Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Apt Pupils

In the wake of the Arizona illegal alien law, San Francisco has been shocked by a wave of attacks on city immigrants by ignorant xenophobic locals who cling bitterly to their guns and fear their way of life is being overwhelmed by immigrants whose insular community and odd social practices would seem to make assimilation into the "community" impossible. And so these racists lash out in the only way they know how: attacking the old and defenseless as a proxy for their fear of The Other. Yes, even in San Francisco, the dark night of fascism is descending, as gangs of toughs roam the streets looking for immigrants to "bash." Why hasn't there been more outrage from the progressive community? Well, (cough cough) the wrong kind of bashers are bashing the wrong kind of immigrants: Asian American Attacks Focus at City Hall

On March 22, Mrs. Cheng was checking on her daughter who was late coming home on the bus. Standing on the Third and Oakdale Muni platform, she recalls being grabbed from behind, choked and thrown off the 5-foot-high metro stop and into the street.

The impact knocked her unconscious, shattered some of her teeth and left her lying in the path of a bus. The attacker was identified as a 15-year-old African American boy who was charged with robbery. But he threw her to the ground for no apparent reason.

Cheng was just one of the nearly 300 Asian Americans who showed up at City Hall to share story after story about being assaulted, robbed and intimidated. The two hours of testimony were tearful and angry. The need to share their stories was triggered by Cheng's experience; the January beating death of Huan Chen, 83, as he left a bus station at Third Street and Oakdale Avenue; and Tian Sheng Yu, who died after he was punched by an 18-year-old African American man in Oakland.

The stories highlighted what will be a difficult conversation. The speakers said they felt they were being targeted by African American teenage boys.

We've heard a lot of pompous denunciations of Arizona as the land of the new Jim Crow, and the like. But, right now, the only place in America where immigrants are bring assaulted by American citizens is right here in "progressive" San Francisco. And no one wants to do anything about it, including the police:

Bayview police station Capt. Greg Suhr says the police are responding, including adding 32 officers to his station to make Muni safer. But he thinks the racial issue is clouding perceptions.

"We are seeing large kids or kids in large numbers taking advantage of people of smaller stature," Suhr said. We have Hispanics in the neighborhood who are targeted fairly frequently."

See! They're beating up Hispanics, too! I feel safer already. How this clears up the "cloudy" racial issue is beyond me. In fact, it's crystal clear. Ignorance and "hate" are not the sole provenance of white people and "teabaggers;" it's universal. Luckily, most people are educated and compassionate enough that they are able to look past skin color and see a human being. But there are always those in society who don't get the memo, as these kids demonstrate.

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