In a sleepy little town north of where I live, just a wide spot in the road, there’s a little gas station I frequent whenever I pick up KatyBeth from The Ex.
They have gas, beer, soft drinks, ice, the de rigeur deli case full of boudin, cracklins and fried Cajun food… just a typical south Louisiana convenience store, really. In addition to the usual “No shoes, no shirt, no service,” sticker on the front door, theirs also boasts an extra codicil: “No hoodies, no sagging pants, and no foul language.”
I can get behind that. Man’s got a right to dictate attire and behavior in his own place of business, after all.
I go there because the place is, as its name implies, convenient for me, and the owner keeps the riffraff out of his place. I don’t have to shepherd KatyBeth through a gauntlet of local thugs, vagrants and trustees of modern chemistry to get from my truck to the counter.
The owner is the typical sort you find around here: personable, belongs to all the usual civic groups, conservative values, votes the straight Republican ticket at every election, rails about high taxes but pays them anyway, wonders about kids these days and why should we have to press “1” for English, and what the hell is this country comin’ to? Heck, he’s probably even a faithful follower of Brother John Birch and a member of the Antioch Baptist Church.
Which is fine, really. I don’t have to agree with all of his politics to patronize his place. As long as his gas is cheap and the drink cooler keeps my Coke Zeros nice and frosty and the deli counter has a ready supply of chicken strips for KatyBeth, I’m good.
Then today, I noticed the new sign out front, proudly proclaiming, “American owned and operated!”
The point of the sign is obvious, if you know the town. His only competition in town are a couple of smaller stores, both owned by immigrant families. He’s trying to distinguish himself from those other two – and by inference, inferior – foreign-owned stores.
Which, when you think about it, is pretty frickin’ un-American.
He’s not a little American David battling a multi-national Goliath of chain stores here. He’s not urging you to buy Chevron gasoline because patronizing the Citgo station down the street indirectly supports some socialist despot in Venezuela. No, he wants you to patronize his store because it’s owned by a gin-yoo-wine, red-blooded, hunnert percent Murkin, and them other two are run by a bunch of ragheads.
I hate to break it to him, but the girl he employs behind the deli counter uses the word nigger like it’s punctuation (although she’s too cowardly to say it around her black co-workers), and she is the embodiment of every single negative stereotype she assigns to black people, all wrapped up in artificially tanned white skin and half-finished tattoos. She’s a lazy, surly, shiftless, Medicaid-abusing, entitled welfare queen boil on the taint of society, and that’s on her good days.
I know, I’ve cared for her and her unruly children on more occasions than I care to remember.
And in his little town, beneath the sleepy exterior and the well-groomed lawns of Baptist churches, there lurks a wretched hive of scum and villainy that would make the Mos Eisly spaceport look like a church social in comparison.
When the youth of this town have their weekly encounters with the police, or when the ambulance is called to the river to fetch yet another drunk who did something stupid, the surnames we’re writing down in our reports aren’t Pakistani. They aren’t even Hispanic. They’re names like Smith and Jones and Thompson and Thibodeaux and Comeaux.
In other words, homegrown, hunnert percent Murkin scumbags.
Supporting immigration reform and securing our borders is one thing. Illegal immigration is a huge burden to our society. Something needs to be done.
But these immigrants are not the ones we’re looking for. These people came here because America represented an opportunity. They live here, they work here, they pay taxes here, and they send their kids to college here.
They’re the people Emma Lazarus was talking about in that sonnet enscribed on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty:
…”Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the tempest-tossed, to me,
I lift up my lamp beside the golden door!”
In other words, they’re Americans too, and they enrich this country with their culture and their presence. They represent the values this country was founded upon.
Me, I think I’m going to take my business elsewhere in the future. Maybe even learn to say, “Thanks, partner, have a good ‘un,” in Urdu.
I think it would be the American thing to do.