The Holy Tax

So, as you may or may not know, I have had the privilege to participate on the St. Olaf Debate Team. The incredibly basic gist of what we do is engage in structured arguments with the intent of proving the other wrong. As you can imagine, one of the most popular ways to oppose the effectiveness of someone’s idea is to attack the costs.  For example, it might seem like a good idea to build a green public transportation system within one’s local metropolis, but if I was to introduce the extreme financial costs that come with installing such an infrastructure, things start to appear less viable. This is a very popular argument, and to counter such a case before it arises, my debate partner and I often champion a very unorthodox means of payment.

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Taxing these bad boys. In order to pay for all of our ambitious ideas, we would often say that we would introduce a tax on all religious institutions. This was always fun to throw into an argument, so I was hoping that elaborating on why we claimed it was such a good idea would promote some good discussion. Here goes nothing.

Okay, so the main and obvious reason to tax something is to get money out of its existence. So, how much money would the Federal Government receive if we chose to install such a tax on religious property? Well, according to sources, it could be upwards of 71 billion dollars. For the sake of a cleaner walkthrough, I am going to round this number down to 60 billion. 60 is a nice number, but 60 billion is a little harder to grasp. How much could 60 billion dollars pay for? Shuttle-752344

Look at this flying bad boy! You like that he is flying? Me too! If you were to, for some crazy reason, spend all the revenue from this new tax on launching space shuttles, you could do it over TEN times a month. Needless to say, this a large amount of money, and this could be spent to improve everyone’s lives, and not just on those who attend the assorted religious properties. To clarify, this tax would still not apply to any of the charity aspects that a religious institution may hold, such as food banks, which have tax exempt status for non-religious reasons.

Of course, a really good idea would allow everyone to benefit. How, you may ask, could any religious institution benefit from paying taxes? Well, they could all have the freedom of a louder voice! Since they would pay taxes, religious institutions would no longer have to be in fear of having their political views stifled, which has been a complicated issue for quite a while because tax exempt groups cannot double as political action groups. Because this would no longer be the case, these theological social clubs would actually be able to express their political views down to the preferred candidate, which not only promotes freedom of speech, but allows for more unified communities as well.

The one problem that people may bring up is the issue of constitutionality, and how this plan might infringe on that idea. After all, is not the power to tax the power to destroy? Keep in mind that within the context of the First Amendment, there is nothing stopping those who are religious from continuing practice. In fact, what this new tax would do is get rid of a tax exemption status that showed privilege to those who do practice a religion that requires a separate physical institution. After all, it would be just silly if there was a sprawl of atheist clubhouses in every town in America that all benefitted from tax exemption, wouldn’t it? So, if you want to be more constitutional, this seems like the right course of action.

So, this is the end of my food for thought. I hope it might shed some light on an idea that does not get much attention. Or, it could just be some food for thought. Either way, I hope you enjoyed my wordy proposal.

 

No-Credit Ensembles – Stepping Stone or Necessity?

For all my time at St. Olaf, I have been involved in music ensembles, specifically, choir. I love it, regardless of the sleepless nights spent on projects after Christmas Fest rehearsals, or even walking out to a bus in the dark at 6:30 AM to perform for early-morning concerts. I love it even though I don’t earn any credit for my transcript by doing it. However, as of this month, ensemble participation has been added to the transcript–with zero credit. Among students, the issue of whether or not they should be credited for their participation is a source of controversy.

Some say that since the ensemble is a huge time commitment and that participants should be recognized for their participation, such as A., a sophomore. “You’re still putting in a lot of time and effort into the ensemble, and you should be given credit for that.” Credit for ensembles would accurately recognizes the value of time during students’ time at college. “I actually spend more time in Band than I do [for] some of my classes.”

Indeed, St. Olaf seems to be moving toward credited ensembles, which are predominantly the norm. J., a sophomore, says “Most colleges give credit for their ensembles. [Adding them to the transcript at zero credit] is just a stepping stone toward that.”

However, most people seem to side with the way it has always been. They say that since St. Olaf ensembles in the past have never been given credit, the current setup is even more than we need. Isaac, a sophomore, says “It’s better [this way] because it shows it’s volunteer. We’re doing it because we want to.” In fact, if credit were given, some students who are in more than one ensemble (even more than two) would not be able to continue in all of them without lowering the amount of other credits taken. “There are so many classes that music majors have to take, but [if we did that] we’d be over [the 4.5 credit limit].” That’s especially a problem for music majors, who are required to participate in ensembles for at least three years; for some, it’s even four.

