by Latoya Peterson
Latoya’s Note: Somehow, my “to blog about ” list of articles crept over fifty. We don’t normally post this late in the day, but I need to start playing catch up.
France’s foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, has spoken of the possibility of an armed humanitarian intervention, and there is an increasing degree of chatter about the possibility of an American-led invasion of the Irrawaddy River Delta.
As it happens, American armed forces are now gathered in large numbers in Thailand for the annual multinational military exercise known as Cobra Gold. This means that Navy warships could pass from the Gulf of Thailand through the Strait of Malacca and north up the Bay of Bengal to the Irrawaddy Delta. It was a similar circumstance that had allowed for Navy intervention after the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004.
The other challenge we face lies within Myanmar. Because a humanitarian invasion could ultimately lead to the regime’s collapse, we would have to accept significant responsibility for the aftermath. And just as the collapse of the Berlin Wall was not supposed to lead to ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia, and the liberation of Iraq from Saddam Hussein was not supposed to lead to civil war, the fall of the junta would not be meant to lead to the collapse of the Burmese state. But it might.
About a third of Myanmar’s 47 million people are ethnic minorities, who have a troubled historical relationship with the dominant group, the Burmans. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the heroine of the democracy movement, is an ethnic Burman just like the generals, and her supporters are largely focused on the Burman homeland. Meanwhile, the Chins, Kachins, Karennis, Karens, Shans and other hill tribes have been fighting against the government. The real issue in Myanmar, should the regime fall, would be less about forging democracy than a compromise between the Burmans and the other ethnic groups.
It’s hard not to have a lot of respect for Kaplan’s willingness to play the devil’s advocate’s role and point out that our coming Burmese invasion may not be a bed of roses after all. More seriously, though, I’m surprised that it’s so easy to publish this kind of hooey as if the last five years had never even happened. Here, meanwhile, Matt Yglesias answers those pushing for an invasion by noting two big potential pitfalls in the present international context — legitimacy and sustainability, as Matt goes on to note.
But I have an even simpler idea. Why don’t we not invade any more countries for a while?
I know that will strike some as too flippant or isolationist. But it’s not meant as the former and I’m confident it is not the latter. Many of our foreign policy thinkers seem to be developing the kind of character damage suffered by children who can buy the best toy every time their parents go to the mall — the inability to distinguish between necessities, simple wants and the mere desire for kicks which is born of pervasive moral boredom. Add to this the fact that we are now managing two foreign occupations — one of which is going poorly and a second which can only be described as a national catastrophe of historic proportions — and you see the true level of the disconnect.
From the living room of the battered trailer she and her mother call home, Mancha described what happened when she came out of the shower that morning. “My mother went out, and I was alone,” she said. “I was getting ready for school, getting dressed, when I heard this noise. I thought it was my mother coming back.” She went on in the Tex-Mex Spanish-inflected Georgia accent now heard throughout Dixie: “Some people were slamming car doors outside the trailer. I heard footsteps and then a loud boom and then somebody screaming, asking if we were ‘illegals,’ ‘Mexicans.’ These big men were standing in my living room holding guns. One man blocked my doorway. Another guy grabbed a gun on his side. I freaked out. ‘Oh, my God!’ I yelled.”
As more than twenty Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents surrounded the trailer, said Mancha, agents inside interrogated her. They asked her where her mother was; they wanted to know if her mother was “Mexican” and whether she had “papers” or a green card. They told her they were looking for “illegals.”
After about five minutes of interrogation, the agents — who, according to the women’s lawyer, Mary Bauer of the Southern Poverty Law Center, showed no warrants and had neither probable cause nor consent to enter the home — simply left. They left in all likelihood because Mancha and her mother didn’t fit the profile of the workers at the nearby Crider poultry plant, who had been targeted by the raid in nearby Stilwell. They were the wrong kind of “Mexicans”; they were US citizens.
Though she had experienced discrimination before the raid — in the fields, in the supermarket and in school — Mancha, who testified before Congress in February, never imagined such an incident would befall her, since she and her mother had migrated from Texas to Reidsville. Best known for harvesting poultry and agricultural products, Reidsville, a farm town about 200 miles southeast of Atlanta, is also known for harvesting Klan culture behind the walls of the state’s oldest and largest prison. But its most famous former inmate is Jim Crow slayer and dreamer Martin Luther King Jr. His example inspires Mancha’s new dream: lawyering “for the poor.”
The toll this increasingly oppressive climate has taken on Mancha represents but a small part of its effects on noncitizen immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, and other Latinos. Mancha and the younger children of the mostly immigrant Latinos in Georgia are learning and internalizing that they are different from white — and black — children not just because they have the wrong skin color but also because many of their parents lack the right papers. They are growing up in a racial and political climate in which Latinos’ subordinate status in Georgia and in the Deep South bears more than a passing resemblance to that of African-Americans who were living under Jim Crow. Call it Juan Crow: the matrix of laws, social customs, economic institutions and symbolic systems enabling the physical and psychic isolation needed to control and exploit undocumented immigrants.
Take it from Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza, the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights organization. She recently delivered a passionate and important speech to the National Press Club in Washington. Her topic: the immigration debate and what she labels a wave of hate sweeping the land — one that isn’t limited to illegal immigrants, or even immigrants in general, but which is now splattering onto all Hispanics regardless of where they were born, what language they speak or what flag they wave.
“Most Latinos aren’t immigrants,” she said. “More than 80 percent of Hispanics in this country are U.S. citizens or legal residents. But the truth is, Hispanics understand that this issue is about all of us.”
That’s obvious. You might live in Colorado or New Mexico or Arizona and come from a family that has lived in the United States for several generations. And yet, your citizenship is being challenged by nativists who paint with a broad brush. All they see is your skin color or surname and, from this, they conclude that — unless you go along with every harebrained scheme to combat illegal immigration — you’re, as one reader recently informed me, “an American in name only.”
The Pew Hispanic Center has come out with a list of statistics on Hispanic women, and it would seem we’re, for the most part, pretty hard-working baby-makers – especially those of us born abroad:
Hispanic women generally, both U.S.-born and immigrants, have higher fertility rates than non Hispanics — 84 births per 1,000 Hispanic women compared with 63 per 1,000 non-Hispanic women.
The differences can also be found between Hispanic women born in this country — 73 births per 1,000 women — and immigrant Hispanic women — 96 per 1,000 women.
It’d be interesting if the Pew Hispanic Center were to evaluate why Hispanic men are fathering so many children out of wedlock.
If you’re in Texas and planning to escape a hurricane, you better bring your residency papers.
Hurricane season starts June 1. In the event of a hurricane in the region, emergency officials predict more than 130,000 evacuees will leave the Valley by school bus. They will be checked for identification and citizenship before they can board.
Anyone who is not a citizen or is not a legal resident will be held in specially designed areas in the Valley that are “made to withstand hurricanes,” said Dan Doty, a Border Patrol spokesperson for the Valley sector.
And comment as much as you like but my gut and history tells me that determining who will be checked will be based on who looks like an “illegal” , meaning brown Latino folks.