Friday, February 23, 2007

Most Dangerous Game

As a graduate of NYU, I was disappointed to hear that a handful of students were playing a game of ivory-tower-Minuteman yesterday.

They called their game 'catch an illegal immigrant' and claimed they wanted to promote dialogue. Instead they turned NYU into a forum where the complex and emotional issue of immigration reform was trivialized and turned into a joke for their personal amusement.

Demeaning the undocumented might stir emotions and set the stage for a shouted exchange of extremist soundbites, but it sure doesn't foster constructive dialogue.

Organizers scheduled the game to begin just one block away from the site of the Triangle Shirt Factory fire where 146 young immigrant workers, including Anna Dorrity from Ireland, were killed.

Just across the the park from where this most dangerous game began is the former site of NYU's Loeb Student Center ("Loeb"). While I attended NYU, Loeb was always crowded with commuter students - mostly immigrants or the children of immigrants (including me) - from the outer boros of NYC who gathered there for a quick bite between classes. After I left NYU, Loeb was replaced by a shiny new Center for the Performing Arts built by undocumented workers, including many Irish. My cousin was one of many undocumented Irish who built the Center.

Fortunately, the NYU Know-Nothings were joined by a much larger group of NYU students who knew enough to condemn the game. Hopefully the NYU Know-Nothings learned a lesson about respect for human dignity that they obviously failed to learn from the immigrant nannies who probably raised them.

Others spoke out. Mayor Mike Bloomberg characterized the Know-Nothing game as "not only distasteful but just downright stupid." US Representative Joe Crowley issued a statement calling the game a "disturbing and immature stunt."

NYU students who are genuinely interested in learning more about real undocumented immigrants and perhaps joining the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform's local weekly meetings or the National Lobby Day and Rally in DC on March 7th are encouraged to visit the ILIR website.

Legalize the Irish!

For the NY Post account of the event at NYU click HERE.

For the NY Times account of the event at NYU click HERE.

5 comments:

Protegeoflife said...

Hey i can join the gang for different country and different men

Luke said...

There are no different countries to the undocumented. Irish, Peruvian, Polish, Jamaican, Chines, etc....

All the undocumented are in this together.

Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform may speak with an Irish accent (brogue), but they speak for all the undocumented.

We ALL need a path to EARNED legal status and immigration reform.

Legalize the Irish!

shabby dresser said...

Luke;

ProtogeOfLife is writing from Bombay, India.

I can't see that the NYU Republican club is doing anything wrong. They're merely excercising their right to free speech. By opposing them, you're sort of cutting your own throat. What would you expect, next time you want to make a public statement?

LUKE said...

Shabby,

Nobody has denied the game organizers' right to free speech, so don't try to distract people by referring to a phantom assault on free speech that does not exist.

Is that the only supportive thing you can say about the game - that they have a right to do it?

Students have every right to organize and play sophmoric games that demean other people and make light of complex and emotional issues.

Sean has every right to say what he says in his post.

The students who turned out to voice their disapproval of the anti-immigrant game had every right to speak out and apparently made no attempt to interfere with the actual playing of the game.

I have every right to make the statements in this post.

Nobody prevented the game organizers from embarrassing NYU by playing their immature game.

Free speech is not at issue here. The issue is our country's need for comprehensive immigration reform with a path to EARNED legalization that brings the undocumented out of the shadows.

Anonymous said...

According to an editorial in today's NY Times, a game organizer lost her post as an intern with the College Republican National Committee.

February 27, 2007
Editorial
Game With No Winner
It’s almost enough to make us nostalgic for streaking and sitting on flagpoles. College students from Michigan to Florida have found a new way to get attention, offend others and make a right-wing statement all at once. It’s a game with a name that says it all: “Catch the Illegal Immigrant.”

The game is a variation on hide and seek: one player poses as the immigrant, and everyone else tries to find that person. There’s a prize, usually $200 or less, which is not much, but enough to celebrate the cheap exploitation of a fellow human.

“Catch the Immigrant” is the brainchild of an intern with the College Republican National Committee, who lost her post after coming up with this and other campus recruitment gimmicks. Another game, called “Fun With Guns,” invited young Republicans to fire BB guns or paint balls at cardboard cutouts of Democratic leaders. Republican Party leaders have tried to distance themselves from the games, but seem to have done little to stop them.

The right-wing organizers of the immigrant games — particularly Young Americans for Freedom and Young Republicans — have declared piously that they’re just trying to spark debate. At that, they have succeeded. Protesters defending immigration and human dignity have outnumbered the game’s players at the University of Michigan, Michigan State, Pennsylvania State and other campuses, including, most recently, at New York University.

The reaction from schools has been mostly tepid. Administrators are in a tough spot, trying to balance free speech with offensive behavior. More speech is the answer, including voices of authority pointing out the nastiness of this game as well as the inherent cruelty of hunting people for sport.

“Catch the Immigrant” also reflects a larger misunderstanding of the immigration issue. The more than 11 million illegal immigrants cannot be caught. Even if they could be, rounding them up and deporting them would be disastrous, economically and socially. Educators should teach the game players about the real world.