Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Cartoon on irrational fear of "illegals" sparks irrational backlash


It's always interesting when readers write in to tell me how wrong a recent Candorville strip was, and they end up inadvertently proving my point. This e-mail is pretty much representative of all the negative mail I've received about last Sunday's cartoon:

I thought the irony of last weekend's cartoon was brilliant... time and time again in days past with each group saying how 'horrible' it is and how it's 'never been like this before'.

Times DO change, however. Too bad your cartoon didn't show Pablo and Juanita as they get sick or injured and go to the emergency room for treatment... up until the time when asked for their insurance card and they say "lo siento, no tenemos"... and at the same time, Mr and Mrs Smith wonder why their insurance rates just got jacked up again (especially when the insurance companies have to keep up with the doctor's, who also feel pinched). Or the hospitals in "heavy latino areas" wonder what they are going to do in a few years when they start going bankrupt.

And it didn't show Pablo go through a red light and take the front end of someone's car off (a REAL incident for a friend of mine) - and watch Pablo keep driving away. Of course, Pablo's license plate was left at the scene of the accident. But the police, they don't have time for such matters... good luck in civil court. Even if you do win, watch Pablo run back to the border, evading any prosecution.

Too bad the cartoon also didn't show the Katrina victims who were left with nothing and ending up getting placed in jobs out west... only to show back up a few months later, jobless again. When asked what happened, they said "the Mexicans came and underbid our jobs".

So yeah.... history repeats itself. But this time, history finally is threatening to destroy the future.

Remember that.

-R. E. B., patriot and soldier
My response:

"Thanks for writing in to prove the point I was making with last Sunday's cartoon. Times don't change. 150 years ago -- hell, 450 years ago -- people had similar complaints about immigrants - only instead of bumpers being knocked off, it was wagon wheels. Instead of complaining about them not having health insurance, they were complaining about them bringing diseases over with them. Instead of Katrina victims, it was the gold-miners complaining about Chinese taking "their" gold. Nothing you mentioned is new, or unique to illegal immigrants. The technology, languages, ethnicities and places are different, but the fundamental nature of the complaint remains the same: you are afraid that foreigners are taking your country. History has proven in each instance that that fear is unfounded. The immigrants, legal or illegal, may never learn English or get medical insurance, but their children will. That's how it's always been, and that's how it is today. Each time, xenophobes and politicians portrayed it as a crisis that would finally "destroy the future," not because that's true, but because it allows them to justify their bigotry or to amass political power. The same exact cycle is repeating itself today.

Remember that.

To address your concerns:

Too bad your cartoon didn't show Pablo and Juanita as they get sick or injured and go to the emergency room for treatment... up until the time when asked for their insurance card and they say "lo siento, no tenemos"... and at the same time, Mr and Mrs Smith wonder why their insurance rates just got jacked up again


Pablo and Juanita? You may as well have written "Peter and Jane." More than 40 million people in this country are uninsured (most of them are not illegal immigrants), and their reliance on emergency room care drives up Mr. and Mrs. Smith's insurance rates. The solution for that isn't to blame the "illegals" who make up only a fraction of the uninsured, the solution is to extend Medicare to cover everyone. We'd all pay a few dollars more per year in taxes, but we'd save thousands per year in insurance premiums. Taxpayers would save even more because people would receive free preventive care and wouldn't have to rely on expensive emergency care.

Or the hospitals in "heavy latino areas" wonder what they are going to do in a few years when they start going bankrupt.


Hospitals EVERYWHERE are going bankrupt, not just hospitals in "heavy latino areas."

And it didn't show Pablo go through a red light and take the front end of someone's car off (a REAL incident for a friend of mine) - and watch Pablo keep driving away. Of course, Pablo's license plate was left at the scene of the accident. But the police, they don't have time for such matters... good luck in civil court. Even if you do win, watch Pablo run back to the border, evading any prosecution.


You're trying to use anecdotal evidence to say illegal immigrants are responsible for hit-and-run driving in America? Are you serious? Years ago, I was hit by a White teen-ager who fled the scene. Should I blame White people for that? Should I blame teenagers? Furthermore, if it was a hit-and-run and you never caught the guy, HOW DO YOU KNOW he was an illegal immigrant?

Too bad the cartoon also didn't show the Katrina victims who were left with nothing and ending up getting placed in jobs out west... only to show back up a few months later, jobless again. When asked what happened, they said "the Mexicans came and underbid our jobs".


That's horrible, but it's absurd to blame the job-seekers for it. Why don't you blame the contractors who received billions from the government and then decided to hire illegal immigrants so they could pay them next to nothing, instead of hiring Americans and paying them in accordance with labor laws? You and I would do the same thing as these job-seekers if it came down to bidding fairly or feeding our families. They're doing what they have to do. The criminals are the employers who exploit these people just so they can increase their profit margin.

Lastly, why do you keep referring to illegal immigrants by stereotypical Mexican names? When you talk about White people, do you call them all 'Billy-Bob' or 'Opie?'"

5 comments:

Sarah E. from Indiana said...

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I'm a white person from a pretty homogenous small town, and I get really tired of hearing rants like the one you were responding to in this post. I appreciate the way you deal with each point this individual makes, as well as the way your comic fights ignorance with insightfulness and humor. Keep up the good work! You challenge me to speak up when someone assumes just because I'm white I'll buy all the ignorant blather they choose to spout about "illegals".

Derek said...

Nail on the head, man. Your original comic and your response were perfect, and the complaint letter was a perfect example of the sort of ignorance so rampant in America. And your observation about the Latin bias in the immigration debate was a direct hit. I'm positive that if the immigrants were coming from the Northern border, we'd hear nary a peep, eh? Whether they want to admit it or not, much of the furor is based on racism.

Love the comic.

Diego said...

once again thanks. keep speaking up for what is right.

Luna said...

Word to everything you said, Darrin.

I just received my copy of your book, by the way. Thanks for the speedy shipping!

iblogelsewhere said...

I love this. I've been a fan of your column since I saw it in the Daily Cal when I was at Berkeley. I was going through some old newspapers and I found one strip of yours that really resonated with me. It had an Arab, Asian, Black, White, and Native American, each thinking "Worthless immigrant, I wish he'd go back where he came from"

Currently I have a lot of my facebook friends coming out in support of the Arizona law, even though some of them are first generation immigrants themselves. One of them even has close friends and relatives that are illegal immigrants in another country. It astounds me that they can be so callus towards people who have such a similar story to their own.

Do you remember this column? Is it available on the web? I'd love to share it with my friends. Even without a Mexican in it, it strikes me as very relevant to our current discussions.