Yesterday the Washington Post ran a front page story entitled, “Muscling a Web Site into a Social Movement” that very much heralds a new era for politics, government and the media. Bloggers are changing dramatically how we receive the news and consequently are reshaping the entire political landscape (along with talk radio of course).
I was involved in conservative political issues years ago and one spent every waking minute trying to get the local newspaper or TV station to do a tiny bit on your issue so that the public could be made aware. Once the public was informed, there could be real debate on whatever political changes were sought. When there was fair and open debate, democracy could work. You might lose, but at least democracy could work.
The media held the key, no media attention and the door to democratic debate did not open.
The Post article, which you should all read, discusses the incredible impact one blog and one blogger has had on the political landscape in Northern Virginia on the subject of illegal immigration.
Here is what the Post had to say about Greg Letiecq and his blog, “Black Velvet Bruce Li”:
Since April, Letiecq has used his blog to sign up more than 500 members for his anti-illegal immigrant organization, Help Save Manassas, quickly building it into one of the region’s most effective social movements. He and his group researched, facilitated and wrote parts of the illegal-immigration resolution that Prince William officials adopted this month, working with the Washington-based Immigration Reform Law Institute.
The resolution — approved unanimously July 10 — seeks to deny services to illegal immigrants and sharply increase immigration enforcement by police.
Slowly but surely we are kissing the old media goodbye and going directly to the people.
In Washington, a House-Senate conference committee on a homeland security bill is considering whether to include a measure to protect from lawsuit Americans who report suspicious behavior. The so-called “John Doe” measure comes in response to a lawsuit by six imams who were booted from a plane that was about to fly from Minneapolis late last year because they were acting very suspiciously.
The imams plan to sue not only the airline but the passengers who reported their behavior — a step that, if successful, could have a chilling effect on whether other Americans come forward to report such behavior. Without this protection, Americans would have no reason to follow the motto of law enforcement agencies: “If you see something, say something.”
The “John Doe” legislation passed both the House and Senate by overwhelming margins. But key Democrats are trying to drop it from the homeland security bill, which would kill it. The conference committee is meeting and will make a final decision on this vital legislation in the coming days.
If you agree Americans should be encouraged to report suspicious behavior, now is the time to act. Call or e-mail your own Senator and your House member. You can find their contact information at http://www.congress.org – just enter your zip code. Tell them to insist that the conference committee include “John Doe” protection in this bill.
And after calling or e-mailing your own Senator and House member, contact Congressman Thompson and Senator Leahy. Also contact House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Senate Assistant Majority Leader Richard Durbin.
We must not be intimidated into silence. In the war on terror, there’s too much at stake for all of us.
* And, this is the beauty of blogging! We are not constrained by bosses, boards of directors, or 501(c)3 status. We practice free speech!
In a post on July 13th (Somalis here, Somalis there, Somalis everywhere) I mentioned that a new Refugee Resettlement Office had opened for the Greeley and Ft. Morgan areas of Colorado. The Denver Post today carries the usual puff piece about the Somalis who are arriving to the “Mayberry-like Mainstreet” of Ft. Morgan. The article is entitled “For refugees its a good place”
As you read down past the endearing comments about the first snow for the new arrivals, the article gets more interesting. The Somalis are employed in the meat packing industry. Its just my guess, but as illegal immigration is increasingly a problem for employers, they are now turning to refugee resettlement as a source of cheap labor. I’m even guessing these big employers are hiring human resources experts to scour the world’s refugee camps for the brightest prospects. The federal government (the taxpayer) picks up the tab for all the other expenses to get the employees to middle American cities and set them up in housing and take care of the family’s other needs.
But there are a few flys in the ointment:
They learn quickly, for instance, about keeping their lawns neat and understanding the rules for driving, Anderson said.
More sticky are cultural and religious canons that conflict with the American lifestyle. At times, the refugees will leave their assembly line work to tend to family or friends outside the plant, Waters said.
“Many come from an agricultural-based background, and they are not used to functioning in a more structured environment,” she said. “They have to learn they just can’t walk away.”
Another issue is that many of the refugees are Muslim and adhere to praying at least five times a day. That, too, can cause slowdowns that irk some employers, Waters said.
“This will be, as in the past, an issue that has to be negotiated with their company,” she said.
So the accomodation begins, bit by bit….. more on how we are asked to accomodate the religious requirements of Islam later. Gotta go feed some old horses.
There is so much happening on this subject that I couldn’t possibly keep up with it all. So, for those of you wishing to keep up throughout the day on news of refugee resettlement go to this link at Yahoo: http://news.search.yahoo.com/news/search?p=refugee+resettlement&c
Your tax dollars:
A Maryland judge recently dismissed a rape case against an asylee* from Liberia due to lack of a translator.
The immigrant from Liberia was charged with sexual abuse of a 7 year old girl but the case languished when an interpreter supposedly could not be found who spoke Vai, a tribal language of West Africa. The Post reported that its reporters quickly found several local translators of the language.
I’m mentioning this not because of the horrible crime committed and that no justice will be sought, but to highlight a growing problem for local communities. Federal law requires that translators be provided by local jurisdictions for all sorts of needs of asylees and refugees. Translators of obscure languages can cost $200 an hour and up.
Knight [court clerk] said the county spent nearly $1 million on interpreters last year, 10 times the amount it spent in 2000. “It’s a constant struggle and it is extremely expensive,” she said.
At a recent meeting of agencies involved in refugee resettlement in Hagerstown, MD a $1500 Health Dept. bill was mentioned for translating Tuberculosis documents in anticipation of the arrival of Burmese (Karen) refugees. Drug resistant TB is an increasing problem in the US as immigrant numbers rise. The Virginia Council of Churches office in Hagerstown reports that they are working with seven differant languages at this time.
* For the definitions of refugee and aslyee go here: