The Monkey Princess (stellanova) wrote,
The Monkey Princess

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spellbound by the rules

A couple of nights ago I watched Spellbound, the wonderful documentary following the fortunes of a bunch of contestants in the US national Spelling Bee. It's a totally engrossing, surprisingly thrilling film, but one thing about it struck me: how many of the children were the children of immigrants. And that made me even angrier than ever about the forthcoming citizen referendum. For those who don't know, currently all children born here are automatically granted citizenship. Now that lots of non-Irish (read: non-white, mostly) immigrants are arriving and having children here, hateful urban myths have begun that women (who, as far as our glorious racist misogynist minister Michael McDowell is concerned, seem to get pregnant on their own, without any interference from men. Then again, this is the man who, in the last abortion referendum, announced that "women will lie" in order to get abortions. Because we're evil liars! And we led man into sin in the garden of eden too!) are "flooding" here just before giving birth, in order to take advantage of this "loop hole". Never mind that the country's maternity hospitals deny this "flood". Never mind that there is absolutely no proof for this apart from the fact that the Minister has been seeing a lot of black babies in the streets. Let's have a vote to insure that for once and for all, Irish=White. Unless the parents have been here for about three years, by which time they may well have been deported. Don't let them set up roots, now, or we might never get rid of them...

Anyway! In Spellbound, one of the children, a wonderfully goofy and sweet thirteen year old girl, is the child of illegal immigrants from Mexico who still can't speak a word of English. Her dad is a cow-herd for a benignly racist old rancher (who said thing like "not all Mexicans are lazy, you know. Some of them are hard workers"). And again and again, her older brother said how happy his parents were for Amanda, because this is why they came to America. Not for themselves, but for their children, so their children could have better lives than they ever did. And that's why I can't express how angry I am that Irish people, who for decades have been leaving this dump in droves in order to have better lives, can be so virulent in their opposition to other people doing the same thing here. Does our Minister have absolutely no relatives, ever, who went to America or England? I'd be astonished if he didn't. There's absolutely no difference between Africans coming here and Irish people going to America (and Minister Mike might want to remember how they were treated both there and in Britain), but we'd like to think there is. We'd like to think that the Irish were model immigrants wherever they went (unlike those lazy foreigners, who just don't WANT to work. Because there are no irish people on the dole in England, and never ever have been. Nor are there any Irish criminals in any other countries. Only Nigerians commit crimes in other countries! Everyone knows that!). We'd like to think that Irish people never "take advantage" of any laws anywhere else ever (and by the way, who the fuck cares if people are "taking advantage" of this law? What harm does it do any of us, apart from outraging our sense of irishness? It certainly isn't putting a huge strain on our hospitals, as those hospitals keep trying to point out). We'd also like to think that there aren't thousands of illegal Irish immigrants in the US - or if we do think about it, we're proud of them for getting round those stupid immigration rules.

if this referendum passes - and I'm scared that it will, despite the opposition from everyone from the Labour Party to the Catholic Church - Ireland will be sending a message to the world that unless you're white, you're not good enough for us. We are fucking up the refugee situation. We're dumping batches of immigrants in the most deprived areas, where insecurity is rife and scapegoats are always welcome. We're not allowing them to work, so they have to go on social welfare, and then we get outraged and call them "scroungers" and "criminals". We are sending a hateful, nasty message that we don't want immigrants coming to a country of emmigrants - oh, unless you're white, American and rich and will hopefully start a nice software company in Mayo to give good white irish people new jobs. Then you're okay. If, however, you're poor and possibly not white, then we will make it so hard for you to stay here and maybe, someday, you'll stop coming. And then everything will be nice again. And everyone, from conniving foreign women to their nasty little babies, will know their place. Won't they?

Under our proposed rules that girl in Spellbound, that beautifully smart, dorky, kid, might never have been allowed stay there. Her parents' dream of a better life for their children would have been shattered. So who are we turning away?
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