Sunday, March 16, 2008

Andy Rooney's Holocaust & Costa Mesa

WARNING! This blog entry is guaranteed to make every reader uncomfortable. Proceed at your own risk.
"AND NOW, A FEW MINUTES...."
I suspect most of you are familiar with Andy Rooney, a corresp
ondent on the enduring CBS television program, "60 Minutes". Those of you who watch "60 Minutes" know Rooney as a curmudgeonly fellow who closes the show each week with a couple minutes of his alleged wit. Usually he says nothing, but says it cleverly and gets paid well to do it.

SLOGGING THROUGH ANDY'S "WAR"
For the past several weeks I've been crawling my way through "My War" - the best selling memoir of his experiences during World War II. It's taking me a long time because I frequently find myself angry at him, so I just stop until I cool off. Sometimes that takes several days.

THE REAL "ANDY"

Although he's written more than a dozen books, if you read this book you will disco
ver the real Andy Rooney - a spoiled, obnoxious member of the liberal elite from an early age. At nearly 90 years of age, Rooney apparently feels he has somehow earned the right to smear war heroes like General George F. Patton and others, because he does so freely in the book.

THE END IS IN SIGHT

That being said, parts of it are quite interesting as a first-person account of that terrible war, so I'm
committed to finish it - soon. But that's not really the point of this entry.

RECOUNTING
THE HORROR
Near the end of th
e book - and the war - Rooney describes his visit to a couple of concentration camps, Buchenwald and Thekla. Now, I'm not a stranger to the existence of such places - I've seen many documentaries and read several accounts of the conditions in them. I must admit, though, that every time I see the images and read the descriptions by observers and those who survived the camps I cringe, appalled that human beings could do such things to other human beings.

PERCEPTIVE OBSERVATION
In this section of his book, while describing things he saw, Rooney makes the following statement: (The emphasis is mine)
"One of the devilish aspects of this crusade against the Jews was the necessity the Germans felt for making the extermi
nation of Jews legal. I don't think Americans know about it. Whatever the Nazis wanted to do, they first arranged to have a law passed that made the action legal. They did not, as it might seem, simply haul Jews off the streets and out of their homes without being able to justify it in their own minds and according to laws that had been enacted. There were laws that covered every despicable act."

"THE LAW"

He went on to describe sections of a document written and produced by the Reichstag in 1935 entitled, "The Nuremberg Laws on Race and Citizenship, 1935", which defined the position
- or lack thereof - of Jews in German society shortly before the outbreak of World War II. He quotes liberally (no pun intended) from the chapter entitled, "Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honor", which includes specific descriptions of what constitutes being a Jew.

A FAMILIAR CHORD

When I reached this section of his book and read the paragraph above I just paused because it struck a chord with me. I read and re-read it and realized that the concept described in it had a very familiar ring.


OUR TOWN
Our town, Costa Mesa, is a city in southern California of around 110,000 souls - depending on how many alleged illegal aliens remain after the current purge. Most of the folks who live in our city are fine people - hardworking and dedicated to making a good life for their families. We call ourselves "The City of the Arts" because we are home to an exceptional Performing Art
s complex and seem to have more than our fair share of creative types. Heck, our current mayor is an artist of sorts who, until he decided to run for public office, wore his hair in a long pigtail - a sure sign of an artistic self-perception.

DIVERSITY

We are a diverse community, with a third of our population being of Hispanic heritage - some of whom are almost certainly not in this country legally. Those folks came here for a better life and work hard to achieve it.


OPPOSING VIEWS
Unfortunately, there are among us a few people who object to their presence and, for the past few years, have methodically gone about making life difficult for them by passing laws to oppress them, dissolving government sup
port entities such as the Job Center and the Human Relations Committee, pressuring and defunding charitable support groups, etc.

PAINFUL REALIZATION
When I read that paragraph in italics above I realized that the theme applies
to our city - and it made me ashamed.

