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.