by Bob Wickizer

New Wineskins
Bob Wickizer
Hosea 2:14-23; Psalm 103:1-6; 2 Corinthians 3:[4-11],17-4:2; Mark 2:18-22
February 27, 2000

During his term in office, President Reagan singled out the so- called "welfare cheat" as the villain of American culture. His myth of the welfare cheat permeated his election campaigns to the cheers of many. Sadly the facts never supported Reagan's image of the urban unwed African-American mother on welfare because rural whites comprise the majority of the welfare roles then and now.

Recently in our own state a political rally was staged protesting the growing Hispanic population in that county. Like the Reagan approach, villianizing another group provides easy answers to fuel the fires of racial hatred. Also like the Reagan approach, these easy answers did not hold up to the facts. These answers are both easy and wrong because the truth is that in every historical era of American history, immigrants have filled jobs that few others were willing to take. The Hispanic population today simply stands in a long succession of groups including African-Americans, Chinese- Americans, Irish-Americans, Polish-Americans, Italian-Americans going all the way back to before the Revolutionary War.

In addition to the obvious economic advantage of forcing the latest immigrant group into the least desirable jobs, another darker force works here and it has been with us since the beginning of history. It goes like this: The members who are dominant or most "successful" in a given society tend to take the problems of that society and pin them on the most vulnerable, the weakest, the most marginalized elements of that society.

What makes many of us uncomfortable around the homeless, the elderly, the disadvantaged social groups and the disabled is that their condition reflects the problems that we the "successful" element of society have created. Like the cartoon character Pogo once said, "We have seen the enemy and he is us."

Sadly we do not limit ...

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