Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #011: I Won’t Toe Your Line Today

There I was at the immigration scene / Shining and feeling clean, could it be a sin? / I got stopped by the immigration man / He said he doesn’t know if he can let me in

There’s this disc jockey I’ve been listening to and learning from for about, oh good grief, almost 45 years now. Her name is Terri Hemmert, she’s been on WXRT-Chicago all that time after doodling around in Rochester NY. Spending 45 years at one radio station is not simply an accomplishment. Unless you own the station, it’s the rarest of rarities. And for good reason, the same reason that, through the miracle of the Internet, I still listen to her after all this time. Live and learn. It’s a good thing.

Sometimes learning actually is relearning; those slap-your-forehead moments that makes you wonder why you hadn’t thought of that. Last Monday Terri played Immigration Man, written and recorded by Graham Nash and David Crosby back in 1972. She noted that this song actually is more relevant today than it was when it was released.

Which is when I slapped my forehead. 

There he was with his immigration face / Giving me a paper chase but the sun was coming / ‘Cos all at once he looked into my space / And stamped a number all over my face and he sent me running

As the story goes, this song was prompted by a difficulty British-born Graham Nash (remember The Hollies? C’mon on, youngster, get with it!) had returning to the United States during the time of Richard Nixon. Remember Richard Nixon? You may have heard that a lot of us geriatrics really didn’t like him back in the day. Holy crap, were we naïve back then or what?

The song really wasn’t a warning. I think back in 1972 none of us were capable of thinking that the President of the United States would put thousands of immigrant wannabes legitimately entering this country (or, at worst, committing a misdemeanor by entering at the wrong point) desiring status as political refugees. But if there was any way of proving this, I would bet the rent that we wouldn’t have thought our President would separate those freedom-seekers from their children, move those children hundreds of miles away, put them in the type of pens you see at animal shelters, deport their parents, and be unable to reunite about a half-thousand of them with their parents. Mao, yes. He did that. Hitler, obviously. But the President of the United States of America?

Yup. Him too.

Like I said two paragraphs up, we were really naïve back then. Optimistic. Foolish.

Here I am with my immigration form and it’s big enough to keep me warm / When a cold wind’s coming, go where you will / As long as you think you can, you’d better watch out / Watch out for the man anywhere you’re going

Right now, I do not understand why we Americans, let alone the rest of the world, have not arrested and incarcerated the President of the United States and his toadies, including the Secretary of Homeland Security. Why, back in the days of the wild west…

There are some Americans – only a percentage of people who voted for this hideous narcissist two years ago – who agree with this action. In a fair world, these Mother Teresas would be separated from their families and put in animal cages, perhaps in some place such as Point Barrow Alaska. But it’s not a fair world. I have been against the death penalty since I could first form words, but the actions of our bastard President made me reconsider. I’m still opposed to it, but I’ve taken this second look at the issue.

We need to remember history. We need to remember the words of George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” We need to remember that, if left unchecked things can get worse and usually do.

Come on and let me in, immigration man / Can I cross your line and pray? / I can stay another day, won’t you let me in, immigration man? / I won’t toe your line today, I can’t see it anyway  

[Immigration Man, written by Graham Nash, lyrics ©1972 Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.]