METHODICAL PLAN

No, I'm not accusing every person in this city who has spoken out against illegal immigrants of being Nazis, although there is a powerful presence in this
city that denies the existence of the holocaust. What I am saying is that much of the legal foundation for ousting folks of Hispanic heritage from our city is in place or is being planned. Our former mayor - currently the mayor pro tem - hatched a scheme a couple years ago to train every Costa Mesa police officer as an immigration screener. That was headed off, but the melody lingered in the form of an federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent being assigned to our jail to personally screen every person arrested and taken to our facility.

PLAN CORRUPTED

Originally, the former mayor assured his constituents that he only wanted to get dangerous alien felons off the streets, and that there would be no sweeps. Few
in the Hispanic community believed him, rightly so, as it turns out. The enforcement and screening effort has, indeed, taken some dangerous felons off our streets, but it's also snatched up individuals for minor infractions which resulted in their deportation. In some cases, this resulted in their families being left behind, including their American citizen children.

DEPORTABLE OFFENSE?
Some supporters of the plan proclaim that those people were law-breakers because they came to our country
illegally. No argument there, but that "crime" hardly fits the former mayor's assurance to the city.

EXPANSION OF THE PLAN

The city has had a non-solicitation ordinance in place for almost two decades with which our police can managed loitering day-laborers, but currently there is a movement afoot to pass a more stringent ordinance to create more law-breakers, who can then be scooped up and sent packing.

USING EMINENT DOMAIN AS A TOOL OF OPPRESSION

There are those who espouse the use of eminent domain to yank property from their current owners, to be bulldozed and replaced with artist lofts and high-end h
omes. Most of those places to be demolished provide housing and/or jobs for members of the laboring class in our city, many of whom are of Hispanic heritage and some are certainly here illegally.

ATTACKING THE KIDS
Those same strident voices decry the impact of children of immigrants on our school system. Most of those children are American citizens. Despite much progress being made in the integration of those children into the system, there seems to be a cadre of folks in our town that are determined to force them out.

UNDENIABLE PARALLEL
In my view, the parallels between what's currently happ
ening in my city and the events in pre-war Germany are clear and undeniable.

SAD COMMENTARY
It's a sad commentary on the societal attitudes of a few peo
ple in our city.

Labels: , ,

15 Comments:

OpenID substitute said...

If you want to start killing people en masse, the first thing is to declare them second-class citizens. Best way is to use a law or laws. This is what some people in this country have been trying to do to gay people forever.

3/17/2008 03:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Rob Dickson said...

Geoff,

You're kidding, right?

You must be. Either that or you were struck by lightning yesterday, and have lost your mind.

How else would anyone explain how you can possibly compare ANY official action regarding illegal immigration in Costa Mesa to Hitler's Germany and his extermination of Jews and Gypsys?

Let me just state a few FACTS.

The United States admits millions of LEGAL immigrants each year, regardless of race.

The United States is racially diverse, in fact, caucasions are rapidly becoming the minority in CA.

I'll stop there, because that is really all that is needed to completely dispel your wild assertion.

It is intellectually corrupt and incredibly disingenuous to equate opposition to illegal immigration with racism/xenophobia/geoncidal intent.

Fully 70% of US citizens, including many of Hispanic and Latino descent, oppose the negative impacts of illegal immigration. We are a country of laws, and the record is clear that illegal immigrants and those who employ them are routinely breaking our laws.

The job center was the product of different times, and was long overdue for closure. No way in heck should a city support any entity that actually facilitates illegality.

As for the rest of the issues that you claim demonstrate Costa Mesa's hidden desire to eradicate Latinos (that IS what you are saying), they are hardly as insidious as you claim.

Let me just be clear one more time. THE ONLY PROBLEM ANYONE HAS WITH ILLEGAL ALIENS IS THE FACT THAT THEY ARE HERE ILLEGALLY, ARE WORKING HERE ILLEGALLY, AND ARE STRAINING OUR PUBLIC RESOURCES.

