Thursday, January 03, 2008

Out in the cold

By Capt. Fogg

One normally doesn't associate the need for cold weather survival techniques with South Florida, but normally at this time of year we do get some cold weather and many Floridians have trouble coping with it. About once in a hundred years we get frost. In the late 17th century, a fellow named Jonathan Dickinson was washed up in a storm not far from my house and the survivors of the wreck were captured by the local Jove (pronounced Hobay) Indians. Stripped of possessions and clothing, they made their way, naked and without food, 230 miles up the coast to the Spanish settlement of St. Augustine where those who had not died of the cold and starvation got passage to Philadelphia. It gets cold in Florida.

It was 35 degrees this morning in Hobe Sound, an area named for those long gone natives. The wind off the Atlantic is very brisk, making it feel like 20 degrees if you're wearing the light clothing that makes up the Florida wardrobe. For those around the county in unheated trailers or unheated shacks it was very uncomfortable, and for those without housing, sleeping on the beach or in the woods last night was a dangerous choice. Some try to loiter in all night stores, some build camps in the woods, some just keep walking all night. Fortunately for those who can make their way to Stuart, the local Red Cross chapter opened a shelter last night, furnishing a cot, some food and heat for about 8 people.

When you think of homeless people, it's not always accurate to envision some scruffy, bearded, addicted or alcoholic misfit. It's not accurate to describe 30 year old Jean Cournoyer that way; reasonably dressed and groomed, he carries a shopping bag full of the basic toiletries needed to stay that way and he is here intending to get a job as a cook as soon as possible. What he lacks is money and he lacks it not because he's a bum or unemployable or lazy or drunk; it's because the United States Government in it's most xenophobic fear and fascist arrogance forced him to spend every dime he has to reunite his family. You see his wife is a British citizen and once upon a time she overstayed her visa by 24 hours.

That's enough to alert the iron curtain mentality of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to deny her entrance; to tag her as The Enemy. Cournoyer hasn't seen his wife and small children in a year and all his efforts to reunite his family have been to no avail.

Think of him before you start screeching "illegal, illegal" at every sad immigration story. Think of him when you start blowing hard about our "freedom;" about our "Christian principles" and "family values." Think about it when you smugly tell us that it can't happen here, because it already has, and when I think about it, what comes to mind is a country where ordinary, decent people disappear into secret jails and are abused, where official fear of people getting in and information getting out smells like the Soviets, the Maoists, the Nazis and every other corrupt, paranoid and tyrannical government where the law speaks for the few and crushes the rest.

If our Republic survives as a free, democratic and open society and we are able and allowed to remember the Bush years, I think our descendants will remember George Bush as the man who tried to conquer America but failed. If not, perhaps I will take this opportunity, while I still can, to say God Damn the Bush family. Damn everyone who has supported them; the greedy, the stupid and the malicious. Damn the bastards who have made me ashamed to be an American. Damn them all.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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