immigrants, women, and scouts

The Article

Humor seems to be the only device that makes current news of behind-the-times action palatable, and that’s why I bring this article, written on 01/30/13 by Reg Henry of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, to your attention.  After noting the “Sporadic outbreaks of sanity and common sense” involved in the push for immigration reform, the revision of combat-restrictions for women, and the consideration of the Boy Scouts to drop a ban on gay scouts, he hares off on a delightful little description of his fake website, reg-mea-culpa.com (Latin for “my mistake”), that can be used by politicians to generate letters of apology to the citizens they’ve neglected and marginalized in the past—namely Hispanics, women in the military, and gay prospective (or current and closeted) Boy Scouts.

My favorite Reg-mea-culpa letter:

“Dear Hispanics of America,

It came to our attention during the presidential election that some of you would rather have voted for a cactus than a Republican candidate on the grounds that the cactus was less prickly to your sensitivities.

Apparently some of you have mistakenly gotten the impression that we in the GOP think you are all illegal criminals who have come here to take away jobs from those Americans who, just like you, are dying to make motel beds and pick lettuce when not on welfare. We regret this impression very much and we are mucho sorry, as you say in your language. Please vote for us next time because we now believe in immigration reform. Really.

Sincerely, the RNC”

Henry’s article is a muted celebration of progressive change and as such serves to leaven the arena of discussion surrounding these issues, and although he teases the opposition, he also judiciously points out that many are now deviating from the conservative bloc to participate in an “era of reasonableness.”

The Content

While I agree that the trends evidenced by these efforts and events are positive, I must also emphasize their corollary demands for attentiveness.  For if changes are enacted without due consideration of the people subject to the policy, then we will be in for a much longer and much more arduous process of change fraught with incidents, inefficiencies, and over-corrections that may obscure progress.  The adoption of a progressive and pragmatic mindset also requires the proliferation of comprehensive knowledge.

For instance:

It seems as though immigration reform has garnered bi-partisan support more for political reasons (substantiated by the fast-growing population of voting Hispanics with whom the immigration issue is a priority) than because of an honest desire to curb the deleterious effects of ignoring or otherwise addressing the issue via punishment—both ineffective and costly methods.  I hope that the new policies are tailored to facilitate immigrants and current illegal residents toward a conscious investment in our culture by sharing and integrating their own.  I suspect that with cohesive mechanisms in place, we can expect greater appreciation for American multiculturalism and a lessening of the xenophobic vestiges of racial and ethnic hate.

With respect to greater inclusion of women in combat positions, I hope that the military identifies and fosters an appreciation of the strengths and abilities that women can contribute to modern warfare.  By updating policy to reflect realities on the ground, the military has created an atmosphere of transparency that is essential to identifying, understanding, and addressing issues that arise.  In addition, I have an idea that begs vindication: it seems that women (on average—remember that all people are sexually diverse in body and mind) might be more effective in navigating front-line activities in which civilians are a battlefield complication.  I suggest this because women, who are generally more adept at communication because of a higher attentiveness to body language and vocal tone, seem predisposed to greatly contribute to the awareness and safety of soldiers operating in complex environments that belie traditional war-zone boundaries.

Lastly, I am encouraged by the actions of Boy Scouts of America to consider the repeal of an organizational ban on gays, but it is a hop when a Wiley Coyote sling-shot leap is needed.  The repeal of the national ban would simply pass the choice on to local chapters—a move that does nothing to thwart the hate perpetuated in an organization funded in large part by various religious institutions.  In fact, those institutions seem so threatened by this possibility of self-determination that effectively embraces a marginalized population (and the consequent questioning and erosion of dogma)  that they have suspended funding or diverted it to other boys organizations that purportedly still discriminate appropriately.  What the BSA ought to do is act at a national level by implementing a policy of openness, complete with education of boy scouts and leaders about the biological sex spectrum.  Such a move would inevitably shake up the financial supporters of the group, but I suspect that for every donor that abandons the youth, another will rise to the occasion in appreciation of a truly respectful organization.

what do you think?

Thank you for reading.
Thank you for writing.

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