Monday, March 27, 2006


Sometimes I'm proud to be Catholic

Just an update to last week's comments. First, in my discussions with people who are alarmed by immigration figures, I've noticed a couple of assumptions that don't seem to follow. Are we talking about legal vs. illegal immigration, European vs. Latin American immigration, or just the annoyance of having to deal with someone who speaks with an accent?

I used to help college students with their writing skill, some foreign students and some born and raised in the United States. The American-born students were by far the worst to work with. Some of them didn't know the difference between common words with dramatically different meanings. This went way beyond substituting "antidote" for "anecdote" or "flaunt" for "flout." (Note to Hillary Clinton: The president has been flouting his own intelligence regulations, not flaunting them.) The difference between two groups? The native speakers thought they already knew English. I'm here to tell you, their written efforts were far more incomprehensible than the ones from the foreign students.

Yesterday during mass, the priest made reference to the Abdul Rahman case in Afghanistan. Our pastor asked us not to feel smug about having been born into a Christian society, and into a land of economic and social liberties. He pointed out what should be obvious, that our favored status includes responsibilities -- to take our faith seriously and practice it sincerely, and to participate in the political life of our democracy.
His emphasis was really on the practicing our faith part. Instead of thinking the accident of our birth made us better and entitled us to oppress others, he said, we should try to be an example of Christian attitudes. Here's an example of Christian attitudes that father didn't mention: Cardinal Mahoney of Los Angeles has been sticking his neck out all over the place in the defense of the human rights of immigrants.

Here is an anecdote that may or may not be pertinent.
A couple of years ago, I was sitting in an eighth-grade classroom listening to a couple of the boys rag at each other on various topics. A "white" Euro-American kid started complaining about a court decision giving land and water rights to a group of Spanish-American land grant families. The decision invalidated land titles held by more recent purchasers, some of whom were now being asked to repurchase the land under their houses or pay a rental fee to the land grant group for the use of the land -- or just to tear down the houses.
Billy White -- It's not fair. It's our land. We paid for it fair and square.
Guillermo Blanco -- It was ours first, ese. Just give us our due.
Billy and Guillermo (obviously not their real names) argue and curse each other in a friendly manner for a while.
Meanwhile their friend, a quiet kid from the local Indian pueblo, is sitting there listening, smiling and about to laugh. Just as the bell rings, he says to both of them, It's not either of your land. It's mine.

Here in New Mexico, they call the kind of debate that is going on about immigration the "pull up the ladder behind me" argument. Do I need to explain that?

I'm having trouble getting to the point here, but to me it seems obvious.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Maybe we should deport some of the crackpots

Lately I've been too busy to have articulate opinions. Yesterday Emily Messner of the Washington Post ran some comments about what she called "The Paranoid Fringe of the Immigration Debate." All the lunatics that she forgot to mention wrote comments to her post.
I really don't know how to say this, but sometimes my fellow Americans make me sick.
I grew up with loving parents and economic opportunities and for heaven's sake enough to eat every day. How does that make me inherently better than someone who didn't?
Here's what I observe in people who were born in other countries: They want more. They aren't complacent about the behavior of their local politicians or the performance of their children's schools. They make their kids do their homework.
The only time I've seen a Spanish-speaking parent upset and dissatisfied with a teacher is when a Mexican-American mom I know thought her daughter's homework might be a waste of time because it was too easy. Even then, she made her daughter stay caught up with her schoolwork while she looked into getting her into a harder class.
I think some of the foreign-born parents overemphasize having their kids learn English, at the expense of maybe losing some proficiency in their native language. Knowledge of a second language -- real writing, speaking and reading knowledge -- is a valuable skill in today's world. Can't think of any other serious criticisms.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


spring break misbehavior

I just read about this survey somewhere, I think in the Chicago Tribune. Here is an excerpt from the AMA website:

"Sex and intoxication among women more common on spring break according to AMA poll"

"Survey shows female college students drink more and often on spring break trips"

"Key findings of the poll include:

* A majority (74 percent) of respondents said women use drinking as an excuse for outrageous behavior.*

* More than half of women (57 percent) agree being promiscuous is a way to fit in.

* An overwhelming majority (83 percent) of women had friends who drank the majority of the nights while on spring break.

* More than half (59 percent) know friends who were sexually active with more than one partner.

* Nearly three out of five women know friends who had unprotected sex during spring break.

* One in five respondents regretted the sexual activity they engaged in during spring break, and 12 percent felt forced or pressured into sex.

* An overwhelming majority (84 percent) of respondents thought images of college girls partying during spring break may contribute to an increase in females' reckless behavior.*

* An even higher percentage (86 percent) agreed these images may contribute to dangerous behaviors by males toward women.

* Almost all (92 percent) said it was easy to get alcohol while on spring break.

* Two out of five women agreed access to free or cheap alcohol or a drinking age under age 21 were important factors in their decision to go on a spring break trip.

* These questions were left to the interpretation of the respondent. Based on the wording of other questions in the poll, the AMA assumes reckless behavior is associated with sex and binge drinking. The AMA assumes outrageous behavior is associated with public nudity, dancing on tables/bars and participating in drinking contests."

The American Medical Association opines that this behavior could be unhealthy for women. This doesn't sound like new information. I'm confused about something here. Does the AMA think that drunkenness, outrageous or aggressive behavior and sexual promiscuity are healthy for men?

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