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May 19, 2006

Greetings from the melting pot
Posted by Teresa at 02:34 PM * 350 comments

A general question for the faux-militant would-be defenders of our sovereign national borders:

If immigrants are so overwhelmingly scary and unassimilable, and such a drain on the communities that harbor them, how come my city can kick your city’s ass?

(Hint: don’t say “it’s because you’re subsidized,” because you’ll just look stupid. We aren’t. We pay more into state and federal coffers, on a constant basis, than we’ll ever get back. Almost all the cities do that. It’s the burbs and rural areas that are pigs to the trough.)

Our schools and churches and other social institutions cope with a constant influx of polyglot unassimilated immigrants from all over the world, and not all of them are legal. We do okay. They learn to be Americans. We learn to eat their cuisine twenty years earlier than you do.

That’s the way it works. That’s the way it’s always worked. So sit down and shut up and try not to be so provincial. You’re embarrassing the rest of us.

Comments on Greetings from the melting pot:
#1 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 02:55 PM:

Well, we all know that our hostess's city was attached by gay Mexicans in 2001.

#2 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 03:11 PM:

Attached to what? A fabulous plate of nachos, I hope.

#3 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 03:26 PM:

I'm going to go out sometime with a camera and do 'introduction to LA' with some of the more, um, diverse signage. (I know a strip mall where there's a pizzeria, a Korean restaurant, and a taqueria. It isn't the only one that runs to international eating.)

#4 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 03:38 PM:

Cheezit -- if we didn't have immigrants come by regularly to the States, we'd be eating snackfoods and industrial waste.

Oh, we do, already. But still, different pairs of eyes (with different recipes and seeds from home) stop this country from wilting as a monoculture.

#5 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 03:41 PM:

It has been revealed: this campaign is funded by the manufacturers of American cheese and frozen fishsticks.

#6 ::: colin roald ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 03:43 PM:

Pshaw. You don't have *real* international eating until the Vietnamese are running the pizzeria and the Latinos are serving sushi.

#7 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 03:45 PM:

They learn to be Americans.

Is there any evidence that this doesn't happen in the U.S.? I know I've heard reports from Denmark saying that Muslim immigrants there have not integrated with the rest of the culture and reject Danish values of tolerance and multiculturalism. Also, everything I've heard about immigrant riots in France suggested they came about because the immigrants are excluded in pretty much every way that matters.

Are there immigrants in the U.S.A. who, by their own choice or because of the people around them, are not becoming Americans?

#8 ::: Andrew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 03:52 PM:

It would be surprising if there were not. I would look first at Russians and Hassidim. But their children may be another story. Those Amish still speaking German ("Pennsylvania dutch") might be regarded as very long-term non-assimilated immigrants.

What's worrying people in Europe is tha tthe children of immigrants seem in some respects less assimilated than their parents. But it's a complex story. I do know there were Swedish-language newspapers in parts of the midwest up until about 1950.

Maybe the word you're looking for is not "assimilation" but "conversion" -- if America is regarded as a religion, which can be differently inculturated into differeing ethnicities, then there is a melting-pot model which is different from, and likely to be more successful than, the obvious European one.

#9 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 03:55 PM:

Me, Harry? I came here by choice. And I became a citizen because Bill became Prez, thus showing that there was indeed some sanity in the country. Of course, these days, some people become citizens because there is no sanity in the country and they want it back in.

#10 ::: Jonathan Birge ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 03:57 PM:

Well, that was certainly an insightful look into the problem of illegal immigration. NYC is not LA, as you pointed out. But that also refutes your own argument. NYC has a completely different makeup of immigrants. Myb y shld stck t dtng fntsy.

Maybe a fence is a stupid idea, maybe we should worry about WHY immigrants from Mexico aren't doing so well in this country, especially after the first generation. (It's probably understandable that they don't want to assimilate.) But look at some demographic data nd vn ltrry typ cn fgr t tht we've got a problem brewing in a few decades if nothing changes. Ignoring what is a mounting social problem nd smply pttng yrslf n th bck fr bng sch n nlghtnd "prgrssv" rlly isn't the answer, either.

t's nfrtnt tht th nly dbt rght nw sms t b btwn th sl plr ppsts f th fr rght nd th fr lft. Ppl thr wnt t mltrz th brdr r chnt kmby rnd cmpfr.

#11 ::: Audrey ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 04:01 PM:

I get the feeling it's harder to not become mixed with the local culture here than in much of Europe. I'm not really sure how to articulate why, though.

Portland has a lot of Asian grocery stores with a Mexican food aisle, and probably some of the reverse, too. I like this.

#12 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 04:02 PM:

There's a Chinese-Peruvian restaurant in Chatsworth (and there was one in Eagle Rock some years back). I think it's related to 'comidas chinas y criollas'. Does that count?

#13 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 04:03 PM:

colin roald: We have Chinese running a Mexican take-out place. And this is a suburb, not a real city.

#14 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 04:08 PM:

Teresa,

This sentiment doesn't generally come from cities, though, does it? Isn't it a suburban/rural sentiment, generally? If that's the case, then telling someone from Sugarland, Texas or Tarrytown that NYC is more urbane than Houston doesn't really change their opinion.

#15 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 04:08 PM:

Jonathan Birge: I think maybe you should have written "Myb y shld stck t dtng fnts."

#16 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 04:24 PM:

Wow, get a load of Jonathan Birge there! Srsly dmb. Have you divined without looking that that's his first post to Making Light?

Xopher: My thought exactly.

#17 ::: P J evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 04:25 PM:

As for Birge's not wanting to assimilate: one of my co-workers, an immigrant, got mad at her school district administrators because they insisted on putting her children in bilingual education. She wants them to be fluent in English; they get enough Spanish at home. As far as I can tell, the immigrants want their children to assimilate, at least enough to not stand out as 'foreign'. [In the 1920s and 1930s, 'early California' was a romantic sort of ideal and we got the Ramona pageant, Olvera street (it was rebuilt, although the buildings are genuinely 19th century), and the tile-roof-remodels and street renamings in Santa Barbara (Quinto was originally 5th). The people who did that are the parents and grandparents of the English-only, no-immigration activists now.]

#18 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 04:28 PM:

You go, girl. Speaking as a lifelong city dweller (New York, Cleveland, Chicago, San Francisco) -- I am so down with that.

I live in the San Francisco East Bay now. Some people might call the town I live in a suburb. It is totally mixed, ethnically, culturally, religiously -- and yeah, we have great restaurants, too. I lived in Berkeley for about 13 years; we used to say that local cuisine of Berkeley was Thai, because it had so many Thai restaurants and markets.

I can't recall where the info was posted, but I have seen at least one poll which suggests that places with large, quite visible, politically active immigrant groups have less anger about illegal immigration than places in which the immigrant population is smaller and more furtive.

#19 ::: Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 04:28 PM:

You know, you're wonderful.

Out here on LI, one of the sushi chefs where I go for lunch is, I'm fairly sure, Central American (the other is the owner).

#20 ::: Sternel ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 04:32 PM:

Lurker cheering from Midtown East, on a block that pretty well reflects exactly what you've described. If any of these rural wimps wants to come take the tour I'll be more than happy to point them to the taqueria across the street.

#21 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 04:32 PM:

I miss kosher Chinese places. And Chinese-Cuban places. Although here in Baltimore, we do have a kosher Italian place that I'm dying to try.

Jon Meltzer: so you're saying the pro-Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee faction is sponsoring the anti-immigrant campaign? IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW.

(Seriously, has anyone ever seen this show? It's train-wreck bad. Jaw-droppingly-awful bad. And because Mystery Science Theater 3000 is no more, I can't stop watching every weekend. Chicken-fried steak made with ranch dressing seasoning packets! The craptascular "tablescapes"! The beer mixed with Kahlua! The raw meat hands all over the entire kitchen! Joy!)

#22 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 04:34 PM:

Thanks, Dave.

Okay, you skiffy crew. Anybody want to explain the trouble with straight-line extrapolations to Mr. Birge?

#23 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 04:36 PM:

Disemvoweled on the first post. Man.

#24 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 04:36 PM:

Maybe you should stick to editing fantasy.
...even a literary type...
patting yourself on the back for being such an enlightened "progressive"
chant kumbaya around a campfire.

Mr. Birge: forgive me for not responding to the substance of your post -- I couldn't find it. Comments such as the above are not generally considered polite discourse on this site, and attacking the hostess is going to get you bounced out of the party so fast it'll make your head spin. You can go out, knock, and come in again civilly, and then we will be happy to engage you. Otherwise, may I suggest you find another place to be rude.

#25 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 04:37 PM:

No, Teresa, but you could possibly introduce him to East LA's Edward James Olmos? A word of warning though... The latter seems quite handy with boxing gloves.

#26 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 04:40 PM:

During the 1930's, racist fckhds were talling us we had a looming problem with immigration, and it would come due, oh, about 40 years ago. Then during the 50's, and the 60's, and so on. They kept pretending to be concerned citizens, but anyone paying attention knew they were racists. The same thing is ahppening today.

And we still have no catastrophe. And no catastrophe from immigration is really looming. It's all a ploy to distract Bush's swaying base back to approving of him and his fellow conservatives.

That's *all* it is. We need remember that. Fogetitng it, and engaging the debate as if this were a real catastrophe lets Bush (and Rove, who's behind all of this) dictate our fight. They *know* a large number of the racist nutbars who voted for them are dropping out because of Iraq, the economy, Katrina, etc... and they *have* to get these people back.

So, immigration. As long as they can look a little bit more appealing to conservatives who're afraid of a Mexican/Latino/brown skinned Spanish speaking America, they win.

This is a ploy to boost poll numbers. What they're trying to do is to get a few high profile Democrats to look bad enough on the issue that Bush's poll numbers will go up.

#27 ::: Janni ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 04:54 PM:

If immigrants are so overwhelmingly scary and unassimilable, how come they look exactly like a large number of the residents of my city, to the point that I doubt our volunteer border "defenders" could tell the difference.

Unfortunately, the so-called minutemen are many of them locals, too. And they are scary, and just may be unassimilable.

#28 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 04:57 PM:

I live in Kodiak, Alaska, which has about 6,000 people inside city limits, 11,000 people on the road system, and 14,000 people on the entire archipelago, which is the size of Connecticut. But local programming and public service announcements are aired/printed in English, Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin, Russian, Tagalog, Alutiiq, Cambodian, Korean, Thai, and Laotian. We also have a lot of Samoans and Guamanians, but they all speak English already.

The City of Kodiak is 30 percent Filipino. There are so many Filipinos that the immigrants from one political division (province? state?) even have their own benevolent association. The Catholic church has regular services in Spanish. A Korean family runs the Japanese restaurant upstairs and the Chinese/American eatery downstairs; at lunchtime on weekdays, they'll combine the two and you can have a plate of cucumber rolls with won ton soup on the side and an ice cream shake for dessert. (Don't knock it till you've tried it!) (The owner, BTW, says that the lightest, most delicious chicken broth for Beijing-style cooking is Swanson's.)

We're stuck with each other out here in the Gulf of Alaska. "Those people" are on the school board . . . on the city council . . . running the post office, for heaven's sakes! You can't go anywhere without overhearing conversations you can't understand!

And yet, somehow, life goes on.

BTW, we also have the best potlucks in the United States.

#29 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 05:01 PM:

What I wanna know is - did the ancestors of the "border defenders" enter this country with proper papers?

I'd bet my French Canadian ancestors who wandered over the border into Vermont in the 1880s didn't.

I'd bet my English sea-faring/merchant-ancestors who helped to settle Massachusetts in 1642 didn't.

OTOH, even though most of my ancestors have been in this country longer than most of their ancestors, I like a melting pot. Anyone who wants to work is welcome here so far as I'm concerned.

I remember starting to write a story called "The Wall" in the late 1980s about an America that built a wall on the Mexican border. I stopped writing it because I thought it was too illogical. *feh*

#30 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 05:08 PM:

Well, people complained about the Batman "No Man's Land" storyline. Not because it involved someone dressing up as a giant bat - that was believable. But the US government abandoning a major city and having police block refugees from leaving? No way.

#31 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 05:16 PM:

As far as I know your city can't kick my city's ass. I would not live in New York on a bet.

Even though I am a city loving gay guy I find New York to be one of those weird loves like Kill Bill. I don't hate that it exists but I do not understand why sane human beings enjoy it.

Also in lots of measures Denver metro beat the pants off New York metro. More parks per person, more library books per person, more readers, more college educated people, less crime, less grime, and more friendly people. Not that I want anyone else to move here or insist that everyone's tastes should match mine. I just do not think it is so apparent from your example that lots of immigration is a good thing. Look at LA, it has lots of imigration as well, would you argue that it is a model for what America should be like? And even if lots of immigration is a good thing it needs to be legal immigration rather than the gray market in day labor that now exists.

#32 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 05:20 PM:

Teresa: Okay, you skiffy crew. Anybody want to explain the trouble with straight-line extrapolations to Mr. Birge?

We don't have to. PNH already Sidelighted the explanation.

Or do you think the irony will be too hard for him to understand?

#33 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 05:22 PM:

him == Mr. Birge, not PNH.

#34 ::: Jonathan K. Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 05:26 PM:

I don't think anyone has asked this question yet, but has anyone thought of putting pressure on / giving aid to other countries, e.g., Mexico, to make their citizens' lives sufficiently tolerable that the citizens don't feel that migration is their best and only strategy? Admittedly, this country's treatment of its own poor is getting worse and worse, but if America is going to spend billions of dollars duplicating the Great Wall of China, it might behoove its legislators to see if there isn't a better use for the money.

#35 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 05:30 PM:

I want to play devil's advocate for a moment. It seems to me that, without being a racist idiot, one can make an argument that uncontrolled immigration creates some problems which need to be dealt with. A couple of examples: 1) A friend of mine lives next to a guy who pours concrete for a living. That guy was laid off some years ago by an employer who then went out and hired illegal day laborers at $6 an hour. The employer's not a bad man. But he can do much more business with four day laborer employees than he can with my friend's neighbor, whom he had to pay $22 an hour plus benefits. He doesn't have to pay their benefits and he doesn't have to deal with their union. 2) The ER of my local hospital -- the one I take my mother to when she she has a medical crisis -- is often jammed with immigrants, some of whom are surely illegal. Many of them have no insurance, but of course they cannot be turned away, so the hospital eats the cost and this factors into the degradation of the health care system. 3) In my local school, the first grade teachers often have over 30 kids in the class room, 15 of whom don't speak English. Of those 15, 6 speak Spanish, 3 Vietnamese, 1 Hmong, 1 Nigerian, 1 Farsi, 1 a Chinese dialect, 1 another Chinese dialect, and 1 is deaf and signs.

So how do we deal with this? Not by trying to deport 12 million people, nor by passing resolutions to make English the "official" language of the country. Any thoughts? Should immigration be controlled? Or do we simply accept everyone and deal one at a time with the issues that arise from their coming? Who pays for this?

#36 ::: Chris S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 05:32 PM:

Is it just me, or does the 'down with immigrants' rally seem especially stupid when delivered by a non-first Nations person?

In my city, the bank machines offer a choice of four/five languages - and those languages change by neighborhood.

#37 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 05:32 PM:

Jonathan Cohen: I think the same people who want the wall/fence/minefield are the same ones who want the UN shut down (or at least not in the US, and the US not in the UN) and want us to not spend money on aid to, you know, ungrateful furriners. or, to be really nasty about it, the isolationist racists.

#38 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 05:36 PM:

When come across "I'm Going to NY, What Should I Do?" threads, I often suggest taking the 7 train to the end of the line (Flushing) and walking around a bit.

That is as much New York as Times Square.

* * *

I found this thread inspirational. Guy from Georgia and his SO plan a trip to NYC. Sounds like they started off making some terrible mistakes, flying into LGA and renting a car to take to a cheap motel near the Newak Airport. Argh!

After a lot of suggestions -- including my 7 line one -- he was on his way. Took his sweet time getting back with a report. I imagined the poor guy lost in Newark, never finding Manhattan.

He had a blast as it turned out. And took some amazing photos.

#39 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 05:38 PM:

Here's my question: have there been any recent big changes in the quantity of immigrants or the permeability of the border? Because if there haven't, if this is the same set of admittedly difficult problems we had last year, why is this suddenly blowing up?

#40 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 05:38 PM:

Chryss, that chick is super scary. If I surf through and she's on, I get outta there faster than I do Rachel Ray. (We call it "Semi ho-made" in our house...)

#41 ::: Jon Sobel ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 05:39 PM:

Mishalak: According to this, of US cities with over half a million people New York is the fourth safest, while Denver isn't even in the top 10. Nothing against Denver. I'm just sayin' is all.

#42 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 05:44 PM:

Teresa: I love you.

Lizzy, you said: In my local school, the first grade teachers often have over 30 kids in the class room, 15 of whom don't speak English. Of those 15, 6 speak Spanish, 3 Vietnamese, 1 Hmong, 1 Nigerian, 1 Farsi, 1 a Chinese dialect, 1 another Chinese dialect, and 1 is deaf and signs.

I don't doubt the makeup (my kids go to San Francisco Public Schools which have high percentages of immigrant enrollment--YG's school is 53% Latino, 42% Chinese, and of the remaining 5% there are Indian, Vietnamese, African American, Samoan, Filipina, and--at a whopping .17% of the population, white. Easily 2/3 of the student body are English language learners).but--I thought state law required a 20-student maximum from K-3rd grade? Which isn't to say that the things required of a grade school teacher in this state make it remarkable that any teaching goes on at all.

#43 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 05:46 PM:

if this is the same set of admittedly difficult problems we had last year, why is this suddenly blowing up?

It is the same set of problems.

And the answer is, (tah-dah) politics. Polls. We're losing the war in Iraq and the war on drugs, so we need a new enemy. Let's rile up the base and at the same time see if we can't scare some percentage of those we've lost into voting for us on the grounds that we can deport those illegal immigrants faster than the wimpy immigrant-loving Democrats.

These people make me want to _________! (Fill in the blank.)

#44 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 05:48 PM:

Madeleine -- poetic license #56748.

#45 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 05:53 PM:

Lizzy --

The employer is a bad man.

Mishalak --

New York has been one of the great cities of the Earth for at least a hundred years, one of the exemplary transit-cored metropolises. Denver, whatever present glories it enjoys, was a cow town in living memory. (Same thing with Toronto, which became a substantial city only fairly recently.)

I like to think that Toronto is getting it right; the greed-head businessmen haven't got a majority or unrecoverable amounts of political power yet, the idea that proper response to strangers is fear hasn't managed to get too far, and the efforts to exclude newcomers from access to the economic power structure haven't worked to the extent that there are going to be riots and mass stupidity. (Not that those measures didn't do a lot of damage, but sanity is getting a chance to prevail.)

But I won't know until I'm an old, old man if Toronto really will manage to be a major city or not; same with Denver. It takes four whole human generations to tell if the thing will live and breathe and last, or if the bright season was a human season and not the city's.

