Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A day without reason

I have to give whoever thought of a "A day without latinos" some credit. It is a remarkably effective exercise in demagoguery and obfuscation. It seeks to equate the idea that the United States should care about who gets to cross its borders - an idea that has been important to virtually every nation-state at every time - with racism. In our culture, calling someone a racist - whether it be Al Sharpton or Ann Coulter, Charlie Sykes or Eugene Kane - is to tell them to shut up.

I'm fairly moderate on immigration, but this is an astonishing bit of silliness. In today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, you have Patrick Cudahy, a local meatpacking firm, apparently supports the sentiment. It doesn't surprise me that the company is in favor of increasing the supply of cheap labor. What is rare is this opportunity for it to do well and claim to be doing good.

Note: An earlier draft of this post suggested that Cudahy was encouraging its workers to stay home. It has not.


Anonymous said...

[i]Patrick Cudahy, a local meatpacking firm, [is] encouraging its heavily hispanic workforce to join in.[/i] - RE

[i]Dan Habighorst said [Patrick Cudahy], which has a significant Latino work force, is encouraging workers to stay at work.[/i] - RE's link

Rick Esenberg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick Esenberg said...

You are correct, I wrote too quickly. My error is noted and corrected.

Anonymous said...

I think you read to much into this "Day without Latinos" business. As I understand it, it is an effort to raise awareness of the role latinos, and undocumented latino workers in particular, play in both the day-to-day life of the community and the economy.

Wasn't there a movie along these lines?

Mike Plaisted said...


Like it or not, racism is inherent in too much of the anti-immigration movement. There is a reason that racist groups like the Klu Klux Klan have increased membership by highlighting this issue. And, I would say, that is the same reason Milwaukee wing-nut radio is in full-fledged blather today.

The anti-imiigration hysteria creates a racist atmosphere. Every Hispanic is suspect. Some cities have created ordinances to prevent renting to illegals -- and who do you think is going to be challenged by landlord on their status? Workplaces are being raided on the basis of what? Lots of brown-skinned people working there?

Now local governments are seeking to be deputized as federal agents so they can seek out illegals on their own. Do you think they will be looking for people who look like you or me?

Regardless of the motives for those talking immigration into some kind of crisis, the effect on Hispanics, legal and otherwise, is Darkness at Noon -- the fear to go out in public. That shouldn't happen to anyone just because of their skin or language. But that is the atmosphere being created.

Rick Esenberg said...


Assuming arguendo that what you say is true, how does it help to have a day that is predicated on equating latinos with illegals?

Mike Plaisted said...

Rick, I don't think that's what the day is "predicated" on, although I know that's how some people want to see it. I prefer to let the protesters define themselves rather than others who are aginst them doing it for them, which is what happens in the right-wing media.

There is a proper sense of solidarity (sorry for the lefty lingo - wait, no I'm not) with Hispanics of all legal backgrounds, just like middle-class blacks in the North supported the more dramatic civil rights struggle against Jim Crow, etc., in the South.

And, as I said, the application of enforcement and the perception of possible illegality for all Hispanics affects everyone. Hispanics consider themselves a cohesive community, regardless of legal background. They live, work and struggle together. They are right to support laws that would let their brothers and sisters live in peace and without fear.

Anonymous said...

The Journal Sentinel's Georgia Pabst posted several items (below) during the day that would have earned an "D" for an undergraduate journalism student. Among other things, she:

1. fails to explain what the marchers mean by "immigration reform."

2. does not explain what Sandra Esparza meant by saying "We want to be treated well." Did Ms. Esparza explain who does not treat her well?

3. does not explain the basis for "[o]bservers from the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Lawyers Guild" believing that marchers wouild be denied "their right to a peaceful assembly."

Maybe Mike Plaisted has some answers.

Geo Mitchell
TUESDAY, May 1, 2007, 12:02 p.m.
By Georgia Pabst
Immigration march set to begin

Marchers were lining up at 5th St. and National Ave. on Milwaukee's near south side late this morning carrying American flags and signs that say "Justice for All U.S. Immigrants" as part of the "A Day Without Latinos" immigration march.

Led by mariachis, who serenaded the group off and on, and with paleteros mingling through the crowd selling Popsicles and ice cream, the march had an air of festivity. The marchers will soon take off for the two-mile trek to Veterans Park, where a rally will be held to support immigration reform.

Organizers did not have an estimate of the size of the crowd, but marchers were taking up a full block. In addition to residents of Milwaukee, marchers included contingents from Whitewater, Kenosha and Racine.

Sandra Esparza, 34, of Milwaukee, brought two of her four children to the march.

"We want to be treated well," she said. She said her husband was working today.

"We hope the laws will change." She said.

TUESDAY, May 1, 2007, 1:12 p.m.
By Georgia Pabst
Update: Marchers reaching Wisconsin Ave.

Thousands of marchers - some officials were estimating as many as 30,000 - are marching onto Wisconsin Ave. in downtown Milwaukee at Water St. as part of the "A Day Without Latinos" immigration march today.

With drums beating, and people cheering and singing, the marchers, restricted to one side of the street, are headed for Veterans Park for a rally. Bystanders on the street and in buildings are greeting the parade with waves and cheers.

The peaceful march - the mass of people has now reached 10 to 12 blocks in length - has no incidents or arrests.

