message to the press: pick a side, any side

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Kyle already addressed some of the deficiencies in Antonio Olivo’s article in the Chicago Tribune yesterday about the migration blogosphere.  Even so, it is always nice to be noticed.  The article gives some much-needed exposure to the online manifestation of rising frustration in migrant communities, including Flor Crisostomo and our DREAMers. 

In the article, though, there was no hint that Olivo acknowledged any difference between the people trying to stay with their families and work in this country and the people trying to boot them all out.  The migrant rights movement is one of the great moral struggles of our time.  It implicates a host of issues about how people work and interact in a global community.  The NY Times has realized the import of the human rights issues involved and the destruction that is being visited on migrant families.  The Times has picked a side, the side of tolerance, compassion, and common sense.  I know there’s a difference between an opinion piece and straight reporting.  But by covering the story in a “he said/she said” format that the press often reverts to when dealing with controversial political issues, Olivo left the underlying issues almost entirely unanalyzed. 

The subtitle indicates the surface nature of the article: "Blogs, forums rife with opinions from advocates, opponents."  Saying that there are opinions is not the same as meaningfully talking about what those opinions are or why people are expressing them.  I’ll hope for a follow up article that digs a little deeper. 

A few points:

  • The pro-migrant blogosphere isn't just about "swarming" (we're not a hive), it's about networking, problem-solving, and—as Duke says—communicating

If we ask where the true power of the left-leaning blogosphere comes from, it's not in its ability to organize "worker bees" to follow orders, or even to raise money for candidates, it's in its ability to move information, educate and shape debate. This is why the mainstream progressive web has become so powerful and far eclipses its right-wing counterpart in scope, reach and influence.

  • Yes, this is another battle in the culture war, but it's one that has stark consequences.  People are dying, families are being torn apart, rights are being trampled.  We're trying to highlight the consequences of the current policy of attrition and fear.  This story has not been heard by enough people.  We are trying to get it out there.
  • Look at the long-term trends on internet activism and migration.  Internet users are probably younger on average, young people are getting more involved in political issues like human rights, and the people they look up to--Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Barack Obama, Perez Hilton (!)--are saying the same things about immigration: that our current policy is insane and inhumane.

I do believe there are a lot of people out there receptive to the pro-migrant message but who aren't yet connected to others who feel the same way.  I'm hoping that the dynamic Duke described which we’ve seen in the mainstream left-blogosphere will lead to real change in immigration policy.  The opportunity is there—the Democratic nominee for president is the son of a migrant and understands the issues involved better than most.  Of all the candidates we've seen, he presents the best hope for humane immigration reform.  But the window may be short, and in the meantime, the anguish in the migrant community continues without relief.

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This page contains a single entry by David Bennion published on June 5, 2008 8:04 AM.

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