The ONLY people making this about race are those who support illegal immigration and have NO other leg to stand on.

I oppose illegal immigration.

I support ICE in the jail.

I support the closure of the Job Center.

I support cracking down on loitering and day labor.

I support legitimate businessmen who pay their taxes, pay their worker's comp, and struggle to stay in business.

I support arresting and jailing criminal opportunists who exploit illegal immigrants and undercut legitimate businessmen by knowingly employing illegal immigrants - either as regular employees or day laborers.

I support helping long-time illegal immigrants with the process of becoming legal immigrants. No citizenship EVER for those who came here illegally.

I am not a racist and I wish no harm to anyone here illegally. I only want them to either go home or immediately apply for legal status.

STOP with the NAZI references, Geoff. It is beneath you and wildly inappropriate.

3/17/2008 06:01:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

substitute, how in the world do you come to that conclusion?

3/17/2008 06:35:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Rob, I'm sorry, but I didn't realize that you'd been appointed the spokesperson for all Costa Mesa residents. When did that happen? Disagree with me if you wish, but don't pretend to speak for anyone except yourself - until you run for office and are elected. I speak for myself, period. If others agree with me, that's fine. If they don't, that's fine, too.

The Job Center, combined with our current non-solicitation ordinance, did the job it was intended to do. It centralized the job seekers and gave the CMPD an ordinance to enforce to keep them from loitering. It's still in force and can be used. Closing the Job Center was a racially motivated mistake.

Whether you like the Nazi references or not, blatant racism is the foundation of much of what has been, and is, happening here in this city. You and I have discussed this before. I agree with the two "FACTS" you stated - all the rest of your comment is opinion, to which you are certainly entitled. Obviously, this particular post has made you angry. I suggest that, in the future, if you find yourself getting angry simply stop reading.

As angry as you might be with the illegal immigrant situation, following the November election something will happen to change it - and I doubt very much you will like it. Regardless which party wins the White House, change will happen. If McCain wins he's already said he favors closing the borders and some form of amnesty. If the Democrats win, stand back, because the flood of new immigrants will sweep you aside.

As unpleasant as it is to be called "intellectually corrupt and incredibly disingenuous", your comments are still welcome here. It will take more than that to wear out your welcome.

3/17/2008 06:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Rob Dickson said...

Geoff,

What makes me angry is not your efforts to counter and identify racism or racist actions, it is your continued painting of the whole city as some sort of intolerant 1938 Berlin, which it is not. I do not think that you are "intellectually corrupt and incredibly disingenuous", but the rhetoric used to advance the hypothesis. I know that you are not either one, but I think that, like myself, you go overboard.

What started a long and, I hope mutually beneficial, debate between us on this issue was your published letter regarding Israel Maciel's murder, where you effectively blamed Mansoor and his "mob" for that crime and the "lawlessness" you alleged gripped Costa Mesa. We disgareed strongly on that one, but I came to know your motivation and intent - both of which are to better Costa Mesa for everyone living here.

As with the Nazi comparisons, I thought your logic and rhetoric were outrageous and totally inappropriate. The why is the key - you essentially make the actions and motives of a small group the actions and motives of a city of 110,000. Nothing Mansoor did caused Maciel's murder by a long shot - and nothing anybody says can turned 110,000 people into racists bent on eradicating or banishing Latinos in Costa Mesa. Because a few feel that way does not mean the vast majority does.

While some may have had a racist motive for wanting the job center gone, my bet is that many were like me - incredibly and loudly opposed to city sponsorship of a facility that made breaking myriad employment laws that much easier.

When you have written about Costa Mesa being a bastion of intolerance, I have sharply disagreed, and will continue to do so. This is our city, and the one I live in is no Nazi Germany or bastion of intolerance. If it is a place where people here illegally, whether Mexican or Latvian, feel uncomfortable, that is a good thing in my opinion. Why? Because, until the law changes - being here illegally means that you are breaking the law every time you drive, work, etc. and that is unacceptable to me.