A boy on a skateboard in the parade was carrying a sign that said, "We are all God's children," and he was wearing a black and white T-shirt that said, "We are not criminals."

Observers from the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Lawyers Guild are following the parade to make sure the marchers kept their right to a peaceful assembly.

TUESDAY, May 1, 2007, 1:32 p.m.
By Georgia Pabst
Update: 1st marchers get to Veterans Park

The first of the thousands of participants in the "A Day Without Latinos" march are now reaching Veterans Park on Milwaukee's lakefront.

Once the rest of the marchers arrive - officials are giving varying estimates of 30,000 to 60,000 involved in the march - a program will begin and will feature Ricardo Chavez, leader of the United Farm Workers Union and brother of the late Cesar Chavez, along with religious, union and community leaders.

Rick Esenberg said...

By making the issue of illegal immigration about latinos, the protest plays into the notion that all latinos are illegal - or, in any event, so many that being against open borders is tantamount to being anti-latino.

As I said, I am fairly moderate on immigration in that there is no way to deport everyone who is here illegally. But the idea that a country must take all comers or extend full and equal civil rights to everyone who sneaks across it's border is, as far as I know, pretty much without parallel since the rise of the nation-state.

Anonymous said...

I favor the Bush plan ("amnesty" according to Jim Sensenbrenner). The reality is we have 12m folks here illegally and we have to work through that. I also favor a wall.

Mike Plaisted said...

What's with the harsh grading, George? Is the "choice" industry running J-schools now?

I'm glad to hear that the ACLU and NLG were out there protecting the rights of the protesters. You know what the Bushies do with even religious peace demonstrators -- survaillance, interlopers and the rest. Heck, a bunch of federal agents could have treated it like a workplace, rounding brown-skinned people up and checking names -- in fact, that legitimate fear is why the numbers were down this year. I guess your response would be "what's wrong with that?" Darkness at Noon, indeed.

I don't know what all the pretended confusion is about the goal of the protesters. They want fair and non-draconian immigration reform.

And, yes, Rick, once they are here, every immigrant -- legal and otherwise -- has the benefit of every contitutional right you and I do. They have the right to assembly, free speech and due process. It is not "without parallel"; it has been the law since the nation began. And, a fence? Was the Berlin Wall keeping people in or out? You sure about that?

Anonymous said...

I think a better title for today's offering would have been, "A blog entry without reason."

First of all, Mr. Esenberg somehow turns the march into an exercise in "racism," and then accuses a local meatpacking firm of "support[ing] the sentiment." What? According to the Journal-Sentinel story, all the HR man at Patrick Cudahy supports is its employees' concerns over an immigration reform bill in Congress. While Mr. Esenberg's finely tuned conservative sensibilities may or may not be on target in smuggling racism into the equation, there certainly isn't any evidence presented that Patrick Cudahy "supports" any such "sentiment."

In fact, the HR man doesn't even say what form of legislation the firm supports, only that the concerns should be addressed by Congress.

Then Mr. Esenberg claims that the protest "plays into the notion that all latinos are illegal." Again, what? Where does this notion exist, exactly, aside from in the author's imagination? And if not the "notion" that all latinos are illegal, then the "notion" that "so many [latinos are illegal] that being against open borders is tantamount to being anti-latino." How about the notion, "none of the above"?

Surely Mr. Esenberg at least gleaned from the article that the march was organized by a Latino outfit.

Perhaps the reasoning underlying the foregoing was omitted in haste, or maybe it will be elucidated in future blog entries. In the meantime it looks like, at worst, conservative paranoia or, at best, not exactly the sort of clear communication one might expect from a sometime Marquette University law professor.

Anonymous said...

The coverage in today's NYTimes illustrates what a more informative article might look like.

Rick Esenberg said...


You know that the law permits the government to treat illegals like, well, illegals. They may have a right to free speech. Can't send them to jail for what they say. But they can be arrested and deported. Are you arguing that citizenship be abolished? If there is a country in which the law makes no distinction between people who are present legally and those that walk across the border, I am not aware of it.


Rick Esenberg said...


The march is about illegal immigrants. It is called a "Day without Latinos." My point is that this is an attempt to equate illegals with Latinos generally so that opposition to substantially liberalized immigration laws appears to be racist. That's not so hard to understand, is it?

Anonymous said...

Another "Brilliant" point by Mike P.

"Regardless of the motives for those talking immigration into some kind of crisis, the effect on Hispanics, legal and otherwise, is Darkness at Noon -- the fear to go out in public. That shouldn't happen to anyone just because of their skin or language."

While I think his point is pure hyperbole, if an illegal alien truly fears to go out in public, it is not because of their skin or language...it is because they are here ILLEGALLY.

I agree with Rick that there is probably no way to deport everyone that is here illegally. But that doesn't mean we can't greatly reduce the number. The more difficult we make life for illegals and the people who hire them, the less attractive coming here or remaining here becomes.

Anonymous said...

The "You Don't Speak for Me" website addresses a lot of legal Hispanics feel about the illegal situation.


(I don't know how to do a link in blogger...sorry 'bout that.)

Anonymous said...

All I know is that, because of their stupid day of protest, none of the bathrooms at my company were cleaned or even had new toilet paper put in them.