#46 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 05:53 PM:

Johnathan wonders:

"I don't think anyone has asked this question yet, but has anyone thought of putting pressure on / giving aid to other countries, e.g., Mexico, to make their citizens' lives sufficiently tolerable that the citizens don't feel that migration is their best and only strategy?"

It is not a matter of us providing them aid.

Mexico has OIL for cripes sake. The country gets billions of dollars in remitances from workers abroad.

Why these resources have't been used wisely is a question of, um, political culture.

#47 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 05:54 PM:

"why is this suddenly blowing up?"

Because it is useful for it to blow up now.

#48 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 05:56 PM:

Britain for the British!

Angles and Saxons Go Home!

#49 ::: hamletta ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 05:57 PM:

That was just beautiful, Miss Teresa.

It has been revealed: this campaign is funded by the manufacturers of American cheese and frozen fishsticks.

Well, you do know that Mrs. Paul is a member of the Trilateral Commission, don't you?

Chryss, the people over at Television Without Pity call Sandra "Ol' Puddin' Cups," because a) she used Jell-O pudding cups to make tiramisu; or b) something to do with her boobs.

Or maybe it's both.

#50 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 05:59 PM:

I live happily in an LA neighborhood that's the intersection of Thai Town and Little Armenia, with a populace that seems to be divided equally between white, hispanic and armenian folks. I have no idea what the immigrant status of any of my neighbors is and as they pay rent and taxes (well, I'm guessing) and go to work and school, walk their dogs, do yardwork, enjoy music and have BBQs with friends and family on weekends I see no reason why I should give a rats ass whether they've been here for two weeks or two generations, let alone whether they have or need a green card.

While I suppose it's true that our immigration policy is wacky (hey look - It's a serf class!) I have avoided most discussions about it because I find the rhetoric surrounding the issue breathtakingly racist. Maybe it's because I live here and have lived in NYC that I just don't find a group of people who speak a different language and don't look like me inherently scary.

Unfortunately, my otherwise liberal parents seem to have an obsession with "the mexicans" - and who can blame them, with Schaumburg, Ilinois' whopping 5% Hispanic population (according to the offical Schaumburg website) Mariachi bands may soon be outnumbering Polka bands 2-to-1.*

Dad forwarded me some anti-immigrant claptrap from Bill Frist a couple of weeks ago, and I deleted it without response. Not since the Arnold Friberg Incident of 2002 have we so obviously failed to see eye-to-eye.

* in the interest of full annoying music disclosure, I enjoy bagpipe music, and have no ethnic excuse to do so.

#51 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 06:01 PM:

Chryss: ...pro-Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee faction is sponsoring the anti-immigrant campaign? ... Seriously, has anyone ever seen this show? It's train-wreck bad...

O.M.G.

And the question I have is... she is constantly shoving this processed -- oh, sorry, semi-processed -- crap down her cake hole and yet she's got a body like one of those stick insects.

And don't even get me started on her "tablescapes"...

Let's see... I'm in Hell, my punishment is to look at horrifying images for the rest of eternity, and Satan gives me a choice between looking at Sandra Lee's "tablescapes" and watching videotaped beheadings...

"I'm thinking, I'm thinking..."

#52 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 06:04 PM:

Dave Bell: Godsdam horseriding CELTS!!! Go home to Hungary where you came from, you Indo-European swine! Britain for the...um...for the...shortswarthyblueeyedpeoplepossiblyakintotheBerbers WHO BUILT STONEHENGE!!!!!

REUNITE GONDWANALAND!!!!!

#53 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 06:06 PM:

In Oakland there's a restaurant downtown that has signs in front advertising its cuisine, which includes "Teriyaki" and "Grits."

Here's what I want to know -- where did this 11 million or 12 million number come from? If they're undocumented, how do we know how many of them there are? Are these all Hispanic, or are some of them from other countries? Could that nice English person living next to one of these racists be illegal, and what does the racist think about that?

I'm not too rational about this subject myself -- my family's history includes fairly recent illegal immigration. (Now legal -- if anyone from INS is reading this!)

#54 ::: lalouve ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 06:07 PM:

Well, speaking as a non-American (as in, not from continent on that side of the Atlantic): the lack of integration in European society is, I think, a complex issue. I'll just offer a few comment, in case anyone's interested.

First of all, many refugees do not particularly want to be here. They were forced to flee their home countries, and would often prefer to go back once the problem is removed (one of my colleagues wants very much to go back to Iraqi Kurdistan). Their view of the country where they live is often positive, but they still don't want to live there.

Secondly, immigrants and refugees to Scandinavian countries (where I live) meet a culture which is often relatively monolithic and not expressed in words: it's very hard to learn the codes because no one can/will tell you about them. You remain an outsider. Typical of this is the appalling term 'second-generation immigrants' (speaking as a linguist, I'd like to throw that word into the sea and drown it) - even if you were born here, you count as an immigrant.

#55 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 06:11 PM:

Xopher: Last seen grooving in a cave with several species of small furry animals?

#56 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 06:15 PM:

*catches breath* Um...who, Clifton?

I meant Pangaia.

#57 ::: FMguru ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 06:18 PM:

TNH: have there been any recent big changes in the quantity of immigrants or the permeability of the border? Why is this suddenly blowing up?

I've wondered that, too. Illegal immigration has been a constant problem for the last 30-plus years. Why is it suddenly a big deal in Spring 2006?

My guesses:
1) Conservatism is always looking for a new enemy. Gay panic has reached the limits of its ability to move voters, so they need a new bogeyman.
2) Bush's weakness. This has been a growing movement within the Republican party for more than a decade (CA Gov. Pete Wilson tried to ride it to the White House). Bush and Rove have tamped it down, because it's not in the interest of the business interests that they take their marching orders from, and because they realize that securing the Latino vote is critical to the GOP's long-term success (Pete Wilson, again). Bush/Rove could suppress the nativists when he flightsuiting around at 73% in the polls. Now he's a lame duck at 29%, and they don't have the leverage to keep the lid on.
3) There's a lot of free-floating hate-the-dark-skinned-other energy in the body politic, carefully stoked by the administration and its media since 9/11. But the great crusade against islamofascism has thrown an engine rod, and is no fun anymore, so all that energy has been searching for a new outlet.
4) The working classes have been getting squeezed economically without relief for six years now. Flat wages, offshoring, rising medical and energy prices, cuts in government programs (student loans, etc.), a lack of good jobs being created. There's a sense of getting screwed by the system (while the upper 2% award themselves federal contracts and tax cuts). It seems natural that they're hunting for a scapegoat for why The American Dream seems so out of reach - and they've found it, in the form of illegal aliens who steal jobs, drive down wages, commit crimes, and leech off the welfare system.
5) Nativism, including well-organized political movements at the national party level, is a recurring American phenomenon (KKK, "know-nothings", etc.). Maybe it's just the pendulum come swinging around again.

So take your pick.

I've been struck by how concern over illegal immigration is strongest in parts of the country (like rural Tennessee) where it has the least cultural and economic impact, and I'm also struck by how smoothly and effortlessly the various rabblerousers of the right (Malkin, especially) have turned away from rah-rahing the Iraq War and are instead flogging this immigration issue.

#58 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 06:19 PM:

Back in December I posted this sign:
Mom's Teriyaki
Mexican-American Food

It seems to be relevant here.

#59 ::: Euphonia Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 06:25 PM:

I know I've heard reports from Denmark saying that Muslim immigrants there have not integrated with the rest of the culture and reject Danish values of tolerance and multiculturalism.

That is a beautiful sentence.

#60 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 06:36 PM:

colin roald: The head sushi chef at my favorite local sushi bar is Mexican; is that close enough?

Chryss: I've never liked any of the kosher Chinese restaurants I've been to.

#61 ::: Craig Macbride ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 06:39 PM:

TNH wrote: have there been any recent big changes in the quantity of immigrants or the permeability of the border? ... why is this suddenly blowing up?

That's easy. Fascists rule by fear, uncertainty and doubt. That means they like waging wars to keep the populace scared and the FUD level high. The "war" on drugs isn't as trendy as it was. The "war" on terror is a shambles. They're not sure about whether to invade Iran yet. So, they "need" a war with someone, and illegal immigrants are an easy target.

As to the topic itself, there is way too much generalisation going on on both sides. Immigrants, legal or otherwise, might be desirable or not. Legal ones at least you have some control over. Illegal ones you don't. On a basis of fairness, I'm all for throwing the illegal ones out. Why do you want people who prefer to break the law than to apply through the correct channels?

Over a decade ago, when it was easier to get into Australia, we had legal immigrants from some countries who had a higher employment rate than the average ... and immigrants from some other countries who were 90+% unemployed after 12 months! The latter type typically brought in their whole extended family and lived off social security, because that was a much better lifestyle than they had at home. They didn't assimilate very often, and were disproportionately involved in the drug trade. That is a very good excuse for vetting those who are trying to come into your country, rather than allowing open slather.

#62 ::: otherdeb ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 06:45 PM:

1) Chris Q: Not only the nachos, babe...pernil, escabeche, bistek empanizado, bistek palomilla, arroz con camarrones, etc.

2) Yeah, my city can kick the ass of the homogenous ones, because we are stronger for the variety of people we have! NOTE: I am typing this from an internet cafe, and the row I am in is me (NY Jewish), a Hispanic man, a black man, an Indian woman, and a Korean man. GO DIVERSITY!

3) I do not understand what these jackasses are so afraid of. What, they might be forced to learn about some culture other than their own? They might have to reexamine their stereotypes and prejudices? They might have to accept that the immigrant kids pay more attention in school than their Neanderthal brats do?

I work in an "inner city" school. Every day I see immigrants, both kids and parents, who are trying to survive in what to them is a completely foreign culture, much the way my great grandparents did when they came to America. And these kids work against tremendous odds. Why do those in our government forget that their when their own ancestors came here it might not have been leegally? Why do they refuse to extend the same courtesy to others? Is it, perhaps, because many of the emigres in this wave have "brown" or "yellow" skin? Is it because many of those in other parts of the country than the southwest may be of Muslim descent?

Thing is, I don't really give a damn why. Stupidity is stupidity. Besides, isn't it their own Bible that tells these folks that the only person who may cast the first stone is "he who is without sin"?

#63 ::: Dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 06:45 PM:

TruthOut has an article about illegals paying taxes that, while I'm not sure how to confirm, seems right from what I know about procedure. How are they supposed to leech off of the system if they need a SocSec number not to mention 18mo worth of prior employer info to get the unemployment check in the first place? For 26 weeks. At an average of $150/wk.

Baka.

#64 ::: Writerious ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 06:59 PM:

Not long ago, someone wrote a letter to the editor of our local newspaper complaining about how the city has grown so much in the eleven years since he moved here that it's hardly livable any more, what with all the newcomers moving in and all the new construction.

Someone else wrote in stating the obvious: look, bud, you're one of "those people" who moved here and increased the population.

The same phenomenon is operating on the national level. A century ago, my own great grandparents immigrated from Bohemia at a time when Eastern Europeans were among the "them" group that "someone should do something about." Shortly after they came over, Ellis Island opened up.

Now we're entirely accustomed to Eastern European names, but many among us shudder when we hear Hispanic names or hear Spanish spoken in various accents. A brown-skinned family moves down the street, the kids play ball in the streets, and someone is sure to say (or at least think), "Geez, here they come. There goes the neighborhood!"

Same darn thing all over again. It's, "I've got a right to move wherever I please, and now that I'm here, let's keep those others out!"

#65 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 07:13 PM:

FMguru noted: I've been struck by how concern over illegal immigration is strongest in parts of the country (like rural Tennessee) where it has the least cultural and economic impact,

Tennessee has had one of the largest percentage increases in Hispanic immigration in the US since 1990. I won't speculate, because I don't see how it's possible to do so with any accuracy, how much is legal vs. illegal. While much of this doesn't hit the smallest towns, even smaller county seat towns like Lewisburg, which is near the Alabama border, find it worth while to carry a decent Hispanic-foods section in the grocery stores--Abuelita-brand chocolate, Mexican sodas, and other items well beyond a few cans of refried beans and boxes of taco shells made in Wisconsin. In an area which has been largely monocultural for generations*, even a small cultural effect is a Big Thing.

Immigration in recent years (Hispanic and other, legal and illegal) has had an economic effect all over Tennessee. Some of this is good; many smaller communities benefit from having an immigrant physician assigned to work there through the medically underserved areas program; goats are suddenly a profitable livestock item as more immigrants who enjoy this meat move into the area, and so on. However, there are quite a few people who feel, justly or not, that they, or people like them, have lost work opportunities to Hispanic immigrants; the building trades here in Nashville are now heavily Hispanic, and many other areas of unskilled or low-skilled work show the same effect. Also, the scandals over Tyson's knowing importation of illegal workers, and similar accusations about other businesses in the south, like Mohawk Carpets, just south of the Georgia line from Chattanooga, give some support to the feeling that locals are losing out. (Why, yes, the open-shop/right to work [AKA right to starve] status of the labor force in many southern states doesn't help; funny about that.) In the 1960s and 1970s, the introduction of light manufacturing made an immense difference to the economic base of small communities across the southern US; these factories are now closing right and left, along with the older textile mills, as the jobs go overseas, and when the threat of competition from immigrants is added to that, people do become very anxious. The actual negative impact of this sort of thing may well be less than people perceive it to be, but perceptions do not have a negligible effect on reactions. Also, southerners, both black and white, are well-trained to suspect they're in danger of losing out to a group of Others; the blacks through well-documented history, and the whites because it's been the goad the wealthy classes have used to drive the poorer ones in whatever direction they find useful.

*Yes, I meant to use that word.

#66 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 07:21 PM:

It has nothing to do with assimilation, aculturation, mitigation, or rational thought. First it was the Savages, then the Welsh, the Irish, Catholics, Dutch, Spanish, Blacks, Germans, Irish again, Chinese, Jews, Canadians, Gays, Volvo drivers, well, pretty much everybody. It's not personal, some people need somebody to hate, somebody to scapegoat. It's the ignorant mind rising.

Everybody sing!
"You have to be taught
Before it's too late.
Before you are six or seven or eight
to hate all the people your relatives hate.
You have to be carefully taught."

South Pacific? Anybody?

Same reason why practically every cable station had a program "Debunking the DaVinci Code" or "Those Terrible Freemasons" last night. Don't make me think, don't make me reason, I have my hate and my hate makes me strong. Add to that mix xenophobic political groups, and the stupidity grows strong enough to move mountains.

Cry my beloved country.

#67 ::: Max Kaehn ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 07:27 PM:

I like Molly Ivins’ suggestion:

[S]hould you actually want to stop Mexicans and OTMs (other than Mexicans) from coming to the United States, here is how to do it: Find an illegal worker at a large corporation. This is not difficult -- brooms and mops are big tip-offs. Then put the CEO of that corporation in prison for two or more years for violating the law against hiring illegal workers.
Do that once per week, starting with the biggest offending corporation you can find, and you will be amazed at how fast immigration reform can move.

#68 ::: FMguru ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 07:41 PM:

Fidelio - Good points. It's just that there are places where Latino immigration (legal and illegal) has had a much larger effect on the local economy and culture (the Southwest, big cities, Florida, etc.) and they are most assuredly not the places where anti-immigrant sentiment is running high - which shows that this whole thing is driven by fears and not by actual economic changes. If illegal immigrants were causing all the horrible effects that their detractors claim, the citizens of CA and NY and TX would be the loudest in demanding sweeping action. But they aren't (as Pete Wilson learned to his considerable regret).

I'm reminded of the breakdown in concern over terrorism - the people who live in rural flyover country are much more afraid of terrorism and supportive of Dear Leader's maximum efforts to protect them than the people who live in big cities, even though city-dwellers are much more likely to by victims of a terrorist attack than the citizens of Mule Neck, Arkanasas.

#69 ::: Jim Kiley ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 07:41 PM:

I live in Pittsburgh. We -- okay, I -- would like some immigrants, please. Our population is dropping. And frankly we need more interesting restaurants.

#70 ::: Anarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 07:46 PM:

A potpourri of responses -- or perhaps, a tablescape...

1) Chris Q: Not only the nachos, babe...pernil, escabeche, bistek empanizado, bistek palomilla, arroz con camarrones, etc.

Dammit. I was just craving escabeche, now you have to go taunt me? Grrrr.

[I also haven't had a good adobo in a while. Time to stock up, I guess.]

Jon Meltzer: so you're saying the pro-Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee faction is sponsoring the anti-immigrant campaign? IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW.

I've always thought, in my more mercurial moments, that SHSL was a dire attempt to show us what we'd all be eating if it weren't for immigration. Reminds me of my mom's anecdote -- apparently completely true -- that she didn't know broccoli was a green vegetable until she went to college. *shudder*

Chryss, the people over at Television Without Pity call Sandra "Ol' Puddin' Cups," because a) she used Jell-O pudding cups to make tiramisu; or b) something to do with her boobs.

Also "Wal-Martha Stewart" (tm Keckler, I believe), which still makes me giggle whenever I read it.

#71 ::: Jacob Davies ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 07:50 PM:

My hometown was 98% white. San Francisco, not so much. Oakland, also not so much, in a different way. I love it here. Please send more immigrants! I am hungry and I am bored with Ethiopian, Thai, Indian, Italian, German, French, Spanish, Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese, Mediterranean, and Swedish (hello, Ikea-next-door-to-work!).

Okay, I'm not really bored with those things. But hey, send me some new things anyway!

I love my trilingual signs on the Muni trains in San Francisco. I love the fact that there are Chinese-immersion programs at San Francisco schools. I love my thoroughly mixed Lakeshore neighbourhood in Oakland (with the Grand Lake theatre).

It's a little weird to get included in the "we" of racists when you're, you know, an immigrant yourself. The unspoken assumption that white people are innately more important or more real than non-white people comes through very strongly in those cases, especially when they say "them", "those people", "rid ourselves", "problem", or "we have to".

But that's not nearly as weird as one of the chief cheerleaders of this newly-rekindled hating of brown people being of Filipo-American background. That just astonishes me every time I consider it.

#72 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 07:59 PM:

South Pacific? Anybody?

That, yeah. But the first that came to my mind (back a long while ago now) was "Only a Pawn in Their Game."

#73 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 08:08 PM:

Vietnamese are running the pizzeria and the Latinos are serving sushi.

Oh, you've eaten in my neighborhood?

This "Illegal Immigration is a Danger" shit is an outright lie. It is the new Southern Strategy, and is going to lose the Republican Party California, Arizona, New Mexico and hopefully Texas, Nevada, and Colorado for generations to come. I know persons of questionable documentation. They come here and work not just harder and cheaper than those already here, but often BETTER (read Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential and the relevant chapter in A Cook's Tour about South-Mexican and Isthmus-American immigrants (of documented and dubious status both) being behind EVERYTHING you eat in the best restaurants). These are the new know-nothings warning against Rum Romanism and Rebellion (really -- "The Pope Is Sending His Mexican Minions" was the topic of an op-ed recently), and it's stupid and sad and I wish it were laughable, but we're putting fucking TROOPS on the fucking MEXICAN border.


