Saturday, November 28, 2009

"Valley of Betrayal," by Tricia Goyer



Tricia Goyer, a writer with a slew of novels about World War II to her credit, stumbled upon the Spanish Civil War in researching an earlier book. She’d read about an American pilot who had crashed in Nazi-occupied Belgium and applied survival skills picked up as a volunteer in the Iberian conflict.

Like many of us, she became smitten with both the conflict and with the country itself and dedicated her efforts to crafting "A Valley of Betrayal (Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War, Book 1)"which would appear to be the first in a series.

the highway scribe came across Goyer during one of his frequent forays onto the Web site of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA) where students, Hispanophiles, sectarian communists, tried and true veterans of the International Brigades, and eminent scholars like Paul Preston and Fraser Otanelli trade-off information, requests, and arguments on a “list” overseen by New York University.

Or something like that; it’s a little hard to figure out.

Goyer joined the list chatter last year, asking for a little help and got some rough handling due to the fact her publisher, Moody, is a “Christian” editorial house.

A confirmed, confessed and convinced non-believer, the scribe was inclined to smirk as well, but opted for a more gracious approach since he’s found in his long career that writers are mostly self-involved and incapable of kindness toward others of their craft.

Goyer responded to the scribe’s suggestions, whatever they were, by purchasing his book “Vedette,” which, you know, represented the total for sales in 2006.

Soon thereafter, too soon it seemed, she announced on the ALBA list that she’d finished the work. the scribe contacted her and she sent a free copy.

The Christians are winning in highwayscribery’s book.

Despite the short turnover time, Goyer has done an admirable job in tackling a muddled, now distant, and controversial subject. Her capacity for research and historical reconstruction is rather remarkable as she renders lively and detailed portrayals of revolutionary Barcelona, Madrid under siege, the horrors of the front, and the tragedy of Guernica.

That’s a full plate and it is achieved with a simple, straightforward style that doesn’t try too hard, but successfully pulled the scribe into her dramatization.

“Valley’s” primary character is Sophie Grace, a young woman hurrying to Spain on the trail of a photographic journalist named Michael with whom she is in love and hopes to marry. Michael’s betrayal of her affections is mirrored in the larger conflict around Sophie and deepens her confusion as she looks for a rock to lean on in a country where the very earth moves beneath her feet and few people are who or what they claim to be.

The supporting characters include Deion, an African-American volunteer to the International Brigades; Father Manuel, a Basque priest from Guernica trying to reconcile his support for the “godless” Republic with the savagery of Franco’s Catholic crusade; Philip, an American track runner pulled into the conflict by the anti-Fascist impulses of his teammate Atticus; and Ritter, a Nazi pilot with the Condor Legion.

Leading Sophie on her path to self-realization as a painter of propaganda posters for the Republican cause and amateur nurse on the front, Goyer pulls each thread taught to the culmination at Guernica where distinct literary fates await.

Goyer is especially good at spreading layers of increasing narrative desperation in the Republican ranks which seemingly choke the reader as much as those on the ill-fated Loyalist side.

There is an inherent problem with writing literature about the Spanish Civil War in that the conflict was exceedingly complex and hardly anybody knows anything about it anymore. So there is an unavoidable didactic touch, very light, spread throughout early parts of the book that will serve neophytes, but grate on more seasoned buffs.

As to the “Christianity” contained within the tale, it is hard to see where it amounts to anything more than what you find in most literature, faith playing the role it does in so many lives. And Goyer comes alive when she treats the ethical and moral questions confronting both she and her characters. She does it with intelligence and a knowing hand without coming off preachy/creepy.

The unbeliever may cringe somewhat at Sophie’s final realization that her blown-off-course fate in Spain was part of “God’s plan,” but the scribe confesses to hearing that from some of the dearest people in his life, all of whom accept him in spite of the iconoclasm and brazen atheism.

Which is to say this story fits into the story of the world, and certainly into that of Spain circa the 1930s.

Friday, November 13, 2009

"William Morris: Romantic to Revolutionary" by E.P. Thompson





"History has remembered the kings and warriors because they destroyed; Art has remembered the people because they created."
William Morris

William Morris sits atop the house of history like a weathervane turning against the prevailing winds rather than with them.

One of the earliest British socialists, he abhorred modernity. An entrepreneurial spirit of manifold passions, he preferred the middle ages to the Renaissance.

