October 6, 2003

Immigration at Issue

THE OTHER AT THE ODER

New York

America's National Public Radio (NPR) has been running a series on illegal immigration from Mexico into the United States. The tales are uniformly sad. One morning, the profile was of a young woman who had made it across the border to a ranch in Texas, where the owner was apparently most displeased to learn that, not only was there an illegal on his property, but also she had dared to bathe in water normally used to refresh his cattle and had contaminated it with soap. NPR reported that the rancher was incensed that she cared so little for his property. When asked why she had rinsed herself where cows normally drink, she responded that she was simply so dirty. She had just crossed the rugged Texas frontier. One must hope that listeners were a bit incensed too that any woman faces such a predicament.

October 3, 2003

Nostalgia for Worse Times

REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST

It is the nature of a man as he grows older, a small bridge in time, to protest against change, particularly change for the better.

John Steinbeck*

Those who weep for the happy periods, which they encounter in history, acknowledge what they want; not the alleviation but the silencing of misery.

Albert Camus*

New York

With great interest, I read a recent article in The New York Times, "Uberkitsch Artifacts Evoke Old East Germany," which discusses the growing fascination in today's Germany with the imagery of the former East, something termed Ostalgie, a combination of the German for East and nostalgia. At a time when Germany is still absorbing the full costs of reunification and suffering 10.6% unemployment, it is imaginable, though hardly laudable, that some would look back with fondness on what used to be on the other side of the Wall.