Wednesday, May 17, 2006

John Hinderaker Carries the White Man's Burden

In John Hinderaker's devastatingly critical response to Bush's Monday night speech on immigration (now apparently the "the failure to build a wall" speech in rightist circles), He Had His Chance, he shares more than simply his views on the speech:

I rode home from the airport in a taxi a few minutes ago. My driver, as is almost always the case in Minnesota, was an African immigrant. No sooner had I gotten into the cab than he began talking about the speech and railing against Bush on the theory that the President is anti-immigrant. I patiently tried to explain that President Bush is in trouble because he is not just pro-immigrant, but pro-illegal immigrant. I explained that he has argued for a guest worker program and a path to citizenship, and has said repeatedly that it would be impossible to deport all the illegals.

My cab driver was completely disoriented by this. I could tell he didn't believe it. Like nearly all African cab drivers, he listens to public radio all day long. Twenty minutes with me wasn't enough to overcome years of liberal indoctrination. He simply wasn't able to absorb the idea that President Bush might not be a racist who hates immigrants. I'm sure he'd forgotten everything I said by the time he left my driveway.

Being a fellow resident of the Twin Cities area, I can verify that many cab drivers in Minneapolis are recent immigrants from Africa. They are almost all from Somalia, to be precise.. To Hinderaker, however, they are simply "African." This distinction might seem subtle until you consider the consequences of Hinderaker's failure to understand who he was talking to.There are many religions and many political stripes in Africa. There is one effective religion in Somalia from which almost 100% of the Minneapolis cab drivers of African extraction hail--they are almost universally Muslim.

They know what Bush policies have meant for fellow Muslims in the US (massive government generated violations of civil rights), and in the Middle East (that would be bloody catastrophe, not liberation). They have probably had friends or acquaintances interrogated for contributing to a legitimate charity while Muslim, charities they've contributed to locked down, their assets frozen for fruitless, years-long Bushco witchhunts while children starve in Northern Africa. Friends across the country legally abused and/or deported and potentially subject to torture when they get off the plane the Bush administration forced them to get on.

The idea that Hinderaker imagines one of them might not be a Bush supporter as a consequence of being brainwashed by public radio(!) (which is mostly milquetoast, pro-Republicanism here, anyway) is such a profound confession of ignorance--so surreal--it's almost amusing.

Muslim Civil Rights Report, 2002

Data gathered for this report demonstrate that Muslims in the United States are more apprehensive than ever about discrimination and intolerance. U.S. Government actions after September 11, 2001, alone impacted more than 60,000 individuals. Muslims have charged that the government's actions violated the First and Fourth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution because they included ethnically and religiously-based interrogations, detentions, raids, and closures of charities...Unlike any other past crisis, the post-September 11 anti-Muslim backlash has been the most violent, as it included several murders...
...Excluding the September backlash incidents, this year's normal reporting period contains 525 valid complaints, up from 366 in 2000/2001--a 43 percent increase...
...Two particularly encouraging developments are noteworthy. First, on April 3, 2002, a federal judge in Detroit, Michigan ruled that the Bush administration's policy of closed immigration hearings was unconstitutional. The ruling came in the case of Rabih Haddad, who had overstayed his immigration visa. In another case involving a hate crime, a Dallas, Texas jury convicted Mark Stroman for the murder of Vasudev Patel last October. Storman thought the Hindu man looked Middle Eastern and killed him to avenge the attacks on New York and Washington.

Damn public radio...

Update:
Glenn Greenwald has more on Hinderaker's response here.
Firedoglake on whitemen's bloviating on immigration for the cameras.