Tuesday, April 1, 2008

What Goes Around Comes Around

"We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny."

So wrote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., prophetically. We tend to think of "prophetic" in the sense of foretelling the future, and sure enough, when something is innate in the human condition like our interconnectedness, speaking of it as King does here would of course be foretelling the future as much as describing the present.

But in the biblical tradition out of which King was speaking, "prophetic" had another even more important meaning. It meant and it means speaking truth to power.

That's pretty clear when you think of the Old Testament prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah. And speaking truth to power is what Dr. Jeremiah Wright did when he spoke of God's damning America for its horrendous affronts to the poor and destitute. It tells me a lot about the state of integrity in this country and the condition of its national security when we want to stone our prophets!

If it's not clear what King meant, nothing better illustrates it today than the immigration atrocity. Let me give you some examples.

Here in Phoenix, Sheriff Joe Arpaio has so terrorized the immigrant community by targeting Brown people that Hispanic people are afraid to go out. This means, among other things, that sick kids aren't being taken to the doctor's for fear of deportation. When those kids are sick with something contagious and they aren't treated, what do you think happens to their communities? We're all in this together.

And there's this, according to Man Egee over at Latino Politico:
CLARKS SUMMIT, Pa. (AP) — Saying the nation's immigration system is broken, Pennsylvania's largest grower of fresh-to-market tomatoes announced Monday he will no longer produce the crop because he can't find enough workers to harvest it.

Keith Eckel, 61, a fourth-generation farmer and the owner of Fred W. Eckel Sons Farms Inc., said he saw a dramatic decline last summer in the number of migrant workers who showed up to pick tomatoes at his 2,000-acre farm in northeastern Pennsylvania.

He said Congress' failure to approve comprehensive immigration reform had hindered his ability to hire enough workers to get his crop to the market. Most of Eckel's workers came from Mexico.

"There are a number of workers hesitant to travel, legal or illegal, because of the scrutiny they are now under," said Eckel, whose tomatoes have been shipped to supermarkets and restaurants throughout the eastern United States. "So there are less workers crossing state lines."

Eckel, who planted 2.2 million tomato plants last year, said he also will stop growing pumpkins and will plant half as much sweet corn as usual, resulting in a loss of nearly 175 jobs.

So now in our zeal to rid ourselves of the Brown Peril, we are sending our own food prices through the roof nationwide. And that's not all. In the communities where the crops are grown, jobs are disappearing and farms, soon enough, will go into foreclosure because, guess what? It takes pickers to get the produce to market, and it takes selling the produce to pay the farm mortgage. We're all in this together.

And speaking of mortgages? Did you think all those foreclosures and empty rentals are coming just from native-born white folks? Well, guess what? All those hoardes of undocumented workers--and their fed-up, pissed-off, terrified documented relatives who are leaving with them--all had to live somewhere, didn't they? We're all in this together.

And baby, what goes around comes around. Progressives figured that out a long time ago. It's why we offer the policies we do. A rising tide floats all boats. But conservatives still labor under the mutually devastating illusion that they are self-made men.

If the present multiple-Bush-engineered crises don't get the fallacy of this across, nothing will. Like, do you really think your $4 gas has nothing to do with Iraq? Duh!