This is flyover politics, and it just makes me sad.

#74 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 08:23 PM:

Yeah, Molly Ivins has it right.

Why don't the Minutemen get imaginative and start making "citizen's arrests" of companies that hire illegals?

Instead of paunchy guys with binoculars in lawn chairs, it will be unmarked vans and camcorders with zoom lenses.

A lot less dangerous, and way more effective, but of course a lot less effective a way of getting a hit of self-righteousness endorphins.

And after a few weeks, the Chamber of Commerce crowd will be griping about the rubes and hicks who are making it impossible for them to do business.

#75 ::: Jacob Davies ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 08:35 PM:

The Chamber of Commerce crowd, for once, are already on the right side of this - at least in public.

Again, employment enforcement without amnesty (or whatever workaround you want to give that avoids That Word) is no good either, and no good leftist should support it any more than they support arresting immigrants themselves.

Losing your ability to work may not be quite as bad as being arrested & deported, but it's getting there.

And it's not just that, but what happens when you come down like a ton of bricks on anyone employing illegals is that brown-skinned US citizens can't find work - hey, why take the chance that those papers are forged? Just hire white people instead!

Unintended consequences, and all that.

#76 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 08:37 PM:

It is the new Southern Strategy, and is going to lose the Republican Party California, Arizona, New Mexico and hopefully Texas, Nevada, and Colorado for generations to come.

Oooh, I hope so.

Graydon, I strongly disagree. (Lizzy -- The employer is a bad man.) A case can be made that he has done a bad thing. A case can also be made that given the cost of gas, the cost of health care, the cost of living in California, he made a smart economic decision. But not even the man he laid off wants to see him in jail.

#77 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 09:07 PM:

Comment variety pack:

- I'll go out on a limb here: This whole manufactured immigration stink is Karl Rove's parting gift to the White House. There's no way GWB would back off his whole "viva Mexico" schtick unless Turdblossom told him to.

- I too know a great Mexican sushi chef here in the Ohio valley. His Japanese boss developed "the Mexican roll" (temaki with tuna, quacamole, quail egg, and tomatillo salsa) in tribute.

- Regarding whether this is a rural or urban issue: Cincinnati's racial politics are pretty much stuck around 1910, so it's not necessarily indicative of anything national. But the recent Mexican and Guatemalan immigrants have encountered tremendous prejudice, obstacles, and abysmal public services in the city. Meanwhile, the relatively rural towns of Northern Kentucky just across the river have been much more welcoming and supportive. A few years ago, in the same week I heard another report of anti-immigrant violence in Cincinnati's Price Hill (a mostly Appalachian neighborhood), the public library in Bellevue, Kentucky (basically, a double-wide trailer) had a big sign out front: "¡Nuevo - Libros en espanol!" And of course, all the best new taquerias are in Kentucky as well.

- Ah, music: I've got a 1909 recording of a quartet singing a musical tribute to immigration -- "If you're Irish, Dutch, or Dane, they will treat you just the same, In the Good Old United States." The quartet is The Model Minstrels, a blackface minstrel act. You know when irony died; now find out when it was born.

#78 ::: AliceB ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 09:08 PM:

In the words of Octavia Butler:

"But in real life, what would make us more tolerant, more peaceful, less likely to need a UN Conference on Racism?

Nothing.

Nothing at all."

It's like Steve Buchheit said, we learn from childhood to hate, we expect to hate. And although we are taught that setting ourselves in hierarchies that puts brown skin below yellow skin below white skin (or chose whichever hierarchy you wish) is wrong, we do it anyway.

Here's Octavia Butler's short essay on the topic. It's a sobering read.

#79 ::: almostinfamous ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 09:26 PM:

I don't think anyone has asked this question yet, but has anyone thought of putting pressure on / giving aid to other countries, e.g., Mexico, to make their citizens' lives sufficiently tolerable that the citizens don't feel that migration is their best and only strategy?

yes, actually. then the US Congress decided that they were just a bunch of brown people who weren;t worth worrying about and passed NAFTA.

and teresa, interest in this (stupid non-)story has only spiked very recently, according to this nifty new tool. sounds like an election year "rile up the racists" by karl rove.

#80 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 09:29 PM:

Lizzy, is there a difference between "bad people" and "people who do bad things"? Is there a limit to how many bad things a person can do before they become bad? Can you be a bad person and not actually ever do any bad things?

I always assumed that "X is a bad person" is just rhetorical shorthand for "X does bad things." I don't see how someone can be essentially good or bad independently of their actions.

#81 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 09:29 PM:

I suspect that Hawai'i is equally as diverse as San Francisco, although perhaps less so than NY. We have every imaginable kind of Asian cuisine here, from the mom and pop saimin shop to the very upscale dining rooms. The Safeway I patronize every day has an entire 50-foot aisle of "oriental foods" and half an aisle of "hispanic foods" (regrettably mostly the mass-produced taco shells, salsa and refried beans).

The recent pro-immigration day march here drew a small crowd but one comprised of every color/shade/language imaginable, even a few downtrodden immigrant haoles. The letters pages in the papers have a few of the loudmouths who don't know their own history and/or are incapable of recognizing their own hypocrisy, but mostly the attitude here seems to be "Huh? What's this immigration hooha all about?"

#82 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 09:33 PM:

Jim Kiley - don't you ever go to Oakland or the Strip? Yeah, you won't find the ethnic variety of restaurants you'd find in DC or New York, but Ali Baba's, the various Indian places and especially Spice Island are all wonderful.

(Also in Western PA, but now way out west past the airport)

#83 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 09:58 PM:

colin roald: Pshaw. You don't have *real* international eating until the Vietnamese are running the pizzeria and the Latinos are serving sushi.

Oh, definitely. The best-known Italian restaurants in Honolulu are indeed run by a Vietnamese family. And, though I don't want anyone to think that it's good fusion cuisine, the other day I saw that Honolulu's 7-Elevens sell a sloppy joe manapua.

Linkmeister: The Safeway I patronize every day has an entire 50-foot aisle of "oriental foods" and half an aisle of "hispanic foods" (regrettably mostly the mass-produced taco shells, salsa and refried beans).

On the other hand, some NYC ethnic groups are severely under-represented in Honolulu. As a kid, it took me years to figure out what "kosher food" was and who actually ate it. And it wasn't until after I'd left the islands to go to college that it occurred to me that my high school classmate Billy Cohen must have been Jewish.

#84 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 10:01 PM:

Oh, Eric, ain't it the truth. I'd kill (well, grovel, anyway) for a decent pastrami sandwich out here on the Leeward side.

#85 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 10:07 PM:

Max etc: I admire Molly Ivins, but she sounds like she's forgotten whatever she knew squat about the law. No company with fixed assets hires people to do its dirty work; instead, it hires a contractor, which gives them what we learned to call a cut-out during the Reagan administration (if not before). Hiring a contractor also relieves the company of all responsibility for conditions, hours, ...; legally, the suits are proof against anything. It would be nice if the body of law supporting this could be overturned, but I don't see it happening.

Contractors do get fined occasionally, but AFAIK it's never enough to make them stop a lucrative business. Jail time? Right....

#86 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 10:22 PM:

This evening I passed a building being reconstructed after a fire. 'Coming Soon: Samala Thai-Japanese Restaurant!'

Amstel Light has a billboard out: Asian Fusion Is Not A Welding Technique.
I think I'm seeing it live.

#87 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 10:23 PM:

HP: Is there a limit to how many bad things a person can do before they become bad? I don't know. I suspect that after X number of bad things done, one loses one's sense of how to do good things. Just as taking certain drugs changes the way your brain works, so doing bad things changes you so that your sense of what is "good" and what is "bad" becomes warped, misshapen. Or perhaps what we refer to as the conscience simply becomes inaccessible. I'm not sure how it works. But the value of X is probably different for every human being. Can you be a bad person and not actually ever do any bad things? I don't think so.

Good people can do bad things, be sorry for having done them, do their best to make amends, and try not to do them again. Bad people can do good things. But perhaps I should not have said "The employer is not a bad man," since in fact I don't know him.

#88 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 10:47 PM:

Harry Connolly: Are there immigrants in the U.S.A. who,
by their own choice or because of the people around them,
are not becoming Americans?

I speak as a resident alien Canadian of 45 years,
born in Canada, living in the US since I was 5.

My understanding is,
that to become as US citizen,
I would have to 'renounce' my Canadian citizenship.

I have not been willing to do that.

Why renounce?
Canada isn't Nazi Germany or Communist China...

Influenced by people around me?
My parents remain Canadian.
My dad chokes on this same issue of 'renounce'.

One of his complaints,
is that he first has to renounce his previous citizenship,
but the citizenship he is granted in return is 'provisional';
and could be withdrawn . . . leaving him stateless.

Granted, he has never done or would do anything
that would rise to that level of retribution;
but the idea behind the principle
is still bothersome . . .

My understanding is that
as far as the Canadian government is concerned,
I could renounce my Canadian citizenship
to satisfy the American government,
and they will look the other way . . .
that I would remain a Canadian citizen
as far as they were concerned.

It's a notion I don't want to test;
in the future, they might change their rules . . .

I realize I'm reading the word renounce
in a manner which gives emphasis to one of its meanings.

What can I say? I'm a literal person.
I like to say what I mean,
and mean what I say.

The word is what it is.

In my later years in high school
(during the waning years of the Vietnam war)
I had to register for the draft
(resident aliens were not exempt).

However, at the same time,
I was denied a scholarship and loan aid
because I was not a citizen.

And yet, graduating from high school,
awarded a 'citizenship' award from the local American Legion!
I like to think I'm making my contribution . . .

Considered joining the Air Force
( passed the exam and the physical ),
but instead was able to work and save some money,
and went to college in Toronto for a couple of years
( where I was not eligible for scholarship or loan aid
  because I was not a resident . . .
).

The Canadian opposite number of a 'resident alien'
is a 'landed immigrant'.

I found that an American 'landed immigrant'
( any landed immigrant ) in Canada
was not denied any loans or scholarships
that Canadian citizens were eligible for.

In fact, at the time (1977),
Americans citizens going to colleges in Canada
were paying the same fees that Canadian citizens were.

At that time, the Canadian government
was in the middle of changing those rules;
American citizens made no tax contributions
and it was felt this was unfair.

But when they changed the rules,
American citizens attending Canadian colleges
were 'grandfathered' in.

I believe they had been allowed to complete a 4 year program
under the original rates.

AFAIK, resident aliens in America are not allowed guns
( obviously, never a passion with me;
  or I would have become a citizen . . .
)

Resident aliens are not allowed on juries
( this may be the only dodge left . . . )

Can't vote
( this is obvious, but I can argue
  to influence my friends votes . . .
)

One of my jokes is
that I retain my Canadian citizen
so in the worse case scenario
I can plea bargain my way down to deportation.

It's a joke;
I'd just as soon not test it . . .

Canadian doesn't quite qualify as an ethnicity;
no one is talking about going to the new Canadian restaurants.
But still, it's an idea. That might be the crux of the issue.

If you go to Canada,
one of the things they're emphatic about
is that they are not Americans.


#89 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 10:53 PM:

Jim Kiley: I live in Pittsburgh. We -- okay, I -- would like some immigrants, please.

Hey, I got here as fast as I could.

And frankly we need more interesting restaurants.

On that I'll agree. Moving from Austin to Pittsburgh was something of a shock on the cuisine side of things. Where's the brisket? Where's the cheap Mexican corner restaurant where I can get two good breakfast burritos for three dollars? And there's not nearly enough sushi available on the low end of the price scale in this neighborhood.

I spent most of my childhood being a foreigner. Not even an immigrant trying to assimilate, only the child of people from another country living there long-term. The most populous people in that country were all immigrants, tromping around on ancestral lands of disenfranchised people who'd been there first. Having felt the Very Small Minority issue from the other side of things, I far prefer diversity to monocultural areas, and I'll admit that, having barely looked at the numbers, illegal immigration as such doesn't bother me. What, like my ancestors asked permission nicely of the local inhabitants when they first came to the United States? And I was only born here by chance. Why should I, barely an adult and contributing very little so far, have more claim to this country than anyone else?

I remember reading in history class that once a person's religion was considered as set as one's nationality: you were born into a religion, grew up in it, died in it, and you were Christian because your parents and your grandparents and your king were Christian. (Or any variation on Christian, for that matter. Denominations denoted by geographical accident of birth.)

This is probably a simplification of facts. Nonetheless, I find it interesting the idea that some day nationality might be as freely swapped between as religions (theoretically) currently are. We could be as loyal to our nations as we wanted, but because we chose to belong to them, not because we were born into them and confronted with massive legal and financial difficulties to move to any other.

(No, no, I don't think this will ever happen. But I like it as a way of looking at patriotism, when I'm considering immigration issues.)

#90 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 11:00 PM:

Graydon: But I won't know until I'm an old, old man
if Toronto really will manage to be a major city or not; same with Denver.
It takes four whole human generations to tell if the thing will live and breathe and last,
or if the bright season was a human season and not the city's.

Jane Jacobs had a chance to make her mark;
we can hope for the best.

#91 ::: Rich ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 11:09 PM:

Pshaw. You don't have *real* international eating until the Vietnamese are running the pizzeria and the Latinos are serving sushi.

No, it's not *real* until the Latinos are *making* the sushi and it's being served by Jamaicans. Or, you have Russians serving the Jamaican cuisine.

#92 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 11:19 PM:

TNH asked two questions that are even more interesting when taken together:

Here's my question: have there been any recent big changes in the quantity of immigrants or the permeability of the border? Because if there haven't, if this is the same set of admittedly difficult problems we had last year, why is this suddenly blowing up?

and

Okay, you skiffy crew. Anybody want to explain the trouble with straight-line extrapolations ...?

It's entirely possible that there is some sort of non-linear reaction at work: that a country that can cheerfully cope with 11,000,000 (or whatever) illegals very suddenly starts going bazooey when it reaches 11,000,001. Or, more likely, public perceptions reach some tipping point.

Obviously, what we're seeing here certainly seems to be a top-down hysteria; but, if one were so inclined, one might make a case for the theoretical possibility of some sort of phase shift.

One thing that needs to be said about the current "crisis" is that this country has been here before, and quite recently: just twenty years ago, the Reagan administration had a remarkably similar immigration crisis. The solution? The Republican administration issued a widespread amnesty, and threatened to punish employers. Curiously, they totally forgot about the "punish employers" part of the solution, and immigration accelerated.

Funny how that worked out.


#93 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 11:30 PM:

I come from a teeny town in Texas, and went south to college in the middle of sheep country, an hour and a half drive from Del Rio/Ciudad Acuna. My roommate's parents were both illegal at one time, and absolutely the hardest working people I've ever known personally. Her dad *built* their house, works for both the county and the city, and runs a repair business out of his garage. All three of their children have served in the armed forces. So there.
Mmmm, barbacoa....
Sorry. I miss Tex-mex cooking so much. And I miss seeing signs for Mexican/Lao food out in the middle of freakin' nowhere. There's a lot of Nowhere in Texas.

#94 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 11:55 PM:

[Ill-tempered post deleted by its author. What Jon Sobel said. The claim that modern Denver has less crime than modern New York is false by every demographic measure.]

#95 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 12:02 AM:

By the way, what about America's most famous fictional immigrant? Think about it. The last Son of Krypton is here illegally. And he reminds us that people not born in America may be more likely to stand for Truth, Justice and the REAL American Way, unlike those who need hate and fear.

#97 ::: Naomi Kritzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 12:15 AM:

The anti-immigrant isolationism squad should be condemned to spend the rest of their life eating English sausage instead of bratwurst or Polish sausage or pepperoni or even your basic breakfast sausage links (which clearly owe more to the Germans, Poles, and Italians than the English, who eat something that looks similar but tastes NOTHING like your run-of-the-mill Little Sizzler).

The U.S. is a great country because of our immigrants. That was true 100 years ago, and it's true now.

#98 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 12:19 AM:

Bob said: It's entirely possible that there is some sort of non-linear reaction at work: that a country that can cheerfully cope with 11,000,000 (or whatever) illegals very suddenly starts going bazooey when it reaches 11,000,001. Or, more likely, public perceptions reach some tipping point. Obviously, what we're seeing here certainly seems to be a top-down hysteria; but, if one were so inclined, one might make a case for the theoretical possibility of some sort of phase shift.

One might make such a case -- except that the country is not going bazooey. A small number of people are using this issue to make themselves appear important; politicians are using this issue to look as if they are doing something valuable (when in fact they are doing jack shit to solve a problem); the great majority of people in the country are concerned and not sure what to do -- but they know they don't want to start deporting people, setting up internment camps, shutting down the borders, or otherwise behaving like Nazis.

#99 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 12:21 AM:

Ooops. Sorry. Don't all yell "GODWIN" at once.

#100 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 12:30 AM:

Fade wonders:

"Where's the brisket?"

Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill.

Good bagels around there too.

#101 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 12:34 AM:

I'm agree with Miss Teresa on the don't give a sh!t about race, I'm adopted and do not know a thing about my ancestry. I do know the first time I saw a lot of people I looked like was last year in Dublin.

And my adoptive parents.... to his benefit it was after we were out of the house, but then my dad let his bigot race flag fly, enough that I actually corrected him once ("If you keep up with that I will correct you in front of everyone else and embarass you" which surprisingly made him shut up mostly) but he waited until after us kids got out of the house.

Mom had me go up to the files and make sure all the paperwork was in order and findable before he passed (like his service retirement papers). 1) HER birth certificate indicates she's Native American, MY Adoptive birth certificate says she's white. She's probably Cherokee, and likely mixed. More interesting was 2) my father's mom had a hispanic maiden name, Ruiz. The whole thing cause the one bit of total bemusement during the whole gruesome period my sis and I helped mom help him pass from this world to the next.

I know for a fact that the grandfather that gave me the Helm maiden name jumped ship in New York and ran as far away from the law as he could, in his case being a German community in Afton, OK. He'd been born a peasant in the Prussian portion of Germany, joined the Merchant Marine to avoid the Prussian infantry, and finalized his plans when they reached New York City.

#102 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 12:38 AM:

I don't have much enthusiasm for ethnic restaurants, unless you are speaking of a French or maybe Italian ethnicity. (I am also aware that the main reason immigrants often gravitate into the restaurant/eating house trade is because the unsocial hours, poor returns and high risks make it unattractive.) There are doubtless many other positives to immigration, but I see plenty of negatives, too.

I don't like walking through my old neighbourhood - Campsie, in Sydney's south-west - and not being able to read the signs on the shops. My old home has become alien. But it's more than that.

I don't like Cabramatta being turned into the biggest drugs bazaar in the Southern Hemisphere. I don't like the fact that the first political assassination in Australia's history was carried out of a Laotian immigrant member of the NSW parliament by a Vietnamese crime syndicate. I don't like what's happening here, now, in the building trade. There's a resources-fuelled boom going on, and one of the local construction companies is importing workers from the Philippines. He says he can't get enough locals, but it turns out he's paying the imports $12 an hour, half the going rate. The bloke should be horsewhipped.

