Thursday, December 27, 2007

For some reason La Vanguardia is not on the newsstands today, so I picked up El Pais this morning, and was quickly reminded of why I never buy that rag when I have a choice.

The editorial page features a cartoon by El Roto, who is never funny and always pseudo-philosophically pompous, besides being a lousy artist. The drawing is of an enormous American flag, with the caption, "When flags grow, people shrink." Sheer brilliance. Damn, I wish I'd thought of that one. Wonder why he picked the Stars and Stripes instead of an ikurriña or senyera?

Then on the next page one Andrés Oppenheimer (who seems to be reasonable about many other issues, especially Cuba and Chavez) has a piece titled "USA: the danger of a Hispanic intifada." It starts off like this:

The growing anti-immigrant hysteria in the United States, promoted by irresponsible television hosts and by the principal Republican candidates for the presidency, is dangerous: it might result in a "Latin intifada" in a not very distant future.

While watching the presidential debates, in which the Republican candidates compete to demonstrate who is the "toughest" against illegal immigration and even the Democratic candidates propose strengthened border walls, one cannot help wondering whether all this will not provoke a reaction on the part of the 13 million undocumented immigrants in the US.

It is not clear whether something like the Palestinian intifada at the beginning o the '90s might happen, when thousands of frustrated young Palestinians took to the streets and threw stones at the Israeli troops. Or something like the French intifada in 2005, when young socially marginalized Muslims burned cars and shops in the suburbs of Paris. Maybe it will be a more subtle phenomenon, like an explosion of violence among the youth gangs that now terrorize Los Angeles and other cities. Or an increase in crime by marginalized youth, raised in the streets of the large cities and with no chance to study or get legal jobs.

Boy, this piece for foreign consumption doesn't read anything like Mr. Oppenheimer's Miami Herald columns. In fact, it reads to me like a bunch of anti-system wank. An illegal alien intifada in the US? In your dreams. First, they're in the US because they want to be, and second, unlike French and Palestinian rioters, illegal aliens caught rioting in the US can be instantly deported back home. Also, Oppy is confusing crime and gangs with politics. The Latin Kings and Mexican Mafia are not precisely politically oriented. Nor, by the way, do street gangs "terrorize" entire cities.

Anyway, here's Oppy's conclusion:

My opinion is that this xenophobic hysteria must be stopped before it is too late...the millions of undocumented aliens in the United States will not leave. They will only become more desperate and angry.

Come, come, my good man, "xenophobic hysteria" is a bit strong. America's not xenophobic, it lets in hundreds of thousands of immigrants every year, and they are a good bit more welcome there than immigrants in European countries. It is not difficult for a legal alien to become an American citizen, and in fact it is positively encouraged, again unlike certain European countries. As for illegal aliens, Europe has immigration barriers and deports them too, don't you know, old chap. Or haven't you heard about the thousands of African boat people who die trying to make it to Spain?

One more bit of European douchbaggery: El Mundo reports that Italy is "indignant" over a mildly critical story in the New York Times. Seems that the Times noted that Italian creative arts are in the dumps, the people seem to be depressed, poverty is still high in some areas, the aging population is going to decline, and the economy is stagnant. From what I can tell, the NYT did not issue any moral judgments about Italy or the Italians.

Says El Mundo, "The subject fills entire pages of the newspaper, it is discussed for hours on radio programs, and it is commented on between dishes of pasta and pizza in the trattorias."

Jeez, people, that's a bit hypersensitive. The Italian press, just like the rest of the European media, runs anti-American articles by the kilo, calling the people ignorant, racist, and money-obsessed and calling the government a bunch of imperialistic Fascist warmongers. Americans, with a few exceptions like me, pay no attention at all. But let the New York Times mention a couple of unpleasant demographic and economic facts, and throw in the reporter's impression that the Italian people are "depressed," and an entire nation is ready to storm the US embassy.

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