From Ohg Rea Tone:
People sometimes drift into my personal space. I generally enjoy people so my personal space does not extend as far as the reach of my arm. When I shake hands I am likely to pull the other person close, look them in the eye, and measure their sincerity. The enigma of my shallow personal space presents itself when I have no escape – like on a public elevator. When confined I want people to keep their distance. All of us have a primal need to feel in control of our personal space. Sometimes we feel the need to build fences, dig moats, train guard dogs, and pack a taser on our hip. I know some women who just use offensive perfume. We are saying: “Keep out of my space!” Different people have different comfort levels with their personal space. Comfortable boundaries are quirky – sometimes defined physically, sometimes philosophically, sometimes economically, and sometimes emotionally. Hispanic immigration to the United States stirs the quirky comfort levels and brings out the guard dogs of a uncomfortable populace. Sometimes the need for space is legitimate – and sometimes unreasonable. Confusing psychological boundaries with legal borders is not legitimate.
(Allow me to apologize before we go on. I don’t usually use words like dumb and stupid. Calling names generally is not an accepted practice in debate. In the case of the immigration debate in America – some of the arguments can only be qualified as plain old stupid. Even Forest Gump could remember ‘Stupid is as Stupid Does.’)
Boundaries are not just about physical space. People in the helping industry often point to violated boundaries as the cause of relationship problems. Some boundaries are self-evident: A Catholic Priest should keep their hands off young alter boys. Therapists should not have any sexual physical relationship with a client. There is an old saying in capitalist America: Never mix business with pleasure – a simple means of defining monetary/friendship boundaries. Some people continue to hold culture-based-boundaries. No interracial marriage. No marriage outside of a given faith system. Class boundaries are not spoken- just practiced: Poor people should shop at Wal Mart and the middle class should shop at HyVee. Rich people have someone else shop at HyVee on their behalf. People should know their place and stay in that place.
Boundaries are often defined by culture – borders are defined by law. Borders are important to everyone. Some borders are clear, property owners often know the exact border of their property – right down to the centimeter. Homeowners Associations are formed to protect visual boundaries. There are many border rules that are generally accepted by society. For instance, when in the local bank I know to stay out of the vault. I don’t park my car in my neighbor’s drive. My neighbor does not want the branches of my trees to extend into his air space. Some people want to codify their personal boundaries as law, with a clear delineation of borders. Once established, the borders must be protected.
All of this makes sense in some quirky way. Quirky is an acceptable personality trait in America – if not, most of us would either be deported, sent to work in pig slaughter houses, or sent to pick grapes for rich wine makers in Napa Valley. But quirky is not an excuse for racism, or any discrimination based on sex, color, religion, or creed – or even gender preference. Quirky does not include being a bitter, angry, demented, frustrated, stupid extreme right wing conservative. Did I make that clear enough? Quirky does not include deranged logic – like in the following video by Ray Stevens – he is cute and clever – and smart enough to make a fortune from the dumb embittered people in the previous sentence. Check out Ray singing about racism and his preference for the government style of China, Iran, and North Korea:
Ray is not the first to sing the praises of China, North Korea, and Iran – while pretending to be good Americans. We read these things in local letters to the editor (I live in rural NW Missouri where Ray Stevens is heralded as the next Rene DesCarte). The stunning stupidness of the argument is essentially this – Ray Stevens prefers the North Korean, Chinese, and Iranian government actions to that of America. And some yokel from Virginia sent this video to me because he thought this was a sound argument and would finally convince me that my position on immigration is wrong. It is worse than that – this video hypes all of the erroneous arguments made by Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck. Over a million people have viewed the Ray Stevens video on youtube. These guys know how to make money from racist Pseudo-Christians.
The arguments go like this: All Hispanics are illegal, all Hispanics are on welfare, all Hispanics receive better health care than Federal Government Employees, all Hispanics are drug dealers, all Hispanics are criminals, all Hispanics are here to undermine the one true ideal of the American way of life. (The one true ideal in this case is simple enough: White people are superior to all other races). Much like the Southern arguments for Jim Crow Laws over a hundred years ago – the Hispanics are relegated to something less than human.
If only we lived in Iran or North Korea we would not have these problems. They know how to run a government. They understand borders. They are not like that Totalitarian Dictator Communist Socialist President Obama. I would bet a nickle that Iran and North Korea have fewer problems with burglary and vandalism. Perhaps we should adopt some of their ‘constant state of Martial Law’ mentality.
This brings to mind titles of future posts:
“An American Christian – Screw The Good Samaritan”
“The Bible is For White People”
“Stop Immigration – Send Jobs to Mexico”
“Fight Communism – Buy Chinese”
“More Curfews – Less Vandalism”
“Stop Immigration – No More Catholics”
Ray Stevens is a racist. Rush Limbaugh is a Racist. Glen Beck is a Racist. And the Federal Government employee who recommended the Ray Stevens video to me is an anti-American racist. Ray Stevens is careful not to say “Hispanic Immigrant.” But do you think he is applying his great powers of reason to French Canadians who immigrate to America? Does he think Albert Einstein should have been denied entry into our country? NO! He is hiding his racism behind the unsettling fear Americans feel about life in general. Ray Stevens and the people who buy his reasoning want North Korean style government as long as those rules only apply to short dark skinned people with greasy hair. And then they call Obama a totalitarian dictator – did they learn this sort of logic in their fundamentalist Sunday School Class?
People are confusing threats to personal boundaries as being somehow related to illegal immigration. Our personal boundaries are the psychological barriers we establish to create a comfort zone. When uncomfortable and unable to identify the culprit – we tend to place blame. When uncomfortable we tend to overreact.
When the middle eastern terrorists hijacked those airplanes and blew up American buildings we became acutely aware of the need to monitor others coming to our country. The racist right wing of American politics has managed to somehow equate that horrid day in September of 2001 with illegal immigration. Drug abuse is pandemic in America – blame it on the Mexicans. Urban crime is the leading cause of death among those sixteen to twenty-four years old – blame it on the Mexicans. Unemployment skyrocketed on the backs of Bush administration economic policies – blame the Mexicans. There are reports that Saddam Husein was actually an illegal Mexican immigrant to Iraq (thus the conflict with Iran).
Most of the people in America who complain about Hispanic immigrants have probably never actually seen a Hispanic immigrant. Most people have had no direct contact with an illegal immigrant. Where does this hysteria come from? My notion is that people feel their future threatened by economic and political uncertainties – their personal safety boundaries are threatened – and building a tangible fence around the Garden of Eden will keep the serpents out. People who are afraid like tangible borders.
Ohg Rea Tone
An addendum from Bryan:
Self Help is a big industry in this country. We work ourselves to death and invest millions in personal time management to figure out how to do it better. We spend more money on fast food than most countries spend on medication, and the diet industry is a multi billion dollar affair. All of these dichotomies are a direct result of the ways in which we police some of our personal boundaries with ferocity, and we essentially ignore the others.
Self help books are all about the boundaries, and they tell us things that we already know in a way that is supposed to motivate us to change our behavior. We are proud of our personal liberties in these United States, and we cherish our right to make our own decisions. These great marks of freedom allow us to define our own comfort level, and live within it. So we each get to define our own boundaries. Some are close in, where we allow people to get right up close with us, others are distant, where we can barely see our boundaries from our back porch. Either way, these are personal choices. Therefore, boundaries are personal comfort zones. Borders, on the other hand, are political in nature and physical in their application. We do not get to use our own personal comfort as a basis for our political policies on borders and the movement if peoples.