Sunday, March 04, 2007

Camp Coyote

Ever wonder what it is like to illegally cross into the US from Mexico? You read about the hardships these people are willing to endure to mow our lawns and kill our chickens, but print can’t come close the hellish nature of the crossing itself. Enter EcoAlberto Park.

Founded by the Hnahnu, an indigenous Mexican tribe whose numbers are shrinking as members make their way illegally into the United States, the park features a simulated border crossing experience. For $18 per person (versus thousands charged by real coyotes) you can spend five hours trekking through mud and evading US Border Patrol officers played by local actors.

While some critics complain that the park is a training ground for would-be illegal immigrants, the Hnahnu established the camp to convince their people not to risk the trip to America. If crossing the border seems romantic to you, you can check it out for yourself at minimal and see just how difficult and dangerous it really is. After five hours at the fake border you will think twice before tackling the real border.

It’s probably too soon to know if the park is slowing the number of Hnahnu leaving for the US, but the idea itself is worth pursuing in other venues.

How about a park that simulates the war in Iraq? I would make it a requirement that before you are allowed to vote for a war of choice lawmakers are required to go through battlefield simulation. Similarly, I would encourage parents to send their kids to the program before letting them or encouraging them to enlist. While I think it is noble to serve your country by enlisting in the military (I did it), I also think that doing so without the foggiest idea of what you are getting yourself into is nuts.

Here’s another idea: How about a month-long program living as one of the working poor? People could spend four weeks working three jobs just to max out their credit cards and slip deeper into debt. This program would have the added benefit of supplying employers with cheap labor while the Hnahnu finish up at their training camp.

A program that renders participants homeless and penniless for a week (my friend and teacher Bernie Glassman Roshi runs these in New York City) should be required of every official of every city in the US.

Or, how about a program that let’s you live as a gay man in openly homophobic parts of America. I can also imagine camps simulating the life of prostitutes, drug addicts, and homophobic gay clergy.

In fact I bet you could make a program for almost every kind of American there is, and find out in most if not all of them that their lives suck. Does anyone really think Donald Trump is happy? And, once we see that life is suffering, we can turn off Oprah (OK, she does seem happy), Dr. Phil, and Maury and stop whining about our lives and feeding off the misery of other’s lives.

I could say more about this, but the Hnahnu guy I’m hiring to mow my lawn just arrived.

1 comment:

AaronHerschel said...

This is post is too old now for anyone to read my comments, but I want to suggest that unless an Iraq War theme park actually killed poeple, or at least splattered visitors with buckets of blood and guts, it wouldn't work too well as a deterrent. How many people play paint ball on the weekends? How many enjoy blowing things up and shooting people in video games? I, for one, have always enjoyed taking aim at some nefarious alien beastie or the disposable shock troops of an evil overloard/dictator/terrorist leader/king/wizard/mad scientist/demon spawn or hairdresser. Honestly, it's fun.

And it's fun for two reasons. One, the bad guy in these games, or the opposing team, is always "other." They are othered either because they're evil in the context of the game narrative or because my training as a good darwinian and/or capitalist has taught me how to view any person or group as a competitor and hence an enemy. Regardless, its not a hard transition to make.

The other reason games like these are fun is that they can be stopped. I don't have to spend three years in the sand fighting insurgents; I only have to fight them for three hours. Then I can sign off, save my progress, and have a sandwich. Obviously, to be effective, an Iraq war theme park would have to outlaw sandwiches.

Seriously though, the theme park war would have to be long, boring, and uncomfortable. And only occassionally punctuated by horrific violence. As for the"othering" issue,I suppose the park directors might split families and friends into opposing camps. Didn't work in the Civil War though.