Friday, October 19, 2007

9500 Liberty - Immigration Video Channel

What is 9500 Liberty? Call it “Macaca 2.0”.

We recently got a head's up from friends of the Village about an interesting project underway in Virginia that tries to bring some focus and dialogue to the immigration debates for those who want to give more independent thought to the issue.

A collective of activist filmmakers, many of them Asian Americans who had prominently pushed the charge to oust then-Virginia Senator George Allen during Macaca-gate, have again convened in the state to create a multivocal video documentary project about local government efforts to crack down on illegal immigrants in Manassas.

Calling itself 9500Liberty, the group has created a subscribable online video channel to form what it calls an "interactive documentary wall" comprising short guerilla videos that (to the group's credit) present multiple perspectives on the local immigration debate.

Although the project coordinators’ sympathies are clearly with immigrants in the area, 9500 Liberty publishes videos that convey the perspectives of both proponents and opponents of the anti-immigration measures. Videos range from interviews with Corey A. Stewart, Chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, to presentations given at public hearings to harrowing on-the-street confrontations between local whites and Hispanic and Asians.

The group has also crafted a network of discussions on Blogspot, Facebook, and MySpace as well as YouTube, aiming to “elevate dialogue…and inform the public, and investigate alternatives to the intense polarization that is hindering progress on the immigration issue.”

In this way, they say, they hope to help pre-emptively inform the public about a complex issue, rather than allow immigration to become the kind of emotional, polarizing issue in the next national election that gay marriage was in the previous one. Although some viewers may well leave the 9500 Liberty Channel still convinced of their own position on the immigration crackdowns -- whether pro or con -- the visit should leave them better aware of the real issues beyond the campaign rhetoric, and better equipped to make an independent decision.