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Zoethe

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Culture links [Aug. 7th, 2010|11:23 am]
Zoethe
Some people say that we have to simply respect the differences in culture that lead to things like female genital mutilation and the enforced wearing of the burqa. When I see things like this Afghan woman who was horribly mutilated by the Taliban for running away from her abusive in-laws, I just want to yell "fuck you" at the "cultural acceptance" people. There is a difference between accepting cultural diversity and ignoring the active oppression and abuse of women within these cultures. The Taliban is not something that the West disapproves of while the majority of the people within Afghanistan and other countries embrace them; most of the people in these countries are living under a terrible and unwanted oppression and to say that we just have to respect the differences is cruel.

And then there is the illegal immigration issue. An Episcopal Minister, Jim Lewis, writes about how dependent on illegal immigrant workers this country is. It is a deep fallacy that most illegal aliens come here and suck off the public welfare. Most of them are very hard working people who are desperate to feed their families. Most of them have taxes, social security and Medicare money taken from their pay - taken for services they will never receive. Rev. Lewis points out that without these workers, our food would not get picked and transported, certainly not at the price that we pay now.

For some people, the answer is just "they are breaking the law and must be punished." That's a really simple answer that those who don't want to really think about the issue. It's a way to be smug and comfortable in one's own superiority. All I have to say to them is, I'd love you to get your way and then see the look on your face when you go to buy a chicken. You want cheap food, this is the price you will pay.

I am crabby at the world right now.
LinkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: merle_
2010-08-07 03:49 pm (UTC)
There are illegal immigrants who abuse the system. But in any group of people you can find a few bad apples. There are also legal citizens who abuse the system. Quite a few, in fact.

Maybe if we're so gung-ho about getting rid of illegal immigrants then the unemployed should be required to go out and work the fields to earn their unemployment benefits. That would do a lot to shift the national sentiment, because it's a harsh job with long hours for very little pay.
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[User Picture]From: cinema_babe
2010-08-07 04:15 pm (UTC)
There are far fewer illegal immigrants who abuse the system (whatever that means) because they *do not want to draw attention to themselves*.

The jobs that undocumented workers do *are* available to the domestic unemployed. The difference there is that an employer would have to maintain a certain minimal level of on the job safety and sanitary standards as well as pay a Federally mandated minimum wage (which is far lower or agri workers than folks who work in the suburbs or cities.

Unscrupulous employers would rather cut corners and not meet those standards. How to do it? Employ illegal immigrants to pick lettuce and clean offices. They are in no position of complain about the wages or work conditions.

Wouldn't it make more sense to tighten compliance of employers and landlords with basic standards of saftey and cleanliness an allow people from other countries to either immigrate legally or stay temporarily under a guest worker program, immigrant's choice which they want to take advantage of?
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[User Picture]From: shadesong
2010-08-07 03:52 pm (UTC)
This is a great post on the topic.

[EDIT: Warning for discussion of rape as a weapon of war. zoethe, knowing me, probably figured it had to do with rape, but other readers may not.]

Edited at 2010-08-07 03:53 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-07 06:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks for that link.
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[User Picture]From: anivair
2010-08-07 03:54 pm (UTC)
I can find no fault in your logic.

Re: Immigration, it's a hard place to be. I get that illegals break the law and I never really feel too bad when they are punished accordingly, but I also see that our economy would really nosedive without them, no matter what the libertarian crowd wants to think. There is not a great solution.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-07 06:56 pm (UTC)
As there is NO method for laborers to legally enter the US and do the work we need them to do, the law is basically a hypocrisy. There is a sense of unfairness that the people who have waited patiently for many years outside of the country should be "skipped over" by people who have broken the law. That is a problem with amnesty programs. But the reality is we regularly break laws because they are obsolete or unenforceable.