To the manor born (1834), cultivated as an effete poet with other rich and eccentric boys (Edward Burne-Jones, Dante Gabriel Rossetti) of the "Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood" at Oxford, Morris spent his middle- and old age calling for revolution from street corners in working class districts of London.

This essay is derived from a book written long ago, 1955 to be exact, by E.P. Thompson entitled, "William Morris: Romantic to Revolutionary".

A citizen of Victorian England's roaring industrial empire, Morris could not abide by the times and spent his youth fancying life in the olden days; crafting poems in the style of Lord Alfred Tennyson replete with knights errant and creamy damsels making loving in limpid streambeds.

The society he loathed lauded him, blessed him with the poet's special fame, and validated the writings through which he sought to escape contemporary surroundings.

His Medievalism, Thompson wrote, was typical of the late-Romantic period in mid-nineteenth century England, an impulsive revolt against the Railway Age that hailed an older society of finer values than profit and capital utility.

Departed from academia Morris built "Red House," with an eye to infusing architecture with something of the Romantic revolt; adapting "late Gothic methods of building to the needs of the nineteenth century," said Thompson.

A visitor to Red House in 1863 describe it thusly:

"The deep red colour, the great sloping, tiled roofs; the small-paned widows; the low, wide porch and massive door; the surrounding garden divided into many squares, hedged by sweetbriar or wild rose, each enclosure with its own particular show of flowers; on this side a green alley with a bowling green, on that orchard walks amid gnarled old fruit-trees; all struck me as vividly picturesque and uniquely original."

Formation of his the firm Morris & Co. as he and his partners set out to establish a company of artisans with an eye to reviving the minor arts in England in, "an age of shoddy," according to Thompson.

Medievalism again provided the recipe.

"I have tried," Morris wrote, "to produce goods which should be genuine so far as their mere substances are concerned, and should have on that account the primary beauty in them which belongs to naturally treated substances: have tried for instance to make woollen substances as woollen as possible, cotton as cotton as possible, and so on; have used only the dyes which are natural and simple, because they produce beauty almost without the intervention of art; all this quite apart from the design of stuffs and whatnot."

Glass-firing, woodcutting, bookbinding, pottery, tile-glazing, weaving, embroidery and tapestry all came in for study under his industrious gaze.

He labored, with mixed success, to erase the line separating designer from studio craftsman so that the firm's employees might tap their own creative abilities and thereby alleviate the more grinding aspects of the work.

The venture was met with professional hostility as the product of intruders lacking commercial credentials, but soon enough forced its goal of challenging the reigning principles in decorative art.

Again, the wealthy social creatures Morris loathed bucked up his bank account and acclaimed his creations.

Never grateful, Morris found himself pushed; first toward the ineffectual liberalism of William Gladstone; and finally toward Marx as the Victorian era lurched deeper into violent foreign adventurism and greater abuse of working people.

"We are," he wrote, "living in an epoch when there is combat between commercialism, or the system of reckless waste, and communism, or the system of neighborly common sense."

Bet you never heard it put that way before.

Morris' communism was not the mid-century brand the mature among us became familiar with; the collective mass crushing the beleaguered individual.

A walking paradox, his collectivist vision could not be distinguished from his approach to the arts and was focused upon the individual; guaranteed the single person rights and comforts and, most importantly, the fullest realization of one's talents.

"Education," readers of his socialist tribune, Justice, were told, "must of necessity cease to be a preparation for a life of commercial success on the one hand, or of irresponsible labour on the other. It will become rather a habit of making the best of the individual's powers in all directions to which he is led by his innate disposition; so that no man will ever 'finish' his education while he is alive."

The revolution he foresaw would restore a pre-industrial community still in existence, but ravaged by the commercial Mammon to which every able body was obligated to consummate itself.

His Socialist miracle did not propose the erection of a new structure upon the old, rather reinforced that which had been weakened by economic materialism:

"That true society of loved and lover, parent and child, friend and friend, the society of well-wishers, of reasonable people conscious of the aspirations of humanity and of the duties we owe it through one another..."

His biographer observed that Morris' utopia called for the reestablishment of the personal and voluntary bonds of society and a doing away with the "impersonal and compulsive" relations rooted in a rule by the owners of property.

His thoughts, mostly old and long-forgotten, bear a contemporary ring in many passages.

