Myths and madness: immigration
0 comment Tuesday, July 1, 2014 |
At American Thinker, there is a piece on immigration, called The Dangerous Mythology of Immigration, written by Frank Burke.
This is a pretty good article, especially when contrasted with the usual party-politics theme of AT. And the writer actually discusses the negatives of immigration -- immigration per se, not just illegal immigration. I am actually surprised that this appeared at AT.
It's actually not that far off from what we have discussed (I and my readers) in the beginning days of this blog. Back then it seemed that immigration was the focus of many of my pieces, and I was intent on discussing the forbidden topic of legal immigration, and of reminding people that the problem, contrary to the politically correct view, was immigration of all kinds, not just the illegal kind. I was intent on discussing it because it was not being sufficiently discussed, and it was not on the table for discussion in many places.
The subject of legal immigration and its problems did receive considerable attention on VDare and a couple of paleoconservative websites and blogs back when I first started blogging, but even many of the immigration-skeptic blogs and forums were very adamant about legal immigration being absolutely off limits for discussion. Some groups, though their stated mission was to defend our borders and so on, would eject commenters from their forums if the taboo against criticism of legal immigration was violated.
One blog in particular, run by an activist, not only banned violators, but did so in a most public way by openly shaming the violator as a racist, and warning others to avoid offending. There are others of the same type that I am sure you know of.
So it is a sign of progress, I suppose, that AT, which is a very middle-of-the-road site, runs a piece which takes a skeptical tone about legal immigration as well as illegal.
The writer of the piece, Frank Burke, mentions the sentimentalization of immigration which somewhat clouds rational discussion:
''Adding to the difficulty of crafting a just and effective policy is the amount of mythology and emotionalism surrounding the entire immigration question. Some of this is understandable. Immigration is a central facet of the American identity and is reflected in one of our most cherished icons: the Statue of Liberty. Virtually all our family histories boast chapters on immigration.''
Now, stop right there. Not all of us have family histories involving immigration. My ancestors were all colonists; none came to an established country called 'America'. The idea that everybody is descended from immigrants is one of the biggest and least-questioned myths on the subject; I am surprised Mr. Burke did not pick up on this.
I might quibble, too, that the Statue of Liberty is not a cherished icon for me; why should it be? In any case, it was not intended from the beginning to be a symbol of immigration nor was it meant as a sort of pre-modern neon sign announcing ''come on in; we never close'', like a sign on a greasy spoon along the highway.
But other than that, the article makes good points.
Burke mentions the three mistaken beliefs about immigration:
  • "Give me your tired, your poor.."
  • People come because they want to be Americans
  • .Everybody wants the same thing

  • The first one we recognize as Emma Lazarus's overwrought poem on the base of the Statue. But as Burke mentions, America did examine immigrants for things such as communicable diseases and other undesirable conditions. Some people were sent back; there was no ''we take anybody'' policy, as there seems to be now.
    The second myth is one we've talked about here a lot. Most people who immigrate today are, in my perhaps cynical opinion, economic migrants or just plain opportunists, who recognize our weakness and come here to get what they can before the carcass is picked clean. Most have no interest in becoming 'Americans' and openly say so. I've heard many immigrants brazenly say that they have a 'right' to come here, because this is a country for everybody, not for Americans.
    The third myth, that we all want the same thing, is also pretty obviously false. It is based on an idea that I've tried to discredit here: the idea that all peoples are basically the same, with the same needs (yes, we all need food, water, and oxygen, but beyond that?) and the same desires. We are not all the same under the skin, although this sentimental twaddle lives on.
    Burke quotes JFK's words:
    In June of 1963, in delivering the commencement address at American University, John F. Kennedy sought to advance a nuclear test ban treaty by equating the attitudes of the United States and the Soviet Union, stating, "For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's futures. And we are all mortal."
    Those commonalities, which could also be applied to animal species as well, are not enough to bind us together in any kind of common purpose.
    In all, it's a good piece, with some fairly savvy comments. Inevitably, though, there always has to be at least one of these:
    ''Posted by: Concord Bridge Nov 28, 02:59 PM
    Despite the unemployment problem we now have, I have far less concern for immigration than I do for the lack of assimilation. [Full disclosure: my father came to the US as a child.] I welcome anyone who wants to become an American and achieve the American dream of providing for a better future for one's children. Further, I welcome those who are willing to work for what they want and don't look for handouts. They have been the strength of America and there is no reason why they should not be welcome. That being said, I believe in an immigration system that puts America first. That means we do not allow immigration of Muslims and others who seek to do harm to our American way of life. ''
    Some of my readers don't accept my belief that recent immigrant origin tends to bias people in favor of new immigrants and immigration in general. Yet I see this kind of comment all the time. It's depressing that some people are so rigid in their defense of immigration, even in the face of all the problems associated with it, because they have so sentimentalized, or personalized, the issue. Any criticism of immigration or immigrants is seen as threatening or hostile, or an outright attack on their own 'right' to be here.
    Immigration leads to more immigration, and on and on.
    And the commenter's mention of assimilation as being the main criterion for whether immigrants are beneficial is not challenged. This notion of the melting pot and 'assimilation' is another unchallenged popular belief. Many, many Republicans think, still, that oh, say, the Somali who was arrested in the attempted 'Christmas Tree bombing' was just not assimilated enough. Has everybody forgotten the Lackawanna terrorist group who were born and raised in this country? And the '7/7' bombers in the UK? They were "assimilated."
    Besides, it is not just a matter of whether people want to assimilate (many don't) but whether they can -- many can't. But it apparently is not politically correct to recognize this.
    Why do Republicans, who so often express disdain for much of the politically correct dogma and speech restrictions, fail to see their own political correctness in believing in egalitarian blank-slate-ism?
    Maybe, given another 9 or 10 years, Republicans will have moved another inch or two to the right and they will come around to actually rejecting leftism as a whole. Maybe. If we have that long.
    One last bit of irony: if you click over to the article, you may see an ad placed right in the midst of the article which shows several 'diverse' individuals and says 'We Are America.'
    The ad is "Paid for by the Center for Community Change''
    ''The Center typically works in urban areas, especially communities of color, and attempts to form autonomous citizen-based groups to work on local issues of concern. It has, for example, had projects in New Orleans, Columbus, Ohio, and Kentucky.
    CCC launched the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) as its immigrant rights project in 2000. FIRM has acted as an advocacy umbrella for many organizations, helped build coalitions, and provided technical assistance. In January 2007, FIRM collected signatures from 250 organizations nationwide supporting comprehensive immigration reform, addressed to majority Leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid."
    As to its funding?
    ''Center for Community Change is funded in part by individuals who are members of the Democracy Alliance.''
    "At least 80 wealthy liberals have pledged to contribute $1 million or more apiece to fund a network of think tanks and advocacy groups to compete with the potent conservative infrastructure built up over the past three decades," The Washington Post reported in August, 2005.
    Rob Stein's PowerPoint presentation on how the Right built a strong infrastructure of think tanks, non-profits, non-profit groups, scholarship recipients, academics, lobbyists, right wing activists and the media led to the founding of the Democracy Alliance, and also a separate organization, the New Progressive Coalition founded by entrepreneurs Andy and Deborah Rappaport.
    The Democracy Alliance tries to keep a low profile and its wealthy donors prefer anonymity. According to published reports, organizations funded by Democracy Alliance are asked not to reveal the funding.''
    So even in the middle of an article examining immigration critically, we get an ad promoting immigration, an ad by one of the left's many 'activist' groups, funded by the usual suspects.
    On and on.

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