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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Life Would Be So Much Better If I Were An Oppressed Minority!

I saw this on Facebook recently:


(Here's the text: "So let me get this straight: If you cross the North Korean border illegally, you get 12 years hard labor. If you cross the Afghanistan border illegally, you get shot. 2 Americans got 8 years for crossing into Iran. If you cross the U.S. border illegally, you get a job, a driver's license, food stamps, a place to live, health care, child benefits, education and tax free business income for 7 years? No WONDER we are a country in debt!! SHARE if you agree! seano.org")

Okay so... people post stupid stuff on Facebook all the time. This one is pretty bad. My first thought was "So... we should shoot immigrants? Our country is doing something wrong by not shooting immigrants?"

We're looking up to North Korea as a role model now? Really?

Yeah so... this little graphic is mind-bogglingly wrong on multiple levels, but there's one in particular I want to point out: The idea that illegal immigrants get whatever they want in the US and their lives are so easy.

Really?

I mean, really?

First, let's use common sense: Suppose you are an immigrant traveling to another country illegally, trying to find a better life or whatever. Wow, that sounds pretty difficult, doesn't it? You have to deal with language/cultural differences, possibly racism and other discrimination, and be kind of paranoid that someone might find you and get you in trouble at any moment. That seems like it would be HARD, right? That seems like NOT an awesome life where the government gives you everything you could ever need, right?

And now some data to back it up:

How much income do illegal immigrants make? This article says "In 2005, foreign born men sampled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics had an average income of $523 per week, 69% of the average of native-born workers. Since most illegal workers earn less than other immigrants, and since they avoid surveys, we can be virtually certain that illegal immigrants earned less than $24,000 per year, on average, probably much less."

Also, in 2012, 400,000 illegal immigrants were deported. Sometimes, families were separated. I can't imagine going through that.

You can debate about whether illegal immigrants should be able to get well-paying jobs, education, health care, etc- but you absolutely cannot argue that they totally get all of it and it's easy. You can debate the political question of whether deportation is the solution, but you absolutely cannot deny the toll it takes on people.

And this plays into a larger idea that's floating around (among Republicans, it seems...) that life is so much EASIER for those in marginalized groups, because they get government assistance and they're living the good life and the rest of us hard-working people have to pay for it. It's not fair!

Remember Mitt Romney's statements about "the 47%" who "pay no income tax" and obviously don't have "personal responsibility"? Yeah, hard-working (rich) people should resent those lazy people who have it easy. Umm... right. (And after his remarks, many people on the internet wrote about being in that "47%" and how hard it is.)

And Romney also said that if he was Latino, he'd have a better chance of winning the election. I obviously don't know Romney's reasons for saying that (and it was kind of an offhand joke comment), but I can speculate on why someone might think that. Because it's a BIG DEAL when a woman or ethnic minority is in some position of power, it gets a lot of media attention, and there's often a push for more diversity. So those who are privileged (white men) and have no idea that others did not have the same opportunities and advantages feel like it's unfair. But the reality is that 0% of US presidents have been Latino. If anyone thinks that Latinos have a better chance than white people at being elected president... what?

Latinos make up 16.7% of the US population, but only 3% of US senators (3 out of 100), 7% of the House of Representatives (30 out of 435), and 6% of US governors (3 out of 50). This is out of proportion, and it shows that somewhere along the way, Hispanic and Latino Americans are being discouraged/stopped from getting into political positions of power. It is NOT easier for a Latino to become president than a white person.

Same idea with all those warnings I've heard from conservative Christian groups about how anti-bullying programs in schools are being used to "indoctrinate" kids into "the homosexual agenda." This is so backwards. In the real world, LGBT teens are three times more likely to commit suicide, and 90% of them report being bullied because of their sexual orientation. Some student athletes who come out get kicked off their school sports team. This is a PROBLEM. This is WRONG. But somehow, when anti-bullying efforts are put in place, conservative Christian leaders spin it as some conspiracy to teach kids to be gay and destroy society or whatever. Again, go look at the stats on LGBT suicides. Who is destroying society here? (Didn't the bible say something about caring for "the least of these"?)

And I'm sure I could dig up more examples, where those with privilege (those not in a marginalized/oppressed demographic) think that those "other people" have so much power and such an easy life and they're ruining it for the rest of us. Dude, wake up to reality. Go listen to people who are different from you. Maybe you'll learn something. Maybe they face challenges you never imagined. Maybe we're all human and we should have empathy for each other.

All of this comes from a basic misunderstanding of who is oppressing whom. The creator of that graphic I saw on Facebook seems to think that illegal immigrants are oppressing good tax-paying Americans. This is so ridiculously backwards.

And I hope/pray that human compassion is the driving force behind our political opinions. Not an "us vs them" mentality. Not resentment of those who are different. Not fear, not stereotypes.

And certainly not silly images shared on Facebook.

5 comments:

  1. Funny, the selective Bible reading that goes on. People who would agree with the Facebook post tend to want the US's laws to be based on the Bible, including the Old Testament wherever they believe it's applicable. But they give no justification for why "welcome the foreigner" and "do not oppress the stranger" should be excluded from this.

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  2. Here's a video Wealth Inequality in America showing how huge the gap is between the 1% and the 47%.

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  3. Why is there such an issue when people advocate that people come to this country legally? I believe that the "idiotic" facebook poster was stating that if an American were to cross into Mexico or any other country, legally or illegally, that American would not be afforded the same rights as a citizen of that country. We are a compassionate nation. Look up how charitable Americans are. Better yet, look up how much more charitable conservatives are than liberals. I do not believe that any American objects to someone immigrating to this country legally. When you come to this country legally, you get to participate in the American dream, however you want to define that dream.

    And by the way...about 90% of those 1%ers earned their money. You don't prosper when you expect someone else to provide for you; and you definately don't prosper when the wealth is spread around.

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  4. The person who posted this picture isn't suggesting shooting illegal immigrants. Though I hate raging conservatives the most, raging liberals like yourself annoy me as well. Don't act like we have nothing to learn from the post.

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  5. Know what I find fascinating about this? Whatever else your position on this issue, you've got to admit that someone must be entertaining a powerful hatred for illegal immigrants, if they're willing to be vocal proponents of the way things are done in Iran, North Korea or Afghanistan.

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