Thursday, April 03, 2008
The Nightmare of Lou Dobbs. " The Mexican Ilegal Alien Invasion".
The ignorance and arrogance of Lou Dobbs goes beyond reality. Obviously forgetting that all Hispanics, Latinos are not Mexicans and very few Mexicans are masked marauders.
Boatloads of Irish, European, Italians, Canadians, Asians and Middle Eastern immigrants coming to America for the promise of a better life, similar to Hispanic immigration today, clearly impacted the economic and social landscape of the 19th century.
Upon their arrival, the Irish had no choice but to settle for the dregs, taking the lowest paying jobs in the northeastern cities. They, like African-Americans of the time, were on the fringe of society. While blacks didn't have the luxury of using race to slowly and eventually claw up from the social detritus into betterment, Irishmen did.
By the 1850s, the Irish, who often refused to work alongside blacks, began to drive their co-laborers out of the work force, as recorded in "How the Irish Became White" by Noel Ignatiev.
"Every hour sees us elbowed out of some employment to make room for some newly-arrived emigrant from the Emerald Isle, whose hunger and color entitle him to special favor," Frederick Douglass said in 1853 as referenced by Ignatiev. "These white men are becoming houseservants, cooks, stewards, waiters, and flunkies. For aught I see they adjust themselves to their stations with all proper humility. If they cannot rise to the dignity of white men, they show that they can fall to the degradation of black men."
Though that degradation continued long into the 20th century for blacks, the Irish more quickly climbed the rungs of society. That ascension was, in part, made possible by their whiteness.
Forward 1 1/2 centuries to our current immigration dilemma. Today, Hispanics are, in some ways, the new Irish. They further cement the fact that not only America's economy but her social conscious is irreversibly altered by large-scale immigration.
In 2003, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that Hispanics had become the largest minority in America, and a USA Today report from that year outlined numerous ways Hispanics have affected culture here, from the introduction of the bilingual children's show, "Dora the Explorer," to Time Inc.'s new publication, "People en Espanol," which first hit the streets in 1997.
Despite the influence, many Hispanics upon entry into the U.S. take the same blue-collar jobs as did their Irish brethren, including jobs in construction, food services and agriculture. But one stubborn caveat separates the Irish of the 19th century and today's Hispanic immigrant population: Hispanics don't have the automatic acceptance that white skin may potentially bring.
Talking heads like Lou Dobbs and Neal Boortz play on the irrational excitability of those who may be uncomfortable with the fact that ratios between white-, black-, brown- and yellow-skinned people are inching closer together. Boortz has used the term "illegal alien invasion" to describe Hispanics' exodus to this country, while Dobbs has called it a "Mexican invasion," the latter obviously forgetting that not all Hispanics are Mexican and very few Mexicans are masked marauders.
The economic and social ramifications of immigration are troubling for some, but the solutions offered by those same folks are inadequate at best and laughable at worst, with their droning cries to secure the borders.
The New York Times in a recent editorial echoed the opinion of several officials governing locations along the border about the feasibility of a monumental fence: "... nothing short of a phalanx of federal agents standing shoulder-to-shoulder for 2,000 miles would shut the border the way the hard-liners on talk radio want it shut."
Thus, from the Amistad insurrection to the Nat Turner rebellion to the Irish's social ascension to Hispanics' dreams of escaping a land that fails to support them, history has shown that the human will is an unstoppable force. Attempts to "lock down" the borders, whatever that means, are a clear waste of resources. Whether blame for illegal immigration falls on the Mexican government or to its people is irrelevant at this point.
Why not deal with the reality that America is once again changing and enact legislation to assist those who want to move here and succeed? Instead, we appear only to shove a finger in each ear, cover our eyes and hope 12 million people will simply stop trying to feed their families and stop seeking the hope we to the north hold so dear