Monday, May 19, 2008

A Response Letter

Dear Ms. Parker,

I am writing to tell you in the strongest possible language how incredibly offensive I find your recent article,
"The Bubba Vote." Given the inflammatory nature of your op-ed, I realize you have probably by now received several letters similar to mine, but I hope that you will at least read my response, if, for no other reason than the fact that it is good to read the opinions of people who think differently than you do (which is why I read your column).

For the sake of brevity, I am not going to focus on the political campaign aspect of your article, though I would like to briefly reply that Mr. Fry's quote stating he would be more comfortable with someone who is a "full-blooded American" most likely has nothing to do with Mr. Obama's Kenyan father OR McCain's military service and more to do with the fact that an uncomfortably large number of people actually believe that Barack Obama is an immigrant with Muslim origins. It has more to do with political scare tactics introduced by people who want to use Mr. Obama's ethnic name as an excuse to stir up "the growing unease among yesterday's Americans" (aka- xenophobic America) than any deep-seated introspection on roots, or politics for that matter.

Now, on to your concept of full-blooded Americans.

"It's about blood equity, heritage and commitment to hard-won American values. And roots. Some run deeper than others..."

I would simply like to state, (others having stated better the obvious fallacy of your argument in regards to Obama), that the last time I checked, the rules for running for president (and therefore, for being "qualified") did not include having "roots" that include generations of sacrifice (I'm sure you've already read Glen Greewald's criticism about Obama's grandfather serving in WWII). Instead, it mandated that a president must be born in the United States. That's it. That means, Ms. Parker, that the little Mexican girl born in the United States by illegal immigrants is JUST as qualified to someday run for president as John McCain. Or at least, that's how our forefathers who designed this system would view it (were they not encapsulated by the obvious historical constricts of sexism that didn't allow women to be viewed as equal citizens under the law).

I would encourage you to read American history texts, blogs, and other sources of information pertaining our country's long-standing heinous xenophobia and treatment of immigrants, illegal or no. Your nativist daydream that America ever had good ol' days is just that. And, unfortunately, despite posturing on the racial neutrality of your column, such sentiments are inherently racist.

What I love about this country (where I can trace my "roots" as far back as the early 1800s) is our collective ability to struggle. I am incredibly proud to be from a country where, despite MONUMENTAL opposition, strong individuals have spoken out against oppression, racism, sexism, genderism, and have taken a stand. I am so proud of the people in America who stand up against the conventional current that says that things are fine the way they have always been. Things are not fine. Things have never. been. fine. And, because we're America, they probably never will be fine. But it is fighting that current that makes us stronger as individuals, as families, as communities. It is the bravery of those who speak out, knowing what price they will pay, that gives me a fierce love for this country. We have been raised to believe that, despite all else, at least we have a right to speak.

When you say that an individual's patriotic legitimacy should be judged according to their heritage and their roots in this country, you state an opinion that, if one took seriously, would serve to silence a large portion of our country. Surely you cannot believe it. Politics aside, surely you cannot believe it.

I do not agree with your article. I found it incredibly offensive and naive. It is my sincere hope that, as you review the backlash firestorm that has occurred (at least in the blogosphere) as a result of your article, you will take a longer look at this country and its history of immigration and nativism.


Rebecca Simmons

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