Originally published in the Grand Rapids Press, August 7, 2010
Sometimes I feel like I come across as a know-it-all in my cartoons (this blog, too). For the record, I am keenly aware of the vastness of what I don’t know. I am also aware that what may seem to be self-assurance is often simplification for the sake of a better comic. So I want to make clear that what I say in a cartoon is not necessarily what I feel to be the final word. I’d rather provoke than preach.
This week for example I chose to comment on the recent primary elections here in Michigan and how the immigration control became something of a hot topic. The one strong feeling I had was the oddity of it being a hot topic — Michigan isn’t exactly attracting large numbers of immigrants these days, legal or illegal. A lot of seasonal workers come to Michigan to pick fruit, particularly in West Michigan, but we’re not talking enormous numbers. Still, I appreciate that there are rules about how people can enter this country and the frustration with those who obviously are not following the rules.
But that sort of nuanced consideration went out the door when I read a quote from my state representative, Dave Agema of Grandville. Agema is sponsoring legislation to tighten immigration controls and put an interesting spin on the issue:
Agema said his proposed legislation doesn’t target Hispanics but all illegal immigrants. It would require state contractors to use an online verification system to prove their employees’ names match their Social Security numbers, thus blocking illegal workers. “We have the largest concentration of Muslims in the state in the Dearborn area,” Agema said. “I know we have (sleeper) cells there. That is what I really want to get at.”
That sort of locked up my gears. I want to believe Agema’s intentions are good, but… What? Really? How did…? I mean, is this…? Wait, what was that again? Eventually all I could come up with was to slightly exaggerate what Agema said. (See first panel.)
I felt like the cartoon needed more than that, and so here’s another thing you should know: Sometimes my thinking isn’t thinking at all — sometimes it’s merely an absurd but amusing (to me, anyway) thought that happens to get loose. Say, like replacing illegal farm workers with athletic children.
Next week: Less self-analysis