|EDINBURG, July 27 - I will not sit idly by... while Governor Rick Perry repeats, ad nauseam, “I will not sit idly by.”
I will not sit idly by while Perry postures for the press and for his right wing, increasingly racist party—by playing political football with our National Guard. He is now “Sheriff-in-Chief?” Odd; he made the announcement to send the Texas Guard to the border—while still in Iowa, pushing his presidential ambitions. Makes sense? Right? No, wrong! Very wrong.
Perry is right about one thing. Apparently his “idle hands” have been the “devil’s workshop.” But I will not sit idly by while Perry sits idly by and refuses to restore the $5 billion he cut from education for Texans. I will not sit idly by while he sits idly by and refuses to restore Medicaid protection he cut for the sick and suffering. I will not sit idly by while he sits idly by and refuses to restore centers of health for women he eliminated. I will not sit idly by and neglect to remind citizens of his treasonous threat to take Texas into secession from the United States of America.
The real purpose of the troops? Perry’s blatant act is so obvious. The purpose is to try once again to gain the presidential nomination of his right wing, increasingly racist party. Most acknowledge that he cannot recover from his disastrous first attempt. Oops, you forgot? It is a shame he could not have ended his tenure as a statesman, not a bully.
Why could he not be a statesman and send needed resources—food and water? Why sit idly by and not support the President’s call for funds to deal with immigration problems? Why sit idly by while his right wing party opposes meaningful immigration policy reform?
Perry postures by sending 1,000 troops to the Valley, eventually to cost us, the tax payers, at least $12 million a month! No one asked him to do so. In fact, they asked him not to do so (Esmeralda Torres, Rio Grande Guardian, 24 July 2014). He did not consult Valley leaders. Overwhelmingly, spiritual leaders and the vast majority of responsible political leaders oppose such draconian action, his militarization of our beloved Valley.
A now famous litany of objections by major leaders was published in the Rio Grande Guardian (22 July 2014). They include:
“The militarization of the border is irrational... send the Guard to other cities far more dangerous than the Valley” (U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, Brownsville)
“Resources are needed not for military but for more police officers” (State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, McAllen).
“National Guard deployment is an affront to the dignity of the Rio Grande Valley” (Juanita Valdez-Cox, Director, La Union del Pueblo Entero)
“Abuse of power” (State Sen Jose Rodriguez, El Paso).
Compare the above to the parrot-like, “me too” statements by supporters; viz: “I applaud Governor Perry... put boots on the ground” (Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott). Perry’s and Abbot’s pseudo-macho posturing (“boots on the ground”, incessantly repeated) shows them to be pseudo Texans—“all boots and no cattle.”
Should the majority of voters be sufficiently bamboozled, we will see a continuation of failed militarized policies. For now, what can we expect? Likely confrontations? Someone becoming tense and trigger-happy? Accidental deaths? Hopefully, not. But certainly expect more of Perry’s posturing. Just watch. He will try to take credit for the already diminished inflow of immigrants, claiming it was his militaristic policies that stemmed the brown tide of menacing children. Anyone believe that? If so, we have a border fence to sell you.
Shall we wait for an Arizona moment in Texas? Will we experience, as in Oracle, Arizona, Valley school children, mistaken by some right wing politico for immigrant children, met by an angry mob? Will the National Guard protect them? The unaccompanied children are protected, for now, by a law passed under President Bush, allowing them to be transferred, when possible, to relatives and to await their entitled due process (Amy Davidson, New Yorker, 28 July, 2014).
Others are even nastier, more vehement (and more wrongheaded). Texas Tea Partier, Louie Gohmert, inanely remarked, speaking of the influx of unaccompanied minors from Central America: “Our continued existence is at risk with what’s going on at the southern border” (New Yorker). Such stupid remarks echo the 19th century “Know-Nothings,” an anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant, and anti-democratic party. They failed, as this regressive action and attitude ultimately must fail as well. Think: “he who ignores history is doomed to repeat it.”
It is one thing for the Republican Party to decide to oppose anything and everything the President proposes, to declare that they will not be the party of immigration reform. (We understand they think it will help their electoral chances in 2016). It is quite another thing to decide they will be the new “Know-Nothings,” the racist, anti-immigrant party.
It is a cliché, but quite appropriate, to realize that, unless you are Native American, you or your ancestors were immigrants. Ponder the poignant statement by Pharr Mayor, Leopoldo “Polo” Palacios: “My father came to the U.S. from Mexico, scared and penniless--a refugee. [The family, when settled] gave more than they took” (Rio Grande Guardian, 24 July 2014). If you can’t appreciate that common history, if yon can’t understand that truth and wisdom, if you can’t find the religious conviction to keep America the beacon of freedom for the world, then, there is a political party for you. They welcome you.
But, your political influence and much of the spirit of America will die with them. Yes, for now, Perry is in power; his party is in power—complete in Texas, almost complete at the national level, including the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court. But pride goeth before a fall. He and they will not succeed in the long run.
To paraphrase Dr. King “the arc of history may be long,” but it bends in favor of progressive, humane policies. Realities of demographics of voting are changing rapidly, both in Texas and the South. Why else do Republicans restrict the democratic right to vote? Such political zombies from the 19th century are doomed. To hasten that day, we must speak up loudly for democracy, act forcefully for humane, progressive policies, and vote for sane policy-makers. We cannot sit idly by.
Dr. Gary Joe Mounce teaches political science to university students in the Rio Grande Valley. He lives in Edinburg, Texas. His columns appear regularly in the Rio Grande Guardian.