No welcome sign for Hispanic clinic

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A South Marion Citizen editorial

When they read about places in the country that have battles over immigration status and behavior of foreigners, people tend to think, as they live in their quiet Marion County world, that it’s nice that it doesn’t happen here.

When they go to meetings such as the County Commission zoning hearings last week, they realize that such conflicts are not far away.

These case was listed innocently enough on the agenda as item “14C2, 140409SU, Rasem and Nawai Okab, Special Use Permit in A-1, 12.37 acres.” It turns out it was for a medical clinic, church building and soccer field for Guadalupana Catholic Mission. Scheduled to be put there shortly is the medical clinic, with the church and soccer field to come later. There is already a small church near the intersection of State Road 40 west and 110th Avenue.

Neighbors of the proposed facility, some living in an area called Dorchester Estates, came out to oppose the facility, which is backed by the Rev. Patrick Sheedy, pastor of Blessed Trinity Catholic Church, who spoke at the meeting.

The display of anti-Hispanic infiltration was loud and clear. People spoke of living near “Little Mexico,” and used phrases such as “these people,” referring to the Hispanics, and phrase generally construed as being racist in nature.

One lady complained that she was a Catholic, and couldn’t go to the church because it was all in Spanish, and she had to drive 12 miles to go to church.

There were some more rational arguments, especially concerning traffic and pedestrian safety.

After a little bit of discussion, the commissioners approved the special use to allow the clinic. The Planning and Zoning Commission had recommended denial, but the anonymous “staff” backed approval.

The discussion showed, however, that the national debate about Hispanics being assimilated into America is not to be ignored locally. Coupled with a letter printed in our publications recently concerning speaking English, it shows that right here in Marion County there is, among many people, a general anti-Hispanic feeling that runs deeper than people care to admit.

There were some legitimate concerns raised by people about the location of this clinic, but opposition to such a facility simply because the people there speak another language shows a bias that decent people shouldn’t accept.

It brings us back to a comment from the late Rodney King, victim of a beating years ago in Los Angeles, who asked, “Can’t we all just get along.”

Sadly, in Marion County it appears we can’t.