I don't advocate sweeps or mass deportation, but making it LESS EASY TO BE HERE ILLEGALLY is a solid public policy objective. I thinik the best policy would be vigorous prosecution of employers, personally.

We will continue to strongly disagree about this issue, so thank you for providing the venue to do so. The actions of few do not make the hearts of many dark and intolerant.

3/17/2008 08:25:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Rob, I do not paint Costa Mesa as some sore of "intolerant 1938 Berlin". I firmly believe that there are people in power - and those who influence people in power - that would have it be precisely that. The term "overboard" is subject to one's perspective. Strong opinions may appear to be "overboard" to those who don't share them.

You have misrepresented my opinion of Israel Maciel's murder. I never said Mansoor "caused" the murder and you know it. I have never said all the residents of Costa Mesa are racists, which you also know. As you and I have discussed previously, there are those with precisely those views who influence things that happen in this city.

I stand by my description of this city as a bastion of intolerance because some of it's elected leaders and those who influence them act in a way that makes many Latinos feel that way - and I don't mean just those here illegally.

I do understand your passion on the issues you've addressed - I'm not sure you understand mine, even after all this time. We could go on and on about this accomplishing nothing. The only thing that matters is the federal governments approach to the illegal immigrant problem - it's their responsibility. By this time next year you'll probably have a good idea of how that's going to shake out. As I said before, I doubt you'll be happy...

So, until then, think about how many laws you and I both break when we drive our streets. Every time you exceed the speed limit by even 1 mph you are breaking the law. Every time you don't come to a complete stop at a stop sign you are breaking the law. When you fail to signal a lane change you are breaking the law. How strictly shall we enforce those laws?

What I want to see happen is for John McCain to be elected President in November and for him to honor his pledge to immediately take strong steps to secure our borders. I then want to see some form of earned amnesty made available to those in this country illegally. No one convicted of a felony would be eligible and fees and any back taxes must be paid before the issuance of any kind of permanent residence authorization. In my plan there would be a mandatory requirement for English language fluency. I suspect you don't like that idea, but that's OK - it's my opinion and I'm not running for office, so I don't have to convince you.

In the meantime, I'll just be out here, dodging lightning bolts and expressing my OPINION on MY blog. You're still welcome to participate, even if you choose to continue to insult me and misrepresent my position. When I've had enough I'll tell you.

3/17/2008 11:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Rob Dickson said...

Geoff,

The letter which I refer to regarding Israel Maciel was published Aug. 27, 2006. You are correct - you did not state that Mansoor caused the murder.

Here is the passage to which I refer:

"There's no doubt in my mind that the strategy and tactics employed by our mayor and his majority on the council are, in great part, responsible for the pressures that have led to the shootings in our town."

I brought that up not in an effort to castigate you, but to remind you of the few times in which we have so strongly disagreed about an issue. If you remember, I wrote you about that letter, and that began the dialog, one that I have found to be enlightening and of great value.

This issue is one I feel equally passionate about - my OPINION is that Costa Mesa is no bastion of intolerance. I refer to 1938 Berlin because you made the comparison:

"In my view, the parallels between what's currently happening in my city and the events in pre-war Germany are clear and undeniable."

So I am not sure how I am misrepresenting anything. By "overboard" I mean just that - stating that Mansoor's actions led IN ANY WAY to anyone shooting anybody or comparing Costa Mesa IN ANY WAY to pre-war Germany.

I think you are absolutely wrong on those two counts. I suppose that we have thoroughly established that we will never agree on them, so let's move on.

As far as the McCain plan, I am not totally opposed to it, and I think it may be the only workable option. If "earned amnesty" it is, then so be it. I simply hope that it is hard-earned, not a rubber-stamp. I expect my President to share the opinion that our citizenship is extremely valuable.

As for breaking the law, I can't argue with the basic premise you assert, but remind you that, for me and you, there are consequences. There should be for illegals as well.

