From Imagine 2050, comes a great post on the currently raging immigration debate and what the author views as the debate’s epicenter – the state of Arizona.
Did you ever play the “If I had lived during [insert appropriate historic period here] I would have . . .” game? Back when I was a kid my friends and I would sit in a tight circle often with popsicles juice running down our fingers while we discussed how each of us would have reacted to the Great Chicago Fire, escaped the Titanic, survived in the Land of the Lost, or ran bootleg rum from Canada, though I’m sure we didn’t even know what rum was.
As we grew older the game changed and took on even more significance. It was no longer made up of fantasies of how I would have invested in Disney and made it rich. Instead, I thought about how I might imagine myself reacting to important moments in U.S. history. Actually it was just one moment that fascinated me, the one called the Civil Rights Movement. “Would I have been able to keep my cool desegregating a lunch counter?” “Could I have worked up the courage and registered to vote knowing that I might get a visit from the Klan that evening?” Would I have left the comfortable confines of college to spend my summer in a place that very well might cost me my life?”
The author then moves on to point out that we are currently living through one of these historical moments – the immigrant rights movement.
In Arizona, like the tattered pages of an old paperback, the wondering is long over. With over 181 bodies recovered in the deserts in 2007, fifty five pieces of anti-immigrant legislation to be submitted in 2008, and a local Sheriff who resembles Bull Connor (a southern police officer and KKK member in the 1960’s) more than Wyatt Earp, Arizona is becoming to immigrants rights, what Mississippi was to the 1960s civil rights movement—a defining moment in which each of us will be called to either embrace inhumanity or redeem the soul of America.
When the author asks himself if the message of immigrants’ rights groups is extreme, he responds:
That hundreds of people dying in the desert each year is extreme, children coming home to empty kitchens where parents have disappeared is extreme, beings jailed for seeking work is extreme. Asking that each individual in our society be treated with basic human decency is not—it is as American as apple pie. It’s what we have been seeking since 1776.
If you were around for the immigration debate in 2008, what would you do?