Tuesday, May 02, 2006

flag day

Over a million people* turned out across the country to protest the House immigration bill, HR 4437, and to support some sort of what can loosely be called “immigration reform” (more on what that should mean, soon, I think), but for the life of me, I can’t find any citation on what part of that million took to the streets in lower Manhattan.

I was one of that part—not so much to pay homage to my own turn-of-the-last-century immigrant roots as to support more recent immigrants in their struggle for permanent status, proper wages, and, well, plain old respect. The marchers were energetic and good-natured, as were those who stood on the sidewalks and cheered.

I have to say that, in New York, reactions to this movement (it’s a movement now, you know) have ranged from enthusiastic support to harried indifference—I have seen little of the racist hostility or political “backlash” that I read about in the papers and keep hearing them pump up on the nightly news. I don’t doubt that the racism is there (family in Los Angeles reports seeing a lot of “Mexican go home” graffiti on Latino-owned shops), but I wonder to what extent the political backlash that is supposed to result is just somebody’s wishful thinking. . . you know what I mean?

*The New York Times, for reasons that are beyond me, refused to join the consensus, using the woefully inadequate “hundreds of thousands” instead.

(Photos by me)


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