I hope that I have clarified where I am coming from, and exactly what and why I take issue with, as I do not mean to carelessly or blithely insult or misrepresent you, and sincerely apologize if I have done so.

3/18/2008 03:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Bruce Krochman said...

Well, that was an interesting read; both the column and the commentaries. I would like to start by sharing (I may have previously and forgive me if I repeat myself) a quote from an interview with Rabbi Michael Schudrich, the chief rabbi of Poland. In the interview in 2007 he described a recent physical altercation he had with a person who called out a slogan that is used to show support for a Poland without Jews. He confronted the individual and ended up punching him. In any case, his comment to the interviewer was as follows: "Too many good people are silent. The problem never is the evil person because society will always have evil people. The collapse of society happens when the good are silent."

Now, I will admit that Geoff stretched long and hard to connect anti-illegal-immigrant sentiments with the gradual incorporation of genocide in Nazi Germany. But I will admit that I am troubled by the bigger picture that I see developing in the world today, not just Costa Mesa. I see a world where the threads of entrenched intolerance are starting to form. I look at the reaction of Muslims to historically liberal European social norms such as freedom of speech. I see a backlash against immigrants that hold on to their heritage and, heaven forbid, their native tongues. I see whole groups of people that are blamed for a country or regions economic woes. These viewpoints are starting to manifest themselves in violent reactions. Nothing good will come of any of this in the short run, or even perhaps in the long run.

Having made that observation I ask myself how this is playing out locally. I find that a certain minority on both sides of the immigration issue have cloaked themselves in rhetoric that is more palatable to the mainstream of our community.

There are those that are in the anti-immigrant (illegal purposefully not included that time) camp that simply claim a penchant for law and order in persecuting Illegal-immigrants. How could one possibly object to that? The real effect of policies that target illegal-immigration spills over into legal residents of Hispanic origins on many levels. That causes some legal immigrants or even indigenous families that have been residents of this region for many generations that are also of Hispanic origins to feel persecuted and lumped in with what, in some cases, may very well be family members that are here illegally.

The there are those in the pro-illegal-immigrant camp that don’t want unrestricted access to the US for all and in fact a very radical fringe that would see the collapse of our region’s connection to the United States and a return to Mexico or an independent nation. They see a racist in every anti-illegal-immigrant statement regardless of the motivations of the person making those statements.

Now, in political discourse, extremism is a useful tool. Describing every day issues in terms of the collapse of civilization as we know it is a time honored technique for rallying the otherwise sedentary masses. I, however, am looking forward to true leadership in the US on this issue. True leadership takes courage to face difficult questions with creative and sometimes painful solutions. Painful in the egalitarian sense, that is. Political compromise that effects substantial changes only has a chance when all of those invested in the issue keep investing until it hurts. Then at least a couple of generations will remember the pain and respect the compromise. Anything else is merely sweeping the problem under the rug and hoping that the it will stay there until the next guy is in charge.

So, if you have read this far, I will sum up my opinions as follows: Geoff – keep the fight going. Suffer the slings and arrows proudly. Rob – Keep feeling insulted by racial overtones in Geoff’s commentary, I believe it to be genuine which I can’t say for some of the others that rail against his observations. That gives me hope.

3/18/2008 06:31:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

OK, I'm exhausted on this one...

I do appreciate the spirited discourse - I really do, Rob. History has demonstrated that if we keep flogging an issue we're usually going to get close.

Bruce, thanks for your usual thoughtful summation. I think we just need to keep chuggin' along, doing what we think is best for the community... that's my plan, in any event.

This has been a good workout, guys. Thanks.

3/18/2008 09:37:00 PM  
Blogger Humberto said...

