Why I doorknocked for Nika Elugardo
Nika Elugardo’s primary victory on 9/4 left me elated and, for the first time since 11/9/2016, hopeful. Having grown up in Germany and studied the rise and rule of the Nazi regime in school over and over, I could not help but be struck by the parallels in our own political life of the past 3 years. The campaign of our current president began with his calling Mexican people rapists.
Singling out vulnerable people, as targets for calumny and dehumanization, was the winning strategy of the Nazi party as well. Dehumanization was followed by violence of individuals and of the state against people who could not fight back.
Anti-immigrant hate has been as prevalent in this country for as long as anti-Semitism was prevalent in Germany. It has been as organized and as politically channeled here, as in Germany, by groups created and funded by a white supremacist named John Tanton, and it has been picked up by politicians especially but not exclusively, Republicans. The lies invented and spread about undocumented people, especially Latinos, are as blatant as the lies spread in Germany about Jews: that they come here to get welfare benefits, that they are criminals, or that they steal Americans’ jobs.
Of note, a spokesperson for one of John Tanton’s groups (the “Center for Immigration Studies”), Jessica Vaughan, is frequently quoted in the Boston Globe.
I grew up learning in school that the actions of the Nazi regime were possible only because opportunists preferred to go along in order to save their careers, and because people looked away instead of acknowledging the regime’s crimes. In the 2000s I began to realize what my own patients’ immigrant families were going through, and that it resembled in many ways the German history I had studied.
The Trump presidency has brought the violence against immigrant families to a head. People of good will are no longer looking away, as they did under President Obama. I was all the more shocked when the Massachusetts House of Representatives, again this year, refused to vote on a bill that would have extended minimal protections to undocumented families in the era of Trump, the Safe Communities Act.
Most distressingly, it was my own representative, Jeffrey Sanchez, who as chair of a critical committee blocked the bill from coming to a vote. Many people called his office and implored him to allow a vote on Safe Communities or its remnants, state budget amendments. Seemingly in fealty to his patron’s, House Speaker DeLeo’s wishes, Mr. Sanchez refused. Speaker DeLeo apparently preferred not to make Governor Baker face this bill, since Mr. Baker had come into office vowing to veto all legislation favorable to undocumented people.
My personal interpretation is that Mr. Sanchez prioritized his own career and Speaker DeLeo’s wishes, over his knowledge of the persecution of undocumented families. Unlike many of his colleagues, Mr. Sanchez actually knows what is being done to them.
At that point that I learned of Nika Elugardo’s campaign.
Jamaica Plain resident
To JP Centre/South Main Streets
As an artist who has lived in JP for 25 years, I appreciate your support of the artist community. Knowing this is a priority for the organization, it is therefore confusing to me how you advertise JP’s First Thursday Art Walk.
The design highlights the businesses showing the art, not the actual artists’ name. Why would you not put the artist name as the priority? By listing just the places and not the artist or their medium, you’re ignoring the very point of the art walk—especially since your map’s is titled First Thursday Art Walk, not a business walk. Artists have a difficult enough time marketing and finding venues to show their work. It would be a welcome change if you lead with advertising the artists and where people can find them.
Jamaica Plain resident
The Near Future
It’s just a matter of time when women’s rights, consumer rights, liberty and justice for all, and all efforts towards cleaning up the environment and trying to prevent further climate warming will be things of the past … THE GOP AGENDA, representing the 1%, will have been achieved in just two years through this puppet, this grotesque beast now sitting in the White House. And, most importantly, SCOTUS will be stacked against the 99% and will have about as much integrity as a 1950’s traffic court in Osayka, Mississippi. At some point, the GOP will declare their leader unfit and/or the Mueller investigation will result in charges brought against the Orange Menace causing him to resign. Trump will go back to his now-beefed up properties (having used his office to gain favorable terms with local and foreign governments.) Then, according to plan, VP Pence will take controls and, quite frankly, all bets are off. The soft-speaking, self-righteous Mike Pence will actually make many finally get their heads out of their “Smart” phones and wonder just what the hell happened. The Rightwing Conservative 1% of the nation will declare absolute victory. Or, am I pointing out the obvious?
Michel L. Spitzer
Jamaica Plain resident
Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School
We were delighted that your last two issues mentioned the existence of a legal aid office in the neighborhood, in identifying proposed sites for a new dog park. The Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School–not “Boston Legal Services,” as misnamed in those issues–is directly adjacent to the Stony Brook T stop and has provided free legal services to low-income residents of Jamaica Plain and the surrounding communities for forty years. We and our colleagues help people with a variety of legal problems and needs, from veterans benefits to housing matters to tax disputes to student loan debt. Many of our colleagues, like us, live in Jamaica Plain. We invite our neighbors to stop by and visit us or to learn more on our website, www.legalservicescenter.org.
Toby Merrill & Dana Montalto,
JP residents and lawyers at the Legal Services Center