An Open Letter to Thom Hartmann

An Open Letter to Thom Hartmann

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome, her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp! Cries she With silent lips, ‘Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
(Inscription on the Statue of Liberty)

I have been a long-time fan of Thom Hartmann’s radio program on Air America but there is one issue upon which I strongly disagree with him and that is the issue of “illegal immigrants” being able to work here in the U.S. You, Thom, are supposedly one of America’s most progressive representatives yet when it comes to the issue of immigrants, you turn a cold shoulder? Perhaps it would be instructive to review or remind ourselves as to just what “progressive” or “liberal” values are?

“No one who aspires to lead this nation into an uncertain future in war or peace should undertake that daunting task without drawing on the time-tested moral and political principles of our founders—liberty, equality, justice, truthfulness, and compassion for all of God’s creatures everywhere.”
(pg. 11, The Essential America: Our Founders and the Liberal Tradition by George McGovern)

You talk like you’re a compassionate person and you urge your listeners to not assassinate other peoples’ characters, especially if that person is not there to defend themselves but your position on “illegal immigrants” right to work here shows a shallow liberalism on your part. With all the hate mongers on the “conservative” talk radio circuit ranting & raving against these struggling people, you betray the liberal & progressive principles you supposedly believe in, and reveal a lack of compassion.

Admittedly, your central argument that we, the U.S., simply can’t afford to take care of these “illegals,” at first sounds rational but upon reflection, I reject this reasoning. You know the history of the corporate robber barons & most notably in Central America where our military has invaded dozens of times & installed bloody dictators. We have created these “banana republics,” so “our” corporations could rape, pillage, & plunder their peoples and their resources and when these poor people try to escape the misery of their lives in their home countries and come here, you say, tough luck buddy, you’re not welcome here? America was built on the backs of slaves brought here from Africa and the slave labor of the poor and oppressed from around the world who came here in the hopes of a better future for their families. We stole this land from the indigenous people and now claim the right to say who can and can’t come here? You know better than most people Thom, that, that is the one overriding issue you and all other so-called liberals & progressives should be focused on.

Above all the critical issues or crisis facing humanity, none is more important than reigning in the power of the megalithic tyrannies known as multi or transnational corporations. Behind just about every issue we are facing from climate change to the bailout of Wall St. to the dumbing down of the American public, are the creeping tentacles of the corporate cockroaches strangling the planet and all of us. To fear and blame our fellow human beings for merely wanting to live a decent life and ignore or pay little attention to the power elite is not merely ingenuous but also intellectually & morally dishonest and cowardly!
In simple terms, as Noam Chomsky has pointed out, in the mid 19th century, there was a very vibrant working class press that spoke powerfully for the working class but the powers that be realized a way to co-opt them by gradually making the press dependent on advertising dollars (my paraphrasing). Sadly, I can now see that “Air America,” has also sold-out to the corporate crocodiles. I have written to you & Ed Schultz regarding the fact that your station airs commercials for Wal-Mart and BP and what a hypocrisy this is but you can’t bother to respond or perhaps you’re afraid to upset your corporate paymasters on the air? Ed urges his listeners to “buy American,” does Wal-Mart buy American labor? You & I know the devastating consequences when Wal-Mart moves in to a community e.g. the small, local retailers are forced out of business because the overwhelming majority of Wal-Mart’s products are manufactured in China at slave labor rates. And yes, I am a hypocrite because I still tune in to your shows but I’m getting more & more disgusted with all the advertising and the ever shrinking amount of serious content & discussion.

To return to the issue of “illegal immigrants,” first of all, when the Hell are you and the rest of America going to wake up to the fact that the ones making the laws, are the ones who have absolutely utter contempt for these same laws? The laws they write are meant for only one thing, to keep the rabble in line. A simple survey of corporate America’s crime record proves this in spades. Fraud, pollution, lying, stealing, etc. are common business practices and the Fortune 500 are simply the most egregious law breakers but figure in as the cost of doing business, the occasional court fines they have to pay for their crimes. And they don’t even have to admit wrongdoing when they are found guilty so as to not tarnish their public image. Why do we consider the law so sacrosanct when it comes to those on the bottom of society but dismiss it when it comes to the consistent law breaking of the rich and powerful?

