they so recently got rid of. Anyway, so many middle/upper middle-class Americans are heading for Costa Rica and other ports, that the Mexicanization of North America may soon be a moot point. I’m looking at Brazil myself.
Get a grip!
in other words q-t, selective legal immigration would lower the likelihood of new gangs forming, which are often based on tribal ethnic/racial loyalties of disenfranchised young men. By inheriting mexicos racially stratified poverty, we risk creating an even more racially defined poverty here in the US.
But america’s elite (who want cheap labor), Mexicos (mostly white) plutocracy (who do not want to invest in education and infrastructure, raise taxes on themselves, resist reforms that would increase their tiny middle class, and basically want americans to support the almost 50% of mexicans who live in poverty despite their great GDP and abundant natural resources) and poor mexicans (who want better paying jobs) are in cahoots.
worse still, people like me really don’t care as we sympathize with the poor and benefit from lower prices and maid service. so america becomes more racially divided, our native poor suffer, and mexico avoids the inevitable capitalist revolution.
but the reconquista brigade and anarchists may wake up the average american. Bad politics, as may have noted, for the pro-illegal immigration forces to allow these people in their movement, it would be like lou dobbs associating with the klan.
Manju, you are still exaggerating the extent of the problem. Besides, this is still not “inheriting” gangs as a problem. As to Nada, I have zip to say to you.
Can you elaborate?
A more nuanced picture emerges when you consider the extent of social mobility among Mexxcian immigrants. Even among illegals, by the second generation most are middle-class. The sky isn’t falling.
Even among illegals, by the second generation most are middle-class.
Got a citation for that, comrade? Or did you make it up just now? Sounds like commie agitprop 🙂
Mexico is a much more unequal society than the US. Even with that high per-capita GDP, there are a lot of poor Mexicans.
There are not that many surveys specifically about illegal immigrants, but the following article is instructive.
There is nothing in that article to back up your statement “Even among illegals, by the second generation most are middle-class.” You can’t just make facts up.
I usually don’t comment on explosive issues and am happy just to cite statistics. But I highly doubt that the current assimilation model will work well with Mexican origin immigrants if our current rate of illegal immigration is not curbed.
Assimilation factors in three things
Immigrants of mexican origin form our largest segment of immigrants, who are ethnically and culturally different from the majority and who have a much lesser rate of education. They speak a different language (Spanish) and are come from a dfferent culture (latino). They might get assimilated but the odds are low; especially in the age of easy travel when your country of origin is right next to the country you are immigrating to. Like Manju, I don’t think this immigration is being allowed on the basis of generosity and the recognition of the american dream but basically to get cheap labor who will work obscene amount of hours.
Now we are importing poor Mexicans to work as indentured servants. How is this not going to make the US a more unequal society?
This is from the Economist article. The studies they talk about — I do not have primary sources — talk about all immigrants, illegal and legal. I am going to leave the last word to you. My personal opinion falls along two lines:
1) The experience of immigration from Mexico, legal and illegal is mixed.
2) There is a yawning gap between popular support for restricting immigration and actual action. Illegal immigration is convenient not only to the elites but to large sectors of the middle-class as well. Those who benefit from illegal immigration are more than willing to put their money where it matters. Those who are against it write on message boards. I do not see a lot lot done about it in the long run.
Those who are against it have to right on message boards because the elite are the upper middle class are happy with low slave wages and are not willing to do anything.
I genuinly hope what you’re saying about mexican upward mobility is correct, for no other reason than it perfecty intersects with my capitalist ideology and impression that america is a land where racism is not prevalent enough to hold a group back in any significant degree. I know this is the WSJ position, whom I respect.
Furthermore, given that moneyed interest has intersected with open-borders, i don’t see the political will to stop illegal immigration, unless a muslim terrorist comes accros that border. anyway, i like my low prices for fruits and maid service too so i won’t cmplain.
i do still fear that mexico will remain a banana republic. but what the hell, cancun always good for some R&R.
I read that part, it doesn’t back you up at all.
Look, if you’re just making stuff up, why write “Even among illegals, by the second generation most are middle-class”? Why not write, “Illegal aliens outearn whites by the second generation”?
