Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Power of Creating a Meme

Good news - Virginia has decided not to construct a stand-alone detention center for undocumented migrants. While they are looking for other ways to implement a 2007 version of Operation Wetback, I thought this was an important thing to highlight in the article.
Asked why he [State Senator Ken Stolle] had abandoned his idea of creating a centralized facility, Mr. Stolle said that countless people had told him the idea sounded too much like “a concentration camp” for immigrants.

Not to toot the horns of pro-migrant blogs too hard, but we have been unapologetic about calling facilities like the proposed one in Virginia and the T. Don Hutto prison in Taylor, TX by their rightful names: concentration camps. It causes an immediate, visceral reaction because imagery of torture and other horrific actions are summoned to the conscience. I'm looking for the link, but I had an argument once with someone online who took exception to my "casual" usage of such a term.

Luckily, I had an online dictionary at my fingertips.
Main Entry: concentration camp
Function: noun
Date: 1901
: a camp where persons (as prisoners of war, political prisoners, or refugees) are detained or confined
It's an inconvenient truth for the hardliners that they are just the latest example of xenophobic legions that have spanned U.S. history. They're always devising new ways of disappearing unwanted people in their midst. The Japanese, Chinese, German and Italians know all about the special concoction of justice brewed up by the halls of Washington, D.C. that is only reserved for Others.

Through the perseverant efforts of community members and activists all across the commonwealth and world, we were able to flip some type of switch in the head of Virginia lawmakers this week to stop their inhumane actions by constructing a modern-day concentration camp. We must keep up the fight for justice and human rights that will finally bring millions of people out of the shadows and into full communion with U.S. civil society.

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