Can Stepen Colbert handle farm labor?

Obviously not, but we will nevertheless be treated to the spectacle of the attempt.

Colbert interviewed Arturo Rodriguez, president of the United Farm Workers, on the July 8 “Colbert Report.” Rodriguez was quizzed about the union’s “Take Our Jobs Campaign.” (www.takeourjobs.org). That campaign, of course, is all about showing that very few Americans are interested in back-breaking farm labor jobs. Once that point is established, there is no logical reason supporting the populist belief that immigrants toiling in lettuce fields and apple orchards are stealing jobs from Americans.

Colbert, as typical, provided the comical interjections and combative silliness that makes us laugh.

“Why would we want to  improve the  lives of farm workers – don’t get me wrong, you seem like a nice guy – but they are mostly illegal immigrants, correct?” he asked.

“This is true,” Rodriguez said and then was cut off by Colbert.

“So they are taking our jobs?” Colbert said.

“Not really.” Rodriguez said.

“Yes really,” Colbert countered.

“No.” Rodriguez said.

“Those jobs belong to American farm workers,” Colbert insisted.

“Americans do not want to work in the fields,” the union leader said. “Americans do not want to work in the fields, it is very difficult work and requires a lot of expertise and the conditions are horrid,” he said, describing triple digit temperatures in a grape orchard in Delano, Calif. “People don’t want to work in that.”

“You are seeing illegal immigrants work harder than Americans; you are saying they are better than Americans?” Colbert probed.

“I’m not saying that at all,” Rodriguez said. “What I’m saying is they are willing to do the work of harvesting our fruits and vegetables and they are professionals at it and they work extremely hard,” he said. “They work in very difficult working conditions…”

“But on the plus side, farm workers get all the lettuce they can eat, right?” Colbert interjected.

Colbert also asked about the effect of Arizona’s immigration law on the movement of migrant workers from California to the Yuma growing region.

“I will be extremely difficult for farm workers to go there because they will be targeted,” Rodriguez said.
Finishing up the interview, Colbert asked about the “Take our Jobs” campaign.

Rodriguez said the campaign is asking any Americans who want to work in the fields to sign up if they believe immigrants are taking American jobs. So far, Rodriguez said, only three people who have signed up are actually working in the fields.

“Make that four – I’ll do it,” Colbert said.

So we look forward to pictures and video of Colbert in the field, if he will only do it for an afternoon. It will be good for a laugh, because we know that Colbert will not be up for the effort and will appear ridiculous in the process.

Colbert’s assertion “those jobs belong to American farm workers” is a popular sentiment but we know that those earnest Americans are mighty hard to find, and none come from Comedy Central.