My column on the Postville immigration raid drew quite a bit of mail. Most agreed with me that congressional paralysis on both immigration reform and on reining in the excesses of the nation’s meatpacking industry made Postville’s trauma possible.
I received lots of mail, but the most poignant paragraph came from Roger Engstrom of Postville, a Vietnam vet who said he has worked at Agriprocessors for a decade.
The Monday morning the Federal Officers burst (best word available) into my office at Agri, my first, very first, thoughts were of raids on South Vietnam villages 37 plus years ago.
And then I was at the same church you were at here in Postville and I saw the same fear in the eyes of the people there that I had seen in the villagers. The children’s eyes in that church had this 57 year old fat white guy crying his eyes out in guilt and shame of past acts, and in frustration of current situations.
Richard Lenth, who said he grew up in Postville and still has familiy in the community, argued in an e-mail that the government ignored warnings of what was happening at the plant.
Early pleas for help from the people of Postville were generally met with caustic responses that they were racist bigots. To hear state and federal government officials now claiming they had no idea that there were any problems is an absolute denial of the truth. I will forever believe that had pleas for help from the people of Postville been properly addressed as they arose we would never have reached this point.
Several writers had sympathy for the plight of the workers and their families, even though many came to our country illegally. Nanci Young was among them:
The people in Postville seeking a better life are not that far removed from our ancestors who came to the US seeking a better life. They are human beings who inherently deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. I don’t have a solution to the problem of illegal immigration. But I sure as heck know that the answer is NOT to devastate a town and several families, children, couples, and in general, people.
Martha Zipsie wrote to express her admiration for the legal immigrants she’s worked with at Kirkwood:
For over 25 years I’ve been a volunteer tutor in the ESL program for Kirkwood, and while I’ve never known an illegal immigrant, I’ve known plenty of legal ones and seen how hard they work(2, 2 and 4 jobs) to make a better life for their families. I always tell them how much I admire their courage and determination. I would never make it in their countries.
But Scott Welty was not sympathetic.
Now let me get this straight, I’m suppose to feel sorry for what happened to the people that were in this country illegally? I don’t think so! Ain’t gonna happen! No way, no how.
A couple of readers also, rightly, took me to task for my grammar. Bev Amoroso, a former Kirkwood instructor, was one with an eagle eye:
“Myself” is a reflective pronoun when one wishes to place emphasis; for instance, “I, myself, will do it.” Many people confuse the correct usage of “myself” and “me,” perhaps thinking that it is in some way self-promoting when, in fact, it is incorrect grammar.
In your column today you stated “. . . woman told Gazette video journalist Mike Barnes and myself to leave, pronto.” The correct usage should be as follows: “. . . woman told Gazette video journalist Mike barnes and ‘me’ to leave, pronto.”
Keep up the good work but do use correct grammar!
Keep those e-mails, comments and grammar lessons coming.