Monday, April 24, 2006

W.R. Morris Is Back, and He, Too, Is Concerned About the Ongoing Debasement of the English Language

We were clicking through the local channels at newstime one evening last week when our restive gaze came to rest on a once-familiar glowering visage, that of W.R. Morris. We hadn’t seen his unsmiling face for a while.

Back in the late 1980s and early ’90s, though, it seemed Morris was on the small screen or in the newspaper(s) every time you wheeled around. Despite the noble Scottish surname, Morris was the designated go-to guy when it came to calling press conferences to air sundry “Hispanic” grievances. He was sort of the brown Quanell X, except that comparison is a discredit to Morris, who was a full member of the reality-based community and never had a faithful PR attendant like the one who services Mr. X (hey now, wouldn’t it make an interesting story for some Houston media outlet to go back and look at all the allegations of racism and discrimination that Mr. X has ushered before the public in the past decade, and see how many actually panned out and how many evaporated into nothingness, leaving faint emanations of ill will all around, to, y’know, establish his credibility to continue commanding the media spotlight? We’re thinking of the allegations he raised against the Houston Fire Department a while back [we heard a vastly different story than the one he trotted before the public, not that it potentially was any more true than the one he was peddling]. Of course, it would take some intestinal fortitude to pursue that story, so never mind!)

Anyway, we can’t remember whether Morris came out of organized labor or just sprung up in the front yard one night, but eventually he was co-opted by The Man (as must we all be) and took a job with Neighborhood Protection during the Lanier administration. But now he looks to be back in the gum-beating game, thus his cameo on a Channel 11 report on the big upcoming boycott/shutdown/whatever-it-is by illegal immigrants and their supporters, in which the news gal appeared to put the old boy at a discrete distance by introducing him as a “self-described Hispanic activist,” no doubt because what came next combined the subtlety of Bill O’Reilly with the refinement of Rush Limbaugh and might have resulted in an angry call or two to the station. Here’s what he said (a rough approximation, but close):
They say they’re protesting for immigrant rights, but they’re illegal aliens---they don’t have any rights!”
And he’s right, of course. In theory, that is. In reality, illegal aliens do have rights, even though they’re not technically covered by the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment (which, y’know, is so passé it was supposed to address the plight of recently freed African-Americans---we’ve finished with that business, right?).

When, for instance, was the last time you read of someone being denied due process down at the courthouse because he or she was illegal (most likely they’ll be benefiting by the extra expense of bilingual translators)? Their kids get educated for free at the public schools (where most likely they’ll be benefiting by the extra expense of bilingual teachers) and if the parents meet the income requirements can avail themselves of two half-decent meals a day for 35 or so cents. And of course their spawn are guaranteed the full rights of citizenship, just for being born here. (And what other nation-state on this godforsaken globe extends that privilege? This is not a rhetorical question---we don’t know.).

It appears that Morris, like us, has noticed how in the past few weeks the media and various protest organizers have started characterizing the entire issue as one of immigrant rights, when a month or so ago it was simply a debate on how (not if) the U.S. should tighten its rules on illegal immigration, most controversially on whether new legislation should offer amnesty or a pathway (fully mechanized, probably) to citizenship for illegals already here. We won’t even bother fingering the locals for this transgression---it’s all over the place. And we hardly got a word in edgewise.

Morris is representative of a figure who hasn’t gotten much play in the recent media coverage: The Angry Brown Man (or Woman). Yeah, it’s true: some of the most critical and even derogatory remarks about illegal aliens that we’ve heard in our quarter-century in Houston have come from Mexican-Americans. We remember being over on Leland or Polk, one of those streets running east of downtown, not long after arriving in town and falling into conversation with a Hispanic guy who was about our age now, an accountant (self-described) and homeowner who, unbidden, began ripping and roaring about how the neighborhood was going to hell because of all the illegals moving in---“15 to 20 of 'em in a house,” we recall him saying bitterly. (He was, we might add, drinking a beer in his front yard at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, and offered us one, which, we might further add, we gratefully accepted). We hope he lived long enough to turn a buck or two from the still-a-ways-off gentrification (just goes to show ya).

W.R. Morris doesn't fit the media’s story line, so he gets to be self-described.

No comments: