My daughter had an unfortunate experience this weekend near Winchester in Virginia. She and a group of friends were tubing on the Shenandoah River. Nearby a large group of Hispanics were at a public park picnicking, apparently a regular event in that area. A boy and his father were wading in the river when suddenly the boy stepped into a hole and went down. His father went after him, but neither could swim and the struggling boy soon created problems for the father who himself went under. My daughter, her husband, and one of their friends jumped into the water and pulled out the boy and then began diving to locate the father. My daughter went on to the bank and called for the Hispanics, who were standing and watching, to help. No one responded or did anything. They would not even call 911 on their cell phones in spite of my daughter’s frantic requests that they should do so. My daughter’s husband and her friends continued to dive into the river, searching, until the emergency services arrived about twenty minutes later. The Hispanics had by then disappeared, except for the wife of the drowning victim and the boy whom my daughter’s friend had rescued. The man who drowned might have been saved if there had been a concerted effort to find him and bring him to the surface earlier, but that is only speculation. My daughter afterwards wondered whether the apathy by the onlookers might have been the result of their not knowing that the drowning victim was “one of them,” that it was okay to watch an Anglo drown.
One presumes that the Hispanics were illegal and didn’t want to get involved with the authorities, but it raises a question about having many residents of the US who live on the fringes and have no stake in anything except for their jobs and the money they make. I suppose Ted Kennedy (and John McCain) would say that society is to blame because we haven’t legalized all of the people who came here illegally, that legalization would make them just like the rest of us. Then they would have pitched in and helped save a drowning man. Or maybe not.