I wasn't at the Cronulla riot, and I acknowledge that the demonstration was hijacked by racists, but I still say that it was grounded in real, justified anger at organised thuggery by gangs of young Lebanese men. And they were Lebanese, by their own description, despite the fact that most of them were born here.

I don't like the term "second generation immigrant" either, for it's clearly a contradiction in terms, but it does attempt to describe a real phenomenon. What do you call people who were born here, but don't speak English much, have no friends outside their own ethnic community, and are themselves aggressively monocultural? And don't tell me there are no such people. I know different.

Sure, a leaven of different cultures is enjoyed by many. I am not among them, I admit, but I have no objection, within limits. Those limits stop at refusal to integrate. They stop at refusal to learn English. They stop at insulting and menacing women who walk alone. They stop at criminal cartels exploiting a rooted cultural distrust of government, police and law. They stop at social security rorts. They stop at importing ancient feuds and hatreds.

We had a cleaning lady, to whom we paid $25 ph, because I objected to paying less. She was, as it turned out, Macedonian, and spoke only a little English. She moved on, and I hope she found more congenial and remunerative work. She found me researching Alexander the Great, and asked me whether he was a Greek. I answered that he was undoubtedly a Macedonian, born and raised in Macedonia, and King of that country (she smiled) but that, like all Macedonians then, he spoke Greek, thought of himself as Hellenic, was thought of by other Greeks as Hellenic (in a country-cousin sort of way), was as much ruler of Hellas as he was of Macedon, was educated by one of the greatest of Greek scholars, and his culture, the one he spread right throughout western Asia, is still called "Hellenic" today. I'm not sure she understood all of this, though I spoke as simply as I could, but she got the gist.

She scowled. She almost spat. To her, the question was not academic, as it was to me. It involved the deepest issues of what she was. And she wasn't Australian. She was Slav Macedonian, and she hated Greeks. Alexander wasn't Greek. He was Macedonian, like her.

How long had she lived in Australia? Fifteen years. She was certainly not an illegal. I worry about what her children are being taught.

Cronulla wasn't much to compare with the Brixton, Birmingham, Oldham, Bristol and Paris race riots, but it was bad enough, and I want no more like it.

So I think it's a fine thing that our borders are formed of salt water, and I want to control our migrant intake. I have visited New York, and no doubt its citizens consider it wonderful, though its glories are somewhat obscure to me. I like it here, and I like it the way it is.

#103 ::: Dan S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 12:50 AM:

Humans, go home! Go back to Africa!
- the collected fauna and flora of the Nearctic, Neotropic, Palearctic, Indomalaya, Australasia, and Oceania ecoregions.

#104 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 12:52 AM:

I know for a fact that the grandfather that gave me the Helm maiden name jumped ship in New York.

Paula, that reminds me about how the German name Kreinert became my wife's name of Krinard. Apparently, back in the middle of the 19th Century, great-grandpapa and some friends of his just didn't want to serve in the Kaiser's army so they took a small boat, crossed the Atlantic and voila! Hmm... Next time my Archie-Bunker father-in-law shoots his mouth off, maybe I should remind him that his ancestor was a draft-dodger AND an illegal alien.

#105 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 12:55 AM:

Um...the ancient Macedonians weren't really the same as the modern ones. Ancient Macedonian was related most closely to Greek. Modern Macedonian is a Slavic language.

They both have the same name, but calling Alexander a "Macedonian, like her" is a little dubious.

#106 ::: Dan S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 01:19 AM:

" I have visited New York, and no doubt its citizens consider it wonderful, though its glories are somewhat obscure to me. "

Yes, well, I'm not surprised.

"I don't have much enthusiasm for ethnic restaurants, unless you are speaking of a French or maybe Italian ethnicity"

Still not surprised.

Get this - it's not just an Australian moaning about immigration (cause all the colonial states are more or less in the same boat here), but an Australian moaning about undesirable, even criminal immigrants!

Now, what was so distinctive about European settlement of Australia, again?

"How long had she lived in Australia? Fifteen years. She was certainly not an illegal. I worry about what her children are being taught."
But she grew up in Macedonia. Her kids are going to be thinking, there goes Mom with the Macedonian-Greek craziness again - and if not her kids, then their kids.

"I don't like walking through my old neighbourhood - Campsie, in Sydney's south-west - and not being able to read the signs on the shop"

Awww, do you miss the good old days?

"You ask me to be gay and glad
While lurid clouds of danger loom,
And vain and bad and gambling mad,
Australia races to her doom.
You bid me sing the light and fair,
The dance, the glance on pleasure's wings -
While you have wives who will not bear,
And beer to drown the fear of things.
A war with reason you would wage
To be amused for your short span,
Until your children's heritage
Is claimed for China by Japan.
The football match, the cricket score,
The "scraps", the tote, the mad'ning Cup –
You drunken fools that evermore
"To-morrow morning" sober up!
.......
Store guns and ammunition first,
Build forts and warlike factories,
Sink bores and tanks where drought is worst,
Give over time to industries.
The outpost of the white man's race,
Where next his flag shall be unfurled,
Make clean the place! Make strong the place!
Call white men in from all the world!"

-Henry Lawson, 1906

#107 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 01:41 AM:

AFAIK, resident aliens in America are not allowed guns
( obviously, never a passion with me;
or I would have become a citizen . . . )
Rob Rusick

Resident is the key word and a term of art here not to include extended voluntary departure or other temporary resident. Students paying out of state fees likely would not qualify (not a legal opinion). Notice that in sort of a reverse sex tourism there is a gun tourism to the United States - visit the U.S. and shoot, especially full auto and such under supervision but not take possession.

(B13) May aliens legally in the United States buy firearms?

An alien legally in the U.S. may acquire firearms if he has a State of residence. An alien has a State of residence only if he is residing in that State and has resided in a State continuously for at least 90 days prior to the purchase. An alien acquiring firearms from a licensee is required to prove both his identity, by presenting a government-issued photo identification, and his residency with substantiating documentation showing that he has resided in the State continuously for the 90-day period prior to the purchase. Examples of qualifying documentation to prove residency include: utility bills, lease agreements, credit card statements, and pay stubs from the purchaser’s place of employment, if such documents include residential addresses.

See also Item 5, “Sales to Aliens in the United States,” in the General Information section of this publication.

[18 U.S.C. 921, 922(b)(3), (d) and (g), 27 CFR 478.11 and 478.99(a)]
http://www.atf.gov/firearms/faq/faq2.htm#a15

#108 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 01:54 AM:

HM goes to a (NYC, public) school where her fellow students were born in more than forty different countries.

Most of her friends watch TV. She doesn't.

In many ways, they're far more assimilated than she is.

#109 ::: Bill Hooker ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 02:13 AM:

I don't like walking through my old neighbourhood - Campsie, in Sydney's south-west - and not being able to read the signs on the shops.

That fairly makes me want to puke. I used to live in Sydney, too, in Dulwich Hill. I learned the Greek alphabet (that is, what each letter sounds like) by sounding out the shop signs and asking the shop owners. I got excellent medical care from an Asian doctor whose name I couldn't pronounce to save myself. I ate wonderful Turkish pastries from a shop whose sign I couldn't read.


I like it here, and I like it the way it is

The rallying-cry of xenophobes down the ages; or, what Dan S said.

#110 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 02:45 AM:

Stefan Jones,

Where on Murray? I live in Squirrel Hill and walk down that street every day, and I haven't found the brisket yet. (The bagels, yes. What excellent bagels there are!)

In an attempt to be marginally more on-topic, one of the things I'm loving about Pittsburgh is how different its culture is from anywhere else I've lived. A foreign culture, all over again! Everywhere I've lived in the United States has been foreign to me, and everywhere I've lived outside of it has been as well; it's just different flavors of foreign. One of the nicest things about immigration is all the cultures showing up without me needing to travel somewhere distant and less full of good internet access to run into them.

#111 ::: jrochest ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 02:50 AM:

Graydon: But I won't know until I'm an old, old man if Toronto really will manage to be a major city or not; same with Denver. It takes four whole human generations to tell if the thing will live and breathe and last, or if the bright season was a human season and not the city's.

Oh, unless Mr. Harper manages to sell us to the US and merge the borders, I'd give TO reasonably good marks: to me, 5.5 million people and the most diverse population in North America equals a 'real city'. I think its status as the largest city in a nation makes a significant difference, and it's living and breathing just fine, thank you. :)

#112 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 02:58 AM:

I remember starting to write a story called "The Wall" in the late 1980s about an America that built a wall on the Mexican border. I stopped writing it because I thought it was too illogical. *feh*

John Sladek published his satire "The Great Wall of Mexico" in 1973 ... and Ellen Datlow reissued it as a SCI FICTION classic:

"Don't laugh, it's the body politic. About to be invaded by hostile germs, coming up the anus from Mexico --"

#113 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 03:18 AM:

Dan S: Yes, I do miss some aspects of the good old days. Not all of them, by any means. So often debate used to degenerate into name-calling and insult. Unexceptionable personal tastes were often sneered at. It's so good we've left all that behind us, and tolerance rules us now.

An excellent quote from Henry Lawson, that racist, misogynist, drunken gambler. To observe that he was capable of better is, of course, irrelevant. To enjoy some of his verse, as I do, is to endorse all of it, just as my deploring some aspects of the present necessarily implies that I approve all aspects of the past. The logic is irrefutable.

I am relieved to read that you have investigated the attitudes of my cleaning lady's children, and find them reassuring. Good to know.

I am also delighted to see that you understand Australian history so well. I hadn't realised, for example, that we never ceased being a "colonial state". Odd, I could have sworn I'd seen something about that somewhere. And, of course, it's obvious once you think about it: if the country was founded by convicts, we have no right ever to deplore crime at all.

Xopher: my point exactly. But if you want to start a blue with a (Slavic) Macedonian, tell him Alexander was a Greek, and watch the fur fly.

#114 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 03:55 AM:

Bill Hooker: I admitted to feeling alien in my old neighbourhood, and said I didn't like it. You say that makes you want to puke. Is that really a reasonable reaction?

I'm glad you have a doctor and a pastrycook that you like. My doctor is, I believe, Serbian, in the sense that his name ends in -ic, and he has what I would think of as an eastern European accent. I really don't know, though. The pastrycook whose shop I go to - much to the detriment of my waistline - is Italian. So's my pharmacist. The other local shops I frequent are mostly Italian or Greek, except the butcher. I think he's Australian, as much as anybody is. My cleaning lady was Macedonian, and is now a recent Irish immigrant, a charming and hard-working lady. My neighbours are, respectively, South African and Laotian, and we get on fine.

And I said I like it here, and I like it the way it is. Clearly, my xenophobia has taken a rather odd form.

#115 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 04:04 AM:

I dig not wanting to compete with illegal aliens who, by virtue of being illegal, can't insist on being paid minimum wage, or can't join a union, etc. I also dig not wanting to compete with, say, Indonesians making twenty-five cents an hour doing textile work for which American workers were paid twelve dollars an hour. So, why control immigration? Why not let people come here and compete on fair terms? We create the conditions which allow them to be exploited, and then we complain about the damage they do to us by being exploited. Let them in, open up restaurants and strange grocery cum video cum hair salon store fronts. Pretty dresses! New food! More and different skin colors. Different types of physical features. More holidays! More music. More dance.

If I'm going to have to compete in a global economy, I want to compete against someone who is on something vaguely like the same playing field that I am, whether they are here or back in their own country.

So, why am I wrong? Why shouldn't we just accept the people that come knocking at the door? The dangers they represent come only from the consequences of their illegal status, as far as I can tell.

#116 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 04:49 AM:

Mishalak:

I think LA gets the same kind of exaggerated bad press that NY gets, for similar reasons, and that there's a lot about LA that's wonderful and marvelous.

I'm a Northern California person and I'm supposed to hate LA, but I really don't. Especially since they took the court order to stop draining Mono Lake and turned it into a massive water conservation campaign, and started cleaning their air.

Culturally, most people think LA is shallow. But it's rich, and deep, and surprising, and wonderful. The freeway system is a terrible thing. But there's actually almost-decent public transportation nobody talks about, which is heroic considering the specific history of the area. And there's more natural beauty than you can shake a stick at, and some really lovely architecture, and I never fail to find pleasant and helpful people there when I visit.

I don't live there because I live here, but if the accidents of my life had been different, I'd be happy to live there. And happy to join the struggle to make it better, too.

#117 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 05:10 AM:

Well, actually, yes, there is an ongoing catastrophe, aside from Iraq and the NSA and all that. It's just not the one the xenophobes are pushing. Down here in Arizona, people from Mexico and other points south are constantly risking their lives, trying to get to Tucson and other points north. Something like a thousand of them a year (I haven't looked up the numbers recently) die in the desert, victims of heat, dehydration, snakes and other critters, including other humans. Others die in overloaded, sometimes overturned trucks, driven by human "coyotes."

If they manage to avoid both of these outcomes, they may still be caught and shipped back, to the place where economic conditions were bad enough to make the dangerous trek north seem like a good idea in the first place. But if they succeed in establishing themselves here, they'll work their butts off, fixing my roof, building a subdivision, trimming palm trees, or serving teriyaki or gyros.

They go through all that, thereby giving the xenophobes someone to point at and call "illegals," because there is no legal way to escape the poverty back home, and come do the jobs that whole industries depend on them to do. Heck, even the people who are allowed to come in often have a hard time wading through the slow quicksand of paperwork and petitions for permission to stay.

Okay, that last sentence was too alliterative, and a bad metaphor besides. Sorry. My point is that there's no real downside I can see to letting people enter this country legally, safely, to take jobs that probably would go unfilled otherwise. (If they or their children can get a better job than that, they must be doing something right, right? Tucson has lots and lots of bilingual professionals, in a variety of fields.) There is a definite downside to arresting such people, or letting them die in the desert outside Sells or Naco, or further blocking their chance at the American Dream.

Karen

#118 ::: Joe Crow ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 05:26 AM:

The dangers they represent come only from the consequences of their illegal status, as far as I can tell.

Yeah, that's the main thing. Illegals can't complain when their employers treat them like shit, and that's what make them popular with far too many employers.

Me, I've got a scrub midnight gas attendant job, and as a result I get to see most of the folks who go to work in the morning and come home way too late at might. A sizeable chunk of the building trades here in northern Mass are staffed by spanish-speaking folks who look either Aztec or Dineh, mostly in groups of 5+ in a beatup minivan or driving one of the company trucks. An even more sizeable chunk of the late night cleaning ladies are middle-aged spanish-speaking women in a beatup car filled with cleansers and kid's toys.

Interestingly enough, these folks tend to tip more (and better) than the rich white folks in the SUVs. Which is to say, they actually tip. Rich folks are some cheapass motherfuckers, I tell you what.

Far as I'm concerned, let 'em all in, and give 'em all access to the same legal protection that citizens get. That'll sort out the majority of the problem. As for cultural assimilation, that's what time is for. Me, I'd like more immigrants who can cook. We've only got one mexican place in town, and they're kinda weak. What I wouldn't give for a decent Thai place, or a Morroccan place, or...

Dammit. Now I'm hungry.

#119 ::: Giacomo ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 05:38 AM:

It's very sad that one of the biggest issues we face with globalization is so easily exploited to stir political trouble.

I was born Italian, recently moved to Britain, and I am really not in a hurry to go back there. I was a "half-illegal" immigrant for more than a year because, even though as EU citizen I'm allowed to live and work weherever I please, I was sort of "hiding" for economic reasons.

But I was desperate for work, so I was quite happy to slave out for half the wage that my skillset would demand, and a local company was quite happy to pay that salary without telling the Inland Revenue. After a year,I wisened up and asked to be made "regular", but they acknowledged my existence to the IR only after I threatened to leave, and extremely slowly. I had to leave and join another company to become a "proper" worker, with National Insurance and sick pay. Meanwhile, the original little company had grew, thanks to my work, and could now afford to employ "nationals" at a proper wage.

I know for a fact that in the "expat world", I'm probably one of the laziest ones.

Never once, since I'm here, I harmed anyone, not even speeding on the motorway. I came here because I thought this was a better place to work, study and live, and I think I was right. I gave my blood to the economy of this country, and this country thrives because so many "foreigners" come here every year to do the same. My experience, here and in Italy, is that, as long as the money flows, nobody cares if you're white, black, yellow or pink-orange; but as soon as reserves are perceived to be scarce (bad economy, social services cuts, etc) then the tribal instinct comes out. The fact that THE country most-recently built on immigration, the "Land of the Free, is now turning into a racist household, is a sign that things are going very badly indeed on your side of the pond. The sooner you get rid of these buffoons in power, the better. At least get an efficient dictator son of a bitch, like Tony B!

P.S. were my original employer "bad persons"? I don't think so. They are just the final product of 80's "greed is good" cultural victory. The "sixties" generation should be ashamed of themselves for selling our future down the river, as they did.

#120 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 05:46 AM:

This is all about nothing.

There's no way that the Bush administration is going to do anything real about illegal immigration. Their friends, and their friends' friends, and big business in general, need illegal workers. The availability of illegals, who will work for what in the US are below-poverty-line wages, keeps down the wages that legals can get, as some of us already noted. Low wages equals more profits for the people at the top. Even for the professional politicians who aren't in business themselves, and whose families aren't (a small number), more profits for their friends equals more 'campaign contributions' for themselves. No, the fuss about illegal immigration is posturing for the redneck vote, no more.

#121 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 06:09 AM:

Mishalak: Negro, *please*.

Denver is the thin veneer over a Front Range of grandchildren of Klu-Kluxing, gay-purging (are you proud of Sen. Allard *introducing* the gay marriage amendment in Congress?), gas-guzzling, double-talking conservatives that only tolerate progressives and minorities because they bring in, yes, the better cooking and culture.

These are people who still kinda forget that blacks and hispanics made up a lot of the cowboy force on the plains; that gold and greed made the city work within an oligarchy of families until very recently (Mayor McNichols, anyone?); and that even though Denver wasn't the South, blacks and hispanics were considered The Help within my relatively short lifetime.

And before you tell me to moderate my remarks, get inside my head and tell me how I should feel when a woman just barely within retirement age lectures the entire Safeway checkout line on how Corky Gonzales, Cesar Chavez and those damn Mexicans were nothing but a bunch of Communists, reporting directly to Fidel, which she did shortly after the MayDay walkouts. Then tell me how I avoided punching her, or at least telling her it was an insult to mention the illegality of collective action to a checkout cashier affiliated with one of the few unions in this area to threaten and carry out a strike, when negotiations were getting dicey. This man had a job with some security, because working people of all colors stuck their neck out.... tell me how I avoided violence, cause I don't know how I managed it....

I love Denver, but see it aright, OK?

