May 5, 2006

The liberal approach to xenophobia

Recently I stumbled upon the commentary of famed liberal Arthur DeFrench, and with Mr. DeFrench’s permission I was allowed to publish one of his most famous letters:

Dear Congressperson:

I was taking the Prius to get an environmentally friendly carwash with organic soaps before I got to work on my mural at the abortion clinic. But when I pulled in, the manager ran out to me, despondent. “They’re gone, Art,” he said, in between sobs “my multi-cultural customer service team, all gone!” I gave him a self-identity affirming hug. “But why, Fred?” I asked, “You’re a great manager; you give them all full benefits and five hours of sensitivity training a week. How could they do this to you?”

“It’s not just me. Everyone’s multi-cultural customer service team is out today; they’ve all gone to march in the immigration rally!

“El Gran Paro Americano!” I exclaimed, “I’ve forgotten about it completely. The mural can wait, it is a government job after all, I’ve got to get downtown and show my support for the minority! So long Fred! There’s a rally!”

As I drove north, I recalled my student days at Berkeley and the great protests we’d had. Ah, to be young and angry again! I parked the Prius south of the loop and took the CTA the rest of the way. I have to show my support for public transportation networks. At Jackson, I got out of the station and looked around. A few office workers milled around. Where was everybody? Suddenly I heard the soft, sweet sound of distant mass cheering…. There they were! Carrying flags from every country to show their wonderful diversity! “Si Se Puede!” They shouted, “Yes We Can!” I let out a gender-neutral squeal of delight. “How uplifting!” I thought. I joined them. They carried signs demanding the right to vote. “How empowering!” I thought. I was disappointed that they weren’t carrying any anti-Bush signs, but they hadn’t been in this country long. They would learn.

“Oh Arthur!” I heard someone say. It was Antonio, my one-time masseuse and second life-partner. We embraced (in a gender-neutral way. A very gender-neutral way). “Antonio, this is a wonderful celebration of culture and divers-—What is that!?” I let out another gender-neutral squeal, this time of horror. There was a wholly heteronormative family: father, mother, two daughters, and a baby son on the father’s shoulder, and each carrying an American flag.

“Those are my friends the Hernandezes. They just reunited a year ago. Carlos, the father, came here illegally and started working as a dishwasher. Now he’s assistant manager. He sent money back to Maria and the twins until they could come too. The baby was born here, so now they have one full citizen in the family.”

“The gender roles…so…so…traditional,” I stammered, “and the American flag, are they trying to make their children nationalistic or something? Don’t they know what the American flag means?”

“Of course they know what it means,” said Antonio, “It means good wages for hard work, a chance for their children to go to school and then college. It means security and prosperity, and they thank God for it.”

“God!” I gasped, “you don’t mean?”

Antonio nodded and pointed at a banner of the Virgin Mary being carried by a Catholic group. “Faith and organized religion?” I demanded of Antonio. At this point, it became too much for me, and I fainted in Antonio’s arms. When I awoke, he had safely brought me back to my Prius.

This is why I write to you, congressperson, to appeal to you to vote for H.R. 4437, which will keep as many of these people out as possible, kick out the people who are here no matter how long they’ve been here, and make any children they’ve had here wards of the state. God. Family. Country. What kind of people are these?


Mr. Arthur DeFrench