I used to date a man who liked to blame me when things went wrong. Sometimes, of course, the blame would be merited, but as often as not, the matter at issue would be his fault or, indeed, no one’s fault. I got tired of the arguments. Eventually, when the blame started, I turn to him and say “You’re right. I’m omnipotent and control all things, right or wrong.” It was an effective tactic in shutting down argument, but never really went to the core issue, which was that he really did believe I had a malevolent influence on all things, including the weather.
I was reminded of this interlude in my life when I read a ridiculous L.A. Times Op-Ed blaming the U.S. for gang violence in El Salvador. As I understand the argument, we enticed the El Salvadorans here through economic opportunities and safer communities. Once here, the born-to-be-angelic young men couldn’t help but join gangs. Then, when we discovered they were criminals and here illegally, we had the temerity to ship them back to El Salvador where they continued their gangland activity. I’m a little unclear on whether our major sin is having enticed them here illegally in the first place, or having sent them back once they abused their welcome. Here, you read the conclusion and try to figure it out:
The problem is far more complex than the authorities claim. As long as the U.S. continues to deport hardened criminals to countries that can’t deal with them, as long as millions of Central Americans are forced to abandon their children to search for work in the U.S., as long as the Salvadoran authorities do nothing to try to understand why boys join gangs in the first place, then El Salvador will remain one of the world’s most violent places. For many boys, joining a gang is their only choice.
All I know is that, whether in Iraq, El Salvador, Israel, Africa, West L.A., the dolphin-stomping grounds of the Pacific, or the North Pole, it is now, and always will be, all the US’s fault — because we are omnipotent (but only in a bad way).