Saturday, April 08, 2006

Gomer and the Immigrants
Here's some stuff from the web worthwhile for your Saturday morning, on the subject of immigration:

David Neiwart of Orcinus guest-posts at Firedoglake, with a primer on how extreme right-wing ideas gradually morph into acceptable mainstream discourse. He's written about this on his own site extensively, but his post at FDL is a good summary, focusing on anti-immgrant sentiments.

Neiwart features an interesting quote. See if you can identify who said it:
Every new immigrant adds to our crime problems, our welfare rolls and unemployment of American citizens. . . . We are being invaded in the southwest as if a foreign army were coming over the border. . . . They’re going to take more and more hard-earned money from the productive middle class in the form of taxes and social programs.
Any guesses? It sounds like something Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo, leader of the anti-immigrant forces in the House, might have said during debate last week. But it was actually David Duke, speaking in 1982--and at that time, Duke's position was considered far outside the boundaries of acceptable discourse. A generation later, it's a perfect illustration of the phenomenon Neiwart writes about. (According to the post, Duke was recently quoted as saying Tancredo would make a good president. To quote Gomer Pyle: "Surprise, surprise, surprise.")

On the subject of immigrants "adding to the unemployment of American citizens," Steve Gilliard of the News Blog blows that argument apart. The News Blog also has the horribly sad story of 14-year-old Anthony Saltano, who was banned from eighth-grade graduation and threatened with prison by his school principal for organizing a protest walkout against anti-immigration legislation last month. Two days later, young Saltano killed himself.

One Other Thing: On the subject of immigration, I have been thinking about the oft-heard "great-grandparent" argument, which goes something like this: "My great-grandparents came over here on the boat from __________, and they had to enter the country legally, learn English, and then work to make it on their own. Why shouldn't immigrants today do the same thing?" It occurs to me that the great-grandparent argument doesn't hold up today--that the situation modern immigrants face is much, much different than our Scandinavian or German or Italian or Irish forebears faced in the 19th century. Trouble is, I'm not sure why it doesn't hold. If you've got any ideas, let's hear 'em in the comments.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?