Nativists and the New Other

Recent news documenting “wave of attacks” on Mexican immigrants in Staten Island, New York are an indication that when the chips are down and the economy is in the tank, nativist attitudes, intolerance and ignorance rule the day. Regrettably, individuals having less to do with the impending crisis in the first place are the ones who more often than not bear the brunt for allegedly rigging the system for their personal advantage or for their opportunistic abilities to edge out born and raised in this country. It is no secret that most jobs held by immigrants —poor or illegal— are aimed solely for them, since the majority of the American worker has never had a need to engage in humiliating back- breaking work with zero benefits, long hours, ridiculous and unfair low wages and hardly anything to show for by week’s end, only a stark reminder of their uncertain status in a strange land with no friend or allies. Illegal immigrants, moreover, are also controlled by their employers, and a hypocritical political system that tricks and cajoles other marginalized and exploited citizens into thinking that their right to a job is being subverted and violated by people with different accents, a secret agenda, but with and an illegal status that renders their plight and existence even more vulnerable and miserable. Despite the fact that the illegal immigrant worker industry has always been an intricate but contributing factor to the U.S. GDP, it has conveniently been made to look immoral and in violation of the laws and the Constitution, when in reality it has served as a political calling card utilized by conniving and mendacious demagogues to score political points with their constituents.

Nonetheless, if repeated cultural conflicts are any indication in recent or past history, there’s
hardly any doubt that it will perhaps take a great deal of education and conscience building to make
the oppressed masses come to terms with their present economic predicament as it relates to their
perception of others lacking a legal status in their midst. The fact is that the most depressed sectors
of society must begin to realize that their struggle for equality does not involve looking for scapegoats
or attacking those wrongly perceived as having better access to jobs or the meager trickled down leftovers
the neoliberal clique has managed to spread for consumption in their race to the top. As we move further
into a new century, the one important lesson to be learned is how history repeats itself: the ruling
class is obviously formulating a new agenda for itself by adding new disfranchised groups to its usual
suspects roster by ostensibly making it appear that one group has already been legitimized enough to feel
that, erroneously, it has been left out in favor of others with a lesser status but given an unfair
advantage over them. Reality will prove otherwise if one takes the time to access online publications,
books, balanced and objective media or groups with a fair and conscientious social perspective.

It is about time people wake up and see the system for what it is and demand what’s right for them
and lodge their many grievances at a public forum and other truly social networks where the rulers may
have access and indeed fell pressured into heeding the complaints of the many people they’ve defrauded
and swindled in the process of amassing their fortunes in these trying economic times. Fighting those
that can hardly utter a single word to defend themselves, let alone plea for the way they are being
exploited, is hardly the most proactive way of telling the capitalist machinery that one had been
shortchanged or passed over, to the point of feeling so frustrated and impotent that surely somebody
must be held accountableble for your present condition. The incongruity of it all is that the individual
being made to pay for this injustice lacks the necessary nativist and chauvinistic credentials or skills
to even produce a whimper of protest as efficient or eloquent as a full- fledged citizen might be able to.
The prudent, sober and sisterly/brotherly thing to do is to stand in solidarity with them and complain
alongside them as loud as possible to fight the three most common enemies of humanity at our juncture:
unbridled capitalism, mendacity and intolerance.

Francisco

— August 12, 2010