Hanging Out in Rockford: Some of you won’t like this

My cook, Troy, recently moved out of his house next to the Kishwaukee River and into one downtown owned by our friend, Jean Tippenhauer, the chef who is trying to set up a culinary school in Rockford. On the morning we were to rescue my old Yamaha Venture Royal motorcycle from his garage where it had been stored for the winter, Troy wanted to talk about immigration.

“These immigration problems have been around for 25 or 30 years,” Troy said. “Why do you think they’re bringing this up now?” Then he went on to say that he thought it was being done to get people’s minds off the things the president has done, the things he should be impeached for, like deliberately leaking top-secret information to silence critics of his war in Iraq. I hadn’t thought about it until he brought it up, but it sure looks suspicious, doesn’t it?

Back when I was in the soda-pop business, I remember a seminar where we discussed the migration of CO2 through the wall of plastic comprising a soft drink bottle. If you can’t keep CO2 in a plastic bottle, how are you going to keep poor people from looking for jobs in America where they are plentiful? It is a natural process, this immigration. We used to celebrate our immigrants, now we despise them. If we don’t have them, who is going to keep up our inner cities? All the Mexican people are looking for is work.

Lately, I have been having a crisis of conscience myself. It seems as though nothing has changed in my lifetime. The United States is in just as bad a state as it was in the Vietnam era. We have learned nothing from that sad affair. In addition, we seem to have forgotten the lessons of McCarthyism. If you try to question the war in Iraq, your loyalty to the United States is impugned. After only one attack on American soil, we are ready to give up our civil liberties in return for an illusion of increased personal security. It’s a good thing Great Britain wasn’t so inclined during the second World War—it could have affected the way the whole world is today.

When you come right down to it, we’re pretty damn safe here in the United States. Our overreaction to this one attack is making us look ridiculous to the rest of the world where they put up with this kind of thing much more often. We are manipulated by our “press” to think whatever the administration wants us to believe. It reminds me more than ever of George Orwell’s 1984. The administration claims the press is liberal. It isn’t, but it sure is stupid. Most American journalism is entertainment and nothing else. They sell themselves out for the price of admission. Say something that is out of line, and you are cut off, something they simply will not risk, even NPR.

Actually, there is some liberal media on the rise. You can now receive Air America at 850 on your AM radio dial, although the reception varies. In addition, if you have Dish Network, there are two television stations that present the liberal agenda, Link and Free Speech Television. These are both supported totally by donation, and do not risk being controlled by the government. It is my hope that these truly liberal voices will open the dialogue about the things that are wrong in our country.

When Air America debuted, Bill O’Reilly, the rude, foul-mouthed oaf who is so popular on Fox News, said there was no need for a liberal radio network, that NPR had always ably manned this function. This shows how out of touch this simple-minded goof is. If you want to hear real liberal positions, tune in to some of the above. But prepare yourself to hear about atrocities (and see pictures of maimed children) committed by the United States that are simply not finding their way onto mainstream television.

It is my hope that the appearance of progressive media will do something to dull the illusion that there are only two ways of thinking about issues, Democrat and Republican. What we need in this country is a new party, liberal on social issues and conservative on fiscal ones.

As I sit here Sunday morning thinking about all of this, I think I’ll go down to Seventh Street and Broadway at 1:45 p.m., and march in the Hispanic pride parade. Most of the Mexican people I know are hard-working, honest, church-going, family-oriented, happy-go-lucky people, and I love hanging out with them.

Mike Leifheit’s “Hanging Out In Rockford” reviews locally-owned restaurants, businesses and Rockford life. These columns are available on his Web site, . Leifheit is owner of the Irish Rose restaurant in the downtown River District.

From the April 12-18, 2006, issue

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