Even though ensembles consume a lot of time, more than a third of all St. Olaf students participate, only some of which are actually music students. While the transcripted future of the St. Olaf ensemble remains uncertain, the fact that students get involved for the love of the art, especially now, is unarguable.

 

Truth in Comedy: An Inside Look at INBLACK

4:30pm. April 16th, 2014. A crowd of Oles is herded into a line stretching from a small table in Crossroads out past the Bookstore. At the table, 8 students speed through making change, handing out tickets, and fielding questions.

Maybe you’ve seen our posters?

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Photo credit to Travis Chantar.

INBLACK is here, ladies and gents, and let me tell you, it’s probably the weirdest, most rewarding thing I’ve been a part of on this campus (but this article is not about me).

INBLACK started roughly ten years ago as a re-performance of the neo-futurist show, Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. The neo-futurist model revolves around presenting drama and comedy from a place of pure truth. Eventually, the Ole group started writing its own sketches instead of using the TML pieces and presenting INBLACK as an entity unique (we think) to St. Olaf was born.

Over the years INBLACK has exploded in popularity. This year, we sold out five of our nine shows in the first two hours of tabling. The next day, the rest were gone in another two hours. St. Olaf Extra is flooded with emails requesting ticket swaps and sales, and our rush line before the show promises to be intense.

So why the fuss?

Our secret? At INBLACK, we’re not afraid to be honest, particularly about life at St. Olaf. Humorous and serious sketches alike make comments on issues we deem important. Last year’s show included a sketch called “Time Capsule” which reminded the audience of events on St. Olaf campus such as the feral cat and the Vote No movement, as well as the racially-charged incident that occurred in Rand and the theft of the Palestinian flag from the library hallway.

This year,  sketches like J.C. On Duty hilariously riff on the pressures and downfalls of working in Residence Life. Board Game comments on college students’ general lack of intimacy and the millennial dating-game of who-cares-less. Various members’ monologues contain themes of struggles with anxiety, depression, and other personal issues that Olaf and society try to push out of open discussion.

And every single show is sold out.

There is a great deal of truth in comedy. While some sketches in the show are not meant to be funny, all of them make you think. And for those that are funny and truthful, it makes you think about why the truth is easier to accept by that means. There’s a lot wrong with the world we live in, and we need to talk about it. That doesn’t mean we can’t be entertained while doing so.

And as for an Ole event, INBLACK can’t be beat. If you don’t already have a ticket, show up to Haugen 30 minutes before the show. Get your name on the rush list.

Are you ready?

UPDATE: Thank you so much to everyone who came to see the show. I hope y’all enjoyed it, and thanks for being such wonderful audiences. Long live INBLACK!

St. Olaf’s Mission Statement: a Deterrent to Prospective Students?

First semester, my section in AMCON discussed St. Olaf’s mission statement. While I don’t remember the context in which we discussed the statement, I remember many of us were shocked at how religious the school was portrayed to be.  I couldn’t help but think that if I had conducted my college search based on mission statements alone, I would not have pursued St. Olaf any further. To my not-particularly-religious-eyes, this school seems almost exclusive, starting with the statement:

“St. Olaf, a four-year college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, provides an education committed to the liberal arts, rooted in the Christian Gospel, and incorporating a global perspective. In the conviction that life is more than a livelihood, it focuses on what is ultimately worthwhile and fosters the development of the whole person in mind, body, and spirit.”

The school clearly wants to draw in Christian students, and states that the education given to students will be rooted in the Christian Gospel, which would appeal most to those who already follow the Christian faith. However, this mission statement is juxtaposed with the last paragraph:

“St. Olaf College strives to be an inclusive community, respecting those of differing backgrounds and beliefs…and it challenges them to be responsible and knowledgeable citizens of the world”.

So what is it St. Olaf? What is it you actually want? You can’t have a community of just Lutheran students and expect them to learn first hand about the different cultures and people of the world if those people do not exist on campus.

