The song “What’s the Ugliest Part of Your Body?” by Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention, off We’re Only In It For The Money, perhaps one of the best albums from the 1960s that nobody’s heard of, has lodged itself in my brain and refuses to leave. It’s done in the style of a 1950s doo-wop song, and contains lines like, “What’s the ugliest part of your body? Some say your nose, some say your toes; I think it’s your mind.”
The reason it’s stuck in my head is because of this glorious example of Middle America’s wanton imbecility in today’s Washington Post. The article, which is about how resistance to the immigration reform bill from small towns helped force Republican senators who initially supported the bill to abandon and kill it, is chock full of quotes from people in Gainesville, Georgia who seemingly have no idea just how willfully stupid and racist they sound, such as this gem from a woman talking about how she dreads going to the local Wal-Mart:
“That was the first time I looked around and said, ‘Man, I didn’t realize how many Mexicans there were here,’ ” Usrey, 39, recalled. “And they don’t seem to feel any discomfort when they’re, like, six inches from your face and talking to each other in their language, either. I just felt very encroached upon. . . . It was like an instant feeling of ‘I’m in the minority, and if we don’t get control over this, pretty soon all of America will be outnumbered.’ “
People speaking to one another in their own language? HEAVEN FORFEND! Now, I hate Wal-Mart, too, but it isn’t because people there have the crass audacity to talk amongst themselves. I especially love how, in this lady’s mind, “America” apparently doesn’t include people who came to this country more recently than her own family.
It’s striking how many times various people mention how they feel “encroached upon,” “taken over,” “unsettled” by, or “afraid” of the immigrant population in one way or another, yet fail time and again to mention even a single instance when they ever were threatened in anything vaguely resembling a concrete manner.
Yet, these are the dullards who managed to sway the opinions of those from the party that controlled Congress for much of the past 12 years because their votes are so vital to their representatives’ re-election prospects. These are the dopes who put Bush in office and still support him, as the article says: “Even now, many locals speak of the president’s support of the Senate bill the way one would of a beloved son who has momentarily strayed but is sure to come to his senses.” In a very real way, these are the dimwits who rule the world. No wonder it’s gotten so messed up.