Two Different Tales in the Same State

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

by Daniel Nardini

I commend Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and Chicago’s decision to house those Central American refugees (mostly children) in Chicago. There are apparently many, many people who feel bad for the people coming from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras who are trying to escape with their lives. This was not the case when I went 120 miles outside of the Chicago area. The story seems to be the same—people in so many rural towns “blame” U.S. President Barack Obama for “letting in” these “illegals” and “ruining the country.” None of the people I met described the Central Americans fleeing as “refugees.” They have always been called “illegals,” and in their view Obama is not “securing the border” and “letting these illegals run around the country.”

Welcome to Tea Party country, where people out there seem to hold some of the strangest, most bizarre notions of what the U.S. government is and what it is doing. There may be some people who are members of the Democratic Party, and some who are of independent parties like the Libertarian Party and the Green Party, but by-and-large most of these people are dyed-in-the-wool Republicans and Tea Party members. Worse, so many are extreme in their viewpoint it is not even funny. Those whom I spoke with are thoroughly convinced that the “government” is going to come for their guns that they make sure that their guns are beside their beds in case the “U.S. Department of Homeland Security comes in the dead of night.” I cannot see the U.S. Department of Homeland Security bothering going into almost out-of-the-way towns like Lena, Stockton, Mount Carroll, Prophetstown, or Tampico (where former U.S. President Ronald Reagan was born incidentally) to take peoples’ guns. I also guarantee that the police departments in these places do not have anywhere near enough personnel to even begin to try and seize the arsenals many ordinary citizens in these places have.

I remember one small town chief of police telling me that during one family dispute (where they were literally smashing the furniture and terrorizing the neighbors), six squad cars had to be at the scene to stop the fight. Only one of the police cars was from the town where the fight broke out—the others had to come from another town for back-up. During that fight, the police confiscated 23 firearms from this couple. Everyone was lucky this couple did not decide to shoot it out (and yes, there were children present in this household). But this just gives a hint how much weaponry so many of these people in these towns have. If ever a revolt or a major fight was ever to start out there, everyone would be pretty well armed. It is not just the fact so many people are armed that concerns me….it is what they read. Some of the newspapers I see out there seem to reflect the right wing, extreme Tea Party culture these people seem to subscribe to. All I have to do is look at the website of the Tea Party and see what these people are probably reading to get an idea how extreme it all is. According to the Tea Party website, it seems that everything is Obama’s fault, and that he is trying to “introduce the New World Order.” Apparently the New World Order is a term for “Liberalism” and “Communism.”

Even when I tell these people that we are not heading towards Communism (having seen what it is myself firsthand), they not only do not believe me but seem to think that I am a total idiot. Since they see me from “Chicago” then I am either a moron or “one of them.” It truly scares me that even though we all live in the same state, and the same country, we might all just as well be from a totally different state and a different country. What further saddens me is that these people elect those who will represent them in Springfield and in Washington, D.C. Is it any wonder why nothing seems to work in our nation’s capital?! I shudder what to think come the congressional elections this year and the presidential elections in 2016.

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