This mission statement is alarming to me, and I wondered if it would have the same effect on other students, particularly those from the Pacific Northwest. So, I decided to conduct a survey to see if others were similarly concerned, and put off by St. Olaf’s mission statement. My sister and her peers are currently looking at possible colleges to attend, so they were appropriate participants. In making the survey, I extracted 5 different college mission statements: those of Furman University, Franklin and Marshall, Rhodes College, Denison College and St. Olaf. All are small liberal arts schools equally ranked by US News. I put each of their mission statements on a survey, omitting the school name, and received 13 responses from students. Half of the students attend public high school in Seattle, Washington, and the other half attends a private Catholic high school in Portland, Oregon.

The results from the survey were not surprising. Out of all the schools I listed, St. Olaf received the most “no’s”, and when asked why the student was not interested in the school, responses like these were given:

 

  • I am not Lutheran and there are so many other choices out there, that going to a school that emphasizes religion to this extent would be a bit of a turn-off.
  • Although it claims to respect differing backgrounds and beliefs, it places a large emphasis on its theological literacy, placing it among their intentions for a student to get out of their education. 
  • It sounds like you have to do both theological and academic learning their way.
  • Though this college does seem to have a good academic program for students, I fear that if I did enter this school as a Catholic, I would feel a little misplaced in the Lutheran community at this college.
  • It seems a little too religious based to me. I am alright with going to a religious school but it sounds like it would be mostly the same sort of people and beliefs. I would like to go somewhere more diverse.

College Survey Results

Now, where do we go from here? I realize that this is a Lutheran-affiliated school, that many students attend the school for this reason, and that there are many wonderful things about the Lutheran affiliation, but St. Olaf seems to want to go in a direction that its mission statement does not indicate. After attending the school for two years, I notice a strong emphasis on the importance of diversity: religious, ethnic, and economic. I don’t feel that key aspects of St. Olaf’s mission statement, especially its religious exclusivity, are representative of the goals the school has for the future. I’m worried the mission statement is problematic in that it might deter future students from applying to St. Olaf, especially those holding different religious beliefs.

St. Olaf’s identity is changing, and the current mission statement is not reflecting this change. My ultimate hope for St. Olaf is that the Board of Regents meets to adjust the mission statement. I don’t contend that the religious parts be cut, but I do think that there should be less of an emphasis on religion, and more of an emphasis on St. Olaf’s efforts to encourage a diverse environment where students are free to engage in dialogue about the world, its peoples and its struggles. The way the statement is written currently discourages those who hold different religious viewpoints (as was demonstrated in the results of the survey), and thus discourages diversity.

 

SARN Sexual Assault Panel (original)

student_denim_0413Today is Denim Day. In 1997, a 45 year old driving instructor picked up an 18 year old girl for her first driving lesson. He allegedly raped the girl for an hour. The case was taken to trial, and the driving instructor was convicted. However, the Italian Supreme Court overturned the conviction because the girl was wearing tight jeans. The justification was that: “because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them…and by removing the jeans…it was no longer rape but consensual sex”.

The day after the overturning of the conviction, the women in the Italian Parliament protested, wore jeans, and held posters that said “Jeans: An Alibi for Rape.” After that event, Denim day was born.

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Wearing jeans on Denim day became a symbol for protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual assault.

On Denim Day, SARN, Sexual Assault Resource Network, had a panel of six current St. Olaf students who told their stories of sexual assault.

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Before each speaker spoke, the host spoke about the myths associated with sexual assault and the facts. The myths entailed: The perpetrator is always a stranger, the perpetrator is mentally-ill/unstable, it was inevitable because the victim was intoxicated, the victim did not fight back thus it was not sexual assault, the perpetrator is never a significant other, and the list continues. Followed by the myth, the host spoke about the facts that accompanied the myths. The facts included, often perpetrators of sexual assault are not strangers, sexual assault frequently occurs in the victims home, sexual assault happens to individuals in relationships, and many other notions.

The survivors recounted their sexual assault experiences and some spoke of their recovery stories. In the panel of survivors, the earliest age of sexual assault happened at the age of 13. The most recent sexual assault experience took place in November of 2013. The perpetrators ranged from significant others, best friends, strangers, friends of siblings to St. Olaf classmates. Each story was complex and intimate.  In all of the stories, none of the victims spoke of attempting to convict their perpetrators. Rather, one survivor said that she would would not change her decision, of not convicting her perpetrator. The combination of the stories and injustices that these victims encounter had left me mixed with sorrow, condolences, and anger.