"Civilization," Morris said, "is simply an organized injustice, a mere instrument for oppression, so much the worse than that which has gone before it, as its pretensions are higher, its slavery subtler, its mastery hard to overthrow because it is supported by such a dense mass of commonplace well-being and comfort."

His alternative served those to the right and left, secular and devout alike. It entailed a "remedy to be found in the simplification of life and the curbing of luxury and the desires for tyranny and mastery it gives birth to."

So much of his effort would be lost in the silly, internecine debates that have come to characterize left-wing politics. He endured and played a leading role in the split of the original Socialist League, fought the idea of running labor candidates for politics until that became the chosen road and bent to it again.

He fought the anarchists of Prince Kropotkin on one side, acolytes of the still-living Freidrich Hegel, on another, and the Fabian Socialists of George Bernard Shaw to his right.

He was caught in a terrible "Bloody Sunday" police riot in London, which caused a severe curtailing of his belief in the ability of civil movements (read: unarmed) to bring about revolutionary change, and spent himself silly on the "Justice" publication until he was rudely moved off its board of editors by men of different mien.

He died in his sixties, spent with efforts in so many of life's theaters, his legacy in poetry secure, his influence upon design engrained in the minds of those who launched the Bauhaus, the force of his belief in the working man evident in the gains made over the ensuing century.

Said the poet William Butler Yeats of Morris, "No man I have known was so well loved; you saw him producing everywhere organization and beauty, seeming almost in the same instant, helpless and triumphant."

And that is living.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Heartsnatcher," by Boris Vian




In "Heartsnatcher," Boris Vian put the Western world on the couch for an examination and decided the best solution was to hide from it.

Like many writers, Vian had no particular claim to the title of social psychoanalyst other than the frequent contemplation of his navel, which he found time to do in between stints as an actor, jazz trumpeter, engineer and mechanic.

This French scribe, of little import beyond his native nation's borders, was part of a post-World War II Parisian ebullience springing from the magical city's Latin Quarter. A practitioner of le swing in a band that included two of his brothers, Vian played host to such jazz luminaries as Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, and Charlie Parker.

He was part of a hedonistic crosscurrent in the Saint German-des-Pres world upon which politically committed intellectuals like Jean Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and Andre Malraux had put their own stamp.

The two groups clashed frequently. The serious crowd probably had a more lasting impact, and the hedonistic crowd more fun, which is pretty much how things work.

In his introduction to the Dalkey Archive Press edition of "Heartsnatcher," John Sturrock writes that Vian's 1950 play "L'Equarissage pour Tous," a spoof of the Normandy invasion in World War II, was vilified as 'shameful spittle' by Elsa Triolet, wife of Louis Aragon, the French poet, journalist, and French Communist Party member.

Jean Cocteau, already disliked by the communists, came to Vian's defense and compared the play's spirit to that of his own "Les Maries de la Tour Eiffel."

Anyway, the novel appears to be part of mid-century Western lit's larger effort to break with traditional storytelling modes.

In her introductory essay to Jack Kerouac's "On the Road: The Original Scroll," Penny Vlagopoulos noted, that, "Like the European avant-garde artists of the preceding decades, Kerouac sought to collapse the distance between life and art."

Although a contemporary of Kerouac's, Vian's novel would suggest he was up to the same tricks with a focus on the interior life, rather than topographically focused screeds of the Beat poet.

"Heartsnatcher" is refreshing in that the plot takes turns not normally associated with the paces of traditional storytelling, even if that means the payoff comes with less clarity and satisfaction.

In fact, it is a little hard to tell what is truly going on in "Heartsnatcher," which hails from a great French tradition that obligates you to work the brain instead of serving up its pearls on a freshly shucked oyster.

The story, such as it is, opens up with the main character, the psychiatrist Timortis, delivering triplets to a rather complex lady named Clementine, who has barred her husband Angel from the momentous event and, eventually, from her life.

"She preferred," Vian tells us, "to suffer and scream alone because she hated her swollen belly and wanted nobody to see her in that condition."

In a conversation with Angel, we learn Timortis comes from the outside with a plan to psychoanalyze the members of Clementine's household on a cliff above the sea and fill his own "empty vessel," in a firm nod to the Mr. Freud, with the subconscious detritus of residents from the nearby, unnamed village. Timortis tells Angel he wants to learn the villager's "most terrible, heart-rending secrets, his hidden ambitions and desires; the things he does not even admit to himself; "everything; everything - and then everything that lies beyond that everything."

