Swans Commentary: Letters to the Editor - letter201



Letters to the Editor

(October 18, 2010)


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Special Issue On Immigration

To the Editor:

I applaud your special immigration issue. It is a marvelous example of the very special and worthy nature of Swans. The following words struck me as particularly fine bits of wisdom on this contentious issue.

These words by Graham Lea:
Immigrants have responsibilities to their adopted country: to work, to integrate, to become proficient in the language, and to live within the social norms. By fulfilling their duty as good citizens, they can diminish the Evil of anti-immigrant sentiment. Illegal immigrants, unless genuine applicants for political asylum, should expect to be expelled according to law.
These concluding words by Jan Baughman:
The billions of dollars spent to keep people out could be better spent on integrating them as the productive contributors to society that they are, and improving education and health care for all children as an investment in America's future. To continue to do otherwise is a great loss -- humanely, culturally, economically. It is time that we drop the rhetoric and recognize that we are all in this country, one way or another, thanks to immigration.
These fine words by Jonah Raskin:
It seems time to stop hating, stop projecting our own inner fears and terrors on immigrants, and stop demonizing them. They're not the cause of the recession or the global economic crisis, but victims of it.
In our dismal world of information gluttony it is difficult for most people to stay for more than a few Internet or TV moments on true, valuable insights that manifest wisdom and that are worthy of reading again and again. I recently vacationed in Europe and once again felt very upset at the permanent propaganda in the United States that it is the best country on Earth. Whenever I have traveled abroad I have always felt that I would easily prefer living in some other country. But I lacked the courage to become an immigrant, nor was I driven by poverty to take that big step. How can the world's affluent better relate to immigrants, especially the illegal ones? I hope lots of people read this issue of Swans.

Joel S. Hirschhorn
Chevy Chase, Maryland, USA - October 4, 2010


Deeply-rooted Xenophobia: Fabio De Propris's Apricot

To the Editor:

Dear readers of Swans, we're Italian students, and we want to remember the importance of the article "Apricot" by Fabio De Propris in the last issue. This article is an interesting example that shows how much the Italian xenophobia against Rom population is still mentally well rooted.

The cashier reports the child as if he was guilty of a serious crime, and this is a classic example of the distance at which the typical Italian sees these people, as if they were aliens, diseases to cure, weeds to eradicate. What is the severity of an apricot eaten by a child? How different can this be from the way an Italian child eats it? The years of fascist racial prejudices are not completely finished. It's important that the author creates a parallel between the progressive development of events that led to Nazism and what appears to be the beginning of a process that could lead to a situation as serious as that, today. Rom population is actually the "prototype" of immigration -- the stateless people par excellence. What's wrong with that? Why this hatred unfounded? Can Italians, with their criminal past, judge themselves as people without a stain? Ai Posteri l'ardua Sentenza.

Felicia Modica and Egle Briulotta
Palermo, Sicily, Italy - October 11, 2010


Socioeconomic conditions: Graham Lea's Migration: Opening Pandora's Box Reveals Much Evil, But Little Hope

To the Editor:

Having had the opportunity to read the article "Migration: Opening Pandora's Box Reveals Much Evil, But Little Hope" on the immigration issue, it is difficult to make an overall assessment about the "evils" on such a delicate phenomenon, but however so relevant. It's the need to improve their socioeconomic conditions and to run away from their social issues, to encourage the individual or mass movement, creating in more developed nations, the settlements of ethnic groups, in which they are considered a burden to the hosting society. We can think about events in France, relative to the moral imperative to "fight illegal immigration," which Sarkozy has appealed, sending the French Rom camps, and stirring the reaction of the European Union and some members of the Papal State, including the Secretary of the Council for Migrants and Itinerant People, who said that "you can not blame an entire people for violations of law committed by someones." Therefore, there are most extreme forms of racism, which in our country are unfortunately carried out by the ruling parties, the Lega Nord (cited in the article), not only against the "different" for religion or nationality, but paradoxically against their own countrymen "beyond the Po river," whose discrimination is based on the almost deep-rooted prejudices or based on economic interests. But, considering the other side of the coin, the immigrant might instead constitute the workforce and in this way he could be helpful for the economic development of every country. We refer, for example, to the many commercial activities undertaken by immigrants, both in catering and in clothing, that offer, in some way, a service to the community in which they are located. Here lies the "hope," which is on the bottom of Pandora's box, obscured by the evils that often keep the truth away.