After the all of the survivors had spoken, the host asked for questions, and the room was silent. The host asked the audience to stand up if the individual has experienced sexual assault. A less than quarter of the room stood up. The host then asked if the individual has ever met or had a relationship with someone who has been sexually abused. I looked around the room and only a handful of people were not standing up. Then, the host thanked everyone for coming and then I paid careful attention to everyones face. Majority of the faces were filled with commiseration and eyes that darted ground.

Silence was the song of the night. The stories evoked something in the audience. Sexual assault is a problem that occurs everyday, in our community, and to people we know. I hope that the discussion of sexual assault does not stop at the panel. So how about we continue here?

Civil Rights Bill of 2014

Though we have just covered the Civil Rights Movement in AmCon, in reality, it’s been 50 years since Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law. It outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It ended the unequal voter registration requirements that had plagued the Southern blacks in particular. More so, it ended racial segregation in public schools, in workplaces that received federal funding, and in facilities that served the general public, such as motels and restaurants (because they participated in interstate commerce).

Professor Maurice Jackson talks about the historical aspects of the laws, but also the repercussions that we feel today in his interview on April 11. Specifically, would it be possible for the Civil Rights Act to be signed into law today?

I believe it would be signed into law today because I think people now could see beyond race, however, there are a few points raised briefly by Jackson that could prove otherwise. President Johnson was a very tall man (6’4”) and had a very good memory. He used it to exploit the weaknesses of those opposed to his bill. Next, Democrats and Republicans at that time were more friendly towards each other, some even being friends. Today, that is incredibly unlikely. However, CBS had a poll a few days before the interview and found that 46% of all Americans thought that racial discrimination would always exist (44% white and 61% for African Americans). To me, it seems like that shows what the divide would be if we had a vote for the bill today.

Professor Jackson says, “On issues like this, are things that can either unite or divide the nation, I’d have to have a positive voice and say ‘Yes, I do think it could pass.’” I have to hope that he’s right. He goes on to say, “I tend to think…people know the benefit [of] these laws.” And I do too. At St. Olaf, as white and Lutheran as we are, we aim to celebrate diversity whether it be in race, religion, or sexual orientation. Now, I might be delusional, but all around the country, more colleges, towns, and cities are starting to celebrate differences as well. Children of this age are being taught more and more that differences are a good thing and to not be discriminatory against others that are different from them. So, given that political climate, I think a Civil Rights Act of 2014 could pass.

Humans of South Sudan Benefit Concert

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Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the ongoing conflict in Syria have certainly grabbed the attention of Americans and US news. In the midst of all of this conflict, another crisis that has been overshadowed needs the world’s attention, the current civil war of South Sudan. On Thursday, April 17th, St. Olaf students held a benefit concert to raise awareness and raise funds for the people of South Sudan.

In brief summary, In July 2011, South Sudan demanded independence from North Sudan after two civil wars for a total of thirty-eight years of conflict. Following the liberation, South Sudan experienced a brief period of peace, until December 15, 2013. South Soudanese President Salva Kiir accused his recently discharged VP Riek Machar of attempting to plot a coup after Machar refused to attend a meeting of the National Legislative Committee. The hostility between Kiir and Machar was contagious. Some South Sudanese remained loyal to their president, while others sided with Machar in rebellion. Since then, violence has aggravated; an estimated 10,000 lives have been lost. Mass killings, forced disappearance, sexual violence the property destruction and the use of child soldiers.

Nearly one million South Sudanese are displaced from their homes into refugee camps located at neighboring countries. These camps face overcrowding, disease, famine and potential floods with the rainy season on its way.

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The atmosphere in the Pause Thursday night felt paradoxical. Students performed entertainment such as music, dance and poetry. Sandwiched between performances, the audience learned about the current crisis. I found myself laughing one minute, and near tears the next. Senior JB Tut, a South Sudan native, shared his personal connection to the issue. Tut explained he was “born into war.” His family was forced from their home and endured violence and starvation. Their location was treacherous, Tut’s father was held at gunpoint for his Christian faith. Moments before his persecution, South Sudanese soldiers rescued him.
He quoted John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath,

“How can you frighten a man whose hunger is not only in his own cramped stomach but in the wretched bellies of his children? You can’t scare him—he has known a fear beyond every other.”

