By Mel Carriere
Welcome to the Truth Bomb. On this blog I take off my postal uniform and write about whatever I want to. Don't worry, just because I took off my uniform doesn't mean I am typing in the nude; I still have clothes on. Right now I am wearing the Darth Vader jammies and Spiderman socks I got for Christmas. This clothing is actually highly appropriate for the occasion, because the jammies symbolize the repressive authority that would enslave us, whereas the socks represent the hero that comes along to help set us free from our oppressors.
The name of this blog might be misleading. I am not advocating violence of any sort, I am advocating passive resistance to the powers that would put our minds, bodies, and spirits in chains. The only bombs I will be throwing, therefore, are bombs of truth. Veritable Molotov cocktails of reality checking. I also hope to entertain you a little bit if I can.
This first post on The Truth Bomb is something I dug out of my personal archives. I wrote this article a couple of weeks ago now but never published it. The topic seems a little dated because the news media has now grown tired of talking about this subject, but it is still highly relevant. I hope you enjoy this article, and I hope you enjoy The Truth Bomb. Take cover because here comes the first bomb.
I’m assuming it’s a safe bet that most people reading this are old enough to remember that old Ricky Nelson tune “Garden Party,” whose famous tag line “You can’t please everyone so you’ve got to please yourself,” pretty much sums up how a person rebelling against conventional doctrine and conventional wisdom should approach getting booed, heckled, or otherwise rejected by an angry crowd that just doesn’t get it. Although I was only 8 years old when the song was released and didn’t understand the song’s meaning at all back in 1972, the catchy melody has followed me through life, and with the heavy weight of years upon my shoulders I have learned the truth behind its message.
Outside of the bell-bottom pants and purple velvet shirt he wore to his “Garden Party,” Ricky Nelson wasn’t much of a rebel as far as rebels go, but his song pointed out a universal truth that if you really want to effect long lasting change that does a lot of good for a lot of people you are going to have to make some people unhappy. There are those so firmly entrenched in their philosophy, dogma, and political beliefs that they can’t see two inches to either side of their idea of right and wrong. These people are never going to be happy, period, and there’s no use banging your head against the wall trying to make them so.
Things have changed since 1972’s Garden Party, when there were still sign-waving radicals protesting the Vietnam War who were being driven back by tear gas and bullets. In contrast, people are a lot more cautious about their beliefs these days. By people, I especially mean politicians. There is this trend now, popularized by both major parties, that our ideas have to drift toward the middle until we find that one perfect sweet spot at which everything will be pure, perfect bliss for everybody. Of course this is an impossible endeavor, because the dogmatic beliefs of a lot of people are so firmly entrenched that they will never accept that someone is trying to make them happy, especially when they just don’t like that someone.
President Barach Obama recently attended his own “Garden Party” at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, Nevada, to discuss the particulars of his recent series of executive actions designed to, as the USCIS website puts it, “…crack down on illegal immigration at the border, prioritize deporting felons not family, and require certain undocumented immigrants to pass a criminal background check and pay taxes in order to temporarily stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation (boldface mine).”
In other words, this summation of Obama’s immigration plan, over which a lot of noisy finger-pointing and chest thumping has been done, tells me that nothing has changed. Immigration policy in this country remains business as usual.
The most curious, head scratching component of Obama’s plan to me is contained within those two words, “pay taxes,” and in reading them I can understand why he was booed and heckled at his “Garden Party” by Las Vegas Latino students.
What exactly do these disturbingly insidious, ambiguous words mean? Do they signify future taxes or back taxes? If the latter, just how much in taxes are we talking about? The undocumented are generally struggling to get by on day laborer, restaurant, and janitorial jobs. Asking them to reach down into their pockets to fork over a few hundred or a few thousand dollars, who really knows, for the privilege of remaining in this country legally is like asking me to flap my arms and fly to the moon. It just ain’t going to happen. Regardless of what it really means, the word “taxes” is going to scare immigrants away in droves. They can’t afford to pay.
In including this provision, Obama is trying to keep from arousing the indignation of the majority of the voting public while at the same time appeasing the Latino community that helped him win the White House, and he is failing on both counts. Latino voters who overwhelmingly supported Obama in 2008 and 2012 are not as naïve and uninformed as the President might like to think, and they are calling him out on this and other disturbing particulars of his immigration plan. The Del Sol High School hecklers are just echoing what they get from their community at large.
Meanwhile, those who oppose the executive actions on immigration are not at all appeased by the fact that nobody is going to line up to be blessed by Father Barach when the blessing requires a sizeable lump of cash in the collection plate. “Immigration reform” is a phrase that makes the blood of Barach’s detractors curdle regardless of whether the demons in the details have any real teeth or can actually breathe sulfur.
President Barach Obama lists contemporary philosophers John Rawls and Hilary Putnam among his intellectual influences. He should have included Ricky Nelson too. In politics, as in real life, you really can’t please everyone and when you try you wind up displeasing practically everybody. As Ricky taught us, it is much better to “please yourself,” and by extension those who voted for you based on the ideas that you were once passionate about.
Image taken from: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/af/Ricky_Nelson_free.jpg