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My first diary here, so be gentle...

Like many, I watched the news with horror yesterday as the events in Binghamton became clear. Like many, I think, I later watched and admired Mayor Matt Ryan's reaction on Rachel Maddow's program, where he very strongly supported the work of the American Civic Association and the role of immigrants -- if you missed it, it starts at about the seven-minute mark here. I was particularly impressed that late in what must have been a very long day, he took care to say that immigrants represent "a real important part of the fabric of our community" and pointed with pride, I thought, to the fact that 32 languages are spoken in the high school.

This morning, things changed for the worse, for me...

In following more of the news, I first came across Atrios' post referencing some tasteless xenophobic crap written by some minor personality I'd not previously heard of, attacking the poor victims. I was appalled, but not surprised to read this sort of thing from the wingnutosphere.

Later in the day, I heard that somebody I knew had been killed there. Not a close friend, but still, somebody I had known. Trying to see if I could get any more details, I went to the Web site of the Binghamton paper, but there wasn't a lot I hadn't already read. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of looking in to the comments section. I won't even link it here, because the majority was so revolting that it was hard to look at. The basest sort of racist, xenophobic posturing mixed with that weird pro-gun propaganda: "if the victims had been packing, they could have taken out the shooter themselves and saved lives."

None of this probably surprises regulars here. But as to that first category of comments, the racism, a word about one of the people who was killed -- she helped teach English to immigrants, because she knew how important that was, and because she wanted to repay the community for the help extended to her family, who were also immigrants. The pay was lousy, as this was a non-profit, but that wasn't the point -- the point was to do good. Most of the victims were there to learn English, so they could become citizens. I know you know this, but I don't get where the wingnuts come off attacking them, for they were doing everything "right". The right-wing nuts should be embracing them for trying, legally, to learn the language and become citizens. Where do we all come from, anyway? Look at the mayor, Ryan, or the police chief, Zakulski -- their people came to these shores not more than 100-150 years ago.

It doesn't matter if your name is Vong, or Goldberg, or Rodriguez, or Marzocco, or O'Reilly, or even Smith or Baker -- your people came to America from somewhere else, and you forget or ignore that to your and this country's detriment. No matter how "American" you think yourself to be, no matter how superior you believe yourself to be over the people who struggle to put two sentences together in English, who will never be rid of a strange accent, or whose skin is darker than yours, you are only a few generations removed from those struggles of theirs that you are belittling. You are no different. I just can't help but be amazed at the short-sightedness I see from the xenophobes.

Originally posted to Gin n Tonic on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 07:58 PM PDT.

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