What a marvelous morning it was, with a soft red-gold sunrise that touched everything with a fleeting, rosy alpenglow. As I basked in that brief and special light, and Koko ran wild circles the way she likes to do, the finest little rain began to gently fall. And just as we returned to the house, it began to pour in earnest, giving a moist, fresh start to the day.
I like to get up and out early, because I never know what I’m going to find, much as I never know how people are going to respond to each day’s blog post.
Yesterday’s post drew a whole slew of comments, many from people who have never commented before, and I was impressed by the numerous thoughtful proposals and intriguing views. (One exception is Doug Carlson, who in his comment wrote: “Since I'm the subject of much that's written in today's post and comments, let me weigh in.” Huh? Guess it's typical of a PR man to have an exaggerated sense of importance.)
At any rate, it’s clear from the comments that most people are aware that even as the information age continues to wildly expand, they’re still getting a whole lot of nothing. And they’re not happy about it.
A whole lot of nothing seems to characterize so much of the modern age: the abundant processed food that’s nearly devoid of nutrition; the “goods” sold at Wal-Mart that are essentially trash in waiting; the political rhetoric that sounds great, but ultimately goes nowhere.
Even the American dream, as it’s currently served up to the poorest and most desperate of immigrants, is proving to be a whole lot of nothing, as a really heart-wrenching story on Democracy Now! revealed yesterday.
The story actually starts some five decades ago, when the U.S. (at the urging of United Fruit Co.) sponsored a coup against Guatemala’s democratically elected president, Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán, which put an end to land reform and led to the beginning of a military regime. From there, we went on to spend millions of dollars helping to train and equip the Guatemalan Army to carry out its brutal, repressive regime, including the use of death squads.
As a result, we now we have a country of about 10 million people, most of them desperately poor, especially the indigenous Mayan Indians. Worried about how they’re possibly going to feed their families, the thoughts of some turn north, to America. Surely, in that land of incredible wealth and abundance, they can earn a pittance that will help their families survive.
And so, as Democracy Now! recounted in its report, some of those desperate Guatemalans entered the U.S. without the proper documentation. One man walked all the way, alone, across Mexico, and slipped across the American border.
Some of them banded together and header further north, to Postville, Iowa, where work was available in a meat packing plant. And why was it available? Because it’s the kind of crappy, low-paying, injury-inducing work that Americans don’t want to do. And then on May 12, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrested some 400 of them, in what was touted as “the largest immigration raid in US history.”
So they’re carted off to jail and quickly processed through on plea bargains that most don’t fully understand and many are ordered to spend five months in jail before they are deported.
Erik Camayd-Freixas, a professor and Spanish-language court interpreter who was flown into Iowa for the trial, is the one who broke the story, explaining the incredible hardships endured by these people and how “every waking hour they would be consumed by the worry as to whether their family was going to make it, as to whether any of their children was going to make it that day. And on top of that, they would have to carry the burden of having failed their families."
With no money or support coming in for five months, they worried, rightly, about what will happen to the family members back home — to those who are waiting in a land that was headed for the kinds of land and social reforms that could have eased their misery until America stepped in and quashed it because one of our corporations didn’t like it.
Professor Camayd-Freixas, in describing one interview with a man who wept throughout the entire session, because he was the sole provider for his wife, children, mother and sister, said:
And one of the burdens of the interpreter is that in order to really be able to interpret accurately and convey the meaning and the spirit of the meaning that each person says, you really have to put yourself in their place. You have to become them, so to speak. And when I became this man, so I could interpret for him accurately, I was placed in the position that he was in, and I found it, quite frankly, to be an intolerable burden.
Yet day in and day out, we as a nation are forcing people to bear those intolerable burdens. First, we thwart their attempts to achieve democracy and land reform, then when conditions get so bad that they come to the U.S. to work the crappiest imaginable jobs for low pay, we arrest them and put them in jail, prolonging the misery of them and their families. In short, we're continually screwing with people's lives to support our own selfish political and economic interests.
Oh yes, America’s particular brand of "cultural melting pot, land of the free, home of the brave, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, liberty and justice for all" rhetoric sounds so good. But the minute you start scratching into the disgustingly dirty real history of this nation, you quickly learn that all that patriotic mumbo jumbo is just a whole lot of nothing.