Listeners Sound Off On Immigration, Shirley Sherrod

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Tell Me More host Michel Martin and Lee Hill, the program's "digital media guy," comb through listener feedback and offer important news updates to recent conversations heard on the program. Hear reaction to a recent commentary comparing a D.C.-area earthquake to the immigration debate, and from a mother who believes a recent Tell Me More guest needs a reality check when it comes to parenting. Also, one of the program's Facebook friends explains why she cannot live without her mobile phone Web access in response to this week's Tell Me Mobile series. lots of folks are still buzzing about Shirley Sherrod, the former USDA official who was forced to resign this week after her comments about overcoming prejudice were taken out of context.

MICHEL MARTIN, host:

And now to finish up the week, it's time for Backtalk, where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere and get to hear from you, our listeners. Lee Hill, our digital media guy is here with me as usual. Hey, Lee, what's up?

LEE HILL: Hey, Michel. Well, as we heard earlier in this program with the Barbershop guys and as we're hearing everywhere, lots of folks are still buzzing about Shirley Sherrod. Now, she's the former USDA official who was forced to resign this week after comments about overcoming racial prejudice were taken out of context.

Now, just in case you haven't heard this, here's a clip from her speech back in March to an NAACP group in Georgia.

(Soundbite of video)

Ms. SHIRLEY SHERROD (Former Director of Rural Development, Georgia, USDA): When I made that commitment, I was making that commitment to black people and to black people only. But, you know, God will show you things and he'll put things in your path so that you realize that the struggle is really about poor people.

MARTIN: Lee, yesterday on the blog, I asked folks to weigh in on what really made this story ignite the way it did. And I, you know, asked the question of whether maybe this has something to do with the tricky ethics of a YouTube generation. Well, here's an email we received from listener Robert. He writes: I think you should be asking how the White House could be put in the position of being on the defensive when there was in actuality nothing to be defensive about. They should have come down on the person who perpetuated this fraud with all the power of the presidential office.

Robert goes on to say: It seems that the president is always on the defensive instead of demanding the respect of his office. He really needs to kick some butt and this is a good time to start.

HILL: All right, thanks, Robert. And maybe you should apply for a job over there at the White House. There may be a vacancy soon if maybe this isn't cleared up the way it should be.

All right, well, Michel, you wrote a commentary this week focusing on another hot topic: immigration. And you actually compared it to a recent earthquake in the D.C. area, suggesting it is the political earthquake of our time. And you challenged what some called the conventional wisdom about illegal immigration in this country.

MARTIN: What we hear most, both from the public and from so-called leaders who should know better, is the fear about excessive crimes, about degraded public services, about the deterioration of the culture. The objective data shows that many of these complaints have no basis in fact at all, that immigrants do not commit a disproportionate number of crimes, that they do pay taxes and that they do, in fact, for the most part want to learn English and participate in the culture if given the chance.

HILL: And in response to that we heard this from someone who blogs under the name, believe or not, Wolfpack, who writes, quote, "I like immigrants. They add some fresh flavor to this country. I just have issues with our letting anybody in and eventually giving them amnesty. We need to control how many people enter this country yearly and what type of person we let in.

MARTIN: Okay, Wolfpack, thanks for your comment and thanks for all those who wrote in on this topic. It's obviously a topic that concerns a lot of people.

Lee, we had a second conversation about research that says some adults become unhappy after having children. Last week, we checked in with our regular panel of moms. This week we asked a group of dads to weigh in. Here's blogger and new father Paul Fidalgo.

Mr. PAUL FIDALGO (Blogger): Well, my happiness is doing just fine, actually, and I would say that I'm happier with my boy around. He's seven months old now. His name is Toby. And he's our first kid. And it has actually been a major transformation. And I don't mean to be Polyanna-ish about this, but it really was kind of like a gene turned on and here were new levels of happiness that I had not experience before.

MARTIN: Well, not everybody was feeling the same way. We later had this note posted to our website by blogger Victoria. She writes: Great for him, but, duh, babies, especially just one with no other children around are nothing but cute. Have him check back in a couple of years during those toddler years. The first baby honeymoon period is not comparable to having children once they can talk back to you. Love my kids, but can say most of the time I'm too busy or tired to think about being happy. Okay, Victoria, thanks for keeping it real.

Lee, what else?

(Soundbite of laughter)

HILL: Well, finally, Michel, we asked listeners to join us in presenting Tell Me Mobile, and we produced the series this week on air and online and it focused on distinct trends among users of mobile technology, and more specifically, how many techies are accessing the Web more on their cell phones than on an actual desktop or laptop computer. Now, listeners hit us up on Facebook to tell us whether they could relate to all of this and they told us about their favorite apps as well. We heard this from our Facebook friend Lynn(ph).

LYNN: Having my mobile phone has made it very easy to pop on, glance at email or Facebook and get back to real life. I think I spend less time on my laptop because I'm not tempted to lazily browse. I just grab and go. As for apps, my husband just installed a weather station in our backyard so I can pop on to WeatherBug and see the weather at home even from work 30 miles away. I won't say I can't live without it, but doggone it, it's cool.

MARTIN: That does sound cool. Thank you, Lynn. And thank you, Lee.

HILL: Thanks, Michel.

MARTIN: And remember, with TELL ME MORE, the conversation never ends. To tell us more, you can call our comment line at 202-842-3522. Please remember to leave your name. You can also log onto our website. Just go to NPR.org. Click on Programs, then on TELL ME MORE and blog it out.

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