Something needs to be done.
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[User Picture]From: bart_calendar
2010-08-07 04:02 pm (UTC)
Watch the Lost epilogue, it will cheer you up.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-07 06:57 pm (UTC)
I will have to find it. It keeps being taken down before I get to it.
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[User Picture]From: cinema_babe
2010-08-07 04:03 pm (UTC)
And well you should be! One of my mantras about illegal immigration is that the *real* risk is that we have created a new class of slaves who are invisible because most Americans choose to ignore that they exist as they buy their cheap lettuce in December and enjoy their lush lawns in June.

There was a study done within the past few years that showed what undocumented workers bring to a community in the way of taxes and community involvement.

Do I think that if someone is here illegally they should be sent back home? Yes, but I'm a law and order type gal. But, I also think that penalties for people who traffic in illegal immigrants, employ illegal immigrant and house illegal immigrants are insufficient and woefully under enforced.

The problem is with the government policies and the people who benefit, and less with the people who are at the bottom of of things, the illegal immigrants.

(and for the record, I *hate* it when someone refers to these people as "illegals". That is demeaning and as dehumanizing as "gook" or "nigger". These are people, the status of their immigration might be illegal but human beings never, never are.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-07 07:01 pm (UTC)
The top uses fear of the poor and brown as a smoke screen to take the attention off their own violations.
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[User Picture]From: libco
2010-08-07 04:12 pm (UTC)
Thanks for quoting Jim Lewis-I'm quite proud that he's from WV
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-07 07:02 pm (UTC)
I'm glad I ran across it.
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[User Picture]From: dana3
2010-08-07 04:56 pm (UTC)
cinema_babe has said just about everything I was thinking, and said it better than I would have.

I've known marginalized caucasian native-born Americans who have also taken off to follow the crops as a migrant worker -- so that's not a job that "Americans won't do". Hungry people will do a lot of things to keep their bellies fed. I would assume that poultry-farming would also be a do-able job -- though I really like cinema_babe's point about employers having to actually, oh, follow employment law.

My concern with the 'path to citizenship' and all that stuff is this -- if these folks weren't respecting the laws and standing in line in the first place, what makes us think they will suddenly start respecting our laws and complying with whatever sets of exceptions we carve out for them? Yeah, the families are hungry, yeah, Mexico's economy sucks, yeah yeah yeah -- but I know immigrants from all over who got here legally, even this decade, so I know we're still accepting immigrants from all over. (Ukraine, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Kenya, Ethiopia to name a few.) Why should their hard work and compliance with the laws be dissed by some fence-jumper?

Anyway -- I appreciate that we disagree, and I enjoy seeing your presentations on these topics. Best -- :Dana

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[User Picture]From: aiela
2010-08-07 05:15 pm (UTC)
Anecdotes are not data and all that, but my cousin married a man in the UK while she was there for school, and it took TWO YEARS to get him into the US legally. They often said they could totally understand why people went the illegal route.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-08-07 05:06 pm (UTC)
http://www.takeourjobs.org/

-Alex
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-07 07:17 pm (UTC)
That's brilliant. Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: horizonchaser
2010-08-07 06:10 pm (UTC)
The first is a monster. If you go to someone that traditionally believes (like US citizens pre 1900 and less) that Women Are Possessions and tell them NO, assert rights for women, and the main body of the population will fight you. Hate you. Only comply if forced to, and then will be even more vicious when they feel they can just to prove how right they are and how wrong you are.

The only answer is education, and getting education to a culture totally enclosed is difficult. Otherwise, I've met women who believed I was utterly insane for insisting they had rights. The sad truth is we only have the rights of the culture we're born into, and when we insist those are universal, Oh lord.

Illegal immigration, I have to disagree with you. It used to be this little thing of "oh, they're doing jobs US citizens don't want" - which was never true, unless you believe US citizens don't want construction, medical, commercial, and service jobs.

There are illegal immigrants here who are being treated as slaves, they need help. To get back to their home and to deal with the monsters responsible for them - but a lot of those aren't from Mexico or even South America at all. They've been shipped here from Taiwan, China, Korea and have no idea they have a right to not be slaves. (At least in the US, they have that right.)

