Friday, April 28, 2006

O'zog, kenstu sehn, wenn bagin licht dervacht

Consider a hypothetical. Imagine that someone wrote a version of the Star Spangled Banner in Yiddish. Would this be my people demanding others bend over backwards? Bear in mind that illegal immigration has been a problem for every generation, and it was a problem with Central and Eastern European immigration when the Yiddish version was released. If people in 1943 criticized this new edition, would it have been appropriate to suggest that those people were anti-Semitic? What does that analogy tell us about the people whining about the new Spanish version (as opposed to the Spanish version written in 1919).

The Whole Wheat Blogger ate his fiber, and was moved to ask Whose broad stripes and bright stars?
The Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem of the United States of America. It was written in English, and it should be sung in English. It is meaningless in any other language.

I'm sick of people coming to this country and demanding that we bend over backwards to accomodate [sic] them. That goes double for people who come here illegally.
For the record, before Francis Scott Key's poem was set to it, the tune we know as the Star-Spangled Banner was a drinking song. Furthermore, it is famously not accommodating to most native English speakers based on the vocal range it requires and it's four long, arcane and often tedious verses. (Did you know there was more than just the one verse? That's how patriotic I am – I once memorized all four.) No one seems to be "demanding" anything. In a fit of patriotism, someone wrote a version of the national anthem in Spanish. To me, that looks like a selfless offer, an act of tremendous patriotism and good will. And, for what it's worth, there is no authoritative set of lyrics, Key himself drafted several different versions.

Nor, for the record, are all Spanish speaking Americans "here illegally." You hear that, j.d.? Having a Spanish version isn't "for people who come here ilegally," any more than the protests are "pro-illegal immigrant." The protests are meant to encourage the government to find humane ways of rewriting our immigration laws so that they are less punitive.

Building a big goddamn wall isn't that solution, any more than stocking up on duct tape is a way to win the war on terrorism. You can mess around with expensive treatments for minor or imaginary symptoms, or address the real problem. If the real problem is the number of immigrants, we need a Marshall plan for central America. If the problem is that the immigrants are illegal, then liberalize the laws and be done with it.

As far as anyone can tell, illegal immigrants/undocumented workers do no harm to society. But rather than argue over data (how dull!), let's accept, arguendo, the claim that they do some sort of harm (the only claim that justifies building a stupid wall). I think it's fairly clear to anyone who pays attention that whatever harm undocumented workers do is trivial compared to (and I'm picking at random here) a Category 5 hurricane sweeping in on a major city, or the persistent lack of health care for many Americans. I could choose other examples – e.g. deaths in Iraq, terrorists resurgent in Afghanistan, the rise of China as a major world power and the major holder of our national debt – but I think the point is clear. The time and effort spent debating what to do about whatever minor harm people think illegal immigration does is a colossal misallocation of resources when the nation faces numerous real crises.