#122 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 07:49 AM:

Dave Luckett

I don't have much enthusiasm for ethnic restaurants, unless you are speaking of a French or maybe Italian ethnicity. (I am also aware that the main reason immigrants often gravitate into the restaurant/eating house trade is because the unsocial hours, poor returns and high risks make it unattractive.) There are doubtless many other positives to immigration, but I see plenty of negatives, too.

Lets see what those negatives are...

I don't like walking through my old neighbourhood - Campsie, in Sydney's south-west - and not being able to read the signs on the shops. My old home has become alien. But it's more than that.

Ah, pobrecito. Signs on shops do not belong to you. Suck it up, wimp.

I don't like Cabramatta being turned into the biggest drugs bazaar in the Southern Hemisphere.

Then legalize. Or tell rich white kids to stop buying the majority of the drugs.

I wasn't at the Cronulla riot, and I acknowledge that the demonstration was hijacked by racists,

No, it was STARTED by racists. I read every goddamn news article on the thing, and spoke to people who were there. It was started by racists. It was not hijacked. Did some Lebanese young men act badly? Possibly. But we all know who FUCKING RIOTED. It wasn't the Lebanese.

Your country does have a sickness. And it's not caused by immigrants.

I don't like the term "second generation immigrant" either, for it's clearly a contradiction in terms, but it does attempt to describe a real phenomenon. What do you call people who were born here, but don't speak English much, have no friends outside their own ethnic community, and are themselves aggressively monocultural? And don't tell me there are no such people. I know different.

Why the fuck do you care? Are these people affronting you by not kowtowing to your superior language? Are you unable to buy a beer? What's the problem, man? Why do these people upset you so much?

Those limits stop at refusal to integrate. They stop at refusal to learn English. They stop at insulting and menacing women who walk alone. They stop at criminal cartels exploiting a rooted cultural distrust of government, police and law. They stop at social security rorts. They stop at importing ancient feuds and hatreds.

The worrd intergrate means act like you want them to. You don't think there are citizens who're from the same cultural group as they are who're fine with how these people act? You're a white English speaker, and you think that entitles you to dictate the character of who citizens are.

As for immigrants menacing women, PROVE TO ME that this is an issue that's distinct to only foreigners. You know who a woman is most likely to be raped by? It's someone she knows. Your contention is flat out xenophobia.

As for the criminal cartels, STOP BUYING DRUGS.

And any resident of any country that had race riots like yours has no business complaining about ancient hatreds.

Your country had a race riot created by white nationalist neo-nazis, and you're worried about your cleaning lady? Get some priorities.

#123 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 08:06 AM:

Lizzy --

I'd say that the obligations of citizenship are real even when they're inconvenient. Your example 'not a bad man' employer does not see his economic success as connected to his obligations of citizenship whatsoever, or he would not have done as he was described as doing. That, to my mind, makes him a bad man. (Even if he's not doing all the other things that might make him money if the law is no obstacle to his conduct.)

It's like the overwhelming drive to cheat on taxes and import duties; this makes no sense in any larger context, but a lot of people just won't not.

Rob Rusick --

I hope Toronto makes it, too, and think it likely. And Montreal, and Vancouver, which is probably all we can have unless we get stupid lucky with global warming and Winnipeg goes full-scale.

I'm still not going to know for a long time.

Oh, and Canadian certainly is an ethnicity; there are at least three (Maratimer, Quebeçois, and Central Canadian) and there are others getting there, in the way of common language and tribal custom.

I'm ethnically Central Canadian; there aren't, proportionately, that many of us, but that's OK. People come here and their kids turn into Canadians just fine.

Dave Luckett --

What you're describing is more or less guaranteed to happen if immigrants don't get full access to the local economy; if the local oligarchy doesn't make room, if the old boy network does its best to keep control of contracts and work, and if the new residents can't join the unions.

This is fixable; the 19th Century US had a terrible problem with Irish gangs for just these reasons, frex.

Doing it the other way does result in change, but everything always changes.

I take the bus to work; that bus goes past a number of high and middle schools, and this vast diversity of recent ancestry gets on the bus and proceeds to demonstrate that they're more or less all of a tribe together; they sound the same and they have the same mass of social concerns.

There are partial holdouts, usually Japanese or strict Muslim (girls in headscarves, girls and guys in long sleeves and long pants and dark colours even when it's 35 C out), but even there they're in the conversation.

The place I work was founded by a guy who came to Canada from the Far East to go to school and stayed; lots of the people who I work with did the same thing, and pay taxes and get politically active and coach kid's teams and contribute to cultural events; it's really hard to see how that makes me worse off, even if there are quarters of Toronto that have store signs in languages I can't read.

The only problem it's caused so far is scheduling; never take Yonge Street downtown in the summer on a weekend, you'll hit a parade. Some days, you'll hit two. I rarely recognize the festival but, hey, parades with elephants? That's cool.

And it's not just the food; people visiting from London for the WorldCon a couple-three years back went into raptures over the fabric shopping (despite having missed three-quarters of it), which is taking advantage of the Indian and Portuguese and old-Toronto contributions; Michael Lee-Chin has decided to let everybody know he's in the oligarchy now by ponying up a huge stack of cash and getting the Royal Ontario Museum's latest addition named after him, just like the Westons (part of the Family Compact when the Upper Canada Rebellion failed in 1837 through stopping off at a pub) did fifty years ago, and the Chinese and Japanese and Korean and Indian collections are better and bigger than they used to be; you can get, if you want it, Mediterranean tile work and Japanese gates and north European foamed concrete for your house; there are Russians and Ukrainians and Romanians with excellent technical educations working their butts off in engineering and manufacturing and design firms and keeping those of us with locally obtained excellent technical educations honest.

It's not the city that was here in 1970, but it's prospering, it's way more alive, and it's trying to solve all its problems.

#124 ::: dagny ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 08:29 AM:

I suspect one of the reasons France has the problems it does with its immigrant population is its obsession with the purity of the language.
We learned to recite the national anthem in English and Spanish when I was in Kindergarten. I don't recall anyone complaining about it.
According to Anderson Cooper's show last night, 57% of illegal immigrants are from Mexico. Not exactly overwhelming, is it?

#125 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 08:31 AM:

I can't imagine living in a place with a homogeneous population. How do you learn anything about humanity? How, for god's sake, do you write Science Fiction?

When I can't read the street signs in a neighborhood, I think "jeez, I have to learn more spanish/some chinese/some arabic." I'm proud of my two words of Urdu (a-cha/biryani). I love the melting pot...in fact it's why I love this country so much despite its frequent assininity. I feel sorry for majority cultures in countries that don't believe in assimilation. Whereas I just want to smack the WASP folks in this country who don't believe in it. Go back to Northumbria if you don't like the culture your immigrant ancestors chose.

#126 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 08:35 AM:

Notes on this topic...

1. I think Lydia has the best solution out of many difficult solutions; allow people who want to come here and work to do so legally, and require that employers obey US labor law. If they stay for five or seven or some reasonable number of years and conduct themselves legally, let them become citizens.

2. This probably will depress wages somewhat. The practice of only allowing people to fill jobs that US citizens do not want would depress wages even more. The practice of allowing sub-minimum wage labor makes matters worse still.

3. Most Mexicans love their country and are very proud of it; they do not want to leave. I believe they come to the USA primarily because of the increasing industrialization of Mexican agriculture and secondarily because of the apalling corruption of the Mexican legal system.

4. Because Mexicans are coming out of desperation, they are willing to risk death to come to the USA. Thus, no moderate methods are going to keep them from coming.

5. In the long run, the best solution is to encourage Mexico in development, so that there are no desperate Mexicans.

6. The time may come when we proud Americans find ourselves needing something from Mexico. If that time comes, I would prefer that Mexicans think well of us.

#127 ::: dagny ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 08:47 AM:

I meant Pledge of Allegiance, not national anthem. Sorry.

#128 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 09:08 AM:

Dave:

I don't like the term "second generation immigrant" either, for it's clearly a contradiction in terms, but it does attempt to describe a real phenomenon. What do you call people who were born here, but don't speak English much, have no friends outside their own ethnic community, and are themselves aggressively monocultural? And don't tell me there are no such people. I know different.

I'm a little unclear on how you can know so much about a group of people who, by your own description, don't talk to people like you. If you saw me with, say, my family on the subway, we would be a group of brown people, nattering away in a language you didn't understand, and you would draw some conclusions from that. If you saw me at a cafe hanging out with my friends, chatting in English, you probably wouldn't notice me.

The reality for most immigrants and children of immigrants is that they are constantly negotiating between the culture of their homeland or their parents and their local environment. Let me emphasize that this is two-sided; it depends on both the individual and their background and the culture that they are in. If you're a white Australian who has emigrated out of the country, the degree to which you choose to interact with other white Australians or with individuals of the dominant culture will depend a lot on whether you've arrived in London or in Tokyo.

(FWIW, I'm both a first- and second-generation immigrant.)

I also spent a couple of days a few weeks ago writing a research brief on the educational outcomes of first- and second-generation immigrants, and I assure you, you can't predict education (which, to some extent, is a proxy for assimilation and contribution to society) by immigrant status without considering a host of other factors. For example, for certain immigrant groups, educational outcomes are improved by just the type of closed cultures you decry. Citations available on request.


#129 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 09:13 AM:

My mother told me that when she was visited by the surgeon after having gall-bladder surgery, he was in jeans and cowboy boots. His name: Ilhan Yildiz.

#130 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 09:38 AM:


If we had something to say
We'd bounce it off the screen
We were watching and we couldn't look away
We all know what we look like
You know what I mean
We wouldn't have had it any other way

We got comedy, tragedy
Everything from A to B
Watching other people living
Seeing other people play
Having other people's voices fill our minds
Thank you Jesus

Feelings might go unexpressed
I think that's probably for the best
Dig too deep who knows what you will find

This is my country
Those were my people
Theirs was a world I understand

#131 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 09:46 AM:

Josh Jasper seems to have done a good enough job dissecting Mr Luckett's comments that I don't need to type anywhere near as much as I had planned. His views are unrepresentative of Australia as I know it, though I know it from the Melbourne end. Shortly after the Cronulla riots, there seemed to be an attempt to foment similar unrest here (within walking distance of my home, in fact). There were widespread reports of text messages calling for people to gather at Williamstown beach and repeat what happened at Cronulla. Nobody came.

A couple of days before the scheduled riot, journalists visited Williamstown beach and tried to find the kinds of tensions that might lead to an outbreak of violence. They couldn't.

Last night I went out to dinner with a friend. We started with Italian food at a restaurant run by very friendly Italians (where we sometimes find ourselves served by a waitress with a strong Irish accent). The Greek cafe we planned to go to for cakes and coffee afterward closed before we got there so we walked a block further to a wonderful Moroccan place where we enjoyed desserts and Moroccan mint tea served in genuine Moroccan glassware by genuine, friendly Moroccan immigrants. Most of the clientele there were white anglo-Australians but I saw at least one party of Asian descent.

Along the walk to and from dinner we passed Greek, Italian, Turkish, Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants, a Christian church, an Islamic bookstore, an Aussie pub and a halal butcher. Nobody was rioting. Everyone was enjoying the fruits of everyone else's culture. I couldn't read all the signs on all of those stores, but to someone who enjoys trying new things, that's not a bad thing and there were always friendly people who were happy to explain what they were selling.

A small part of Sydney had a riot started by a bunch of white-supremacists who are not even representative of the people of Sydney, let alone the rest of the country. Most of us (or at least everyone I know) thinks that the wonderful mixing of cultures we have here is one of the great virtues of Australia. If Mr Luckett doesn't like it, perhaps he should go back to where his ancestors came from.

#132 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 09:48 AM:

Great post, TNH!

The biggest thing behind this new anti-immigrant thing is fear. People are afraid they'll have to learn another language, they're afraid that their grandchildren will become minorities and might be treated the way they have been treating minorities. That's the big, fundamental difference between liberals and conservatives. We don't fear change, we cope. We try to adapt, and we don't let lizard brain fear dictate our actions and ideology.

My wife is an immigrant, and she kicks ass. She came to the US when she was 20, learned English, got a degree from an American university, and now she has a good job. The rednecks would wilt under the pressure of actually having to learn a foreign language, of having to learn anything, and they know this. They hate immigrants for making them look like the provincial, lazy, wannabe aristocrats that they are.

If America is supposed to be a meritocracy, then it's no wonder why some of the people who are a bit lacking in the merit department might rethink the whole experiment and start rooting around in the birthright muck as a plan B.

#133 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 10:21 AM:

Graydon: The crowd on your bus seems to me to be an excellent outcome: "more or less all of a tribe together; they sound the same and they have the same mass of social concerns." Being "in the conversation" is difficult unless there is a common language, which in my country, and I think in your part of yours, is inevitably English. (Mind you, I wouldn't want all of them to sound the same, but I'm sure that's not what you meant.) I have similar sentiments towards your wider shopping choices and such. All good in themselves.

If shop signs are only in a LOTE, that shopkeeper is telling people that he only wants customers who speak that language. Yes, I'm afraid that bothers me. But if you don't think that's reasonable, consider this: I can't think of a better way of preventing "full access to the local economy".

Mary Dell: you mistake me. Assimilation (meaning the process of becoming similar) is not what I want, true. That's because I don't want everyone to be alike. They don't have to be. I want integration, which means becoming integral parts of a whole and distinct national community. You know, e pluribus unum. But the policy which this country has officially espoused is multiculturalism, which is the ideal of retaining many different cultures intact and yet at the same time promoting unity. I'm afraid I don't see how that is possible. The results so far are in my opinion not as favourable as those from earlier policies.

debcha: I spent 25 years in the national labour service, mostly interviewing, referring and placing people into jobs. I interviewed many, many migrants, and I have long since lost count of the number of different nationalities and ethnicities I served. I had many times to use phone interpreters to interview people who were unable to communicate in English after many years residence, and in some cases who had been born here. (Mind you, they had usually been back and forth several times, in all fairness.) They had always worked within their own community, and had often been exploited.

Even if educational outcomes for some migrant groups are improved by living in closed communities, does that mean that for those groups, a closed community is a good thing overall? Even for those groups, I beg leave to doubt it. And if I am required to engage with others of different culture - and I am - why are they not?

#134 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 10:32 AM:

I'm sure someone else has posted this point, and I'm sorry for coming in late and not having time to read all that came above. But, I feel I should post anyway. I'll feel better if I do.

The solution to the "problem," if you want to call it that, is not trying to keep people out. It's trying to eliminate the conditions that make them leave for the US in the first place. If economic conditions are so bad in their home countries that they will risk life and limb to sneak into ours, why not do something to improve the economies of their home countries? (Yes, a very simple solution that will, no doubt, involve incredibly complex politics and economics.) Isn't there anything the US can do to build up the economy of Mexico, for example? Can we improve our trade policies? Is there some sort of aid that we can provide?

It's much easier to focus on punitive action, which is why it is the focus right now. But, the "problem" won't go away as long as people are dying to come here.

#135 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 10:53 AM:

Mr Luckett said:
If shop signs are only in a LOTE, that shopkeeper is telling people that he only wants customers who speak that language. Yes, I'm afraid that bothers me.

Does this mean that a shopkeeper that has signs only in English only wants customers who speak English?

To me, a store that has signage in a language other than English but also has an open door says "Everyone is welcome to shop here even though our English isn't great." You might read something else into it but that doesn't mean it's really written there.

I only speak English but have never felt unwelcome in a store where English isn't spoken (and I frequent them often when shopping for exotic asian food ingredients). I have, however, seen English-only speakers denying service to non-English speakers. That bothers me, doesn't it bother you?

#136 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 10:57 AM:

Dave Luckett --

There are substantial bits of Toronto and environs where all the signs are in something other than English, usually a 'Far East' language. (There are parts of Toronto and big parts of Canada where the default language is French, and French and English have equal standing as official languages as a matter of constitutional mandate and quite a bit of commercial law.)

What the signs generally mean is that the folks whose shop it is don't have any English to speak of; that is not, to my mind, any sort of worry.

The problem is if their kids don't have any, and so far, I've never seen that be a problem.

Not that they won't try to sell you stuff if they don't have a kid around to grab to interpret, either, so I -- who have had some excellent restruant meals when all communication was in pantomime, and had people try really hard to figure out what I was trying to buy in computer and cooking stores -- don't think there's anything deliberately parochial about it.

(The kids on the bus don't all sound the same, tonally; what they are doing is speaking the same idiolect with the same jokes, expressions, and inflections. A common universe of discourse.)

"Full access to the local economy" has a lot more to do with prices from suppliers, ability to get building permits, and things of that nature than it does with "oh but we only want to deal with our own sort"; even the Hassidic communities have to sell outside the community to survive, after all. It's the question of how broad a range of what that can be that determines the degree of economic integration.

#137 ::: Dan S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 11:05 AM:

"What do you call people who were born here, but don't speak English much, have no friends outside their own ethnic community, and are themselves aggressively monocultural?"

Well, over here we call them Amish . . .

Well, xenophobic-sounding complaints are just annoying, but sarcastic xenophobic-sounding complaints can be at least amusing . . .

"To enjoy some of his verse, as I do, is to endorse all of it"

Hey, Wagner wrote some great music (generic conparison; I'm not actually gunning for a Godwin). Madison Grant not only helped beautify and enrich my home borough (the Bronx Zoo, the Bronx River Parkway), and city, but played a significant role in saving the redwoods and the bison, not to mention helping with all sorts of national park and nature conservation goodness.

It's amazing that he ever found time to belong to all those eugenics societies or pen his famous racist screed The Passing of The Great Race (currently on Amazon with glowing reviews!), let alone ever get out enough to be pathologically concerned with my grandfather's people, whose "dwarf stature, peculiar mentality, and ruthless concentration on self-interest are being engrafted upon the stock of the nation," resulting in "the man of the old stock . . . being literally driven off the streets of New York City by [their] swarms . . . they wear his clothes; they steal his name; and they are beginning to take his women, but they seldom adopt his religion or understand his ideals, and while he is being elbowed out of his own home the American looks calmly abroad and urges on others the suicidal ethics which are exterminating his own race."
(5 points for guessing the right group - there's at least one major clue).

[See chapter 3, "Teddy Bear Patriarchy: Taxidermy in the Garden of Eden, New York City, 1908-1936 " in Donna Haraway's book PrImate Visions for more on the seemingly odd connection between immigration, eugenics and early 20thC aristocratic conservationism (or just google around, really); if anybody has a bizarre urge to hear about my feeble and slavishly derivative look at the Bronx Zoo from this perspective, well, just ask.]

My point? Same old, same old. Sounds just like tinny, scratchy, garbly ancestral voices prophesying Bad Stuff™. Over here we had (that specific round), let's see: signs you can't read! Funny clothes and languages! Poles/Russians can't assimilate and have no capacity for democracy! The whole surging mass is going to outbreed us and take over! We had the Mafia and (much more localized) Tong warfare, and etc. And don't forget the Yellow Peril (see, for example, Dave Neiwert's recent post, which points out some interesting current comparisons.