The village turns out to be the great scummy id of humanity itself; complete with an "Old Folks Fair" that peddles Golden-agers as cheap labor, requiring men to display what Cervantes called, "the meats" as part of the bidding process, while treating broken crones no better than burros. Shocked, Timortis questions the "Knacketeer" running this travesty about the woeful lack of scruples and gets a punch in the mouth for his troubles.

Later, he witnesses the brutes of the burg literally crucify a stallion for its sin of copulating with a mare. The narrative is peppered throughout with the deaths of a wan little-boy apprentices driven until they drop.

A "scarlet stream" filled with indescribable mucks and mires runs near Clementine's house and through the village. Along the waterway works a man in a barge named "Glory Hallelujah," who retrieves dead and decrepit things from the bottoms with his teeth, as required by an agreement with the villagers who pay him in gold, but forbid him to spend it.

"They pay me to feel their remorse for them," explains Glory Halleluhah.

There is a local Vicar whom holds his flock in the highest disdain and will not petition God that their fields be watered with rain until threatened with violence. His religion is different than the one his followers practice.

"Come on Sunday," he tells Timortis, "and you'll see...You'll see how I attack their materialism with an even more materialistic materialism. I'll rub the noses of the brutes in their own messes. Their apathy will find itself striking against an even greater apathy...and a worrying anxiety will grow from this collision which will land them back to religion...the religion of luxury."

Such luxury includes bread and circuses pitting the vicar and his curate in brutal fistfights convened for a little local excitement.

Up at the house on the hill Clementine stores a rancid piece of meat in a drawer and eats a piece everyday as way of drawing the dangers of the world away from her triplets and toward her. Isolated, sexually deprived yet inflamed, she works her mind into feverish fits, inventorying the many dangers from which she must protect the little boys. Her task grows even more difficult when they learn how to fly so that the compound is progressively walled in, pruned of all tree coverage, and ultimately outfitted with cushy cages of ready pleasure into which the little scamps are locked for their own safety.

And there's your story: One understood by those who opt for the ivory tower or have set out in youth to make the word a better place.

It does not tell us everything about Vian. As a matter of fact it is a later work from a short life and considered an attempt by him to generate "serious" literature. Yet while his flights and fancy and non sequitir grotesqueries may try a reader's ability to maintain suspension of disbelief, the prose often graze the body poetic - a statement which obligates the scribe to go dig out an example...

....Here we go, right from the second paragraph of the book, "Timortis sauntered along, looking at the deep bloodred centers of the calamines throbbing in the flat sunshine. At each beat a cloud of pollen rose and, soon afterwards, settled on the dreamily trembling leaves. The bees had all disappeared on holiday."

His greatest success came with, "I'll Spit on Your Graves," an American noir detective send-up, which he wrote in two weeks, under a pseudonym, for handsome royalties and a prosecution for perversion.

Ah success!

"Boris Vian has been caught
in the cogs of the machinery
of the laws constructed by
his fellow men and
has appeared before their
practitioners because he wrote
'I'll Go Spit On Your Graves'
under the name of Vernon Sullivan
although even that's far from being
the whole story"

Which is part of a poem about Vian and his brush with the law by Raymond Queneau. The future Socialist President of France, Francois Mitterand, served as his attorney, and after a lot of unnecessary grief, Vian got a slap on the wrist.

The book literally killed him. In a theater, watching a film adaptation he disapproved of, Vian stood up to publicly air his gripes and keeled over dead. Sort of. For writers reach beyond their own times; often successfully.

Writes Sturrock: "He became the hero of youth following his death in 1959. And of course when May 1968 arrived, with its benign if hopeless insistence that imagination take power in France, Vian did better still, he was the very prophet the gallantly fantasizing students needed."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"Eat, Pray, Love," by Elizabeth Gilbert



"Eat, Pray, Love" is an argument in favor of the American Woman.

Author Liz Gilbert starts out making an argument against the American Woman, against Liz Gilbert, and ends up losing it...to her benefit.

If you follow.

There is much to hate in Gilbert, especially if you're a writer - and you're not alone - because she hates herself while spinning her rather loathsome and self-indulgent tale of relationship angst while globetrotting on the publisher's dime.

Those noble few who frequent my blog know full-well the extent to which the highway scribe dislikes self-referential writing; so much so he refers to himself as somebody else thanks to the double-edged anonymity of the Internet.

