On a prior post this week, commenter balabusta linked us to a video from the NYT that I’m sorry to say I had missed. The video is disheartening in that it reveals quite a bit that generally has been missing from the whole Agri commentary on the Jewish side of the question. It’s not only our outrage at the workers being treated unfairly by Agri at this point (not to mention being abused, as is clear from the variety of investigations) but the very fact that the racial component is being ignored, but even more clearly that the illegal immigrants are actually being railroaded into pleading guilty for crimes which are almost certainly Agri’s.
While everyone following this story along with us here at Jewschool from the beginning, now years ago, can see that we nearly qualify at apoplectic at the combination of injustice and chillul hashem that’s being done, listening to the words of this translator, who in all his years has not been moved to speak out -until now- makes me sad and angry all over again.
It’s too early for the boycott to be called off. The workers are being charged with social security fraud and aggravated identity theft, the court is using the greater charge to browbeat the workers into pleading guilty for the lesser charge. If they refuse to plead guilty, they are told, instead of five months in prison and then deportation (forever, with no chance to return legally) they will have 6-8months in prison, with the possibility of two years more if they lose. Most of them are the sole economic support for their families and thus are choosing to plead guilty, despite the fact that many of them – according to the translator- clearly have no idea what a social security number is or what it’s used for (and are apparently ashamed of looking ignorant about it, most cannot read or write, and when asked what the number is say they don’t know, the factory people put it there.
In other words, of the crimes of social security fraud and aggravatedidentity theft, it is Agri who should be on trial, not the workers. If Agri wants their boycott lifted, some signs of tshuvah are in order. Confession (to God and to the victim(s), Apology, Restitution and Failure to Repeat the offense when given another chance. In order for us to even think about taking them seriously, they need to admit publicly that it is they, Agri, who are behind these offenses and not allow people who are innocent of these crimes to be tried and deported for them. The workers may be guilty of illegally entering the country, but they are almost certainly not guilty of what they are being accused. There are no signs of tshuvah yet from Rubashkin. Thus we should not be revoking the boycott.
I can’t even begin to say how disgusted I remain with this whole episode, how much harm the American Jewish community’s consumption of excess amounts of meat has done to other people, and that Agri will allow their workers to take the fall for them… well, it’s despicable.