Thursday, August 09, 2007

Be like us or leave

"Whites Now Minority in 1 in 10 Counties"

This article appeared today in the Chicago Tribune, noting that as of 2006 the United States of America is home to 100 million minorities. Lock your doors, Pat Buchanan.

But, as the article reminds us, the anti-immigration movement is not about ethnicity or race. No, skin color has absolutely nothing to do with it, says Greg Letiecq of Help Save Manassas, a Virginia-based anti-immigrant group dedicated to "saving" a town of the same name. (There's also a Save Maryland and a Save Virginia--plenty of damsels in distress, to be sure.) "It's about lawful behavior versus unlawful behavior."

So, all of a sudden, some Americans care a lot about the rule of law. The fact that the majority of Americans break innocous laws all the time, from traffic violations to music pirating, is revealing: we only care about certain laws. In this case, a significant number of Americans are hiding their own prejudices and nativist fears behind the call for law and order.

That these sentiments are the real factors driving the anti-immigrant push is not difficult to detect. White people (read: the establishment), having fled out to the suburbs or to gentrified portions of the inner city, are getting increasingly defensive in the face of growing immigrant populations. The problem is never our ignoble tendencies or racist historical legacies, but them. "It's the folks who come in and try to maintain the culture of the country they came from," Letiecq clarifies. It's not that we have a problem with people who look different from us, just the foods they eat, clothes they wear, language they speak, hell--pretty much everything that makes them different from us white folk. This attitude denigrates and dismisses completely the innumerable contributions immigrants have made to our society. What if Italian immigrants were forced to stop making their silly "pizza" in New York upon their arrival in the 19th century?

It's time to call a spade a spade. This is a diverse country, founded by immigrants and populated by immigrants from all over the world (white people, too). Most of them are people looking for a better life for their families. Law and order and national security are not inherently threatened by the arrival of immigrants. On the contrary, intolerance and bigotry are infinitely more damaging to these ends. Nativists, however, have been pounding the pulpit with this line as long as this nation has existed. It's time to ask ourselves whose argument is more convincing.


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