Yes, more grassroots garbage. I know it might not seem as important as what is going on in Congress, but this is where politics begins. One can't leave this out of the picture, even if one finds oneself sighing and going "people, must we", which some of us are bound to do. While forgetting this became fashionable during the 1990s, America is not entirely compromised of highly assimilated Anglo-Saxons and angry inner city minority activists. As extreme positions are taken on both sides of an issue and sniping starts to go back and forth, somewhere barely noticed (by some) in the background one will find us, the silenced majority, wishing BOTH sides would sit down and be quiet. A few comments about some of the commentary I've heard about immigration and multiculturalism, in some cases by people I will name:
1. To the many angry Latino activists I saw on the news, talking about how they were being oppressed by proposed penalties for illegal entry into this country, and by the very idea of immigration being restricted at all:
You may feel that you or that relative or neighbor back home, who you'd like to bring over, would be a wonderful addition to this country. You may well be right and I may well agree with you, but the fact of the matter is that you and yours are trying to move into somebody else's home, in many cases, without even asking first. Those whose country this is, have every right in the world to say "no" to you for almost any noncoercive reason they please, be it wise or stupid. That's what ownership means - one has the right to make one's own choices, even bad ones - and the citizenry owns its country. Please do not insult anybody's intelligence by pretending to believe otherwise. Note that Mexico, whose government has long screamed a blue streak about US limitations on Mexican immigration, has not been shy about limiting immigration into Mexico from Central America, from countries whose emigres often have had a far stronger claim to refugee status than the vast majority of would-be Mexican immigrants. This leaves Mexico in the position of telling the US "do as we say and not as we do".
Should you really be surprised when such demands are greeted hostilly? This isn't a time to make demands. You are belligerently greeting the population of a nation from which you desire consideration. To what end do you do this? To browbeat people into giving you what you want? How would you respond if you were greeted in that matter? It would be a matter of honor, would it not, to respond to such a rudely made petition with defiance? Do not be surprised if that which would anger you, angers somebody else as well.
Let us speak plainly. The country you are trying to bully into submission could turn Spanish into a dead language in less time than it takes to make a decent cup of atole, quick frying everything right up to the Portuguese border. I certainly wouldn't like to see that happen, and I'm glad to say that neither would many people in the US, but even in the absence of a genocidal impulse, it still leaves us with the reality that there is no muscle behind your bluster, and the American people can well afford to disregard your anger, if it seems unreasonable to them. When you demand that Mexican immigrants get a free pass into this country that hasn't been given to any immigrant group before them, demanding a special privilege for your own people granted to none other, that is unreasonable and that is going to generate deep resentment in people absolutely capable of telling you "no".
When you approach somebody, desiring something from him that he has both the power and the right to deny you, don't make demands, make polite requests, and make the effort to be the kind of person whose requests others would like to answer with a "yes". When you pridefully declare your right to disregard the laws of the country you're entering, as did one demonstrator who angrily insisted that being an illegal didn't make him a criminal, you're not being that kind of person by anybody's standards. If you break the law, you're a lawbreaker. It's a tautology. Let's move on.
2. Lou Dobbs of CNN's Money Report got much less heat than he deserved, lately, for remarks that would have been considered backward well before Political Correctness made its appearance on the American scene, resurrecting the ghost of nativism. Nativism, if you're fortunate enough to have never encountered it, is an entitlement mentality based system of non-thought that holds that a particular brand of Anglo-Saxon culture (that fancies itself as being the mainstream culture of the US) is entitled to a privileged status within the US, having a special claim to calling itself THE American culture in a way in which any of the many other American cultures do not, and sometimes that Anglo-Saxons are themselves more legitimately American than other Americans. I like to think of it as being the old British imperialism's whiny bast**d stepchild, complete with that desire to ram one's own way of life down everybody else's throad, by whatever means expedient.
Mr.Dobbs has apparently opposed most immigration into the US from Mexico, and fine, that's his privilege. But he's also complained about Mexican Americans waving Mexican flags at Cinco de Mayo and even to the holding of St.Patrick's Day, beloved of what may well be the least likely American ethnic subculture to ever harbor separatist ambitions. That is not his privilege, because that is not any of his business.