Before that, we had the drunken, brawling Irish, who were going to destroy democracy and liberty and put us under the yoke of Rome.

Oddly enough, it all seemed to work out. Funny, that.

Does immigration have negatives as well as positives? Yes. Sure. Are many people, especially as they age, uncomfortable with change? Definitely. Etc. Give us a sign that you're reaching for some concrete, productive, sensible and more or less decent program/ course of action, and well, then there might be a lot to talk about. Otherwise, sadly, I at least will assume that just you're another person motivated by symbolic 'status politics' (rereading Hofstadter right now . . .)

#138 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 11:12 AM:

On the shop-sign issue: I don't know Australia, but it seems to me that it's desirable for everyone in a country - that is, a society where everyone has to inter-relate to some extent - to understand and speak at least rudimentarily a common language. Otherwise you get people trapped in ghettos of their lingual group. In the USA that common language has to be English, despite its being the language of the dominant white group, because there's no practical alternative. Therefore, I would favour public signage being compulsorily in English together with whatever other language the owner wants. This is not politically correct, I know, but it does seem to me to make practical sense.

Other countries tackle this problem in different ways. Nigeria, as I understand it, chose English as their national language, even though they'd got it from the British colonialists, precisely because it wasn't any of the 200 or so native languages - to choose one of them would have favoured one tribe over the others. Singapore chose to have four national languages - Malay, Mandarin Chinese, English and Tamil. Oman's national language is Arabic, but the Sultan encourages English teaching as a way to help Omanis have a more international outlook, so all shop signs are in English as well as Arabic, even in remote villages (where older people will greet you with the traditional "salaam aleykum", to which one makes the proper response, but children shout a cheery "good morning, how are you today?", obviously the product of their classes, and one makes an equally proper response!).

#139 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 11:42 AM:

No one on this particular thread has said much about ways SF/F writers could approach the topic, but I'm sure it's been done and continues to be done. There's a glimpse of cultures and ethnicities turned upside-down in Paul Park's great Princess of Roumania, and -- as the folks at Tor already know and we reviewers are just finding out -- his mind-bending sequel The Tourmaline will go much farther with this. Backwards Europe! Progressive Africa!

Sorry to jump the gun on this; it just seemed weirdly pertinent (to me, anyway).

#140 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 12:04 PM:

There are some real disagreements being thrashed out, but I would hate to see Dave Luckett, or for that matter Josh Jasper, feel like they weren't valued here. I've been very much enjoying Josh's run of spectacular and illuminating comments.

At the same time, Dave Luckett isn't some malign stranger doing a "you folks" drive-by. Josh knows that. He doesn't worry me. Anyone who doesn't know that about Dave Luckett should click on the "view all comments by" link on one of Dave's posts. Dave is sometimes irascible, and as far as I can tell he puts no value whatsoever on polite received opinion; but he does engage with the argument, and he's responsive to facts.

What are the odds that no one in this thread ever has less-than-positive feelings about immigrant groups? Vanishingly small, I'd say; but Dave is the one who's written about it.

By all means, let errors of fact be corrected -- and vigorously, too. In the meantime, since we know from longstanding acquaintance that Dave is neither malign nor stupid nor an ideological nativist, perhaps we could regard him as an information source? There are a lot more people like Dave than there are hardline nativists, but we seldom hear their point of view.

Sean Bosker: I completely agree on the meritocracy angle. The fear isn't that immigrants will be lazy underachievers who just want to mooch off our social services. It's that they'll work harder, for longer hours, for less pay. Down the road a ways they'll be forming their own old-boys networks, giving each other their business and hot tips, instead of humbly petitioning members of the xenophobes' own old-boy networks to hire them on the cheap.

Fearing the stranger for his virtues is one of the great and primordial American sins. In theory, we all succeed by our own merits. The corrupting fear is that we can't compete on those terms; and so we make unjust compacts in secret, calculating that if we support, favor, and enrich other members of our compact, not for their honest achievements but rather for their membership in the group, then we, along with the other members, may become richer and more privileged than our work and talents would otherwise warrant.

If you haven't already read it, I recommend James McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom, in this context for its description of some of the Southern writers' pre-war reactions to the idea of doing without slavery.

#141 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 12:06 PM:

Dan S: "Does immigration have negatives as well as positives? Yes. Sure."

Compare this with my: "There are doubtless many other positives to immigration, but I see plenty of negatives, too."

I admit the emphasis is different, though not all that much. That aside, are these not much the same statement? My offence, it would seem, was to list some of these negatives. Of course, by doing so I offered a better target - but I was always taught to be specific. And I proposed a policy to address the problems - integration, ie the policy of discouraging, not encouraging, closed ethnic enclaves from forming, and offering as many rapid pathways as possible into the wider community, while using immigration policy to ensure as far as possible that no single ethnic group arrives in sudden and overwhelming numbers, and that all migrants are counselled and prepared for integration. This last involves control of immigration policy, and it assumes that migrants come lawfully. Therefore, I endorse immigration control, and would reduce illegal immigration to the lowest levels practicable by humane and reasonable means.

Mr Duncanson: You invite me to return whence my ancestors came, a sentiment that would rightly earn me disemvowellment were I to utter it to a recent migrant here. If "I like it the way it is" is the cry of the xenophobe, what are we to make of "get back where you came from"?

You appear to believe that there are no problems at all, while Mr Jasper discerns a deep illness in Australia. I do not care to reply to him directly, but perhaps you should get together - you might persuade each other. If you do disagree, no doubt you will be able to admire again his charming discourse. Perhaps being on the receiving end of it might alter your opinion of it.

#142 ::: Diane Duane ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 12:15 PM:

...To enjoy some of his verse, as I do, is to endorse all of it...

Must remember to trot that one out the next time someone gives me grief about Kipling. (Is he in or out, this semi-decade?)(Do I care? He is Pindar come back again, and while we had him we did not honor him enough.)

...the drunken, brawling Irish, who were going to destroy democracy and liberty and put us under the yoke of Rome.

...And see how the wheel of Irony turns, for now the streets of Dublin are littered with those little shops with signs you can't read (I particularly like the Ukrainian store near Connolly Station, the one with the great smoked meat and many weird preserved pig products. And the great Eastern European cookies). The area around Moore Street has become "It's A Small World" with food. ...And the amazing thing is that the children of these people seem to be becoming Irish...possibly because no one is shoving it down their faces that they must integrate. (Maybe even because some of the older inhabitants find it impossible to believe that anyone would want to bother...?)

Whatever. Now I want to go over to Athy and raid the new Afro-Caribbean place for plantain and fufu flour.

#143 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 12:22 PM:

Re: Semi-Ho (made) with Sandra Lee

Yes, I know she's called "Ol' Puddin' Cups" over at Television Without Pity: I post quite a bit over there. (Screen name: Chryss. Yep, I'm real damn original.) She's also known as Wal-Martha, Bunny Hotcakes, and Shamdra. Whenever she does something incredibly stupid (which is every five minutes) I always say, "Because she's drunk, honey."

Kinda sorta on-topic: what's even worse is when she tries to cook "ethnic" foods. Nothing like Chinese food with instant white rice, being told that "France is the city of lights," and of course, the Kwaanza cake with canned apple pie filling and Corn Nuts.

Support immigration, or we'll all be drowning in ambrosia salad!

#144 ::: Writerious ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 12:43 PM:

And I said I like it here, and I like it the way it is. Clearly, my xenophobia has taken a rather odd form.

This is rather like the stance of the letter writer I wrote about in an earlier post -- the one who wrote to the newspaper complaining that all "those people" who had moved to this town in the eleven years since he'd arrived were making it unliveable. Of course, someone else, someone born here, called him on that, in terms of, "Look, as far as I'm concerned, YOU are the newcomer, one of 'those people' who moved here and added to the crowding."

If you look back in history, you can see the same thing played out over and over again. I don't know about Australian history, but certainly in U.S. history. You get a group coming in that comes for some reason or another: cheap land, religious freedom, whatever. They come here, they like it here, and they settle down, then they want nothing else to change. They may or may not think about the changes that they caused to those that came before, but once they're feeling settled, and another group comes in that brings about more changes, they holler.

All through U.S. history there've been people yelling about the Irish, the "Hunkies," the Italians, the Poles, the Asians, the Mexicans -- each time, the established population swears that "those people" are causing trouble, elevating crime rates, bothering "our" women, causing inflation, increasing hangnails and halitosis and gods know what else, anything that can be pinned on them. In a generation or two, when people get used to seeing polenta on the grocery shelves or having neighbors named Kowalski, there's another group coming in, and it's the same thing all over again.

Change is inevitable. People will migrate. These are facts of life. Does a country have the right to control its migration? Sure it does. Is it effective to pin on the blame for change on the immigrants themselves? No -- people immigrate for a good reason, and it takes a powerful and compelling reason for people to risk their lives in the deserts of Arizona and to risk exploitation just to come to the U.S. illegally. I think we'd make more progress if we looked at why illegal immigration is so compelling, not only what's here that people come for, but what it is that's driving them away.

#145 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 01:48 PM:

Mr Luckett: Mr Jasper's perception of a deep illness in Australia is a bit far of the mark, I think. There undoubtedly is some degree of xenophobia in this country or the Cronulla incident would not have happened at all and we wouldn't have those annoying concentration camps for illegals but it is, in my experience at least, a minor illness - a mere sniffle, rather than something terminal.

Perhaps my suggestion of returning to your ancestors' place of origin was going a little further than ncesessary in a civilized discussion... or at least requires some clarification. It is my experience of the multicultural life here at my end of Australia that most people like their melting pot to be lumpy and unevenly stirred - which is how things are where I live. (See the description of my completely typical Melbourne night out in my first post.) Your calls for a more thoroughly mixed pot sound to me not to say "I like it the way it is," but "I want it back the way it was." That just cannot happen. The worms won't fit back in the can.

I don't think there are no problems here - there clearly are - but they are not as severe are Mr Jasper seems to think. I think the main point of disagreement between you and I is that - drugs aside - many of the things you see as problems, I see as making my life more interesting. I love the diversity that can be found in this city and I don't care if the people I am buying from don't speak English. If I can point and they can understand "How much?" what more do a shopkeeper and a customer need to communicate? If I need to use a phone interpreter to understand someone, I could choose to be annoyed at the lack of a common language or I could be pleased that there is a system in place that can eliminate language as a barrier to communication so simply.

It is possible that the way we practice our multiculturalism in Melbourne differs from the Sydney experience though, which may be why the attempts to start a race riot here amounted to nothing. A number of local wits were heard to declare after the Cronulla riots that "The difference between Melbourne and Sydney is that Sydney says it is a multicultural city and Melbourne is one." I don't know Sydney well enough to know if that half of the comment is true.

Ms Neilson Hayden: After over a year of quietly reading things here I delurked just to add what I thought would be an amusing personal view of the more common Australian experience of immigrants as a counterpoint to Mr Jasper's diagnosis of our culture's sickness. I never wanted an argument (and I certainly didn't intend to get involved in being hit on the head lessons). I don't think arguing on this topic can be avoided but I assure you that I never assumed that Mr Jasper or Mr Luckett were anything other than intelligent and respectable individuals who just happen to have different opinions to mine. Mr Luckett appears to have been born considerably before Australia adopted our current multicultural policies. I was born around the time they started. From his perspective, the country has changed from the one he was born into. From mine, he is a stranger in a strange time. Many of the things he dislikes feel like home to me. I dislike the idea of my home being homogenized in the same way he dislikes his being diversified. This website being your home, I apologise for any appearance of disrespect to anyone on my first time posting.

#146 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 02:00 PM:

Dave:

I respect your long history of working with immigrants. And I brought up the issue of educational outcomes of second-generation immigrants, and how they differ drastically by cultural group, to highlight that it's a complicated set of relationships, rather than to advocate for any single solution. In particular, I agree with your concerns about closed communities precisely because it makes it easier for members (particularly women) to be exploited, and not just economically.

But I object to this issue being couched only in terms of the decisions being made by the immigrants themselves. The likelihood of assimilation is related to their perception of the opportunities (economic, social and otherwise) around them. Growing up as a second-generation immigrant in Toronto or New York is one thing. Growing up as a second-generation Korean immigrant in Japan or Turkish immigrant in Germany is something else entirely. Want full economic and social assimilation of immigrants? Do your best to ensure that the surrounding environment provides them with opportunity.

Unfortunately, this is a vicious circle in places like the Paris suburbs (lack of opportunity leads to closed communities and vice versa), although it is a virtuous circle in places like Toronto and in The City That Can Kick Your City's Ass.

And yes, certain individuals and communities are going to resist acculturation. Issues of identity, belonging and culture are complex. But we can certainly increase the odds in favour of assimilation.

#147 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 02:02 PM:

Shop signs: As everyone knows by now (she said, hanging her head in embarrassment), my next-door neighbors are Azerbaijanis. Next house over from theirs is the med student from Colombia. Other direction, there's a guy from El Salvador. My landlord grew up on a farm in Ireland.

Nevertheless, if as a New Yorker you asked me about the ethnic makeup of my neighborhood, I'd tell you that I'm on the border between Poland and Mexico. A decade ago I'd have said we're on the border between Poland and the Dominican Republic, but the Mexicans have moved into the neighborhood south of us in such force that they've slightly pushed back the borders of Brooklyn's Oriental district.

The Poles are the oldtimers. I'm told that patch was originally Finnish, but I think that was a long time ago. Now it's predominantly Polish, with an admixture of Finns, Slavs, and people from states where it was a good idea to learn to speak Russian.

On Fifth Avenue just north of Prospect are the two great Polish charcuterie and grocery stores, Eagle Provisions and Jubilat. Eagle's bigger and more assimilated, but the staffers still speak to each other in Polish. Jubilat mostly just sells meat, plus a few groceries and Polish baked goods. There, it's not just the staff that does business in Polish -- their customers do too. Jubilat's a little daunting. You get a real sense that you're not part of their usual customer base. On the other hand, you could die from eating their fresh smoked pork tenderloin, so a little uneasiness about the language is worth it.

Neither store has ever made me feel unwelcome. For that, I can go to Our Lady of Częstochowa: Not a liberal congregation, to put it mildly.

Ten blocks south of us is the Mexican community's commercial main drag. It's very Mexican, as in some of the bodegas and ristorantes have elaborate shrines to Our Lady of Guadalupe. The stores don't have signs that say Productos Mexicanos. They say Productos Michoacan (or Piaxtla, or Jalisco, or Chiapas), or Tacos al D.F. I don't know where the ladies who run the tamale booth hail from, but half their tamales come wrapped in banana leaves rather than corn husks. If you ask, everyone says they're from Puebla. Maybe they are.

Meaning no disrespect to the Dominicanos, but the place got a lot livelier when the Mexicans moved in.

I can't imagine thinking of it as threatening. I'm sure there are some bad eggs, because every human community has some of those; but grandma always gets offered a seat on the bus, and the teenagers have table manners. My secret weapons are "please," "thank you," and the ability to rattle off "Unfortunately, I speak Spanish very badly -- a tiny bit, is all" in passable Spanish. If you're a gringo, they'll give you credit just for trying: Cuanto es? how much is it? Para llevar, I'll have that to go. Pardon, que dice? Sorry, could you repeat that? Por favor. Gracias.

The real point of knowing a dab of Spanish is that it reassures your hearers that you won't stomp off in a huff if they don't speak standard English.

Here's my big confession: for the second year in a row, I've hired a latino laborer without asking to see his green card. He's a friend of a friend. I try to do all my own gardening, but my back just isn't up to all the clearing and heavy digging that needs to happen in the spring. So, once a year I hire this guy for most of a Saturday or Sunday, and for ten bucks an hour he gives my garden a thorough going-over: planta, arbusto, bulbo de la flor, rastrillo, empuje, mezcla con el suelo, raices frambuesas, er um como ese. It helps that we're both gardeners. This year he knew more English than he did last year. I feed him lunch and pay him in cash.

I've heard it said that any female politician who has children is likely to be vulnerable to charges of having hired illegal immigrants, because when your childcare person up and quits with no warning, you're going to care a lot more about getting a good person, fast, than about their exact status in this country.

Isn't it all just terribly, terribly threatening?

#148 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 02:05 PM:

Graciously said, Paul Duncanson.

#149 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 02:20 PM:

Dan S writes: Before that, we had the drunken, brawling Irish, who were going to destroy democracy and liberty and put us under the yoke of Rome.

Reminds me of a scene near the end of Blazing Saddles (but before it broke thru the Fourth Wall, then the Fifth then the Sixth). The town is about to be attacked by evil bandits so the mayor makes a deal so that people will be granted land if they help in the town's defense. His desperation is so great that he welcomes the colored folks, the Chinamen, but puts his foot down at letting the Irish in.

#150 ::: dave ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 03:06 PM:

To Dave Luckett:
You know, Australians are now justifiably proud of their wine (I'm enjoying a glass of Margaret River Shiraz right now) and that's all due to French and German immigrants.

Australia is currently famed for its fine cuisine which blends Asian and European traditions with locally sourced fresh food. I have never eaten so well in my life as when in restaurants in Melbourne.

(Brisbane is good too, but Melbourne is in a class of its own. Brisbane probably has more non-white Australians, but more hostility to accepting them, thanks to Queensland's long history of fascism. [Google: Bjelke Petersen])

Lunch might be a Chicken Tikka wrap, Lamb Madras with rice, Chinese chicken or fish or sushi*. After work, maybe some Belgian, Irish or Aussie beer, followed by a kebab or gyro or maybe a curry.

*sushi in Oz comes in California Rolls about four inches long. I asked the guy selling them why they made them like that and he said (in Cantonese) "that's what the customer wants, so that's what we make. We'll cut them to normal size if you want." (I live in Hong Kong and speak a little Cantonese.)

Would you really want to go back to a country where 'exotic food' was orange spagetti from a tin? Where coffee was instant or, um, instant? Where beer was northern (Castlemaine) or Southern (Victoria Bitter)? Where wine was imported from France (and expensive) or from England (and crap)?

Sure, some people don't integrate. But you know what? Maybe recent immigrants from what-the-heck-istan won't have barbecues in the backyard with pork sausages and beer, but you know, maybe their kids, or even their grandkids will have some traditional thing they do which all of Australia will adopt. (How many of the original (british) Australians drank wine, for example. How many do now? A heck of a lot more!)

Maybe someday soon, you'll go to a barbecue with your grandkids where they're serving steamed fish with white wine (because of the Cantonese influence), or the barbecue is only used for cooking the bread and people eat the fish raw (what with all the Japanese students around), or there's an entire goat roasting on a spit with curry sauce or mint sauce dips to taste?

(And curiously enough, "American History X" has been on TV while I've been writing this.)

A lot of my Aussie colleages are starting to identify with the Aboriginal theme of the land owning you, rather than you owning the land. I've known a few people who, when they get stressed out, need to go and walk in the country, need to go walkabout. They need to get in touch with the land. I'm reminded of the conquering Normans who ended up more Irish than the Irish themselves.

