Monday, April 10, 2006

Waving the Flag

Is it just me, or has the more recent coverage of the immigration protests emphasized the amount of American flag-waving, and de-emphasized the amount of foreign flag-waving? I don't know if this is due to media bias, or immigrant advocates shifting their strategy in the face of a hostile first-reaction to the presence of foreign flags at their rallies, or correction of over-coverage of foreign flags at those original rallies. But it seems like something worth pointing out. My guess is mostly on #2, as evidenced by this excerpt from an NYT story:
In Atlanta, a sea of demonstrators, most of them dressed in the white T-shirts that have become emblematic of the immigrant rights marches, moved along a two-mile route, with marchers carrying signs about their rights and the competing bills in Congress. Most of the marchers carried American flags, as the word has gone out to demonstrators over the last few weeks over the Internet and flyers that they needed to show more willingness to assimilate, although some carried flags from their home countries of Mexico, Honduras and Nicaragua.

In any event, I love these protests. It's such a beautiful pushback against those who'd use fear and prejudice to try and morph "person trying to live the American dream" into "criminal and possible terrorist." I think most minority groups are like J.R.R. Tolkein's Ents: difficult to arouse from slumber, but whose power is unstoppable when riled up. If immigrant rights constitute a "magic mirror" into how America really views racial minorities (i.e., how we'd treat them if it weren't for pesky civil rights laws and constitutional amendments), then the immigrant rallies hold an important lesson for those politicians who've made a career out of exploiting White America's continuing legacy of racial mistrust. You push too hard, and they'll push back. Tread lightly.

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