Behind the Curtain
by The Opportunity Agenda, Mon Jun 09, 2008 at 07:48:26 AM EDT
The recent article about the immigration debate on-line, published earlier this week in Chicago Tribune, sent a jolt of fear down my spine when reading through the comments section of the article.
The piece, which is about how the pro-immigration movement has moved onto the Web--thanks in part to bloggers like The Unapologetic Mexican, previously sited in this blog--unfurls the span between reason and insanity, community and disunity.
There's no question that the anonymity of the web affords people the chance to make bold statements they normally would not make in person. This, in some ways, is a positive tool for communicating, allowing people to speak with complete openness. However, far too often, the comments sections posted at the end of articles is a scary reminder that racism and bigotry are not dead in this country. I recently heard one pro-immigrant American compare the web's hate speech, common on blogs and cloaked by anonymity, to that of old racist groups that would hide their true identity in the South.
Myself, having spent much of my childhood in the Deep South, I can see this powerful image transcending itself into the modern blogosphere. The rhetoric used is fiery , indeed, the kind of words that rouse anger in the reader and fuel one heated debate. It's hard for me to think that some comments intend to persuade, since often they are so outlandish that any application of reason is like applying sunscreen to the sun.
What needs to be stressed is that these comments are never the voice of a "people," but rather the voice of a few die-hard opponents playing wizard behind the curtain. The only difference is that they don't want to send anyone back to Kansas, but rather send them somewhere very, very far away.
The road to opportunity, call it the Yellow Brick Road, wasn't traveled alone. It took the help of everyone in that clustered community of outcasts to show each other that success was within the reach of everyone. No one was excluded on their journey, especially for a young girl and her dog who traveled from a far-away land.