There isn't a soul here in my neighborhood who wouldn't take a job working the fields, cleaning the toilets, etc, in a flash - except those jobs are flooded with illegals. By law, everyone (legal and not) out there should be paid a decent wage, and they're not. Take away the ability to undercut the legal workers and we'd pay maybe a dime more per product at the stores.

As for the illegals paying taxes and contributing to the economy, etc - I really do have to disagree. Most of the illegals I know, almost every one (including a sister in law) has had a chance to fast track to citizenship or a work permit, and each turned it down. They did not want to pay taxes. They had to send money "home". That's not a handful of people. That's a sizable chunk.

Happily, we finally got the sister in law to get her citizenship, but it took a lot of nagging. I'm not even going into the lack of immunizations, the visits by diseases extinct in the US, the overcrowding and all.

The illegal immigration situation is not simple at all, and has no easy fix. The first step is dealing with the people who make money off of them, including those that will exploit them to save a few cents on their business.

These are nasty issues, worth being crabby for. I hope you feel better!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-07 07:32 pm (UTC)
On the first topic, the sad part is that women were being educated in Iran and Afghanistan and other countries and the educated women have either fled, been killed, or been forced beneath the veil. The power of the armed fundamentalist is an appalling thing.

On to immigration. First, I suggest you take a look at this.

I really don't think that your neighbors would take jobs of working 14 hours a day in the hot sun picking lettuce for minimum wage. There are dishwashing jobs and fast food jobs that go wanting in almost every community - even here in Cleveland where the unemployment rate is very high. There are definitely some skilled labor jobs that are being taken by undocumented workers in construction and such, and I will give you that those could probably find US workers to fill.

As I used to work in immigration law, I can tell you from actual experience that lots and lots of undocumented workers who have regular paychecks with tax taken out of them.

We can definitely agree that it's not simple and neither is the fix.
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[User Picture]From: shydescending
2010-08-07 06:11 pm (UTC)
"There is a difference between accepting cultural diversity and ignoring the active oppression and abuse of women within these cultures."

This reminds me of the West Wing episode where Leo says "I can't pretend Qumar's our quirky little ally whose culture it's important to be tolerant of. They're not wearing wooden shoes."

/nerd
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-07 07:33 pm (UTC)
I didn't remember the quote, but reminded I can hear it in my head.
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[User Picture]From: fengi
2010-08-07 08:01 pm (UTC)

I think you are yelling "Fuck You" at a straw man.

I think this kind of misses the controversy. There is no "cultural acceptance people" giving a free pass to Sharia law. The issue is the false argument of Time's headline - that this is what happens if we leave.

It's bull for two reasons.

1. It happened during the occupation. We aren't preventing it and the oppression of our occupation - massive civilian deaths, detention and interrogation without trial - helps increase the power of anti-western forces.

2. The government our occupation supports is misogynist and oppressive:
An Afghan bill allowing a husband to starve his wife if she refuses to have sex has been published in the official gazette and become law.

The original bill caused outrage earlier this year, forcing Afghan President Hamid Karzai to withdraw it...They accuse Mr Karzai of selling out Afghan women for the sake of conservative Shia support at next week's presidential election.

The law governs family life for Afghanistan's Shia minority...The original version obliged Shia women to have sex with their husbands every four days at a minimum, and it effectively condoned rape by removing the need for consent to sex within marriage...

"There was a review process - Karzai came under huge pressure from all over the world to amend this law, but many of the most oppressive laws remain," Rachel Reid, the Human Rights Watch representative in Kabul, told the BBC.

"What matters more to Karzai is the support of fundamentalists and hardliners here in Afghanistan whose support he thinks he needs in the elections."

Women's groups say its new wording still violates the principle of equality that is enshrined in their constitution.
Even our own policies favor giving the Taliban some role within the government. Pointing out how killing civilians and wasting our resources is not fixing things has nothing to do with "respecting difference" and everything to do with acknowledging we've screwed up.

