By Contributor on October 12, 2010

By Ana Perez

The Meg Whitman saga reveals not only her hypocrisy but also our nation’s hypocrisy on the issue of immigration.

Meg Whitman counted on her investment of millions of dollars in the Spanish-language media to yield high returns in California’s highly contested gubernatorial race. Yet she did not count on Nicandra Diaz Santillan, an undocumented Latina immigrant and a former Whitman housekeeper, to come out of the closet and expose Whitman’s hypocrisy.

Whitman had employed Diaz Santillan as a domestic worker for nine years and then fired her shortly after deciding to run for governor.

“I knew the risk of speaking out and I was afraid for my family,” Diaz Santillan said. “Despite my fear, I decided to come out from the shadows, the shadows in which millions of people live every day.”

This may prove disastrous for Whitman.

“For months, Whitman has portrayed herself ‘tough as nails’ on illegal immigration,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported, “and has said she wanted to ‘prosecute illegal aliens and criminal aliens around the state,’ along with the people who hire them.”

As a Latina, I was disgusted to see Whitman’s ad after ad on Spanish TV and radio claiming she was a friend to the Latino population. One commercial featured a Latino man explaining that Whitman had provided opportunity for him; therefore, she was a good candidate for Latinos. Yet when I turned to English channels, anti-immigrant and anti-Latino sentiment spooled from the same campaign.

Immigration is by far the most divisive, most volatile and most intentionally misrepresented issue in politics today.

There are 12 million undocumented immigrants in our country. Like Diaz Santillan, most have been here for many years, working hard for low wages and paying taxes. All the while, they are at the mercy of their employers, who can threaten them with deportation at any moment.

These immigrants are vital to our economy, which would sputter without their contributions. Like Whitman, many industries have depended on their labor. To turn around then and scapegoat immigrants is the height of hypocrisy.

Yes, our immigration system is broken. But scapegoating is no solution. We need leaders to fix the system and move us forward so no one has to live in the shadows anymore.

Ana Perez is the executive director of the Central American Resources Center (CARECEN) in San Francisco and the president of the Salvadoran American National Network (SANN). She can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).


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