Tut’s entire family safely escaped to the United States a few years later.

Tut got the opportunity to return to South Sudan for the first time in December of 2012. He described how emotional it is to see the country in shambles just one year later. His father recently returned to South Sudan alongside an Ole alum to provide aid and support at South Sudan’s Pinedock Refugee Camp. All proceeds from the event will go directly toward relief for the desperate refugees.

I found myself moved by the entire event, and compelled to make a difference. A group of broke college students in rural Minnesota made an enormous influence on a nation across the globe suffering from a humanitarian crisis. Tut expressed to the crowd that this crisis can still be maintained and controlled, but we must stay informed and get involved.

For more information:
World Report 2014

BBC News

The Pothead Perspective

What is the big deal about marijuana legalization? Well, that’s what I set out to learn when I attended this week’s PAC Panel event. And over the course of the hour,I learned from five members of Normal, the organization most active in pursuing the legalization of marijuana, all about its benefits and why we should be for it. I heard everything from economic and environmental benefits, to medicinal purposes to statements made about how it is less damaging than cigarettes and alcohol. This is all great, but there was something missing. There was something that could have made their argument even stronger. There was no other voice, no debate, nothing to truly prove that their side was better.  Worse yet, when faced with questions about possible negative effects or anything in opposition, it was quickly brushed aside, with little answer given. And this is a problem that I see around our campus all the time, this overly enthusiastic approach of single-mindedness that occasionally leaves holes in our arguments.

Normal Rally

Now, before anyone starts making assumptions about my own beliefs and perspectives, I am willing to lay them out there. I am a liberal, relatively atheist and to be perfectly honest, it’s no skin off my nose if people want to smoke pot as long as it’s done responsibly. So, I’m not exactly atypical of the St. Olaf student body. That being said, it is occasionally frustrating looking and seeing how unwilling some people on our campus are to hearing a voice of dissent in the audience. If it’s not in support of Obama and social programs, no one wants to hear it. If it’s not ridiculously hipster music, you can bet it won’t be at the spring concert.

But I think that it’s important to listen to all sides of the story, even if it is just to sharpen your own arguments against them, because that is how we learn. If we instead choose to never listen to the other side, our own arguments can become stagnant and weak. And if something is truly right and just, it will stand in the force of the opposition, and come out stronger than before. If all we ever do is shut down the other side, we will become just as fanatic as they are, moving further and further away from reason, as we become lazy and find no reason to come up with new and improved ideas. If I say it is so, then it is.

But to me, that’s not good enough. If I want to truly understand why I believe something, it’s important that I understand my opponent’s arguement, as well. How else am I suppose to refute it?  Or maybe even learn that our opinions don’t differ as much as we thought.

That’s something that I think we need a little bit more of on this campus. Bringing someone like Newt Gingrich on campus was a good start. Here, we were offered the chance to listen and then respond and ask questions, creating a dialog that in the long run will help us solidify our own principles and beliefs in our changing world.

Newt Gingrich

We’re all smart individuals and I think it’s time that we utilized those discussion skills that St. Olaf teaches us so well. Maybe you’ll form a new opinion, maybe you’ll solidfy the one you already, maybe you can convince someone of your own beliefs. But whatever the results, try it. Watch a different news channel for the night, instead of just Colbert’s summary on silly things politicians say. Listen if someone talks about an economic plan different than you’re own. Don’t shut someone down, without the very least hearing what they have to say. Learning is good and maybe we’ll all understand ourselves a little bit better, in the end.

So, tell me what are the negative effects of legalizing marijuana?