If such rights really mattered in American policy, our foreign policy wouldn't be supporting a large number of powerful people these days. If such things were the real reason for war, we'd be bombing Saudi Arabia and occupying Vatican City (to stop the abuse of young boys).

Time is exploiting the image of a maimed (but still traditionally beautiful) woman to further propoganda. Political correctness is a red herring.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-07 08:09 pm (UTC)

Re: I think you are yelling "Fuck You" at a straw man.

Alas, I have actually had the argument with people and heard a good deal of cultural respect talk that has appalled me. The comment was not based on the Time article as much as other conversations and debates I've witnessed.
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[User Picture]From: walkertxkitty
2010-08-08 12:58 am (UTC)
Well...no. I don't support any kind of mutilation or acts which go against a woman's consent. I do, however, support the rights of those who do wish to wear the burqua and the hijab to do so in peace without being assaulted (at least, in this country). I should also point out that these acts of mutilation and offense against women are NOT standard for Islamic or Middle Eastern beliefs (one reason why so many of them wish the Taliban out of power, and I am going to open a big can of worms by pointing this out but we -- the US -- put them there in the first place). It's the stereotyping and the assumptions which piss me off.

Ditto the case with the assumptions about illegal aliens. There are all kinds of reasons why people cannot get here legally...and it would probably surprise quite a few people to know that not all of those folk are from the Middle East or Mexico or Puerto Rico (pick your scapegoat). I know currently of at least two men here illegally, and they are from Germany and Australia respectively. The folk I did know back west who were here illegally had simply been unable to negotiate the wondrous politically corrupted fail which is Mexico's application process and had come here illegally out of desperation. They were good, hard workers and decent neighbors.

I do wish folk would get out and SEE the world before deciding what it's like.

I have deep respect for the work they do. I've worked the fields; it's backbreaking work for little pay and no benefits but for a surprisingly large number of crops, it's the only way to harvest them properly. I've also worked in places like burlap factories, where the bags have to be put together by hand. My hands ran with blood the first day because the materials make them raw and you aren't allowed safety equipment or gloves (because it would cut into profits). My hands still bear the scars, and some of my co-workers didn't have various digits because of infections from unhealed cuts. So many things made with those hands, working jobs no one else would dream of doing. I talked to some of my co-workers while doing so. Two had been doctors, one had been a teacher. Some had owned their own businesses and had them confiscated by the government or undermined by illegal activities. Many had degrees with universities.
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[User Picture]From: kibbles
2010-08-08 01:14 pm (UTC)
People from Puerto Rico are American citizens. From birth. There are no undocumented Puerto Ricans.
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[User Picture]From: noshot
2010-08-08 04:55 am (UTC)
"without these workers, our food would not get picked and transported, certainly not at the price that we pay now."

...and without africans, the american south would not have had their cotton picked so cheaply!

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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-08 01:48 pm (UTC)
I'm not advocating that we keep this system, only that people who think that "just send them back" is going to have some kind of positive impact on their lives are sadly mistaken. Something must be done, definitely; my issue is only with the smug who think it's easy.
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[User Picture]From: samcallahan
2010-08-08 05:24 pm (UTC)
After a rather nasty email forward from a close family member, I responded to all with the fact that most illegal immigrants did in fact pay withholding taxes for services they would never receive. One of my brothers replied that "No, they're paid cash under the table."

It was rather easy to tell him that if we're paying millions of illegal immigrants cash under the table, our problems are much larger than a flawed immigration policy.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-08 06:11 pm (UTC)
There is a lot of payment under the table, no doubt. But the focus should be on employers who do this - if the threat of getting caught and the punishment harsh enough, then something might change.
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[User Picture]From: fitfool
2010-08-10 03:53 am (UTC)
Yeah...I hate being outraged by stories like that and then having
someone try to explain that I'm being racist by not accepting their way of life.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-10 12:14 pm (UTC)
If we call it slavery, it's bad. But if we call it culture, it's fine.

Yeah, right.
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