Monthly Archives: November 2016

Time Feature on America Recycles Day

recycle-logoNovember 15 is America Recycles Day, so I am popping in late with a link to Time magazine’s feature on the history of recycling, featuring interviews with Susan Strasser, Bartow Elmore, and me.

Readers interested in the themes of this article may find expansion on several points in my book Cash for Your Trash: Scrap Recycling in America (Rutgers UP, 2005).

Holiday Wish List

presentsAs someone with a birthday this time of year, and with Christmas and Hannukkah approaching, I am asked what presents I would like.

This, then is a shameless and public plea for presents. Many, many presents. I am greedy for presents this year. Well, two presents, that I want hundreds of times over. Here is my list:

Donations to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC is “dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy, the SPLC works toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality.”

It is also made up of some of the most courageous, patriotic Americans that exist. We are indebted to the work they do identifying violence against our people and working for a better society. If you want to give me presents, consider donating to SPLC.

Donations to the American Civil Liberties Union. “For almost 100 years, the ACLU has worked to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.”

The President-elect has made several statements over the past year that run counter to constitutional readings of the First Amendment. The ACLU will be very busy in 2017. If you want to give me presents, consider donating to the ACLU.

These are not the only presents that would be really great — I can think of quite a few more. If you indulge my greed for presents, feel free to click on those links and give, give, give for the holiday season.

November 8.

On Nov. 8, 1994, California voters passed Proposition 187. Spurred on by Gov. Pete Wilson and the media demonizing Hispanics, Prop. 187 sought to prohibit undocumented immigrants from using a wide range of public accommodations, including non-emergency medical care and public schools.

It passed by 1.5 million votes. In California.

The man whose signature appears on my college diploma led the fight to pass it. I see his signature every time I look up at my office wall. His xenophobia, echoed so much over the past year, is something I can never forget.

Today, though, that means something different to me than it did 22 years ago. Actions produce reactions. Prop. 187 destroyed the Republican Party in the home state of Ronald W. Reagan and Richard M. Nixon.

Actions produce reactions. In the wake of being demonized, Hispanic Californians mobilized, registering voters and running for office on the local, state, and national levels. Some of the results were quick: 1996’s election saw Orange County voters toss out “B-1” Bob Dornan in favor of second-generation American Loretta Sánchez. Others took more time, but today, all statewide officials and large majorities of the state legislature are Democrats. The one Republican elected governor since Pete Wilson was an immigrant who had a much different view of immigrants than Wilson did.

Loretta Sánchez lost her race this week. Not a race for re-election, but a race to succeed Barbara Boxer in the U.S. Senate. Rep. Sánchez was defeated by California Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat and the child of immigrants from India and Jamaica. The two finalist for the senate seat were both Democrats, both women, both children of immigrants. That contest reflects the state’s politics now as Prop. 187 reflected the state’s politics in 1994.

I am not saying history will repeat. I am not saying what has happened here this week does not have potentially grave consequences. But I am saying that the progressive, inclusive political culture of California in 2016 was not always there. It was forged in opposition to hate, and in organizing to defeat the agents of hatred.

This is what comes to mind every time I see Gov. Wilson’s name on my wall. It is what is on my mind today.