TIMES POST-PRODUCTION MEETING Next year, my father will be an American citizen for exactly 50 years. He's been American nearly four times as long as he was a citizen of Portugal. He, along with millions of immigrants, came to the United States with little more than hope and a change of clothes. For my father, all he remembers of Portugal is living in poverty as a teenager under the rule of Portugal's Socialist dictator and writing letters to his "rich Uncle" in California to sponsor his journey across the Atlantic.
Three years ago, while living in Yuba County near Sacramento, a supposedly "dyed-in-the-wool" red-blooded American neighbor of my father's surreptitiously sent a package filled with sheets of paper printed from the Internet featuring anti-immigrant rhetoric and a hastily-typed note questioning why my father flew both an American flag and a Portuguese flag in his backyard. "What kind of person flies a foreign flag in their backyard?" it read while questioning whether my father realized how many had given their souls to protect "his" stars and stripes.
I bring this up because this same sort of ignorance and stupidity was given a platform in the opinion pages of this week's San Leandro Times.
Wants Illegal Immigrants 'Rounded Up and Escorted Out of the Country'The point here is not to condone or even disparage Ms. Allen's opinion, however repulsive it is, but to question why the Times would even consider printing the screed in the first place.
As far as I am concerned, all the illegals of all kinds should be rounded up and escorted out of the country. They need to get the right papers and learn to speak English if they want to live here. We should stop all these signs and printing on packages in different languages.
Illegal mean "against the law." We no longer have single family homes in San Leandro and the census will never get the right count. The people parading in the streets for immigrants rights don't understand that immigrants have no rights here if they are illegal.
Let the flag wavers volunteer to help these people help themselves in their own countries. We can no longer be everyone's keeper. California used to be known as "The Golden State" but we are sinking fast.
We have been taken advantage of by ignoring our laws and will pay dearly for it. It is not fair for California and its citizens to ignore this anymore.
-Dorothy Allen, San Leandro
A newspaper's letters to the editor page is not related to the a comments section featured in a blog. The contents of the page is carefully chosen in the same way any article is chosen based on the paper's ideological bent, newsworthiness and sometimes length. A blog's comments page exhibits the wild ethos of the Internet, an opinion page is carefully chosen. The Times "chose" Ms. Allen's anti-immigrant letter to post. More likely, it seems, the Times only had three letters to fill up the space as evidenced by running a syndicated editorial cartoon in the top right corner.
Worse of all, the Times attached the newsworthiness of the recent controversial Arizona law suspected to racially-profile people of color to the outrageous letter. Of course, that's reading too far into the situation. The Times could have left the column blank. They could have ran a recipe for Taco Salad in the spot or re-printed a "Best of Stephen Cassidy Letters to the Editor" column. Instead, the Times ran the most insensitive, callous and most embarrassing point-of-view possible.
Once, again, the Times' Editor Jim Knowles has shown blatant irresponsibility to his readers, advertisers and the city. This city was founded by immigrants and flourished under their hard work. It is reprehensible conduct like the Times' decision to run Ms. Allen's letter that perpetuates the perception San Leandro's days of housing segregation and racism still linger on every corner of the city. By handing over tax dollars to the Times for a full-page ad along with a quarter page spot for the Farmer's Market San Leandro is more than tacitly approving the newspaper's crude decision-making, but subsidizing its hate. With a city council meeting set for this Monday night, it is my plea to the mayor and councilmembers to denounce the publishing of the hateful letter by the San Leandro Times along with a threat of cancelling future advertising.
When I read rhetoric like Ms. Allen espouses and the Times happily passes along, I turn to the poet of American populism, Bruce Springsteen for inspiration.
The McNicholas, the Posalski's, the Smiths, Zerillis too
The Blacks, the Irish, the Italians, the Germans and the Jews
The Puerto Ricans, illegals, the Asians, Arabs miles from home
Come across the water with a fire down below
They died building the railroads, worked to bones and skin
They died in the fields and factories, names scattered in the wind
They died to get here a hundred years ago, they're dyin' now
The hands that built the country we're all trying to keep down
-STEVEN TAVARESVOTE JUNE 8! www.eastbaycitizen.com