One of the things that I clearly remember from growing up in Mexico in the 1980’s and 90’s is the level of suppression of political dissent from the authorities over the people. My grandfather was very active in the political scene in his town and state, and I remember how upset and disappointed he was when political rallies from his party (always in opposition back then) would be broken up by cops and the military. There were no riots or prolonged protests. Everyone just kind of went home when the cops showed up. Of course, that all changed in the late 90’s when then President Zedillo enacted change that allowed for party primaries and for more openness in the political process. This move was such a game-changer that a different party won Congress and the Presidency in 2000, and the different parties in Mexico (a multi-party political system) have been alternating power in the states and in the Congress.
Because of the experiences of my grandfather back then, I am very sensitive when people try to shut me up from expressing any kind of opinion. I hate, hate, hate deleted comments on open forums and I detest people jeering and booing to drown out whatever I’m saying. With the latest government shutdown, I took to my Representative’s Facebook page to express my disappointment in what he has not been doing in Congress. He is a big Tea Party supporter (and is supported by them as well), and he toed the line with the rest of the far-right activists in the House of Representatives. On his Facebook page, I’ve been posting news stories of how his actions (and mostly inaction) have been hurting the American public. I’ve replied to comments from people who have stated that the government shut down was a good thing or the only thing. I especially try to address the lies regarding the President’s nationality and religion. Those last ones are outright lies (that he was born in Kenya — and more on that in a second — and that he is a Muslim) that are nothing more than rallying cries to get the anti-immigrant, evangelical far-right riled up and donating money to political coffers.
As it turns out, this woman doesn’t like me speaking my mind:
I’m not going to write her name, following the example of my friend in not naming any names, but you can see her name in the screen shot above. On her Twitter profile, this person describes herself as a “Married, mom of four+, proud member of Cumberland 912 Project, PA GOP conservative committeeman, avid reader, constant thinker and political activist.” I did some googling of her name, and she appears in many forums on conservative movements and anti-immigrant groups. Some of the stuff she’s written is appalling, in my opinion. But, hey, she’s got a right to write and say whatever she wants, no matter how offensive I find it. However, I would not feel safe meeting her in person. She’s expressed some very strong sentiments against people like me (i.e. immigrants with an education who do not approve of all things Republican). And she can, in my opinion, be incredibly nasty about it.
I’d like to think that my grandfather didn’t go through worse things than being called names online, but I know better. I’d like to ask him now what he went through then when he tried to exercise his human right of freedom of expression. I bet there were many times when he feared for the safety of his family and himself. I feel very lucky to live in a place where I know that the chances of someone doing something to us here because of my opinions are low. This is not, after all, a banana republic.
So, yeah, that whole “Obama is a Kenyan” thing. Senator Ted Cruz (real name Rafael Edward Cruz, which sounds a lot like “Ted”) was born in Canada, to an American mother and Cuban father. He is now the darling of the Tea Party, birthers included. On the one hand, President Obama is not American because, in the minds of the birthers, he was born in Kenya to an American mother. (He wasn’t born in Kenya. He was born in Hawaii. There’s even a newspaper announcement of his birth published back then.) On the other, Senator Cruz is okay to run for president because he was born in Canada to an American mother. I’m sure they’ve come around and accepted that the President is a natural born citizen.
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
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