Geoff:

There is lot of good stuff coming out that conversation between you and Dickson. The comparison with Nazi Germany might be a bit exaggerated, but let's not get confused on this. No society has achieved the level of irrationality than that of the Nazi regime, and I don't think we'll ever have another Nazi regime in the future. However, we do have in Costa Mesa what a famous philosopher and sociologist, Theodore Adorno, said, Germany was prone to a radical change prior to the Third Rich. Most people in Germany had already developed a so-called "Authoritarian personality" or a kind of behavior that compels people to support rapid, swift as well as irrational change. If there is any thing interesting about Hitler, he understood well German behavior and so he acted upon it. He only did what most people in his country felt it was the right thing to do. Now, some people in Costa Mesa might not think they have this type of sociological disorder, but in my opinion, when we look at our recent past, we realize that “we” supported the most radical individuals in town just because we wanted the Latinos, not just the “illegal aliens”, out of Costa Mesa. How can we answer to our children when they ask, “Why the government had appointed a notorious white supremacist (Millard) in a city commission.” By the way, Millard was not only appointed once but two times despite the fact that the Daily Pilot, the OC Weekly, the Poverty Law Center, etc, had previously disclosed information about his philosophy and devious plans.

3/18/2008 09:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Rob Dickson said...

Bruce,

Thanks for the great commentary. Geoff, it has been a good workout, thanks!

One quick follow-up to Bruce's very spot-on commentary - the debate gets ratcheted up when the rhetoric becomes a large blunt object used to bludgeon the listener. I AM guilty of that. Look to Obama's speech yesterday, wherehe calls out blacks AND whites on the perpetuation of stereotypes. There is a tremendous amount of common ground, but the things which I rail about are legitimate to me and many others who do not harbor racist intent.

As I stated earlier, I believe that I know your motives and intent, Geoff, and both are good. My jumping up and down, steam from the ears posts are reactions to the rhetorical bludgeon of the Nazi comparisons. Not trying to dredge up the argument again, simply trying to make the point that toning it down will enhance the receptiveness of the audience.

Humberto has it right - the insanity of the Nazi regime most likely will never reappear, at least here in California.

Bruce, I do think that I have to keep defending those who genuinely oppose the multi-faceted scourge of illegal immigration and who do not hate immigrants, are not racists and who bear no ill will towards illegal immigrants. It is not a guise or ruse, I am seriously offended by widespread, systemic lawlessness.

Bring on the reform!

3/19/2008 06:48:00 PM  
OpenID substitute said...

Geoff -

I was referring to the way mexican people, or gays, or other disliked minorities are mistreated under the guise of law (restrictions on marriage, health care, work, social services, residency) as a step to leaving the rule of law entirely and turning a blind eye when extralegal hatred occurs (gaybashing, skinhead violence, illegal discriminatory practices). The direction is toward fascism, where the rule of law is secondary to blood race hatred.

3/20/2008 02:25:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Humberto, thanks for your view. Rob always brings a great deal of passion to his position on these issues.

substitute, thanks for the clarification. I understand you're point.

3/20/2008 05:03:00 PM  
Anonymous CMTRUTH said...

rob dickson, you dont think mansewer's actions cause things to happen? you must be disconnected even more than your writing shows.
if your so afraid of color & culture, do us all a favor and MOVE & take the rest of the white trash racist fools with you, i hear you can can start a commune in montana pretty cheap.

CMTRUTH TELLIN IT LIKE IT IS SINCE DAY ONE!

4/05/2008 10:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Rob Dickson said...

cmtruth,

What in the world are you talking about? What part of anything that I have ever written here or anywhere else indicates that I have a problem with "color & culture"?

I oppose illegal immigration because it is a crime and leads to many other crimes. It also marginalizes millions of people, breaks up families and is a huge societal strain on this country and the home countries of those who come here illegally.

I have openly, including here, stated that I would welcome meaningful reform.

I don't make it about race. Racist opportunists exploiting the issue are responsible for doing that. Your barely comprehensible post clearly demonstrates that you are one of those racist opportunists. If I'm wrong about you, let me know, but I doubt it.

4/06/2008 01:38:00 PM  

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