It’s All About Location

The New York Times has a warmhearted story today entitled “Quebec and Vermont Towns Bond Over a Sleepy Border” that highlights the wonderful towns of Derby Line, Vermont and Stanstead, Quebec that butt up against each other on either side of the U.S.-Canada border.

Accompanying the story is the map placing the towns and a photograph of a young librarian working with children.

The towns share a library/opera house and even though a black line runs down the middle of the library portion of the building, no one seems to mind.

Both governments pitch in to provide drinking water to the two towns.

For years, Stanstead’s pregnant women gave birth at the Derby Line hospitals until the Canadian government put in a better health care system and better highways to get them there. So even though they’re Canadians, they’re also Vermonters.

Residents are quoted as saying very common-sensibly that a physical border fence between them would be ridiculous. The feeling you are left with from reading the story is one of hope, wholesomeness and time-honored friendships.

Now, move the towns about 2,200 miles south to, say, Brownsville on the U.S. Mexico-border and replace half of the white children in the photograph with little brown bodies and see what kind of reaction you’d get.

Instead of lovely little Canadian babies being born in U.S. hospitals, you’d have Mexicans taking advantage of our health system and costing us money by dropping their babies on this side of the border.

Instead of all those white children mixing freely in a library, you’d have a call to do something about Mexican children and their parents taking up our resources.

Instead of cooperation between two governments in providing water and sewer services, we’d probably stall out over trust issues.

What’s amiable and picturesque in one place, becomes threatening and foreign in another. If that’s not racism, what is it? -- Margaret Downing

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