To the martial banging of a drum, slightly off beat, a cacophony of disjointed chanting quickens my pulse and reminds me of this blog’s eponymous hatred for our city.
Outside on the street, a throng of out-of-towners ambles along and, for a moment, their cause remains unclear. The diverse makeup of the crowd—white and black, old and young, hubristic and humble—makes it nearly impossible to discern their meaning. Were they uniformly Japanese, I might assume they were protesting in favor of a whale hunt. Were they mostly women, I might assume they were advocating equal pay for unequal work.
Yet, as The Washington Post reports online, the group protests today at the headquarters of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency in an effort to discourage the federal government from enforcing its laws, which unfairly deport residents who lack something called “documentation.”
As described by the Post, people in the crowd beat drums, strum guitars and wave “colorful homemade banners exhorting President Obama to halt immigration raids and promote legislation offering illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.”
Also in the crowd, a woman lights incense and shouts in Spanish to the sky, “O Great Spirit, we ask you to get rid of all the badness in this building and bring in the good!"
With enough shouting and drumming and incense, the bad would be exorcised from the building and the government, with a surfeit of stimulus money, would rebuild the factories of our once great documentation industry, producing the papers that would give the people a path to citizenship, all three billion of those who wish to settle in the desert of the American Southwest and along the ancestral lands of the East Coast.
Briefly, I recall my day as a student radical, joining a hundreds-strong crowd to protest—and I’m dating myself here—former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America.” In addition to opposing the 1994 Republican Party initiative, we stand for the panoply of liberal causes, including marijuana reform and universal health care.
We also protest something called “Chiapas,” which I understand to be a renegade province of Columbia ruled by Che Guevara, one of the most brutal Latin American dictators since Pol Pot. Bemused onlookers, I imagine, wonder too about our exhortations to enact prison reform, as we remind them that the “system” incarcerates 30 percent of minorities—for such minor infractions as the trafficking, possession and sale of crack cocaine.
For my part, I wear a shirt commemorating Cesar Chavez, whom I admire for penning the great novel, Love in the Time of Cholera, which sits unread on my nightstand in the original French, waiting for the invention of Rosetta Stone.
Years later, a man asks me in a job interview whether I’m conservative, prompting my reply, “How much do you pay?”
Yet today, I think of my old college buddy, the one smoking a joint and blocking traffic that day, making a fortune now outsourcing jobs to China, and I wonder about capitulation to the new radical left and whether they’ll need a manager here at the document factory.
My "Rolodex," I’ll tell them, is full of social conservatives. I can be useful in helping to round them up.
Posted by M@ at 5:18 PM