Let These People Go!
My Minnesota Christmas has been spoiled by the immigration authority’s raid on the Swift Plant in Worthington MN.
Hardworking people were corralled into the cafeteria and plastic cuffed as if they were dangerous criminals.
Meatpacking is a physically demanding job and quite dangerous and now the danger will be heightened if workers have to go to their job fearing mass arrest and the possibility of being separated from their families for an indefinite amount of time if they are incarcerated and deported.
Identity theft of U.S. Citizen’s Social Security numbers was the reason given by immigration and customs authorities for conducting these raids and mass arrests at Swift plants nationwide. Identity theft and false document forgeries are encouraged by stringent ID processes imposed on employers for hiring workers. Openess would be a better deterrent for identity thefts and forgery crimes. Openess can lead us through the complications of the immigration problem. In all reality, meatpacking, agricultural work, and contract janitorial jobs are not sought after jobs by U.S. citizens. If “illegals” get across the borders and into the hiring office just let them take the jobs without a rigorous ID check.
Amnesty should be a blanket instant gift for people who have made it to our shores and are working in our country.
There is an extensive police bureaucracy in place already to deal with criminals and deport them back to their native lands or incarcerate them here. If the U.S. government catches immigrants using somebody’s identity then let’s issue them a social security number with no punishments and excrutiatingly long bureaucratic processeses leading to deportation.
Politicians and many of their constituents supported legislation empowering immigration authorities to crack down on undocumented workers. We’ve seen just how cruel and repulsive these measures are when working mothers at Swift pleaded desperately not to be detained because their children needed them. How can we stand as a proud and free people when workers on U.S. soil are cuffed in the work place by authorities. We are humiliated by a newspaper photo showing a pastor going door to door in Worthington gathering scared children who have had their parents taken away during this holy season of giving and good will.
Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway
UTU Local 1177 Member
I was a reporter for The Militant during the 1972 Pine Ridge Reservation outbreak. I stayed with the tribe for three weeks and had long discussions with their people and their leaders. They gave me an account of the historical background to the uprising in 1972, and its connection with the 1890 Sioux rebellion. I got a taste of their culture by taking part in the Ghost Dance, which as you will see is directly related to the Sioux rebellion of 1890-91.
Lately, we have seen many Generals speaking out on the War on Iraq on TV, on the cover of news magazines and in the New York Times. They all talk at us in commanding words to keep the fight in the Middle East going until they do to its peoples what the U.S. Army did to the Sioux in what its historians call the “Ghost Dance War of 1890-91.” (It’s as though we are in the season of the Generals!)
The Generals along with the rest of the officer caste have been trained and drilled in the military details of the victories and defeats of U.S. imperialism. One such victory they study is the Sioux outbreak of 1890—also called by U.S. Army historians, the Ghost Dance War.
The Sioux nation was large—almost as big as the Middle East. They were the largest, the richest and strongest of the Native American Tribes. They used to hunt the buffalo with thousands of fast, beautiful ponies. The buffalo were there in the millions providing the Sioux with food, clothing and housing.
Despite superior numbers, the U.S. Army found it almost impossible to defeat the Sioux. As in Iraq, they used assassination of leaders; fake peace treaties, exploitation of religious differences, etc., but nothing did the job. The solution to their problem was the destruction of the native food supply—the mass slaughter of the Buffalo.
By 1891, victory was theirs; the Sioux had their land taken and were reduced to living on the “charity” of the U.S. Government. All their land was open for exploitation except for a small portion of the land called a “reservation”—but would more accurately be called a “concentration camp”—like what the U.S. and Israel has done to the West Bank in Palestine and such as the U.S. is trying to do in Iraq.
I was privileged to be invited to take part in the Ghost Dance and could see that it was more than a ritual; it was history. The phrase, Iyala’h mi’ bithi’ti (All is gone. I have nothing to eat) is in Oglala Oyanke Lakhota language and comes from the Ghost Dance Song. Soon the charity was reduced; the Sioux had almost nothing to eat. Under inspiration of the Ghost Dance, they broke out of their concentration-camp “reservation.”
In 1890, the Generals were called upon to suppress the Ghost Dance and put down the outbreak. This they did with butchery; including the killing of women and children. Wounded Knee is one example.
The Sioux had few guns, few people—all of whom were starving. It didn’t take long for the Generals to get them back into their concentration camp reservations.
Today, after three years of occupation of the Middle East in the heartland of Iraq, the job of stopping the outbreak has not been done. The Generals know that they are starving millions of people of the Middle East who are only just beginning to unite against them. They understand this job is hard and give their masters different advice on how to do it.
But American soldiers forced by joblessness and poverty to “join” the Army and Marines have also just begun to say: I will not die so your Bosses can have the black gold of the Middle East—and have only just started saying, Bring Us All Home Now!
Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin