The first three paragraphs of Joe Klein's column on immigration are actually quite moving -- he describes what he saw and heard recently at a Catholic Charities processing center for undocumented immigrants in Texas. What he writes is a good corrective to the hysteria we're getting from right-wing demagogues.
The woman from Honduras was tiny and extremely pregnant. "When are you due?" asked Sister Norma Pimentel, the director of Catholic Charities in the Rio Grande Valley. "Ya," the woman replied in Spanish: "Already" -- she was past due. She had left Honduras to save her daughter, who is 12 -- peak poaching age for the killer gangs that are wreaking havoc in that country these days. "A man came into our house and tried to kill my girl with a machete," the woman said. "I stopped him." She showed Sister Norma her right hand, which was slashed down the middle and had healed crumpled. The man also slashed her daughter’s arm, but they managed to fend him off...But after the three opening paragraphs, Klein's column turns blindingly stupid. Emphasis added below:
Barack Obama should see the Catholic Charities mission in McAllen. He should also have a town meeting with the Tea Party nativists who are so angry and threatened by the rush of refugees -- 43,933 unaccompanied children alone since October -- who began to appear from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. His job, after all, is to rise above the rancor and, well, lead. You don't do this by making a speech to a favored audience. You do it by taking action, setting a personal example. All sorts of Protestant congregations are sending volunteers to Sacred Heart -- perhaps he could encourage a Tea Party group to do the same.Oh, those are great ideas. Yes, let's put the president of the United States in the same room with these people:
I'm sure they'll also be more than willing to send a delegation to the Catholic Charities intake center, in a spirit of love and goodwill. Maybe the ones who like to show up at anti-immigration protests armed with AR-15s and carrying "Second American Revolution" posters will generously agree to leave the firepower at home, out of the deep wells of empathy they so obviously have.
Listen to me, Joe. I'm 55 and I grew up in Boston. You want to do the math on that? In my high school years, my fellow white citizens thought it was perfectly appropriate to throw rocks at buses full of schoolkids and engage in other forms of mob violence:
You think those teabaggers are going to go to that intake center and suddenly be gobsmacked by a feeling of shared humanity with the immigrants? You think it'll happen if the president just leads more? You're living in a dream world.