Pursuing this further, if America has so much respect for law as our political whores are so fond of proclaiming, then why has America & Israel consistently violated international laws and been condemned by the rest of the world for repeatedly ignoring condemnations by the U.N. for our invasions of other countries, occupation of them, & assorted violations of human rights? Chalmers Johnson has written very eloquently of the American Empire and has shown us the cost of maintaining this empire consisting of over 800 military bases around the globe and who knows how many secret military bases where we torture people. Yeah, we can’t afford to have these “illegals” here because they are a drain on our social services. Jesus Christ! Wake up Thom! The lying bastards on the Right don’t give a shit about social services. They refer to Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, etc. as “entitlement programs,” and they have been very clear that they intend to wipe out every “entitlement program” for the poor but don’t touch their entitlement programs such as “National Defense,” where we subsidize and make them rich. And don’t forget the fact that we, the taxpayers are forced to subsidize “private industry” and pay for their research and development. But once they start making a profit off that research, they privatize the profits. Or the fact that we pay for all the roads, highways, airports, ports, etc. they use and need to do business and they, the corporate crime lords pay little if any taxes because their “headquarters” are post office boxes in the Cayman Islands, etc. Yeah, those “illegal immigrants” are bringing America down!

No, my friend, these “illegals,” are the de facto slave labor of the 21st century and to blame the victims of globalization & corruption is morally reprehensible. Over two billion people on this planet exist/barely survive on less than $2 per day. So tell me, where should we focus our anger and our attention? I have heard you call yourself a Christian, well I don’t call myself a Christian because the hypocrisy of so many Christians that I’ve met as I grew up and still witness today. Wasn’t Jesus’ central precept to show compassion for our fellow men? I’m sorry my friend but if you continue to side with the Rush Limbaughs & Glenn Becks on this issue, you clearly aren’t a Christian.

In similar fashion to the Roman Empire, America is imploding or rotting from within. We spend more money on our weaponry than the rest of the world combined. Why are we so afraid? Could it be that “our” leaders know that because of all their evil deeds (see the history of the C.I.A.), we are hated and feared by all? If we’re so powerful and so good and the “shining city on the hill,” why are we so fearful? Could it be that the power elite want to keep us scared so we’ll keep paying our taxes and serving in their wars of exploitation to steal everything from the rest of the world?

The powers that be are shrewd and cunning & keep us fighting amongst ourselves over relatively trivial matters so we don’t focus our attention on them and their crimes against humanity. And when you, Thom, agree with the “conservatives” on this issue of whether these scared, hard-working, lovely people should be “allowed” to work here, you are a dupe & perhaps unwitting accomplice in the moral degenerate’s game plan. Who benefits from “illegal immigrants’” work? Yeah, business owners, who are rarely prosecuted for their part, but also we, the public, because these people are forced to work for less than minimum wage often, and they usually, perform the work that many of my fellow Americans won’t do. They often work in the fields picking the crops that put food on our tables and I heard years ago that if it wasn’t for their cheap labor, our produce would be much more expensive. I mostly grew up in L.A. and I can relate to these honorable people because I have worked alongside of them in several, shitty factory jobs. Most notably, a golf club manufacturing plant in Paramount, CA called Lynx, Golf Mfg. We had a huge, spray painting room and that’s where the Mexicans worked and they weren’t even provided with masks so they had to inhale the paint fumes all day, every day. I could go on about other companies but it’s the same old story i.e. exploit those here “illegally” because they won’t report you because they are afraid they’ll be deported.

I have been trying to reach the ignorant, rednecks all my life when they start in to bashing the “illegals.” Hey, it just dawned on me to state the obvious? We call them, the mostly Hispanic, who have come here without official permission or illegally but we, the Europeans, also came here illegally i.e. against moral law because we stole this land from the natives here before us and waged a genocidal war against them. To return to my point above, I try to get through to some of the closed-minded by pointing out that if I were unfortunate enough to be born in a poverty-stricken country and were living out of a cardboard shack or something, I sure as Hell would try to escape. It’s only common sense or the natural instinct for survival so how can we be angry at or blame these poor souls? For these and other reasons, this is why I have often said that I’m more Christian than those who claim to be Christians and I don’t even want to be identified as a Christian.

Okay, back to you Thom. You’re obviously a happy capitalist. I’ve heard your comments here and there regarding your business enterprises, I know you’ve written several books, and I’m sure you make a very handsome living as a talk radio host so my guess is that you’re probably a millionaire, but have you lost your compassion & your soul on your way to wealth & fame? Only the willfully ignorant and the morally blind could fail to see the direction we’re headed in. Ralph Nader tried to warn us before President Clinton signed NAFTA, that it would prove disastrous to America and would be a rush to the bottom in terms of work and wages in this country. And what has been Nader’s reward for his efforts? He is vilified by the so-called liberals and the so-called democrats on The Daily Kos. Every now and then I post an essay on that website and if you dare mention Nader’s name, they come unglued & talk about argumentum ad hominem, it cracks me up at how hypocritical and vicious they are in their attacks against me. Clinton is touted as having done so much for the American economy but if you check out Robert Scheer’s new book The Great American Stickup, you will learn that thanks to Clinton’s assistance in the replacement of the Glass-Steagall Act which had regulated the banking industry for decades against the greed of the financial elite, led directly to the economic meltdown that has knocked the breath out of the majority of America’s poor, working class, & middle class. By the way, did you know that Bill’s wife, Hilary, was Wal-Mart’s lawyer and Sam referred to her as his “little lady?” Yeah, so much for the Democratic Party’s defense of the public against the onslaught of the reptilian & the repugnant.

