By Nick Braune
Mid-Valley Town Crier
Posted with permission of author
May 1st is coming up, and I am ready for the Immigrant Rights March (National Mobilization to Support Immigrant Workers) with farm workers and service employees and progressive students and church people and others. The march will be loud but will also be, I hope, the beginning of a new deliberative process about ongoing immigration — a deliberative process as opposed to hysterical radio talk-show rants about “us versus them.”
Marches are necessary for someone like me — I am a pacer by nature, as my students will attest — and have felt cramped up and frightened by the shrill radio sounds in our country. I need to walk outside, hear people yelling for “justicia” and immigration reform and not vindictiveness. On May 1st, starting at 6:00 P.M. in McAllen , at Municipal Park (Bicentennial and Pecan), I will carry a sign and know that all over the country people are walking for justice. I will feel part of a better, more deliberative nation emerging.
I have mulled over what sign to carry. I could make my own: “International Labor Rights,” “NAFTA is the Problem, not Immigrants,” “Stop the Militarization of the Border– it’s scaring me,” or “Let America be a Nation of Immigrants.” Or maybe I will simply carry one end of the People for Peace and Justice banner, like last year. Or maybe I’ll just proudly carry a Farm Worker (UFW and LUPE) flag — they often hand them out.
(Although I wouldn’t make such a wordy protest sign, I can also picture myself carrying this one: “Shut down the Ugly Raymondville Immigration Detention Center and the Other Private, For-profit, Detention Centers in Texas .” But it’s not very catchy and uses too much marker ink.)
My latest sign idea is a simple one, “No War and No Wall.” We have been treated, during the Bush regime, to shrill knee-jerk calls for support of the Iraq War and for support of a militarized border wall facing Mexico . I think they’re connected. America has had a “preemptive” (non-collaborative) policy of war and wall, a punitive policy of war and wall, and a paranoid policy. (The world out there is hostile and coming our way, we’ve been told by Bush and Fox News.)
Consider this. When I protested the Raymondville immigration detention facility a few weeks ago, which I reported in this column, I was startled by the surreal concentration camp look to the place: barbed wire and brown balloon tents, with white vans in front labeled “Homeland Security.” I was suspicious back when Bush first proposed that “Homeland” term for his giant spy and enforcement agency, because the name sounded like it would appeal to the neurotic Aryans of Weimar Germany. I remember wondering what it would morph into. And there it was, in Raymondville.
I think my sign “No War and No Wall” is perfect for the immigration march. Just as the War has been a disaster, so will Bush’s militarized, paranoid immigration policies bring chaos.
Concerning the war disaster, last week I attended the presentation of a world renowned woman activist, Yanar Mohammed from Iraq , who spoke at South Texas College . She has set up a series of shelters in Iraq , shelters protecting women in the disintegrating society. Iraq is now a disaster zone and getting worse, with run-amuck militias and revenge killings.
She recently wrote, “It is heartbreaking to me to see the return of extreme anti-woman practices that we had not seen for many decades. When I grew up in Iraq , women went to school. Educated professional working women [She herself has two degrees in architecture] were a part of our society. Today, a woman risks her life simply by going to the grocery store.”
Violence against women has reached epidemic proportions with the Islamist militias, the sectarian violence (stirred up by vacillating US policies) and the economic disruption. She has helped form a veritable “underground railroad’ to help protect vulnerable and targeted women in Iraq .
McAllen ’s Monitor reported her speech: “Some of the women her organization helps have been raped by Iraqi and American soldiers, Mohammed said. Other women have been kidnapped and made to live their lives in brothels. Mohammed told of a 14- year-old girl who was kidnapped, taken to a brothel and escaped before being found by organization advocates.”
There is so much chaos in Iraq , with over a million displaced people and with two million previously productive Iraqis having fled the country, that there are 30 women executed monthly in Iraq by militias, some by “honor” killings and sectarian revenge.
War ravaged Iraq is the image my sign will raise at the immigration march. We need national deliberation on immigration, not Bush’s walls, zones, and militarized chaos.