To the Editor,
When I opened my Saturday January 3, 2015 issue of the Santa Barbara News Press I had to laugh at the absurdity of the headline, “Illegals line up for driver’s licenses.”
I cannot say that I was offended as much as I was flabbergasted and appalled. Just using the word “illegal” in the headline is enough to rile up the righteous who dream of 40 foot walls at our southern border. This headline will be defended by this newspaper as fair and accurate and will be applauded by many who will not even consider the impact it will have on those so rudely referred to. Why should we care? After all, “those people” are in this country without permission, aren’t they? Since they arrived uninvited let’s just demonize them. Let’s not focus on basic human decency. Let’s not focus on the fact that they risk life and limb with the hope of making a better life. Let’s not focus on their back-breaking contribution to the vast agricultural industry that our own citizens refuse to do. Let’s not focus on the growers, farmers and ranchers who rely on their cheap labor to harvest their crops.
Let’s instead focus on their cultural contributions when it suits us and when we can make a buck, because that is “The American Way” right? For example, let’s sell beer to celebrate cinco de mayo, without knowing or caring about the significance of that date. How about Día de Los Muertos? Let’s put up booths and sell trinkets and clothes, perhaps some taquitos or burritos to go along with those little sugar skulls.
How about Mariachis and the Ballet Folklorico strolling around doing their thing during the Old Spanish Days Fiesta? Nevermind that both the Mariachi and Ballet Folklorico originated in Mexico, not Spain and anyway, what’s the difference? Same-same, right?
Despite its conservative leanings, I’ve stuck with this newspaper for years, after taking over the subscription from my mother. Despite derision from family members after the newsroom fiasco of 2006, I kept reading. Even more surprisingly, given my liberal thinking, I decided to keep subscribing even after Andy Caldwell was given a forum, because I knew I’d be able to cast my eyes on different parts of the newspaper so as not to upset my digestion.
However, this latest salvo has made me rethink my decision. I will cancel my mother’s subscription and tell everyone why.
I have no illusions that the entirety of my letter will be published, but since I’ll be posting it on my blog, I know others will see it.