Emigrants statue, Helmsdale, Scotland, commemorating the eviction of Highlanders from their land. A father and child and, hard to see in this photo, the mother looking back at her home which she will never see again.
Black History Month is human history month. I’ll have plenty to say about the position of blacks in America, but today they are not the most threatened group. As I write this, Congress is fighting over DACA.
Two Christmases ago I wrote a fictional story about a little girl who was going underground with her parents because Donald Trump had become president. One of my readers replied with a short fictional addition in which one of my characters said, “If only our parents had followed the law, we would be all right.” That reader had a right to his opinion, and I published his reply. I’m not here to disrespect him. I am here to disagree with him. Strongly.
Deportation is a kind of eviction. Eviction is the act saying, “You can’t stay in this place any more, because the rights to this place belong to someone else.” That someone is usually a person or a corporation. Deportation makes the same statement, except that the someone else is you and me.
Eviction is old. It has been around since Og the caveman kicked his mate’s brother out of the hut. It wasn’t long after that before force of boot was traded for force of law.
Between 1710 and 1850 in northern Scotland, Scots who had lived on their lands for hundreds of years were forced off, their houses burned, and their livelihoods destroyed. It was all quite legal. Scotland had become an adjunct nation to England, de facto. Ancient laws had been misrepresented and changed to match an English model. Clan chiefs, whose existence was traditionally enmeshed in reciprocal obligations with their clan, were now seen as landowners.
It equivalent to Donald Trump shifting his legal position from President of the United States to owner of the United States, but on a smaller scale.
These “landowners” forced their clansmen off the land, sometimes with great violence. In early clearances, they were moved to undesirable lands within Scotland. When this failed, later clearances moved them off to the Americas.
In Ireland, during the Famine, undesirable Irishmen were moved out by eviction or allowed to starve in place. Most of them went to the Americas.
It was a pretty practical solution. If you don’t want undesirables around, send them to America. Ironic, isn’t it, that those undesirables’ descendants are now about to evict a new set of undesirables from America.
Meanwhile in America, the American Indians . . . but you know that story. If you don’t, check out 247. The People’s President.
You may not realize that in 1941, all those undesirable Japanese with their rich farms in California were moved into relocation camps. It was supposed to be for our protection, because they might attack from within. Maybe; but if so, why did they never get their farms back. (266. The Other War)
So let’s get back to DACA. This is an act protecting persons brought to the United States illegally as children. They are American in every way but a technicality. They may well not speak any language other than English. They may never have stepped foot outside the United States.
Now we are going to send them home. Home? They are home.
Let’s consider a pair of hypothetical children. Jose was born in Mexico, an hour before his parents crossed the border illegally into the United States. Ramon’s parents were on the same trip north, looking for work. Ramon’s mother gave birth just an hour after they crossed the border, illegally, into the United States.
We’ll let Ramon stay. He is a citizen. We’ll deport Jose. That’s fair, isn’t it.
Maybe, but . . .
What about (hypothetical) Barta Kovacs? He was brought over in 1956 by his parents, who were refugees from the Hungarian Revolution. Today he is 64 years old. He never married, but he spent thirty years as a school teacher, rising to be principal of a local high school before running for office. He has been a State Senator in one of those northern states for eleven years, and now he’s ready to retire.
However, as he applied for Social Security it was discovered that there had been an irregularity in his application for citizenship years before. Technically, he has never been a citizen, even though he has spent 62 of his 64 years here, and has no memory of Hungary.
Will the present administration deport him back to Hungary? I don’t think so.
Good thing our hypothetical Barta Kovacs wasn’t Mexican.
Race discrimination is such a complicated issue in the US. When you look at different issues, or different aspects of society, different racial groups seem to get the brunt of it. With immigration, it’s now Hispanics that get the most flak, though it used to be Asians (such as when a law was passed to outlaw any immigration of Chinese). Dark skin used to be the basis of physical defensiveness and suspicion, but now it’s general Muslim or arabness that does the trick. And in entertainment, Asians are the ones that get the short end of the stick. African-Americans routinely win entertainment award, such as those well-deserved Grammys that Kendrick Lamar and Bruno Mars earned this year. How many Asian-Americans have won Grammys since the beginning of the awards? How many Asian-Americans have even had an album released by a major label? I can say, living in Korea with some of the world’s best singers, it’s not due to lack of talent. And how many Asian-Americans have won Oscars? Or Golden Globes? How many TV shows have an Asian lead? I think the trouble with the discussion of race and racism in the US is that it is often painted as a white/black issue, often times even by the black side, when the reality is much more complex.
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A slow reply because my email has been down, but I quite agree.
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