Yay! The huelga general, the “Day Without Immigrants,” the nationwide job boycott and massive demonstrations that were supposed to teach the gringos a lesson yesterday about whose country it really is…fizzled. The Washington Post reported sort of big demos in Chicago and Los Angeles–if 300,000 apiece counts as “big” in a country with 11 million illegal immigrants–but elsewhere, even in hyper-politicitized Washington, the turnout was a bit thin, as the Post reports:
In the District, more than 1,000 people rallied at Meridian Hill Park — also known as Malcolm X Park — in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood, and smaller rallies were held in Herndon, Alexandria and Baileys Crossroads.
Furthermore, the class-warfare frisson of workers socking it to the bourgeoisie seemed to be missing yesterday, as another Post story reports:
For some the notion [of a ‘Day Without Immigrants’] summoned visions of Bethesda matrons cutting their own grass and taking care of their own kids; K Street lawyers and lobbyists pushing mops and taking out the trash at their offices; bureaucrats having to serve themselves Navy bean soup, meatloaf, blackened sole and soggy broccoli in the cafeteria line — that would teach them a lesson, was the idea.
But the work boycott sent an odd, ambiguous message, others thought. When immigrants list the personal attributes they are proudest of, ‘hardworking’ is at or near the top of every list. And now they were going to show their value to society by not working?
Furthermore, the few workers who did take off from their jobs mostly didn’t want to wear the red and black “colors of revolution” that the strike organizers had called for. And who would? Predictably, most of the businesses that shut down, at least around here, were tiny mom-and-pop operations in Hispanic neighborhoods (operations that were probably hurt by losing a day’s business), not the giants of corporate capitalism envisioned in the strike scenario.
As Captain Ed Morrissey notes, what yesterday really amounted to was a “Day Without School” for millions of adolescents looking for an excuse to ditch algebra class:
However, in a story that will likely have immigration hardliners talking for days, the AP reports that twenty-five percent of the children in the Los Angeles School District failed to attend classes today. After all, LAUSD’s annual budget for its 746,000 students is over $13 billion, or about $17,000 per student. If the walkout caused 25% of the students to strike, that puts the annual educational cost for illegal immigrants at around $3.25 billion — just for Los Angeles.
Naturally, as Los Angeles Times education columnist (and friend o’ mine) Bob Sipchen reports (hat tip: Patterico), the L.A. school district put up only the feeblest opposition to the mass hooky-playing. Here’s a memo from school authorities that showed up in the backpack of Bob’s 16-year-old son:
We certainly understand the sentiments and motivation behind the protests that have been occurring in the community and at many of our schools in the past several days. And, we respect the right of free speech.
However, we would much prefer that students would limit voicing their protests to the school campus rather than leaving the campus, possibly endangering their safety and missing classroom time.
The letter concluded with this inelegant waffle: ‘We will do everything we can to ensure that those students who do leave the campus are supervised as they leave the campus.’
As Bob sardonically notes:
A couple of weeks ago I attended an immigration rally, heavily hyped as student-led. This one was on a Saturday. Kids didn’t have to skip algebra to protest. At least 39,500 of the students who had walked out in March must have been in the library studying, because the few dozen who showed up to wallop drums and blow plastic horns on the City Hall lawn were outnumbered by those ubiquitous Revolutionary Communist Party folks and white guys with graying ponytails peddling anti-Bush bumper stickers.
As Ed writes, the main effect of yesterday?s demos was to harden pro-immigration-control sentiment among the majority of Americans:
The demonstrations actually created a rare point of agreement among legislators from both parties: the boycott made it harder to argue against tougher enforcement of immigration laws. Americans don’t particularly care for uninvited guests to dictate how the nation should define its borders…; a majority of respondents disapprove of immigration protestors and over two-thirds oppose full amnesty, one of the key demands. When the public notes that the sun still set in the West after the boycott and rises in the east tomorrow, they will find these demonstrations even less persuasive.
And don’t miss the photo-gallery of Che posters and assorted items of anti-U.S. nastiness on Michelle Malkin’s site.