Have you learned nothing from Trotsky? If you say something often enough, it becomes true!
Trotsky would be proud that you didn’t retract your invented statistic, though. Just kind of finessed it a little and moved on.
I wouldn’t be too sure about that. There is a lot of endorsement among Af-Am for immigration control- which is cutting in to the strong hold traditionally held by Democrats, we are not a monolith.
I didn’t want to be the one to ‘bring the beef’ into this (mostly?)Hindu house. I have heard anecdotal stories like this,different city, as relates to crime, control of school boards etc. That along with the scarcity of working/low wage jobs that pit AfAm vs Latinos is a legitimate concern.
The solution is always – don’t be poor! but I have to temper that with being my brother’s keeper.
i didn’t read all the posts, so sorry if i’m repeating, but going to abhi’s original question, i think there are a few factors at play here- generally, it seems that different movements are beginning to merge- the anti-war, humanitarian (civil rights, workers rigths, etc), and the green movement are slowly consolidating. so that’s mayube part of the reason that you have an immigrant rights rally on may day with lots of fuck bush signs.
the other piece is that it would be interesting to know whether the attendees of these rallies (the actual immigrants) agree FULLY with the views of the organizers of these things (some of whom are immigrants, some of whom are not). i think a lot of the organizers within the immigrants rights movement are lefties who are also socialists/communists, which is fine, but the question is, do the community members also believe in that?
its common that the organizers often inject their ideolgies into what is really an issue specific policy debate. there’s nothing wrong with that if the attendees also believe these things and the positions endorsed by the rally come from the ground up from the community, but the question is do they? many of the protesters probably left behind inept and ineffective socialist or dictatorial governments (only to have their rights trampeled on here in the US)- so we shouldn’t assume that just because all of these folks are at an immigrant rights rally on may day, that they are also socialists or communists, or that they see this as a race and class issue combined in the same way that abhi is describing it.
brown fury-It’s so nice to see you back. Good comment.
I personally think it’s counter-productive to mash all the issues together at one rally. It’s confusing to the media as well as people who are trying to self-educate when gay rights, the environment, abortion rights, homeless advocates-you get the idea, are all at the same rally. The power and meaning gets diluted. I do think that immigrants rights and labor rights go hand in hand though because so much labor IS immigrant labor. There is a lot of abuse of workers in environments where the people in the workplace who have power, will exploit the non-citizen status of workers and that need to be addressed regardless of their status.
I don’t think the waving of the flag is always about repping the country you came here. Sometimes those of us who are citizens and were born here will have the flag of our relatives country up and waving in support of them. I’m a 3rd genner of mixed ancestry, but I have half a dozen relatives who are in this country illegally. I couldn’t sponsor them but they made a choice, came anyway, and love it here, but there are aspects of home that they miss. Waving a flag doesn’t mean they hate it here, they are just repping the diversity of the movement and some ethnic pride. (Not saying that anyone accused them of hating U.S., just that many people assume thats what it’s about when they see the flags). I see folks with the flag of Texas on their cars I just think they’re homesick.
The last thing mi gente de colombia want is a socialist state, because some of them were trying to avoid being kidnapped by the FARC socialist rebels after we lost one family member to them and one to the paramilitaries. They just want to live without the hundred years of violencia that have been the norm. I have another relative who came here just so she could escape her stupid debts. Reasons for coming here can be complicated and overlapping.
I’m surprised that no one has mentioned NAFTA yet; “illegal” immigration really picked up after Clinton signed NAFTA in 1992, which basically drove most Mexican small farmers off the land (due to heavily subsidized U.S agri-business exports). It was also after NAFTA that the the border started to become more and more militarized. If you read the agreement carefully, you will find that its basically an investor rights agreement with a mixture of market protections (read the “rules of origins” requirements designed to keep out competition) and liberalizing measures (liberalization of the banking sector, for instance, which had certain very bad consequences for Mexican development banks). I could go on, but I’m sleepy (plus lots of grading). I’ll leave you with this link to a SF chronicle article, which kinda makes the point. Strange world: capital can go anywhere it wants, but people can’t…
Thanks, sigh! That article was very informative, I have not thought in that angle before.