"I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I write and I understand." - Chinese proverb

Thursday, August 5, 2010


I live in Connecticut.  I'm a W.A.S.P.  I don’t know from immigrants (though some exotically dark, foreign language-speaking families are beginning to trickle into our little country towns – however whether they are here legally or not doesn’t keep me up nights).  I hear what people have to say about the controversial new law in Arizona.   I watch what’s happening nationally.  I’m only second-generation American myself on my father’s side.  I have my opinions.  I totally have my opinions.

Yesterday, however, I received an e-mail from a guy I know entitled “The Dallas Solution.”  Apparently he, or whoever forwarded it, didn’t learn English in school since it was prefaced with the remark “To funny.”  All kidding aside, this offended me in some way that other such missives, commentaries and news items haven’t quite had the power to do.  Even the parts that were urban legends (anything like this is chock-full of urban legends, and really – when will people actually check Snopes before they hit “send?”)  Here it is, verbatim:
To funny.
Subject: The Dallas Solution

The Dallas Solution

I have a friend who is president of his homeowners association in the Dallas , Texas suburbs.  They were having a terrible problem with litter near some of his association's homes.  The reason according to my friend is that six very large, luxurious new houses are being built right next to their community.
The trash was coming from the Mexican laborers working at the construction sites and included bags from McDonald's, Burger King and 7-11, plus coffee cups, napkins, cigarette butts, coke cans, empty bottles, etc.  He went to see the site supervisor and even the general contractor, politely urging them to get their workers not to litter the neighborhood, to no avail.  He called the city, county, and police and got no help there either.
So here's what his community did.  They organized about twenty folks, named themselves The "Inner Neighborhood Services" group, and arranged to go out at lunch time and "police" the trash themselves.  It is what they did while picking up the trash that is so hilarious.
They bought navy blue baseball caps and had the initials "INS" embroidered in gold on the caps.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand what they hoped people might mistakenly think the letters really stand for.
After the Inner Neighborhood Services group's first lunch time pickup detail, with all of them wearing their caps and some carrying cameras, 46 out of the total of 68 construction workers did not show up for work the next morning -- and haven't come back yet. It has been ten days now.
The General Contractor, I'm told, is madder than hell, but can't say anything publicly because he could be busted for hiring illegal aliens.
My friend and his bunch can't be accused of impersonating federal personnel, because they have the official name of the group recorded in their homeowner association minutes along with a notation about the vote to approve formation of the new subcommittee -- and besides, they informed the INS in advance of their plans, and according to my friend, the INS said basically, "Have at it!"
Reminder: Don't forget to pay your taxes.......  12 million illegal aliens are depending on you.
No apology for sending this!  !  !  After hearing they want to sing the National Anthem in Spanish - enough is enough.  Nowhere did they sing it in Italian, Polish, Irish (Celtic), German or any other language because of immigration.  It was written by Francis Scott Key and should be sung word for word the way it was written.  The news broadcasts even gave the translation -- not even close.  I'm NOT sorry if this offends anyone because this is MY COUNTRY - IF IT IS YOUR COUNTRY SPEAK UP -- please pass this along.  Come through like everyone else.  APPLY FIRST - Get a sponsor; have a place to lay your head; have a job; pay your taxes, live by the rules AND LEARN THE LANGUAGE as all other immigrants have in the past -- and GOD BLESS AMERICA!
PART OF THE PROBLEM Think about this: If you don't want to forward this for fear of offending someone -- YOU'RE PART OF THE PROBLEM!  It is Time for America to Speak up.  No wonder California is in such financial trouble!
Yep, I passed it on!
Calling an illegal alien an 'undocumented immigrant' is like calling a drug dealer an 'unlicensed pharmacist'

This is just offensive on so many levels.

First of all, there’s no photograph accompanying it.  Of the trashy job site, I mean.  If these people went to the city, the county, and the police, they must have furnished proof that the place was full of garbage, right?  Indeed, as these folks were “carrying cameras,” according to this e-mail, where are the pictures?  No one in the group posted even a single photo on the web anywhere?  Why not?  Don’t you wonder?  I do.  At the very least they could have staged a photo.  

I also wonder whether the owner(s) of these “very large, luxurious houses” would tolerate a job site full of garbage.  If they’re spec houses, they’re subject to being shown to interested parties at any time.  If they’re already sold, surely the buyers stop by now and then to check on their progress.  (Furthermore no poor bastard is going to leave soda cans and bottles in the trash.  If there’s a refund, believe me, if you’re poor, you go get it.   So that part is horseshit.)

