And, of course, the roar of the flag-waving crowds:
That was the scene this week in Murrieta, California. It once was a nice, quiet, All-American little farming town, founded a scant hundred or so years ago by a (ahem) Spanish immigrant who later turned his land over to a sheep-herding brother.
And like most victims of the Wall Street Greed Machine-fueled housing bubble, Murrieta experienced a radical population surge of more than 200% in the first decade of the New American Century. Among the top ten employers of this teeming cauldron of humanity are Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes and Sam's Club. Oh, and a health insurance company and a Bible center. It's been rated the safest city in Riverside County. It even has an annual Town Song contest! Life, despite the usual hardships, was imagined by the citizenry to be pretty good in Murrieta.
And then came the busloads of brown-skinned refugee children fleeing from crime-ridden countries, where there are no Sam's Clubs but plenty of the same American-made weapons and ammo they sell in Sam's Clubs. And all-American hell broke loose. You probably saw it on TV.
The only good thing coming out of this is that although the buses were forced to flee by the angry mob, the spectacle was sickening enough to get some people re-thinking the whole "let's deport em all" mantra being sung across the allowable political spectrum: all the way from Point A (Fox News) to Point B (Hillary "It Takes a Village" Clinton and the conservative Democrats.)
The national backlash forced the libertarian mayor of Murrieta, one Alan Long, to protest that his townsfolk are not as rabid as they seemed on TV:
We’ve heard some of those passionate people seeing the clips on the news and coming to a conclusion that Murrieta’s not compassionate,” Long told Fox News. (my bold) “It’s a shame that two minutes of video time on the news channel really stereotypes our city.”
Video surfaced on Wednesday that showed protesters from Murrieta blocking Homeland Security buses full of undocumented children and adults from entering the town to be taken to facilities for screenings. Protesters held signs that read “Stop Illegal Immigration” and “Illegals Out!” The buses were rerouted to San Diego out of fear for the safety of those on the bus.Taking a cue from President Obama, who insisted about a year ago that his drone strike war against innocent civilians is Not Who We Are, Long sputtered: “Showing a bunch of angry people isn’t really a true reflection of Murrieta."
To prove it, he boasted that the town contains 700 different charities. (Charity does begin at home, after all.) And when he urged the townsfolk to protest, he thought they'd do the right thing and contact their elected representatives. Never mind that he is an elected representative. And gosh oh golly, never in a thousand years did he imagine that his ovine flock could turn into a verbal lynch mob. His main concern is that he didn't want the innocent interlopers to be jailed in detention centers.
City Manager Rick Dudley posted a similar message on the town's official website. It reads, in part:
Sadly, too many people took this as encouragement to protest the arrival of buses carrying the women and children to the Border Patrol station in Murrieta. Protesters came from around the southland to oppose the arrival of undocumented immigrants to Murrieta for processing. In the face of the protest, three buses were turned around and the protesters claimed victory. This was not victory. It was a loss for the city of Murrieta, for the community that we live in and love. It made this extremely compassionate community look heartless and uncaring. That is NOT the Murrieta that we all know and love.
There appear to be two sides to this issue – those who believe Mayor Long was encouraging them to stand in front of the buses in protest, and those who believe that Murrieta does not recognize that the US is the envy of the world and that people want to migrate here, even at the risk of their lives and the lives of their children. Both sides are wrong. We understand that people want to come to the US to seek a better life for their families, and we are a compassionate people who want to help. But we also are a country whose legal system is based on the rule of law, and the people migrating must do so within the boundaries of the law. The protests resulting from the incorrect interpretations of Mayor Long’s comments have given our community a black eye.They want to have it both ways. They totally ignore the conditions that made the Hondurans and Guatemalans embark on the dangerous flight from violence, poverty and corruption in the first place. They still think these people can be sent home and then go through some sort of bureaucratic process that involves waiting in some nonexistent line.
There is, of course, no line. For the poor and the dispossessed, there never has been and never will be.
This being Fourth of July weekend, the SyFy channel is running its Twilight Zone marathon. One of the most popular episodes of the whole series is a cautionary tale called "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street." Written by Rod Serling during the height of the Cold War, it tells the story of a nice little town that becomes a victim of mass hysteria. The townsfolk go completely nuts as they convince themselves that they're being invaded by aliens. Of course, they are only invading themselves with their own suspicions and paranoia and group-think. The results are tragic, neighbor turns against neighbor. And as the aliens themselves look at them from above, they realize that these humans don't even require an alien invasion. They're self-destructing, all on their own.
As Serling narrated at the end of the story,
The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices - to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill...and suspicion can destroy...and a thoughtless frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own - for the children...and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is...that these things cannot be confined...to the Twilight Zone.Happy Independence Day, everybody.