So Gilbert's perpetual "I this," and "I that," were doing much to prevent him from finishing her self-story.

Yes, yes, you're saying, "highway scribe, you pretentious, left-leaning weenie, you'd never approach this popular dross with any seriousness anyway!"

Not true.

Good writers read everything, because they are, or should be, good listeners to be successful themselves. The scribe is in the habit of finishing off a popular slab such as, "The DaVinci Code" - the ending for which he did not quite understand - and then washing it down with a little Tennyson, which he doesn't always get, either.

"Understanding": that's another way of saying "truth," because the truth is already out there, but you've got to decipher it.

Gilbert is in search of truth, too. Actively fleeing a failed marriage and a botched follow-up relationship into what ends up being some very nice travel writing.

Why Americans have to go overseas to heal is something of a mystery, but here you have it. Abroad, her own personal basket seems to shrink before the wonders abounding and those of you who've done an expatriate turn know this to be something of a rule.

In Italy, she begins her transformation from neurotic, underfed wreck, to a well-stuffed denizen of Rome, where her yoga mat remains underneath the bed because, Rome, it turns out, "doesn't do yoga."

But it eats and eats well. In Italy, when you walk down the streets of a city or town, the scent of food mugs you, the sight of it attractively displayed in windows designed for the purpose of seducing completely.

In a forgiving environment where everybody's on the same culinary tip, Gilbert allows herself to put on a bunch of pounds and settle comfortably into the fleshy cushion she has morphed into.

She makes being chunky sound sexy and, as such, begins to win the reader over.

And though there is no string of adjectives that can successfully convey the magic of the Italian cucina, the authoress manages to make us hungry through her writing.

And that's no mean trick.

In India, Gilbert settles into an Ashram, becomes a little thinner, and struggles with the regimen of chants; one in particular she can't seem to conquer.

"Eat, Pray, Love," is the ultimate globalization sampler. Only in today's crazy culture mash-up could a guy named Richard from Texas, who refers to her as "Groceries," do more to move the narrator's self-realization along than the absent Yogi boss-lady.

The scribe is a sworn secular, a militant non-believer who has adopted Luis Bunuel's response to all questions about religion: "Still an Atheist Thank God."

Sneering and snarling at Gilbert's religious quest, the scribe found himself aligned with the author by the end of the trip's India phase, because in all that chanting and fasting she hits upon the power found in "resisting our urges" and unwittingly applies her writer's discipline to life's other areas.

Writers will recognize these while watching Gilbert come to realize them for herself.

Well-nourished, more spiritually balanced and happy, the the lady heads onto Bali, Indonesia, where she does some fine cultural writing. Perhap's it's just as good as that she does in the other two places, but Bali is an interesting study: a Buddhist isle in a massive Muslim archipelago with a strict social code where everyone operates from a strong clan base and shares the same name, or two.

Here is where Gilbert won highwayscribery's heart. Her self-loathing over, it's hard to loathe her in turn. Confident after a year in other countries, she finds her American-ness in time to keep a woman whom she's helped in a remarkable way from turning the whole thing sour with a scam.

In this new-found strength, she relocates her sexuality and nowhere is the American woman's sexuality more to be admired than in traditional settings.

By way of related digression, the highway scribe can tell you he went off to Spain years ago both to write his novel "Vedette," and land a Spanish wife.

On earlier, shorter journeys he'd found the dated femininity of Spanish women completely winning, their Madonna-like (the virgin, not the singer) discretion a safe most worthy of cracking.

But once committed fully to Spanish life he couldn't crack the safe without surrendering his independence and direction to the ladies' families. He could not pry them loose from their clamshells. It was all of them or it was...

...nothing.

After a while it was shocking to learn how, in Andalusia, so few women had their own cars, how impossible it was to find a single one not being escorted by their brother, mother, or some other, how mothers beat their daughters with brooms into the house when he walked down calle Larga.

And so it is with Gilbert who tries a few shoes on before settling on the right fit, an older Brazilian fellow, who is an exotic choice chosen on an exotic journey.

Gilbert understands the rules of Bali, but is proactive in the most positive American sense, when she tries to infuse a little modernity into a situation that is working, and harshly so, against a local she has come to love.

She sticks her nose into things and, as an American, you like seeing her do it, because we'd like to respect local customs, if we only had some of our own to guide us.

Gilbert heads home finally happy with essentially the same person she left as, but one she understands better.

