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 correspondent 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 discover 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 the 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 extermination 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."
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, 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 Arts 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.
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.
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 support entities such as the Job Center and the Human Relations Committee, pressuring and defunding charitable support groups, etc.
When I read that paragraph in italics above I realized that the theme applies to our city - and it made me ashamed.
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.
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.
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 homes. 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.
In my view, the parallels between what's currently happening in my city and the events in pre-war Germany are clear and undeniable.
It's a sad commentary on the societal attitudes of a few people in our city.
Labels: Costa Mesa, holocaust, illegal immigrants