Thursday, August 5, 2010

Nativists Unite


Rick Perlstein reminded me of this passage from Thomas Geoghegan's wonderful book "The Secret Lives of Citizens:"

It was Massey, again, who pointed it out to me. "Why in Chicago," he asked, "is there no anti-immigrant movement as there is in California?"

Because the white ethnics here have their own, uh, "mexicans," to protect. White European immigrants. The Romanians, Russians ... but above all, Poles. From Poland. Many Poles. Tens of thousands. So how can the whites here complain about the latinos? We've got our own illegals to hide.

That kind of clarifies things a little, doesn't it? The eastern Europeans are often highly skilled tradesmen, not day laborers like the Mexicans, who really do take high paying jobs away from citizens. It's a major issue in Europe and would be here too except for the fact that in the cities where large numbers of Poles and Russians overstay their visas and live here illegally, they are in the bosom of their well assimilated ethnic group. "Illegal immigration" is a much more complicated issue than it seems in our multi-ethnic culture.


let's not bullshit ourselves while we are making our political argument about how to deal with this issue. This is not a uniquely European problem, for crying out loud. It's as American as McDonald's apple pie. We've been doing this shit for centuries --- and we do it to Mexicans pretty regularly because we share a border and there are always handy illegals to kick around when necessary. This is not new. It's a symptom of economic insecurity.

And the problem for these Minutemen and those liberal hipsters is not "cultural discomfort." There's are other, older, better words. Xenophobia. Nativism. Racism. The dark underbelly of populism.

As I stated before, there is nothing new here. The Republican party, however is set on harboring the darkness from the right-wing of their ideology all in hopes of political gain. I don't think they have yet to weigh the consequence of such a parlay...that or they think America is a calamitous place.

I am Frank Chow and I approved this message

P.S. WTF Herndon?

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