And while some of the hip gab and dated material work to the detriment of her tale's shelf-life, it delivers in the knowledge, fun, and wisdom departments.

And that makes for a Good Read.

Monday, November 9, 2009

"Targeted," by Deepa Fernandes


Being an immigrant sucks.

"Targeted: Homeland Security and the Business of Immigration"by Deepa Fernandes makes that painfully clear.

If you think what’s happening at Guantánamo is bad, read this tome to find out how Mexicans, Guatemalans, Haitians and any other southerly, brown people are treated when apprehended by the beefed-up forces of order not only along the border, but down at the corner.

Fernandes, producer of WBAI New York’s morning show “Wake-Up Call,” has pieced together a rather staggering compilation of evidence asserting that immigrants have been targeted for a kind of “cleansing” from the national topography.

“Immigrants have been criminalized,” she writes, “and there is a rush to incarcerate and deport them.”

Worse, more insidiously, billions of dollars are being made in the immigration-industrial complex so deftly detailed by the author. Fernandes does a wicked job of piecing together how the Department of Homeland Security, boosted the Republican tropism for “privatization,” was essentially concocted and directed with the connivance of the same corporate forces that would end up benefitting from the enormous, post-9/11 budgets appropriated for "fighting terrorism."

She makes plenty clear, for those not astute enough to notice, that after 9/11 “terrorism” somehow became interchangeable with “immigration,” especially if the influx came from south of the border.

“Immigrants are currently the fastest growing segment of the prison population in the U.S. today,” Fernandes points out.

And if you don’t fit one of the increasingly narrow definitions of a person with the right to be here, you cease to be a person.

“Most people,” Fernandes writes, “probably do not think too much about differences between citizens and noncitizens, yet day by day, the gulf between these two groups grows. it is a divide that has been quietly and systematically engineered. Two systems of justice, two systems of social services, two economies.

It’s the two systems of justice that are most unnerving to read about. These people have no rights at all. Being guilty of nothing lands an immigrant in a newfangled holding complex paid for with your tax dollars and there is nothing to compel release or resolution of a case, even where the person really has no business being in there.

No habeas corpus, no nothing.

All the U.S.-born children, family connections, tax dollars paid-in, and social goods delivered will not save a detainee given the laws that effectively remove any need for a judge; so little discretion is left to them in deportation cases.

If they’ve committed a crime, and by crime that can be smoking a joint on the front stairs with some other revelers, they can forget about it. They’re gone.

And if that means going back to Haiti and jail for a little torture and disease contraction... so be it.

Seeking asylum from persecution? Take a seat in hell for a while...or longer. Fernandes' treatment of the subject essentially suggests that this country no longer represents a refuge for thus threatened with persecution or death at the hands of their home government.

“Targeted” is most powerful when Fernandes, a reporter who has logged thousands of miles between the continents and global hotspots, goes one-on-one, humanizing her subjects.

And this is necessary because, from the start, they don’t belong here and know it. Some have committed crimes and invited the natural reaction that they “go back where they came from.”

But a good writer and reporter knows that, were things quite so black and white, we wouldn’t need good writers and reporters.

There are numerous and worthwhile stories of tragedy-by-law in “Targeted,” as an example, it is worth highlighting the plight of a Palestinian who worked at WBAI with the author.

He got pulled into the maws of the immigration black hole, fought unholy battles to gain release, suffered long periods of imprisonment, and finally died of heart attack upon a release that was as much deserved as his detention was not.

The tale of Haitian who grew up in the United States, served in Iraq, and then came home to get imprisoned for a minor crime committed years before, takes the cake for chutzpah and should scare anybody where the matter of their own possible detention is concerned, citizen or not.

It is unconscionable that such things like this go in the United States of America today.

And while the suits shuffle the floors of Congress trying to figure out who can out-tough whom on immigration or come up with the cheapest and least inconvenient source of labor for corporate America, it’s important to remember that these are human beings and this is a democracy.

Amidst all the unkindness surrounding the immigration debate at present, Fernandes reminds us:

“While it is true that many immigrants come to the U.S. for economic reasons, they also come here for the promises of democracy and freedom that are sold to the world as American ideals. For many immigrants these are not abstract principles or commodities to be bought, sold or imposed. Democracy and freedom are absolutely worth fighting for.”

With everything immigrants contribute to our lives, that reminder may be their greatest gift of all.