Second, the writer ties this in with a Snopes.com myth that “they” (whoever “they” are) want to sing our National Anthem in Spanish.  I’m not overly nationalistic, myself, and I hate all the references to “the perilous fight” and “the rocket’s red glare,” but I do think if you sing our anthem (in public) you should sing it in English, or just shut up and show your respect.  

In any case, who the hell are “they?”  My nephew works for a newspaper (the Hartford Courant – no small potatoes) and he’s privy to a multitude of news items and tip-offs.  He doesn’t know anything about people singing the National Anthem in Spanish.  Or any other different language.  If somebody wants to sing it in Spanish, or French, or Dutch, or Ethiopian in the privacy of their home, go right ahead.

There is every reason to believe that fed-up neighbors do take matters into their own hands when it comes to crime or urban blight.  And more power to them since public agencies are notorious for being unhelpful in most regards.  I can imagine some damn fool at the I.N.S. saying, indeed, “Have at it.”   

But to these yahoos, a little advice: the I.N.S. ceased to exist in 2003.  Yep.  Their functions were absorbed by other agencies within the Department of Homeland Security.   So I guess they let the I.N.S. know "in advance" all right -- seven years in advance!  Wowee!
And recording your group’s name in your neighborhood association’s minutes doesn’t protect you from being arrested for impersonating a federal agency, any more than writing "Paid in Full" in the memo section of a check means it's paid in full.  And just because you wear a hat that says “I.N.S.” on it doesn’t mean anything anyway – I wore green scrubs for Halloween one time and nobody thought I was a doctor (well, maybe one person did); my friend has a New York Yankees No. 2 baseball shirt and nobody mistakes her for Derek Jeter.  What about all those New York Fire Dept. t-shirts sold after 9/11?  Don’t call those people in an emergency.

No, it's not “hilarious.”  Not even a little bit hilarious.

I am adamant that no one should have to push any buttons on the phone to "continue in English."  English should be the default language of every outgoing message from American organizations, programs, hospitals, businesses, stores, etc.  Let's press "2" (or whatever) to continue in Spanish.  All of this "For English, press one" is infuriating.  There, I've admitted it in writing.
That being said: I was driving down the road a few years back in southern California.  It was very early in the morning, probably around 6 A.M., since I had an early flight to catch at the airport in San Diego.  It was chilly and very foggy with a little spitting rain.   The area was rural, with some ranches, orchards (avocado especially) and farms.  As I drove I began to see ghostly shapes rising from the earth on either side of the road, misty and grayed-out; I couldn’t tell what they were.  I rubbed my eyes but when I opened them, the shapes were still there.  As I got closer to the city, I came upon a little Hispanic boy standing in the middle of the road hawking newspapers. Good thing I was going slow.  I almost hit him.

As the morning mist slowly began to clear, I realized these ghostly gray shapes were people -- and found out that they were Mexican "day workers."  They sleep in the fields, rising in the morning to stand in line to do work that absolutely no American citizen would consider doing unless the wage were five times more -- and perhaps not even then.  Check out what the current wage is in Mexico for, say, a doctor or a cop.  You'll be astounded.  Five dollars a month is not uncommon.  (Although considering the multitudes of businesses and factories in the United States that have relocated to Mexico -- cheaper labor and a higher profit margin -- you'd assume there was plenty of work down there.  Gee.)

Immigration, especially illegal immigration, is a concern for our borders.  There must be controls set in place, and by all means there must be policing of the "coyotes" who smuggle the immigrants in, often leaving them in the desert with no water.

But I am far more concerned at the moment with the suicide bombers who enter legally -- apparently -- on U.S. flights and through the Canadian border.  The Mexicans -- for all the corrupt police and violent gangs -- do not hate us, I don’t think.  Yet.
  They are not Middle Eastern fanatics.  I can only pray that this is something our government will continue to address (and atone for) to keep us safe from violent extremists.  

Meanwhile, if you're driving down the road very early in, say, Arizona or southern Texas or California, don't look at the people -- families -- you may see rising up in the cold fog of the morning.  Give them some dignity.  They haven't much more than that.  Remember your own American Dream.  Count yourself blessed.


  1. Thank you for posting about your indignation. This kind of thing angers me and frustrates me because it is so ignorant. I tutor immigrants at an adult education center, and they (Somali, Mexican, Cambodian, and so on) are the kindest, hardest-working, hopeful citizens you ever hope to meet. They are so proud to be in the US, and only want to improve their communities. And a recent study has shown that cities with a large immigrant population have LOWER crime rates than other cities.

    Thanks for writing!

  2. Glad you stopped by and so great that you teach English. I was a peer tutor in college and once had to tutor a Korean gal. The assignment was to read and do a paper on "The Grapes of Wrath." She was a great kid and couldn't speak English as well as she could understand it. We did have some interesting times, and lots of laughs too!