Ethnicity/Immigrant Experience blog #4

I was pondering this NY Times article about Americans and their fear of immigrants, specifically Muslims.  This connected in my mind to the developing story of internet-famous pastor [of a 50 person church] in Gainesville, FL named Terry Jones.  His foiled plan, however infamous still, was to commemorate the 9th anniversary of the attacks on the WTC by burning at least one Quran.

Allegedly on his website (which has since been pulled down by his web host) he listed 10 good reasons to do it.  I wanted to write something about it before tonight, but felt conflicted.  One one hand, I feel pretty strongly that it is a bad idea and a cheap publicity stunt that makes many of us look like fascists to the world.   On the other hand, I was hoping that the story was not going to be covered by any media.  Writing about how we shouldn’t pay attention to this man inadvertently might bring more attention to the moment.

Thankfully, now that the event is canceled, I feel released to say how ludicrous I think the idea was.  Nearly as absurd is Jones’ claim according to VOA news that he negotiated the change of venue for a proposed mosque two blocks from the former World Trade Center location.

In the VOA article, Jones is quoted as saying “The American people, as a whole, do not want the mosque at the Ground Zero location.”  I think that’s a pretty fear driven statement that has more to do with his own prejudices than reflecting either consensus of Americans or even American Christians.  It also seems like a convenient excuse to cover up whatever real reason there was to not do such a outrageous antic. Maybe it was pressure from the Pentagon.   Maybe it was the Mennonite Central Committee’s open pastoral letter to Anabaptist churches that did the trick.

Regardless of why it was kiboshed, it was a close call.

Ethnicity/Immigrant Experience class blog #3

Dr. Allen shared a link to a NY Times article called “Number of Illegal Immigrants in U.S. Fell, Study Says.”  The Pew Hispanic Center, who published the study has different language describing the same trend.  They say “unauthorized immigrants.”

Well noted in class lectures and in the book Moving Millions are the different paradigms and positions on issues surrounding migration of people and how the language we choose betrays our opinions.

The difference between “illegal” and “unauthorized” in an article might indicate your relative position to power.  If the laws benefit you and your people group or give you closer access to opportunities and wealth, you might be more likely to use language that keeps you on the side of the law.  If the laws either oppress you or make it difficult for you to gain access to societal rewards you might describe your plight as something more than illegal.

While the popular adage ” you can’t judge a book by its cover” is still a good saying, when articles have the term “illegal immigrants” I suspect the intended audience the author is trying to reach or their basic stance on the issue.  I think the NY Times article shows a sympathy for the US trying to keep the borders secure.  There are several paragraphs describing how dangerous and difficult it is becoming for people to travel across or from Mexico to enter the US.  The underlying message that I’m reading is “your hard work to keep them out is working.”

I wonder why the author would did not use the term “unauthorized”  that The Pew Hispanic Center uses in the source material.  Perhaps it was an editor.  I have a feeling that it was to make a larger point about power with a lack of sympathy for those attempting to make their lives within the political boundaries of the US.