#151 ::: JoshJasper ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 03:07 PM:

Teresa, immigration issues, and what looked like a certain ideology behind Dave Luckett's complaints upset me deeply.

It is certainly possible that I'm wrong in my perceptions, and absolutely certain that I was harsh. I'm sorry for that. If you say Dave is someone who deserves a bit more understanding in a reply to something that upsets me that way, I can accept that. I don't know Dave, comments like that from people I don't know are pretty good ways of triggering my anger.

Mr Luckett, if you'd like to have a civil discussion about this, I'll try to keep a lid on my anger. I can understand if you don't feel like addressing me after my tone. The way you phrased things is deeply upsetting to me. I'm sure I'm not the only one who was taken aback by the way you describe things.

I really think you are blaming problems in your culture on immigration, when they're not the fault of immigration. The problems you describe are not caused by immigration except for the signs in other languages, and if those upset you, I think you're more at fault than immigration.

I think it's important for you to know why what you said was upsetting, and what is wrong with your viewpoint on immigration. I'd like to hope you can get your head straight on this issue, because I think your way of looking at things is deeply dangerous.

#152 ::: JoshJasper ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 03:20 PM:

I've been to Sidney and Melbourne frequently, and yes, Melbourne is far more multicultural than Sidney to my perceptions.

Anyway, why in Dog's name are people offended and upset by shop signs they can't read? I've never understood it. But then, I grew up as an immigrant in a country that wasn't my native one. I find myself more and more baffled by the concepts people have of 'the way things should be' just because they've always been that way.

I guess being surrounded by foreign signs and language frightens some people. It actually relaxes me.

What upsets and frightens me is that other people react so strongly to this fear that they can riot, or will try and conreol immigration in a land that theier ancestors were immigrants to. I feel this is because people are afraid of foreign things getting biger than they are and being the ones in charge. The irony is that this is *exactly* what happened to the orriginal natives, who were almost never consulted.

I think there's a deep fear of the tables being turned, so to speak. People, mostly white people, but it happens in Asia too, are afraid of loosing majority control in racial politics because,as the majority, they have a bad history, and are afraid that once the table is turned, they'll get the same treatment that the whites historically dished out.

Anyway, that's my theory of what's behind this whole immigration fear in most rational non-racist seeming people.

If you think I'm wrong, go down to a minority neighborhood near you, and get totaly surrounded by people who're not-your-kind. See if you feel at all uncomfortable.

I certainly get the atavistic fear every now and again in Harlem, but I *know* what causes it, and it's not a part of me that I let run my life. It's a part of me I'd be happier without. It's racism.

#153 ::: RickS ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 03:27 PM:

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore."

When 75 million dwelt here, this sentiment made perfect sense, and it still made sense, perhaps, half a century ago when the population hit 150 million. When we went past 200 million, it was time to stop, but in fact we haven't slowed down. What about OUR teeming shore? There are 300 million of us now. Shall we recite the woes that come with overpopulation, both psychological and environmental?

Forget imputations of xenophobia or misanthropy. How many is too many? State a number.

#154 ::: dave ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 03:47 PM:

RickS (a first-time poster):

When your population density equals that of mainland China?

The US is hardly over populated. It would even be hard to level that accusation at Mainland China, given how much of the country is empty. (The visible population density from the highways reminds me of France in the early 1990s.)

(I know it's a little more dense in the villages, but a lot of China is empty. Villagers (like my in-laws) have enough space for a rice paddy per house, and space for a pig within the house walls.)

(oh, and the 1.2 billion population is pure drivel. Families with more than one child simply fail to register the second (or first if a daughter) or subsequent kids. My own brother-in-law has three unregistered kids. The real population of China is probably about 1.5 Billion people or more.)

#155 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 03:51 PM:

I grew up in Chicago and spent about half my adult life there. There are plenty of neighborhoods with signs not in English. The most common in the various neighborhoods I lived in were Spanish, Polish, Greek, Hebrew, and later, Korean.

Without fail, any of these places I went into had at least one person who spoke some English, and it was not unusual to find someone who spoke it reasonably-well-to-fluent. Even the ones who didn't speak it well usually understood the basic stuff: where is, how much is, do you have.

I could fill in a bit of the rest when it came to Spanish -- Sesame Street and a year of junior-high Spanish was enough to give me numbers and some really basic stuff; hanging out in neighborhoods like that was enough to teach me how to read signs relating to food. (Interestingly, I couldn't tell you what to call many of these things off the top of my head, but when I see them as signs, I usually understand them. I read some Spanish but I can't speak it. I also recognize the Polish words for many types of foods for a similar reason.)

The people in these stores -- supermarkets, convenience stores, butchers, small shops -- made every effort to come up with a way for us to communicate. Down in Chinatown (well out of my normal stomping grounds), the same is true. I don't think I ever ran into a place where English not being their primary language became a real issue. These were nice, friendly people who just didn't happen to speak English well.

While I do think that English being the more-or-less-accepted main language of the United States means that immigrants should try to learn it, and I'd like to think that their children will speak it fluently, I don't see a need to feel threatened by people continuing to use whatever language they grew up with, and I clearly don't think it's a barrier to them living and working here.

(I also think that learning a second language should be mandatory for American school kids, and wish I spoke any other language fluently. But that's probably a different topic.)

#156 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 04:24 PM:

Graydon, you and I will just have to disagree on the "not a bad man" thing. It doesn't seem important enough to me to pursue at the moment, though it may if the issue arises again in another context. Hope you concur. We agree on a lot of other things...

Walking through the neighborhood with street signs one cannot read, languages one cannot understand, and customs one does not grok makes reptile brain wake up and go "Too strange, unfamiliar territory, danger, danger, they're going to eat me, aaah!" How quickly reptile brain goes back to sleep, if she does, depends on very personal, individual stuff, age, experience, how we were socialized, where we live... For some of us, reptile brain's reaction occurs in nanoseconds and barely makes it to consciousness. For some, it's a constant drumbeat that gets internalized to the level of emotional reaction and has to be dealt with there, every time.

#157 ::: RickS ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 04:38 PM:

dave:

I'm distinguishing quality of life from possibility of life. My memory spans the most recent doubling of the U.S. population, and then some, and it isn't nostalgia, or at least not only nostalgia, that allows me to assure you that fewer is better.

America had a feeling of vastness, openness, stretch. That sense began to disappear thirty or thirtyfive years ago. Of course more people will fit. I can plant a garden on my roof and drink recycled water and breathe fetor. It's not how I want to live and not how I want my descendants to live. I like nature and wild places. I want to live in a place where these things still are. If America continues to act as an indiscriminate sink for the world's excess population, what hope is there?

#158 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 04:42 PM:

If America continues to act as an indiscriminate sink for the world's excess population...

Darn. My day is ruined. There I was, thinking of myself as a productive member of American society, until I read that I am the world's excess population.

#159 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 05:03 PM:

FMguru's post was some time ago, but I'll follow-up anyway.

I think many of the points FM makes are all simultaneously right -- I don't think we have to take our pick, as invited, since I think multiple dynamics are going on. Certainly I think the free-floating hatred and xenophobia, particularly among people who were pro-Iraq invasion cheerleaders but now can't use that outlet, is a big part of it.

But I think another thing going on (and I read this somewhere, I thought it was Glenn Greenwald's blog but now I can't find it) is that this is providing the right an excuse to abandon Bush without admitting that everything they've done over the past five or six years has been disastrous. So now (as Glenn did point out), they're calling for Bush's impeachment over this! It's a good way to abandon the man they had built an impressive cult of personality around.

All of which implies that that this isn't a political positive for Bush, but I think it this is true: His policies are just too steered by big business, and hence won't crack down on illegal immigrants as much as the xenophobic right would like (although they won't actually help immigrants either, since business wants them here but vulnerable.) Rather, a lot of people who were marching behind Bush in their desire to attack people they don't like have switched their target from Arabs/Muslims (not the same, of course, but they often don't know that) to Hispanics/immigrants (ditto), and used it as an excuse to ditch a dying presidency without admitting error.

#160 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 05:09 PM:

Interestingly to me, the Federation for American Immigration Reform was started by a Paul Ehrlich acolyte. Remember The Population Bomb? None of Ehrlich's predictions have borne fruit, but that hasn't stopped FAIR from insisting that the US is overpopulated.

#161 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 05:10 PM:

The US is hardly over populated.

According to this estimate, the US is well above its sustainable population, which is 91 million at current consumption levels, and 241 million at "modest" consumption levels (roughly 2/5 current European levels).

I've heard the freeway-window argument before, and it makes no sense to me at all. Humans can't just be stacked like cordwood; they require water, energy, waste disposal, and open space.

What measures the US is entitled (or wise) to take to maintain a sustainable population is, of course, a separate issue.

#162 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 05:11 PM:

Wasn't there a time when it was considered very bad form for a recent immigrant to adopt the customs and language of his adopted home? I believe it was called "going native." Funny how now it's called "integration" or "assimilation" and it's considered the right thing to do.

In the spirit of this thread, today I took a trip with some friends to the end of the 7, as suggested by Stefan. We went to some Chinese grocery stores and my wife bought all the ingredients necessary for making Japanese gyoza. We're going to sit around the table making dumplings today. Pictures of the trip with recipe to follow.

#163 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 05:16 PM:

RickS

The problem with feeling crowded in America is not so much that there are too many people, but that we are using our land so prolifigately, thanks in large part to the automobile culture.

I stayed in a village in Yorkshre that was much the same population as my southern Puget Sound bedroom community, but took up less than a tenth the footprint. It felt private and open, while the subdivisions here feel crowded and cluttered. The houses were smaller, the roads narrower, the paved spaces less omnipresent.

By the way, I live on a farm which has been in our family for over a hundred years, surrounded, now, by houses and apartments. There's an Indonesian, mostly, Islamic Center a half-mile away, across the street from a Korean Presbyterian church and a mostly African American Baptist church; the nearest sushii restaurant is just past the closest espresso stand (about 3/4 of a mile off). In general, the only in-comers who get up my grill are the ravening hordes of generic Americans from the south and midwest who've shown up with their SUVs and mega churches and demands that the school system stop teaching evolution.

#164 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 05:27 PM:

Gee, given that we're overpopulated, how *do* we manage to keep our economy growing, *and* export tons of food, *and* manage to give food aid all across the planet? Why, we must be magicians!

What hooey. We're not overpopulated. Except with xenophobes.

#165 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 05:41 PM:

By spending our environmental capital. Big fun--for a while.

#166 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 05:51 PM:

linkmeister said: None of Ehrlich's predictions have borne fruit.

I confess I never read Ehrlich. So, did his predictions not happen because he was full of crap and didn't know what he was talking about? Or is it because people heeded his warnings and took steps?

Meanwhile... By the beginning of Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar, which is set in the year 2010 (?), the human population could all fit on Zanzibar. By the end, some people would have to stand in the water a few meters off the beach. Where would Earth's real/non-fictional population fit today?

#167 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 05:55 PM:

Was just up in San Francisco for World Horror. Showed of Ti Cous, the Breton-style creperie in the heavily hispanic Mission District, to a couple other authors. Food was great rustic French, chefs and waiters were hispanic, daily special was a seafood crepe topped with chipotle creme fraiche. Fusion cooking at its best.

#168 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 05:59 PM:

Also on shop signs... I think that different cities and even neighborhoods have different expectations as to whether or not members of the larger community would even be interested in the wares of stores serving immigrant communities.

Certainly, in places like New York, San Francisco or Seattle most ethnic shops expect a more diverse clientele. But other places can be different. I recall going into an Indian grocery in Florida to buy some papadams, and having the shopkeeper be somewhat surprised by my presesce. (FYI, I'm exceedingly white and shouldn't be left out in the sun lest I burst into flames.)

One nice thing is that most Chinese restaurants that cater to the Chinese community have actually translated (for some value of translate) the entire menu into English so that people like me who'll try anything once can order the items that most Americans would be turned off by, like beef tendon noodle soup or tripe.

I like living in a place where there are lots of people from lots of different places, and I enjoy seeing shops with signs many languages because they just may sell neat stuff I've never seen before. I can now even recognize written Amharic because Seattle has a substantial Ethiopian community.

In my view, immigration makes the US more fun to live in. And we need all the fun we can get with the Neo-Puritan Christianists trying to take over. (I guess you could think of them as a force of anti-diversity.)

#169 ::: RickS ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 06:03 PM:

"...until I read that I am the world's excess population."

Megalomania, thy name is legion.

#170 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 06:18 PM:

One of the other entertaining things about ethnic restaurants is the way they interact (or don't) with the world outside. I was in Mexico City a few years ago for the Fantasy Arts Festival and our hosts decided that we'd go out for Chinese food one night. Then we're in the Chinese restaurant and except for a few extra bottles of Mexican hot sauce on the table--and even that was not that unusual, given the places I've been in San Jose--it looked like any Chinese restaurant in San Jose or San Francisco, run by Chinese immigrants serving very nice Mandarin & Scheschuan-style cuisine.

Then there amazing things like Michi Sushi in San Jose. Run by Mr. Shin, a Korean trained by Japanese sushi masters, with a half dozen California-born Asian and Anglo apprentices, it's...wow. The food is both beautiful and delicious, with extra touches you don't find elsewhere, such as ground macadamia nuts being used alongside tobiko.

#171 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 06:29 PM:

"By spending our environmental capital. Big fun--for a while."

Exactly.

Some of the more savvy anti-immigrant cranks have adopted the language of environmentalists and slow-growth advocates. A few years back there was a leadership struggle at the Sierra Club; one faction wanted the organization to adopt an anti-immigration plank.

This co-option doesn't mean the problems of sprawl, industrialized agriculture, pollution, and unsustainable energy use are any less real. I think we're smart enough to spot shills and opportunists.

* * *

Just to confuse things further, some of the most vocal proponents of high rates of immigration are strident free marketeers. They see it as a sign of a robust economy, a guarantee of a growing workforce in the face of falling birthrates, etc.

#172 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 06:48 PM:

Ehrlich's basic thesis was that the world would run out of food to feed its population by the end of the 1970s. He missed the Green Revolution completely.

#173 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 07:26 PM:

Sustainable population has a hard limit based on incident sunlight and the efficiency of plants, but we're not even vaguely close to that one anywhere.

Treating cities as ecologic units and closing their resource loops isn't technically challenging; it's just a matter of political will and a modest amount of money.

Population growth takes care of itself as soon as women are educated and have legal standing and property rights.

And yeah, sprawl is bad; it's not like this isn't known or that it's difficult to not sprawl in any technical or planning sense. One of the things we're going to have to deal with in terms of global warming anyway.

I don't see immigration as having a substantial downside; change happens, but change is going to happen unless technological progress stops, an exceedingly bad idea. Lots of cultural viewpoints greatly increases the odds of having a good solution presented when a challenging problem, particularly a challenging social problem, needs solving.

#174 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 07:39 PM:

Kevin Andrew Murphy

The best creperie I know if in SF is Higher Grounds on Chenery in Glen Park.

Not quite authentic French, but better than Ti Cous IMNSHO.

#175 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 07:53 PM:

Fade, RE brisket:

I remember a fellow student raving about a kosher restaurant and/or deli on Murray, but it has been ten years . . .

I used to take a bus that ran up Murray and west on Forbes to school. An interesting neighborhood.

#176 ::: Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 08:16 PM:

"America had a feeling of vastness, openness, stretch. That sense began to disappear thirty or thirtyfive years ago."

Any possibility that such perspective might have something to do with your age? i.e. growing up in the 60s, getting a job, being able to buy a car and travel around? Looking back now nostaligically to fading memories of childhood?

I wonder if some people in 1890 along the 100th parallel might have gotten upset because they could see the lights of a house a mile away? (oh call it 1930 with rural electrification, then.)

Just drive across the USA; it's still a real big place. In fact there are far fewer people living in rural areas now than there were 50 years ago so it could be argued that in (at least) part of the country it actually might feel less populated and thus wilder.

Anyway, I'm not sure that our current immigration debate has much to do with wilderness, though by the same token one can say that every person counts when it comes to environmental impact, especially in a country as profligate with natural resources as the USA. You won't find a whole lot of recently-arrived Mexicans (I won't call them immigrants because that implies they want to stay which isn't clear) canoeing on the Maine lakes. Of course in twenty years, as they join the middle-class, you'll probably see their kids.

#177 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 08:28 PM:

I think a chunk of the reaction to signs in other languages is what the person is used to.

I grew up in New York City. I studied Spanish in high school (rather than French, German, or Latin) because I expected it to come in handy. I don't expect to be able to understand all the conversations I overhear.

The first time I visited England, I stayed in Guildford, where my mother and her now-husband were living at the time (I was there for the wedding). I didn't quite realize what felt odd until I took the train into London for the day, and handed my ticket to a brown-skinned woman at the London end. She was the first non-white person I'd seen since getting to my mother's house. I felt much more at home in East Ham, where not everyone looked like me or was speaking only one language, than in the mono-lingual suburbs, because it looked and sounded more like the neighborhood I live in than Guildford did.

I can give lots of reasons why that sort of diversity is good, but on a deep level it's just what says "home" to me. I would guess that someone who grew up where everyone sounded much the same (regardless of skin color) might find that the things that signal "home" to me feel alien.

As a side note, part of why I'm able to be some cheerfully adventurous about eating in places where I don't have much common language with the staff is that I have no food allergies. If I get something random, I may not like it, but it's not going to make me sick.

#178 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 09:28 PM:

Teresa, tamales wrapped in banana leaves sounds like the south end of Mexico to me, south of Mexico DF at least. (It's a lot bigger and more varied a country than we tend to think. Read something like Diana Kennedy's cookbooks, where she gets into this sort of thing.)

#179 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 11:07 PM:

Karen Funk Blocher: there's no real downside I can see to letting people enter this country legally, safely, to take jobs that probably would go unfilled otherwise.

"Unfilled jobs" is too often the mantra of people looking for cheap labor. The U.S. has at least 6 million formally unemployed the last I heard, and many more underemployed or given up. This is why organized labor (what's left of it) has been vacillating on immigration controls; some of them are more generous people than their employers, and some know why their employers aren't interested in constraints. (Some are even wise to the "Let's you and him fight" rhetoric Tancredo et al. spewing.)

RickS: I also lived through the doubling-and-then-some; I was born in 1953, 5 miles outside where the Beltway went through when it was put around DC. The area is radically changed -- malls, dirt lanes paved, the cow pasture across my road "developed" -- but that has nothing to do with immigration; it comes from "the bulge in the snake" (me, probably you, a handful of other people in this discussion) and the grotesque imbalance of salaries (and lack of progressivity in taxes) that puts way too much money at the high end. (There are other factors, including the insane energy policy, but the above provide the fuel.) The houses in that pasture practically scream "I have money and I want people to know it!", and the result is that the boundary between suburbs and exurbs moves further and further out -- but, as other people have told you, that boundary still has most of the people on one side and most of the land on the other. (Not just in distant parts of the continent, either; there are no exits in the stretch of the Mass Pike 80-110 miles from the Boston waterfront, because there's nothing to exit to.)

