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The [Monday] Papers

I find today's immigration marches and rallies inspiring. How could they not be? Maybe I'm just a sucker for outbursts of civic engagement, but this is democracy at its best - right in the middle of a public debate over this nation's laws. Democracy at its best - being practiced largely by folks who were not born in America (and many who are here illegally).

How great is that?

Beyond that, many of those participating are not immigrants of recent vintage but those recognizing the immigrant lineage of their own heritage - be it it Irish, Polish, Asian, Russian, whatever. This is the great crazy-quilt of America, marching to help shape the future of this country.

It's sad, then, that President Bush, among others, is not similarly inspired. Democracy overseas is something the president likes to talk about, but encouraging democracy here at home isn't his strong suit.

It is just that void, though, that this movement is filling. This is about more than just writing an immigration bill. This is an explosion of civic leadership forcing us all to acknowledge once again our own immigrant heritage and to consider and re-affirm who we are as a nation. We are a nation of immigrants because America is built not upon ethnicity and race and religious belief - though we have not yet transcended those divisions - but built upon an idea that this is a place where all sorts of people can live together as long as we are all devoted to the freedoms of speech, assembly, and worship.

This is an expression that has been badly missing in this country since the days after 9/11, when this country's leadership took us down a path that turned its back on the best of America's core values and accomplished for ourselves what Al-Qaeda couldn't do by itself - give the world perfectly good reasons to hate us.

Instead of seizing a historic opportunity to lead the world against the religious intolerance and fundamentalism largely fueling not just Al-Qaeda but other aggrieved movements, we started spying on our own citizens, went to war in Iraq for reasons that are still being sorted out, and created a homeland security department pre-occupied with useless color-coded terrorist alerts but unable to respond to a hurricane we all knew was coming that wiped out a treasured American city.

Certainly there is great disagreement about which direction U.S. immigration policy should take. But perhaps this could be a starting point in any regard to relearn what this nation is about and pull ourselves out of the depths of a despairing time, because there's not much else to grasp onto right now.

And that is why, also, I am glad to see kids blowing off school to attend the rallies, unlike the disingenuous prigs who somehow think a single day without school will result in grave consequences in the lives of our children. If this isn't a "teachable moment," then no moment is. For today, these rallies are the best classrooms our students can find themselves in. Attendance ought to be mandatory. This is history, social studies, and economics all rolled into one, holding lessons all of us would do well to learn.

Radio Rally: Gather tomorrow at the offices of the Loop for a march around the building demanding "A Day Without the Immigrant Song."

- Tim Willette

In Today's Reporter
This is an abbreviated version of what we usually do in this space, but there's plenty else for you to enjoy today.

Catch up with The [Sunday] Papers and find out why Dennis Hastert is a phony and Rahm Emanuel is a prick.

Check out the The Weekend Desk Report to find out why George W. Bush haunts the dreams of our very own Natasha Julius.

Brush up on Mexican immigration to Illinois by the numbers.

Read about Warren Zanes of the Del Fuegos in part because it's so fun to say Del Fuegos.

Appreciate the wisdom (and prose) of Jane Jacobs, who knew what makes cities great.

And more.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Where freedom is on the march.


Posted on May 1, 2006

MUSIC - Spring Awakening Wake-Up Call!
TV - Goodbye, Apu.
POLITICS - The Political Odds.
SPORTS - SportsMonday: Catching Bears Fever.

BOOKS - Gov. Ed Coles.


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