Yes, you're reading that right and I mean it exactly the way it sounds - the man is not entitled to his opinion. By this, I do not mean that I think that there should be any kind of government sanction against him for voicing that opinion. I do believe in the first amendment. But the first amendment was never supposed to provide those who made outrageous remarks with bulletproof protection from the negative social consequences that might result. The right to voice one's opinion does not always give one to do so without encountering scorn and social censure, especially when one is so presumptuous as to tell other members of a supposedly free society what they should have for dinner or do on their free time.
Mr.Dobbs, like many like him who come out of the woodwork at moments like this, would return America to a past that never was, to honor a vision that would have profoundly disgusted the founding fathers. America, above all else, was created to be a place of refuge where those who found that they could not live life on their own peaceful terms in the old country (wherever that might be), could find their own little pocket to live in and make their own, living in freedom and in peace, and you know what? Not only did this work, but it worked gloriously, producing a highly non-homogenized America that bears little resemblence to the place some of our Corporatist friends would like to transform our country into. What Mr.Dobbs is calling for today, following in the undesirable footsteps of Teddy Roosevelt as he dares to portray this as an expression of patriotism, is the very un-American unitary version of nationalism that made so much of early modern Europe into the Hell it became for so many - "one land, one people, one culture", and if that sounds like something Hitler might have said, this is not without reason.
A country that is created as a place of refuge is going to tend to catch all of the many varied subcultures that the intolerance of so many other lands will drive out, and that's what built the real America, not this plastic, synthesized culture of TV sitcoms, plywood ranch house subdvisions and mediated, conformist groupthink that many assume one is celebrating, when one flies the American flag on one's site or over one's home. America has been so much more than that, and that is its strength, a strength that some have a great deal of difficulty accepting. One might ask how one can demand that others give up so much of what has made America distinctively American (as opposed to European) and call this "patriotism", or express intolerance for that very traditional diversity of cultures that America has enjoyed from its beginning, and pretend to be doing so for the sake of brotherhood. Brothers let brothers be themselves, and draw joy from their own individual presences. But aside from all of this, one should be amazed that so many believe that what this intolerant brand of nationalism offers is anything but a route to decline and decay.
Let us examine the history of monism. Consider France. Before the Revolution, it was noted as a country remarkable for its regional variation in every aspect of culture, language included - there are a number of languages native to France, other than the Parisian French widely recognized. (Occitan, Breton, Basque, Alsatian and Corsican come readily to mind). After the Revolution, in a spirit of Modernism that would meet approval in some of the trendy circles one meets pro-assimilationists in, the governing of France was radically centralized (France has no federalism) and regional identities were suppressed. According to a monist's view of how the world should work, this should have strengthened France by weakening the divisive presence of regional diversity and identity. In actual point of fact, France was the leading land power in pre-revolutionary Europe, and post-revolution, has gone on to become known as the country that couldn't defend itself against Italy. (Literally - WWII, Mussolini's armies were able to occupy the Southeastern corner of France). Germany, on the other hand, while it did embrace some of the more regrettable spinoffs of 19th century notions of nationalism, never pursued Paris' program of homogenizing the provinces, and hardly seems to have been hobbled by this.
Homogenity, then, is a cure looking for a disease, a prescription for building a stronger society that, having failed every time it was tried anywhere, still wins the support of a pseudo-intellectually trendy crowd that will never let itself be slowed down by the facts, as long as it has rhetoric. Its apologists speak of cultural diversity as being an impediment to progress, in some vague handwavey way, amazing those of us who actually have studied the subjects that make what is commonly known as "progress" possible. Speaking as one of those people, I can tell you that of all of those I've known who've done well in postgraduate study in the pure or applied sciences, not one has ever come from what would be called a "mainstream" cultural background. The one who came closest was an unreconstructed confederate from Tennessee - not the same thing at all.
