Denver Direct: A Nightmare Act

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Nightmare Act

(What better way to start the new year than an editorial by Phil Goodstein? The merry band of Naysayers meets next on Saturday, January 8, at Enzo’s Pizza, 3424 Colfax at 5:30 pm.)

Editorial by Phil Goodstein

At a time when ever more bloated military budgets have drained the purses of cities and states, Denver city council has been silent about the country’s criminal foreign adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. On the contrary, it has been receptive to the Chamber of Commerce with its demands for less regulation and more support of the state’s gigantic aerospace industry, a prime Pentagon contractor. Given this, it is not surprising that council recently went out of its way to endorse a Pentagon scheme, the DREAM Act.

This is among the utopian proposals of those who see injustice, but have no concept of the causes and even less desire for a program of action to bring forth a new order. The DREAM Act stands for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act. Its ostensible purpose is to allow the children of undocumented immigrants to gain citizenship via making their way through at least two years of college. More than that, it encourages such young men and women to join the military: successful completion of service is also a road to citizenship. The Pentagon helped draft the measure in 2008. The proposal comes at a time when many have realized that joining the military is not a means of patriotism, education, and advancement, but a likely path to getting maimed and killed for the most dubious of foreign policy objectives. In this light, the military and Congress have finally agreed that homosexuals too can be cannon fodder.

Even worse is the DREAM Act’s unquestioning embrace of the highly dubious assumption that college education is a sure means of middle class success. This comes at a time when many college graduates find themselves losing their homes and facing a bleak future in face of capitalism’s economic collapse. Those who hold jobs requiring a college education often discover their positions are brainless while they are chained to their computer screens by economic necessity. Obviously, their college education has not been emancipation.

Nobody is more blind to this obvious fact than highly insecure, want-to-be yuppies. These are individuals who eagerly seek the lifestyle of the upper-middle class, but who forever find it eluding them. They are joined in the unquestioning embrace of the DREAM Act by guilty liberals who desperately want others to have a chance to join a system that has readily scorned the non-affluent while scapegoating individuals of the wrong gender, ethnicity, race, religion, or immigration status. The DREAM Act is their latest measure to redress a horrendous social order that has become a nightmare to many of its victims.

The belief a college education is a road to financial freedom and social advancement is highly dubious. The very fact that only graduates of Ivy League schools arc on the Supreme Court is indicative. There is a marked class hierarchy in the universities. Foremost law firms, corporations, and those offering employees the fruits of bourgeois success have little interest in graduates of a drudge school such as Metro compared to those who have made their way through Harvard. Among the latter are the likes of Barack Obama: highly gifted individuals who, instead of seeing that they have been extremely lucky to rise above their class and need to share their success with their fellows, go out of their way to affirm their loyalty to an unfair system. Having more people succeed ala Obama is the “dream” of advocates of the DREAM Act.

The vision of the DREAM Act has had a hideous impact on the sons and daughters of blue-collar workers. Denver Public Schools (DPS) has repeatedly stated that simply graduating from it is no good. Instead of heralding a high school diploma as a measure of great .success and dignity for some who are the first in their family to get through 12 years of schooling, DPS has insisted that all its schools must be college preparatory academies. In other words, it has no place for those who are not college material or who see that a career as a medical technician, chef, or plumber has far more potential than earning a college degree in business.

The outlook is even more nefarious for what it does to the mass universities. Increasingly, they market themselves as expensive factories producing “hire” education. The primary purpose of college: as a place for students to question the world and all aspects of reality is increasingly forgotten as an esoteric, elitist ideal; on the contrary, understanding how to play by the rules of an inane and insane bureaucratic system is the goal of “hire” learning. In the process, graduates often find themselves shackled with horrendous debts from student loans.

All this is beyond liberal backers of the DREAM Act. Far from seeing the need for drastic action to redress the economic forces that have led to massive migrations and the numerous undocumented aliens in the country, they have embraced it as a solution to injustice. They have no wish to question a system whereby some can win only at the price of others losing. On the contrary, the whole purpose of the DREAM Act is to reach out to a select number of promising youth, incorporating them into that system so they can emerge as unthinking of mandarins as those who have produced the current horrors while encouraging the gullible to dream of repeating their dubious success. Seen in this light, the way Republican reactionaries have killed the latest push for the DREAM Act is a blessing in disguise.