Annachiara Arnone and Clelia Piscopo
Palermo, Sicily, Italy - October 12, 2010


French Shenanigans? Marie Rennard's Rainbow: The Colour Of France

To the Editor:

Dear staff of Swans, we are two Italian high school students and we'd like to express our opinion regarding the reflections reported in the publication of 4 October 2010 "Rainbow: The Colour Of France" by Marie Rennard.

We hold, in fact, that there couldn't be a more explicit example than the French one to understand the evolution of immigration over the centuries.

The true moment of breaking in the relationship between the French institutions and her immigrants, as observed by Marie Rennard, coincides with the increase of immigration coming from Arabic countries. The meeting between Islam and the Republic has in fact produced a "jam" in the French model, which in the last months has given origin to numerous measures by the actual president Sarkozy. It's sour, in fact, the polemic between France and the Council of Europe that defines as "inadmissible" the French politics of immigration.

"France has to improve the measures taken concerning immigration," affirms Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg.

The Council of Europe doesn't like the law examined by the French National Assembly because it would contain out and out "footsteps back," as Hammarberg stated in the letter sent to Brice Hortefeux, the minister of French immigration.

What worries him is the choice made in Paris to fix every year a specific number of immigrants to be repatriated as well as the tendency to examine the applications of political asylum in a hasty way.

Also, the relationship between the Élysée and the Vatican at the end of this summer was precipitated so much to drive the two chancelleries to organize a visit by President Sarkozy (it happened the 9th of October, 2010) in about a month, an event absolutely unusual for the Vatican protocol.

Does Sarkozy want to repair the "tear" and re-conquer the Catholic electorate after the polls have seen him in free fall?


Marilia Barreca and Aleandro Tarantino
Palermo, Sicily, Italy - October 12, 2010


The Use of Passports: Louis Proyect's A History Of The Passport System

To the Editor:

Dear staff of Swans, we are Italian students and we read with great interest the article "A History Of The Passport System" by Louis Project.

We think that today every nation has to face problems connected with immigration.

It's undoubtedly true that the use of passport is a good means to regulate the flow of the people who want to leave or to enter a country.

In this sense the passport is a good instrument to allow relationship and social integration among people from all over the world, so that they can meet each other, have job opportunities, exchange experience, in order to encourage a fusion of multiracial elements.

On the contrary a passport is also a symbol of separation and misunderstanding between different countries and of the difficulty to create a real fraternity between all people.

That's why today we witness a lot of episodes relative to clandestine immigration and terrorism.

For this reason we agree in asserting that the use of passports is and will be fundamental to favour and to support global cooperation and individual liberty.


Irene Buffa and Gabriele De Bernardis
Palermo, Sicily, Italy - October 13, 2010


A Good Chance to Legalize Marijuana, says the Bureau of Public Secrets

To the Editor:

In my recent article, "Beyond Voting", I discussed the question of voting or not voting for political representatives. My conclusion could be summed up by saying that I see no reason not to vote for more or less "progressive" or even "lesser evil" candidates if you feel like it, but that I caution you to be aware of the limitations of that strategy and to avoid putting all your eggs in that one basket. I will grant, however, that this is a complex issue and that there are some good arguments against encouraging such voting, insofar as it tends to lend credibility to the existing system and to distract attention from other more radical possibilities.

Voting directly on certain issues is another matter. I find it hard to imagine how any aware person could oppose, or be indifferent to, California's Proposition 19, which would legalize marijuana (making it subject to the same sorts of regulation and taxation as those much more dangerous drugs, alcohol and tobacco). In addition to its immediate beneficial effects in California, passage of this proposition would probably have a significant inspirational influence on other states and other countries (as we have seen with the recent snowballing victories legalizing gay marriage).

Moreover, legalizing marijuana is no longer an unrealistic fringe issue: Proposition 19 is currently slightly ahead in the polls and has a good chance of winning. But the vote will be close, and the alcohol industry is pumping millions of dollars into the opposition campaign. I encourage you to vote for Proposition 19 (if you live in California) and also to support it in every other way you can, whether by volunteering, contributing money, or helping to publicize it (which you can do regardless of where you live). For more information, see http://yeson19.com/

It is possible to argue that one political party is just as bad as another, or at least that the differences are so slight that one would do better to invest one's energy in other projects. But eliminating an imbecilic prohibition law that spends billions of dollars putting millions of people in prison for a victimless "crime" will be a win-win for almost everyone. The only losers will be the big-time drug dealers and the owners of the prison-industrial complex.

For some more general remarks on crime, punishment, and the criminal "justice" system, see http://www.bopsecrets.org/anti-prison.htm

Ken Knabb
Berkeley, California, USA - October 6, 2010
Bureau of Public Secrets
"Making petrified conditions dance by singing them their own tune."


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Published October 18, 2010
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