"I'm the chief dishwasher, etc. today," he said, unfazed. I drank my usual six cups of coffee without incident. Of course, the diner was not entirely without immigrants. The girl from India showed up for work, as usual.
1:53 p.m. I drove by Kentucky Fried Chicken for some Original Recipe. The wait was unusually long, but I couldn't tell if that was because today was our national Day Without Immigrants or because the man in front of me ordered chicken for 10.
What is the strategy here? What do the protesters hope to accomplish?
President Bush is no help. Right now, he is being the kind of politician we Americans like to say we want. He is standing up for What Is Right, Not What Is Popular -- i.e., he lectures us unbearably. Last week the first husband sternly intoned that we all need to calm down and be "rational" because it's impossible to deport 12 million people. (As any wife knows, "Let's be rational" is husbandspeak for "I'm right and you're hysterical.") Then on Monday, I looked up and saw that man again on the TV talking about how we have to conduct this debate "without losing our national soul." Our national soul? Gee, and I'd be content with a president who merely secured our borders.
One thing was clear from the mass protests: These immigrants are well on their way to becoming culturally American, demanding their inalienable rights with a powerful sense of entitlement. "What do we want?" shrieked one protest organizer. "Justice!" shouted back the crowd. Hmm. Maybe not exactly the right slogan, here?
The Day Without Immigrants organizers seem to have in mind part "coming out" strategy ("we're here, we're illegal, get used to it"), and part an "economic necessity" argument. According to the Associated Press, many carried signs in Spanish that translated to "We are America" and "Today we march, tomorrow we vote."
"We are the backbone of what America is, legal or illegal, it doesn't matter," said Melanie Lugo, who was among thousands attending a rally in Denver with her husband and their third-grade daughter. "We butter each other's bread. They need us as much as we need them," she said.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.