Sunday, May 02, 2010

My first May Day

I've been in Chicago for a number of years now, but today was the first time I attended May Day events. Which is a shame. Chicago is the birthplace of May Day, following the 1886 Haymarket Massacre; Chicago was also the location of the first of a series of mass demonstrations in 2006 against HR 4437, which led to the reinvigoration of May Day as a focal point of immigrants' rights activism in the US.

I have never been the biggest fan of these mass protest demonstrations, especially ones (like May Day) which are bound to attract characters of all stripes from the more and the less functional regions of the left. But this one was great.

Arizona did everyone the small favour of passing a bill or two that is not only bad, but simply grotesque. This has kicked the push for real immigration reform into a higher gear, at least for a little while. And so today the Loop was filled with thousands of people who wouldn't normally turn out to a march (by all accounts, this year's march was several times larger than last year's), which drowned out the usual suspects that make these sorts of affairs so painful: fractious socialist sects, "anarchists" making a politically impotent spectacle of themselves, etc. There was fairly good message unity, despite the wide diversity in groups who turned out. So, for example, LGTBQ groups came with their rainbow flags—on flag-poles bearing signs calling for immigrants' rights.

On the issue of immigrants' rights, I have just one thing to add to this old post, to tie in the theme of workers' rights.
You shall not abuse a needy and destitute labourer, whether a fellow countryman or a stranger in one of the communities of your land. You must pay him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets, for he is needy and urgently depends on it; else he will cry to the LORD against you and you will incur guilt. (Deut. 24:14-15)

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