If one destroys the cultural backgrounds that have given rise to about 100% of America's scientists and engineers, guess what happens to technical progress? We may argue about why American pluralism has been such a fountain of strength for our country, except when it is blindingly obvious (eg. WWII, with refugee scientists from Europe contributing outstandingly to the Manhattan Project), but short of doing the equivalent of closing one's eyes and covering one's ears and yelling "no, no, no", one can't escape the fact that it has been a blessing. Richer and more varied cultures simply tend to produce more creative people, and creativity is what powers research. If you'll pardon an apt cliche, the Europeans, in their folly, killed the goose that had, culturally speaking, been laying the golden eggs. In doing so, they ended their own Golden Age.
Mr.Dobbs would have us follow in their footsteps, out of a fear, perhaps, that comes from projecting his own intolerance onto others, but having been the odd ethnic kid out more than a few times, I can certainly tell you from personal experience that the unassimilated ethnics were the last ones one ever needed to fear. It was the self-consciously homogenized "ugly American" crowd that posed almost all difficulty. In this, one can see a sign of where American and European civilization went their own seperate ways. When a European sees strange and exotic customs in the province next door, he fears the civil war that may someday come, with people shooting their neighbors over a difference in dress, or dialect or family structure. When the average American hears about the same thing, his fear is that he'll run out of gas during the road trip, when he'll get to have fun checking out that exotic strangeness. Diversity only becomes a source of weakness for those who've become so timid, that they've forgotten how to enjoy it.
Of course, looking at Dobbs, one struggles to picture him enjoying anything, so for one such as him, we bypass the argument from pleasure and get to points greatly reminiscent of those posed to the pro-immigration extremists mentioned above. "You're making demands about the disposition of something that doesn't belong to you - somebody else's money and leisure time - and you don't have the firepower to back up these ludicrous demands, so get over it". America is 93% non-Anglo-Saxon, and the culture Mr.Dobbs et al. want to bully everybody else into adopting isn't even close to being universal among Anglo-Americans. Go visit Georgia, Arizona and Massachussetts in short order, and compare and contrast. If maybe - what, 2 or 3% of the population wishes to force its ways on the other 97 or 98% of the population, how is that supposed to work?
It's high time that the rest of us called their bluff, and backed people like this guy way the H*** off. Nothing is more American than the willingness to stand up for oneself, when one is being pushed around.
3. On the far end of something, one finds a remarkable piece of anti-Americanism by Tony Hendra on a blog called "The Obfuscation Report", which I offer to the reader in much the same spirit that I might hand somebody a tape of "Plan 9 from Outer Space". It's so bad, it's good. Sort of.
I discussed this one in greater detail in my April 1 post to Conservative Midwestern Pagans. To summarize briefly: Mr.Hendra supports open borders with Mexico on the basis that the American people have no right to live in their own homes, and have offended him by not cooperating with his desire to see their society become as dystopian as he'd like it to be. He's even angry at some of them for restoring some of the old Victorian homes, feeling that in some vague sense, they are promoting an ancient corporate evil by doing so.
I am laughing at Hendra, not with him. He's laughable only because he is powerless. The level of hatred he puts on display is quite remarkable, and it is sobering to think of what he would do, if he could, judging by his own words. What I find quite disturbing, as I look at the seemingly left wing blog on which I found that rant, is that the editor reposting the man's words can not (or will not) bring himself to describe this outpouring of venom as being anything other than just another opinion.
There is, sometimes, a social duty to pass judgement, because not everything should be negotiable. For those who feel that it is the left that cares about the common man, I offer that post as an excellent example of why I don't buy that. The difference between anger and hatred is that anger would like to find resolution and hatred is only inflamed by the attempt. Look at the tone of that article, and try to imagine making peace with that man. Would it even be possible?
For those of us on the Right, anger is a reality that we have to deal with, and the source of strength nature gives us to fight when we must. We come to terms with it, but we don't find pleasure in it. When one reads an article in which the author is enraged by the very concept of somebody enjoying a pleasure as simple and inoffensive as that offered by the beauty of a traditional old home, flying into a dyspeptic rage over the mere presence of a porch on somebody's home, he is clearly not trying to resolve anything at all. He's enjoying hatred for its own sake, and he's getting validated by his fellow liberals as he does so.
That's the difference between us and them.