Japan as the new “old American” culture

Diners, drive-ins, and dives; whiskey, beer, and moonshine; blue jeans, denim, and varsity jackets: these are all considered aspects of American culture and for that reason, we, as Americans, are experts at them right? We know how to make the perfect burger, how to pour our whiskey and down our moonshine, how to wear our jeans… and so on. Not so. It seems the Japanese have taken American culture, improved upon it, and “made it better”. Or at least that is the argument presented by two articles for the Smithsonian and Wall Street Journal, respectively. These articles were written by the same guy, Tom Downey, a writer and documentary filmmaker who has worked for many varying magazines and news organizations and who spent time in Japan, traveling around, exploring the place, interviewing people, and experiencing the culture. He reported back in these two articles and in another article for Outside’s GO on his experiences and time there. What he found was an obsession with American culture, but more importantly, an obsession with the perfection of American culture. Downey details in these two articles the various ways in which Japanese entrepreneurs have taken American burgers, clothing, coffee, music, and liquor, and improved upon all of it, perfecting it to the extreme. Michelin starred restaurants serve American burgers with the perfect char in an entirely American setting. Small time entrepreneurs have taken American classics and recreated them with more high quality materials. One particular coffee shop will not allow its baristas to serve espressos or cappuccinos to customers until they have had more than two years of experience making them. Cafes exist solely to play ancient jazz records and to mimic the mood and setting of the Beatnik generation. Small bars serve 100 year-old bottles of whiskey bought from American suppliers. As Downey argues, the Japanese have copied American culture and “made it better”.

I highly recommend checking out these two articles

Wall Street Journal:
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052970204542404577157290201608630

Smithsonian:
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/how-japan-copied-american-culture-and-made-it-better-180950189/?all&no-ist

Don’t Hit Mickey

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A tired Cookie Monster takes a smoke break.

When you’re Mickey Mouse the boys high five you. Hard.  They slap you on the back.  Hello Kitty is cute and less of a problem.

Joana Toro explains her preference for her Hello Kitty costume rather than a Mickey Mouse one, in the New York Times lens blog feature ‘I Am Hello Kitty’. The feature is at once humorous, moving, inspiring, and tragic, offering a potent glimpse into the lives of those cartoon characters perpetually milling about Times Square.  Hardworking yet humble, and sometimes very well-educated and accomplished, the people within the costumes are usually immigrants from Mexico or Peru, in search of that elusive “American Opportunity” for themselves and their families.  Most don’t even live in New York, opting instead for the more affordable Passaic, New Jersey.  The commute is long, and they change into their costumes wherever they can – subway stations, restaurants….  Their lives could hardly be further from the glittering Hollywood studios where their characters are born, or even the crowded-yet-captivating (and conspicuously commercial) streets of the Square where they work.

The workers change into their costumes in the subway station in Times Square.
Workers change into their costumes in the subway station in Times Square.

When Toro first started working, her co-worker and friend, Berta, warned her that it was:

…hard work, standing all day to scrounge a few dollars.

An accurate description, Toro corroborated.  She continues

People think an ignoramus is under the mask, someone who does not know how to read or write so they dance for pennies.  But most of the workers I found there were humble, honest, and they knew what they were doing.

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Berta repairs her Minne Mouse costume in her home in New Jersey.

There are success stories, like Berta. She was able to send her two sons to college, albeit after 15 years of working the Square.

And then there are those stories that leave you shaking your head.  The fall from dignity that traps those least deserving.  And for these stories, I believe, one can hardly keep from pausing, at least a moment, to ask: “How did this happen?” and maybe even “What more can I do, to ensure that this pattern does not repeat itself once more?”

Toro’s image of one such story is poignant: a veteran of both the United States and Peruvian armed forces, standing in a Woody (from “Toystory”) costume.

Is this the best we have to offer our veterans?

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Hector, in his home in New Jersey. He was a soldier in the Peruvian army and fought with the United States in Iraq.

 

There is a sort of opportunity, perhaps, for those who take on this career.  It is a chance to earn extra money they might not have gotten anywhere else.  It is the classic first rung of a modern day Horatio Alger story.  Rags today, maybe riches tomorrow.  But at what cost? It is clear that pride is no obstacle to these modest and industrious immigrant workers.  But that does not mean their dignity is left unscathed after a long day (or month, or year) in costume.  It is difficult for us to see these plastic and textile – built characters as humans. Why else would it seem so natural to give a stranger a friendly (and not so gentle) slap on the back? In the midst of the ongoing immigration debate, stories such as these ask us to honor, rather than criminalize, undocumented workers in the United States. There is little we as individuals can do right now for the immigrants in Times Square, but I’ll try to keep this in mind if I ever end up in the Big Apple:

Tip generously, and don’t hit Mickey.

 

An elderly man from Peru takes a quick lunch break before hitting the streets as Elmo.
An elderly man from Peru takes a quick lunch break before hitting the streets as Elmo.