Perhaps you have heard this quotation before, Thom, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana) And do you recall who gave us the Statue of Liberty? Yeah, the French and the connection our country has with the French in terms of the French Revolution & the American Revolution? What was the French Revolution about? Yeah, it was about the poor who were starving and the elite who were living it up at the Palace of Versailles. The power elite of France were too blind in their arrogance & greed and they paid for their ignorance with their heads. Of course the world has changed considerably since then and the stakes are much higher now because we’re talking about the survival of the planet and us, as a species. But the lesson remains the same i.e. if equality, justice, truth, & freedom are not allowed to flourish due to the rapaciousness of the rich; it’s going to get very ugly. I personally hope & pray that we can educate & therefore empower enough people to stop the madness.

It’s up to each and every one of us but it’s of critical importance that people with national celebrity and a platform to be heard by millions, stand up on your hind legs and speak truth to power. Every American should know of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I have had the pleasure of being an ESL teacher (English as a Second Language) both at the high school level and as an adult education teacher in L.A., and they have been the most personally satisfying jobs of my life. And the short, six week experience of teaching a couple classes of ESL students at Van Nuys High School was without a doubt, the best job I’ve ever had. My students were mostly from El Salvador & Nicaragua and had witnessed things I hope I never have to experience myself. They would stop at the door of my classroom and ask for permission to enter. I don’t think I’m anything special; I was basically a cheerleader because I kept reassuring them that English is one of the most difficult languages to learn but that I was there to help them. I have a smattering of Spanish and students often crack up at my attempts to communicate in Spanish but they know that I respect them by my actions, personality, & words. I was offered the job full time and year round by the principal but because I hadn’t jumped through the hoops of the bureaucracy, I had to move on. When I told my students, several of the girls started crying and it brought tears to my eyes as well. I have never had my soul touched so deeply.

In conclusion, I want to share one last story with you but first, let me remind you Thom of dear old Ronnie Reagan and his illegal financing of the Contras (the Death Squads) or the Iran/Contra Scandal. Some swear that we financed the Death Squads by importing cocaine from the region into the U.S. via U.S. military planes—hey, that’s where the name “Air America,” came from i.e. our C.I.A. smuggling heroin from the Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia as our soldiers were dying in the Vietnam War, you remember, the war to stop communist aggression but as soon as we left with our tails between our legs, Communist China became our celebrated trading partner and now we are in hock up to our eyebrows to China because we have borrowed trillions from them? Oh yeah, and when Ronnie “the gipper” or the “great communicator” yeah, for the corporate crooks especially G.E. (one of the largest weapons & nuclear power plants manufacturers) was finally forced to testify in the Iran/Contra hearings, it was behind closed doors —mustn’t embarrass a national hero—Ronnie “Bonzo” couldn’t recall or remember about 270 questions put to him out of about 285? What do you think would happen if I, a working class stiff tried that dodge in a court, uh, gee, I can’t recall? And don’t forget that Reagan compared the Contras to our founding fathers.

The above paragraph was meant as a preface to what I’m now going to share with you Thom. Another job I held when I lived in L.A., was as a tutor to mostly Hispanic adults. I would travel to their homes and teach them English. I will remember to the end of my days, a particular couple. Maria was from Nicaragua and after several weeks of English lessons, I guess she got a feeling that she could trust me & one night she confided to me that she had fled Nicaragua because she had witnessed her nine month pregnant sister, have her belly slit open & her baby ripped-out and held up in front of her face by a Contra who then slit the baby’s throat as she died.

Admittedly, not all who come here “illegally,” are fleeing such horrific things and many, greedy & callous Americans scream “they’re just coming here for economic reasons!” Well again, can you blame them? I will end by admonishing you to remember if you consider yourself a Christian or even just a moral person, just as soldiers have a moral obligation to ignore immoral orders given to them by their superiors even in times of war, we too, all of us, have a moral obligation to follow the higher laws, not the laws of the craven!

Merry Christmas Thom & all you pseudo liberals/progressives!

—Rob DeLoss, December 25, 2010

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