In the 1960s, my father was routinely harassed both by police and bystanders for walking with his white wife, my mother. Most Americans disapproved of inter-racial marriage, which had been made legal three years before I was born. I was almost born into my country “illegally.”
I love the rule of law. But a deeper principle I wish we focused on is morality.
Well before slavery and the Indian Removal Act, and ever since, America has created laws to control or concentrate certain peoples. My father was beaten by police for drinking water because of a law “protecting” white people. He was chased off a beach because of health codes supposedly protecting white swimmers from disease. Even laws equally applicable are unequally applied, with black and Latino offenders facing significantly greater odds of incarceration than similarly situated white offenders (Source: ACLU).
America loves heroes like Martin Luther King Jr. and César Chávez, warriors whose battles have been fought, won, and are now movies. Less willingly does she recognize those fighting battles in our own time. The white moderates that King blasted in his Birmingham letters are the same people who agree that Black Lives Matter, but criticize their protests.
The same people who “like” Latinos, but call them “illegal,” supporting laws that tear families apart.
What do we do when laws are unjust? How do we respect the rule of law if the law itself is immoral? Fighting such laws is by definition illegal.
Fighting slavery was illegal. Miscegenation was illegal. The entire Civil Rights struggle was enacted illegally because that battle could not be fought within the law. “Illegal” is the only choice some people have.
If our agricultural system and service industry were not supported by exploited brown-skinned Spanish speakers, but by blonde Canadians, would we tell them to go home? I suspect not. If white people came here bypassing border immigration laws and helped keep our produce cheap, our restaurants running and our houses clean, starting business, paying taxes, and building our economy, I bet we wouldn’t call them “illegal.”
I bet unjust laws would change very quickly.
Snap-ing to it
Here is a shout out to Snap Fitness, who stepped up to the plate when the HRV Varsity Cross Country teams needed a safe place to work out. Thanks, Julie, for welcoming the kids during this hazardous time. Thank you for recognizing that it takes a village. Your hospitality is much appreciated.
Thursday during the day, much of Cascade Locks learned through the media that a meeting was being held at the high school at 6 p.m. in Hood River, apparently in regard to the fires here in the Gorge. From what we heard, there will actually be two meetings, one as mentioned in Hood River and one in the Troutdale area. Those of us who live in Cascade Locks were impacted as much or more than any other city in either Multnomah or Hood River county, but with the highway closed, can only reach Hood River with much difficulty, and then we don’t know if we can get back, as most of Cascade Locks has been under a level 2 alert, which means be ready to go instantly and no coming back across the bridge if you’ve gone to Washington.
Who put on this meeting and why wasn’t there better notification to residents in our area? Many of us have complained vigorously over the years about being treated as an after-thought in this county — apparently it still goes on, and with an active forest fire only 7 percent contained, this is and was a safety issue in which the government at all levels failed to do their duty when it comes to informing the public.
Editor’s note: Meetings were scheduled Sept. 11 in Cascade Locks and Troutdale.