If you are like pretty much anyone else, you receive your daily dose of SPAM, unsolicited emails, well meaning jokes and laughs that have been passed on so many times that you may give up trying to open the email when you display the 17th forward window, and last but not least, you probably get the occasional urban legend in your email. The latter are usually hardest to spot, especially if you are politically active, since it is so easy to get behind a cause to such an extent that level-headedness soon gives way to rabid intent.
The immigration debate is no exception. It is no secret that America’s borders are about as porous as a sieve and border security is the laughing stock of coyotes, hyenas and mules alike. Yet while there is not one good answer to the immigration crisis that is facing our nation, the rise of malicious emails that are little more than scare tactics to get those sitting on the fence into the fold of one camp or another is cause for concern to those who hold the Constitution of the United States in high esteem. Not only do these malicious emails spread rumors and thus besmirch the reputations of a number of people, but they are in direct opposition to the tenets that have made this country great, chiefly among them honesty!
Yet to be quite honest, falsehood is being propagated by both sides of the aisle, and for those who truly want to know what it going on, it is important to understand that while some outrageous stories are true, others are contrived so as to be gut churners in the hope to elicit some reaction.
For a taste of the bizarre have a look at these treasures:
- On 03-27-06 an American flag was flown upside down at a Montebello High School in Southern California. It was then placed underneath a Mexican flag which was flown in the proper way. An email detailing this activity caused a firebrand of indignation and many have decried it as a rumor or worse. Sadly, this incident did indeed take place just as it was reported. While the school denies that any of its students participated in the act of degradation of our flag, the fact that – according to them – 800 to 1,000 strangers were able to take over the campus in the middle of a school day to commit this act is somewhat disconcerting in its own right.
- On 05-01-06 the first Day Without Immigrants was a day of protest that had many Hispanics (both legally and illegally in the United States) and their supporters stay home to showcase their unhappiness over the immigration policies and procedures some felt were heavy handed. The day was barely over when emails began cropping up which claimed that during this day the percentage of shoplifting incidents went down dramatically, implying that it was the Hispanic population that was responsible for the shrinkage many businesses experienced. Further investigation into the claims and also some research with respect to the names given in the emails – probably to lend them an air of respectability – turned out to be unverifiable claims and thus quite likely nothing more than a malicious attempt to stereotype one segment of the population.
- Another rumor that is being spread with the idea of discrediting immigrant or resident populations is the notion that some groups are receiving a get-out-of-paying taxes holiday ever seven years or so. Akin the Old Testament injunction that required Israelites to observe a year for canceling debts, the emails are buzzing with the notion that Mexican (or Cuban, or Arab, or Vietnamese) immigrants or American citizens of Caucasian descent do not have to pay taxes every so often. While it would be nice indeed, there is no substantiation to this persistent email rumor, and even though many have good reason to eye the IRS with a mixture of uneasiness and worry, this rumor should not add to this feeling.
Whether you favor illegal immigration or decry its negative effects, the truth of the matter dictates that civil rights of individuals as well as entire groups are becoming political soccer balls that are being kicked and head-butted all over the place.