Thursday, March 22, 2007

Vasquez Speaks at BSU

Well just got back from hearing Robert Vasquez a former Canyon County commissioner and candidate for 2008 Republican Senate nomination speak about the issue of illegal immigration at Boise State University (not at Boise State University but 'at' Boise State University). Vasquez is well known for his strong opposition to illegal immigration, and once while serving as Canyon County commissioner billed the nation of Mexico 2 million dollars for the local health services care of unlicensed aliens. A flier for the event, sponsored by the college Republicans, was viewed by some including University President Bob Kustra as ethnically disrespectful. This controversy heightened the protest regarding the event, and a mostly silent vigil was kept outside around the student union building where Mr. Vasquez was to speak.

Robert Vasquez is not a great speaker, but demonstrated tonight a strong ability to stoke the fires on both sides, though the anti-Vasquez faction was by far the more vocal during the evenings events. I ended up sitting among a contingent fairly angry young Hispanic students, the young women next to me was visibly shaking early on, and dismissively laughed off some of the candidates more inflammatory or poorly worded remarks throughout the speech. On the whole the evening was a demonstration of our collective inability to hold a real discussion on this issue. Most of the questions asked during the Q & A that closed out the event where loaded, many only barely qualifying as questions, being in intent attacks upon Vasquez's views, not open inquires. Of course Vasquez himself came off as rather self involved individual nay perhaps even a jerk, but he did have some good points, and even he commented that if you don't agree with him your likely not going to really hear anything he has to say. The perception held by many that being anti-illegal immigration is some how equivalent to being anti-immigrant of any sort, and anti-Latin culture, is obviously a wrong one. There are cases where these things go together, perhaps to many, and perhaps those who hold these views are to predominate in the larger immigration control movement, but we've got to look beyond the provocateurs on both sides of this thing, and actually work towards a just solution.


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