#180 ::: paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 11:28 PM:

Kansas City has had that sprawl into the farmland, my mom was able to sell her land for about four times what dad spent for it, and the palatial house for about twice what it was built for...

Places I used to ride horses are now suburbs, the road our driver's ed teacher took us to drive on 'bad (unimproved) roads' are four-lane thoroughfares.

I've moved my home into near downtown ('urbia'), and am hoping to find my next job in downtown rather than the suburbs. The 30-mile round trip is silly, and becauses of changes in my company's management I really need to look for a new position, sad as that makes me feel (the particular job I do is very suited to my temprament, but it's very specialized). I'd really like to use public transportation but right now it's hit or miss and likely costs more than my gas....

#181 ::: Heatherly ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 11:35 PM:

I wish I had something more substantial to contribute to the conversation than this, but feel the need to say it anyway:

While reading this post tonight, and (most) of the accompanying thread, I had to cheer out loud. And then read the post out loud to my friend, augmented by gleeful dancing in my chair.

After days of biting my tongue at some of the comments my clients (and co-workers) have been making regarding this issue, it's such a pleasure to see more...er...cosmopolitan perspectives expressed. :)

#182 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 12:01 AM:

What JASR said. We can't get out into restorative empty spaces any more because we let our cities sprawl endlessly and wastefully outward. Faced with compact, well-defined British towns, we'd admire them all to heck ... and then start thinking how nice it would be to find a place just a little way outside of town, so we could enjoy the benefits of urban compression while living in an open area.

Heatherly, glad we made your day better.

#183 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 12:06 AM:

Kevin, do you want me to shorten that link for you?

#184 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 12:16 AM:

"If America continues to act as an indiscriminate sink for the world's excess population, what hope is there?"

How comforting it is to know you're so sure which of the world's population is "excess." Fills me with "hope", it does.

#185 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 12:43 AM:

Chip, I'm a year your elder, and the bulge in the snake is very much one of the big causes of sprawl here in the I-5 corridor, although boomers relocating from other parts of the US has contributed more to it here than on the East Coast.

#186 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 12:53 AM:

The earliest member of our Layman family to come to the US was a Prussian mercenary here to fight for the Brits in the Revolutionary War. Talk about not wanted!

Locally, most of the Latinos are not here permanently. They're here to earn enough money to set their families up at home and when that's done, they go home.

A week or so ago, some Nationals guy's girlfriend was mugged after leaving a money transmission place -- he was sending $12K home to his family.

I don't see why this is any different from all the other nationalities that parts of the country has hated over our 200-some years -- Italians, Germans, Swedes (when we were transferred near Seattle in 1963, Swedes were all bad because they would cross union picket lines), Chinese, etc. The reason it's big now is because some folks need a political pinata.

#187 ::: Joe Crow ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 01:33 AM:

Where would Earth's real/non-fictional population fit today?

Texas. With room for a 2000 square foot apartment for each of 'em.

#188 ::: perianwyr ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 01:54 AM:

I would personally prefer to send folks like that on a two-week vacation to Hong Kong, where they will stay in a guesthouse populated entirely (otherwise) by Africans and be forbidden to eat in any place in which they can read the menu.

#189 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 02:35 AM:

Ah, yes. Marvellous multicultural Melbourne, melting pot of the south. Would that be the place where the government had to force most of the soccer clubs to "de-ethnicise" ie, remove any association with the countries their supporters came from, on account of there were regular riots when the Serbs played the Croats, or the Macedonians the Greeks, and several other combinations? ("Played", in this sense, is not quite the word I seek, but will have to do.) (The national governing body was forcibly integrated some years ago, and as a result its members are at permanent daggers drawn with each other. This situation, at present papered over, will again degenerate into open hostility once Australia is bundled out of the first round of the World Cup, as it certainly will be.)

Would that be the place where a Malayan patriarch - as I recall, an imam - had to be put on trial for beating his 23-year-old niece so badly that he blinded her in one eye, for dating an Anglo? (I remember that his affronted defence was to the effect that if the place were truly multicultural, his cultural values would have been respected. Quite so.)

I may take a gloomy view of multiculturalism - in fact, I don't think it actually exists, outside of a social idealist's dreams - but this is because I think that it consists of more than my eating exotic food and me getting along with my ethnic neighbours. I don't eat exotic foods much, but get along fine with my neighbours, a partial list of whom I gave above. I would like nothing better than to live out my days in peace among them. I'm not a neo-Nazi, and I'm glad that Teresa doesn't think so, notwithstanding other opinions to the contrary; but I don't believe everything in the garden is rosy, and I don't believe that all the fault is on one side - that is, on my side.

I abhor even the short-term visitor who will not learn some words of the country's language, and do his or her best to communicate in that language. What could be more boorish than the tourist who bellows at the native speaker, on the grounds that they all speak English? But if that is boorish - and it is - what do we make of a long-term resident in an English-speaking country who speaks no English?

On the Costa Brava live 300 000 Britons, mostly retirees, who speak only English, and show no inclination to learn Spanish. The Spanish are starting to dislike them very much, and I don't in the least blame the Spanish. How rude!

But if I think these expatriates are rude, and that the natives are quite right to resent it, why should I not think the same of non-English speaking long-term residents here? And why should I not resent it? Which, of course, is not to excuse refusal to provide service to a non-English speaker. That, too, is boorish, and goodwill is required. But there are limits to all things. There is a difference between not having learned English yet, and not wanting to learn English. I am here to say that I have encountered the latter.

You appear to think, Mr Jasper, that you are entitled to be angry at non-insulting words not addressed to you, and that being angry entitles you not only to address personal insults to me, but to insult my entire nation. You also appear to believe that you are making a concession by saying you will try not to do so in future. You are profoundly wrong. When you apologise and retract, I will again take up this conversation, on condition of your adherence to civilised standards. Until then, I have nothing to say to you.

#190 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 02:54 AM:

Mr. Luckett, you are aware, of course, that football teams everywhere are the subject of strong passions, (much as they should be), and that, in many countries, especially where they are bound up with sectarian/ethnic devides, this spills over into violence? Like, say, the Old Firm?

Given that it occurs in Scotland, with both sides having resided there for quite some time, I'd highly doubt that multiculturalism is the root cause of football holiganism.

And don't be so down hearted about your national team! Look, Australia now has the oppurtunity to surpass NZ's record of goals in the World Cup finals!

But we all know that Australia won't be able to do that, becasue Australia is full of Australians...

#191 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 03:05 AM:

Teresa,

Yes, please. Shorten the link to just the "Michi Sushi." I posted the end tag in the wrong spot.

#192 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 03:12 AM:

Yeah, lots of wiiide open space in Texas. "Sunrise, Sunset--are we out of Texas, yet?"
Unfortunately, there has been a lot of shift to the big urban centers, and a lot of little towns that didn't quite make it as tourist traps are starting to dry up and blow away. There just aren't the jobs to sustain a comfortable (I have both electricity and water)living, but many people can't afford to leave, either.
I have some wonderful/awful pictures somewhere I'll have to dig up. A nifty little banner attached to an antique-style lamppost meant to appear of wrought iron, proclaiming "Main Street Electra, Classic Texas," and a great gaping hole behind, where another historic building has been demolished, scrubby grass growing up through the cracks in the slab. A corrugated tin-sided house, leaning noticeably to one side, and the Direct TV dish attached securely as a counter-balance. Even Dairy Queen pulled up stakes, which as anyone who's ever driven through Texas knows, is a big deal.
Where we are now, every time I look, another place where I used to take my dog walking has just sprouted several soulless patio homes with those horrid snout garages out in front. Like Droopy's fold-out homestead-in-a-briefcase, but without the character.

#193 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 03:21 AM:

Oh, Teresa, on a comment you had earlier-- I believe that the tamales wrapped in banana leaves are the Veracruzano style, or at least I had them served that way at a friend's house in Veracruz.

Funny thing is, a couple years later I decided to hold a Burns Night Supper at my house, so I obviously had to make the haggis. Trouble is, you can't legally get lamb lungs in this country, at least for human consumption, and it's difficult to get a sheep's stomach. Plus I didn't know if I could get my guests to gag that down anyway, so instead I went with a vegetarian redaction, substituting dried wild pine spike mushrooms for the lamb lungs (same color, and similar texture after being soaked in scotch) and in place of the stomach, I used banana leaves from my backyard in the style of a Veracruz tamale, since all I needed was something to steam the toasted oats in. The end result turned out delicious, and garnered what is probably a phrase seldom said at Burns Night Suppers: "Please, seconds of the haggis."

It's fun all the things you can learn from other cultures.

#194 ::: Wendy Bradley ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 03:57 AM:

We've been having a "crisis" over illegal immigrants (usually now coded as "asylum seekers") over here in the UK this week because an incautious civil servant revealed that the government has no idea how many of them there are! Er... illegal immigrants standing up to be counted, anyone?

Sorry, it's not really any kind of contribution to the debate, but it just makes me laugh every time I read the story. Here's a link to the Grauniad's take on it: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,1778723,00.html

#195 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 04:06 AM:

Rick S. said:

America had a feeling of vastness, openness, stretch. That sense began to disappear thirty or thirtyfive years ago.

That has been caused not by an increase in population, but the metastatic growth of suburbia. People live in larger and larger houses with vast tracts of empty land between them, filled with Chemlawn grass.

The time frame you're talking about is, in fact, the same time frame in which the majority of registered voters became people who lived in suburbs, and no longer people who lived in cities. Each person takes up quite a great deal more space than they did thirty or forty years ago. A separate bedroom for every child in the family? That was pretty rare amongst my friends when I was a kid, and I can't think of anyone from a family of three or more kids where no one had to share a room. Thirty or forty years ago, many fewer families had more than one car. Everyone says that New York City apartments are small. They're no smaller than when they were built, they're just on average, older. It's not so much that there are more of us as that many of us have become much fatter.


(Completely tangentially: "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" was not a particularly good movie. I don't even really know what I wanted to see it. Watching the McMansion get blown sky high was worth the price of admission, though.)

#196 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 04:29 AM:

Teresa:
"I completely agree on the meritocracy angle. The fear isn't that immigrants will be lazy underachievers who just want to mooch off our social services. It's that they'll work harder, for longer hours, for less pay. Down the road a ways they'll be forming their own old-boys networks, giving each other their business and hot tips, instead of humbly petitioning members of the xenophobes' own old-boy networks to hire them on the cheap."

One point to remember: Within US continental borders, blacks are the permanent strangers, even through their ancestral ties to this country can match those of a DAR.

If there is any noticeable anti-immigrant bias among blacks, even toward those of African-continental descent, is it because blacks have been continually suppressed in forming old-boy networks that aren't broken apart by covenants and lynching, during Jim Crow days, and the movement of vice into their communities, either by zoning or collusion.

This theory, of course, does not explain how middle-class blacks allow themselves the luxury of hating immigrants -- perhaps it is because of the centuries' long frustration with seeing every other immigrant group be told that the way it will assimilate is to understand and maintain the inferior status blacks have culturally, in the precincts of American power that matter.

Perhaps it is the unspoken truth that any old-boy network is just a more polite version of organized crime -- back-door negotiations, kickbacks, recommendations divorced from meritocratic standards, influence-peddling with authorities, all done in homes and clubs, with fewer bullets than those networks that start out earning profit through vice alone. From English to Irish to Jewish to Italian to Colombian to Korean to Russian networks, sooner or later the vice-connected aspects peeled off into their own thing, and the people who profited from them either went to jail, to the grave, or to the bank, to invest their ill-gotten gains into their kids' college funds. Police throughout most of this country's history never got reprimanded for beating up a black person, or for destroying his property -- that constant oppression made sustaining fortunes over generations very, very hard.

That means, in the game of immigration/nativist hatred, we shouldn't hate the players -- we should hate those who rig the game in the first place, and those who make the profits from those they hate enough to exploit.

#197 ::: Daniel Boone ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 05:25 AM:

The modern so-called Minutemen having been mentioned upthread, I thought I'd mention my (limited) experience with them. Being an anarchist with a fondness for markets and their outcomes, I move easily in the overlapping right-wing slash libertarian slash gun nut communities, and have many friends there.

In those circles, I've met a fair few folks who are involved with and/or sympathetic to the Minuteman Project, which has been active for quite a few years now. To a man (and I've yet to meet a female Minuteman or Minuteman sympathiser) these guys claim they aren't racist, and to their credit they actively disdain and condemn the openly racist white supremacists and skinheads who also sometimes show up at the same gun shows and so forth.

And yet, and yet.

When I friendly-argue with these boys about what are nowadays called "border security issues", I like to accuse them of being "worried about hordes of little brown people" and they like to deny it vehemently. Yet, at bottom, all of their objections boil down to a conservative distaste for the diversity (of language, cuisine, street signage, what have you) that's celebrated in many posts in this comment thread. They see (more) immigration as a strong threat to (their whitebread vision of) The American Way. To put it another way, they don't think Theresa's city kicks ass. (Me, I do think it kicks ass; I've only visited once, but I still have dreams about the cheap sushi trays for sale in every corner grocery.)

I'm not sure the Minuteman phenomenon is about racism, per se, so much as it's the expression of a strong form of cultural conservatism that's woefully uninformed about the culture it thinks it's conserving. But I tell you what, it's a surreal experience to hear a self-described "radical libertarian" condemn all government in one breath (preach it, brother!) and then speak in glowing terms of "volunteering to help reinforce the border patrol to defend our sovereignty" in the next breath. (Huh? Whose sovereignty exactly? And weren't we kinda down on that, oh about thirty seconds ago?)

#198 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 05:35 AM:

According to a quick googling, the area of Zanzibar is 1,657 square meters. Assuming one square meter per person, you couldn't have fit the world's population on it even when Brunner wrote the book. (You can fit more people on if you shrink the area per person, of course. I don't know; how densely packed together can people stand?)

#199 ::: sarah ismail ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 06:06 AM:

Would that be the place where a Malayan patriarch - as I recall, an imam - had to be put on trial for beating his 23-year-old niece so badly that he blinded her in one eye, for dating an Anglo? (I remember that his affronted defence was to the effect that if the place were truly multicultural, his cultural values would have been respected. Quite so.)

Malayan? What is this, the East India Company? Malaya hasn't existed since 1962. It isn't even an ethnicity anymore.

#200 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 06:30 AM:

Kevin Andrew Murphy,

a phrase seldom said at Burns Night Suppers: "Please, seconds of the haggis."

Actually, many Scots really like the taste of haggis. (I do, too, though I'm an immigrant here.) Burns night is not about choking the stuff down, but about enjoying the "great chieftain of the pudding race." My two year old literally squeals with joy when she hears it's haggis for tea.

And as Vicki recounts, coming to Britain from one of the more ethnically mixed places in the US can be really disorienting. When I came to Edinburgh, I missed the ethnic variety of the Bay Area more than I ever anticipated.

I also could not tell some of the people apart. They all looked the same to me. (And BTW, I am white. I take that "all nnn people look alike to me" thing more kindly now that I've done it with my own value of nnn.)

#201 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 07:27 AM:

Dave Lucektt

You appear to think, Mr Jasper, that you are entitled to be angry at non-insulting words not addressed to you, and that being angry entitles you not only to address personal insults to me, but to insult my entire nation. You also appear to believe that you are making a concession by saying you will try not to do so in future. You are profoundly wrong. When you apologise and retract, I will again take up this conversation, on condition of your adherence to civilised standards. Until then, I have nothing to say to you.

If you can detach which particular things you think I said that were personally insulting to you and to your nation, I might consider it, but I think making a blanket apology for anything I said that might be insulting would be insincere.

From there we can go on to what why you said was hurtful. I don't think you get it, but I'm willing to make an effort if you are.

#202 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 07:41 AM:

David Goldfarb... Thanks for checking up on Zanzibar. I wonder if I should go back and reread the book. It's been 30 years since I borrowed it from the college library. Of course, this time around it'd feel like reading an alternate history.

#203 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 07:54 AM:

I'm actually someone who has lived as an expatriate in a country in which my race and language is in the minority. Most of us Americans living there actually did make an efofrt to learn some of the language.

The vast majority of immigrants coming to America learn to speak English language. Some don't, but they're not a majority, they're an extremley small minority.

The racial makeup of American is changing. Soon, people of Mexican and Latin American decent will be the majority. So what's our response? Make English the only 'official' language. I can't imagine any better way to be insulting and unwelcoming to the eventual inheritors of our country. To teach them that, a generation before, the people in charge thought they were so dangerous that it had to be made clear that the language of the whites was the dominant one.

#204 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 08:19 AM:

Dave --

Who has been talking about fault?

Politeness, and what constitutes politeness, is a cultural issue; the point of multi-culturalism is to define politeness without restort to force of arms or connection to political control. (Much as a central tenet of democratic process is that you can lose power and not be persecuted because you've lost power.)

In the Canadian version, it's a lot closer to "adapt or die" than "your culture is OK", because all the constitutionally protected rights and freedoms and the workings of the law aren't over-ridden by the policy of multi-culturalism, and that means things like full civil and political rights for women, general education -- education which is mandated to include lots of things various cultures disapprove of -- and the utter ban on political violence force cultural change.

The dominant culture has to adapt; everyone's high holy day isn't Easter, everyone's kids don't want to play hockey -- the rate the Indonesian kids are going, Canada may start playing cricket -- some people need a quiet space at work to pray several times a day, the default business and formal dress expectations get much wider, and politics needs to be re-organized around tangible issues rather than tribal affiliation, because none of the individual tribal affiliations are large enough.

The incomer cultures have to adapt, generally a lot more; there's a serious pile of stress and tension -- some of my co-workers, first generation immigrants, have a terrible time with the whole "equal rights, equal marriage" thing -- and, hopefully, a sufficiently elastic framework to work through all the tensions to some equitable solution.

#205 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 08:52 AM:

Ah, cgeye, the Daughters of the Revolution... My wife could have joined, thru her paternal grandmother's ancestry, which went all the way to Benedict Arnold, I think. Bennie, I think, got wounded in MY home town in 1760(?), and there's probably some cosmic significance in that, but I don't know what it is. Anyway, neither Sue nor her sisters ever cared to join, being liberal Democrats and all that.

Interesting ancestry, I guess, but I was more impressed by the background of the late parents of the husband of Sue's baby sister. They were Catholic Jews from Austria, knew Einstein, and worked in the theatre, which got them on Hitler's Ennemy List.

#206 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 09:01 AM:

Josh Jasper

Suck it up, wimp.

A straightforward insult.

Are these people affronting you by not kowtowing to your superior language? Are you unable to buy a beer? What's the problem, man? Why do these people upset you so much?

This is merely derisive, a succession of crude taunts that I might have expected from a ninth-grader.

Your country does have a sickness. And it's not caused by immigrants.

A vile slur.

The worrd intergrate means act like you want them to.

Confused, but a gross misrepresentation, and clearly intended to be offensive.

You're a white English speaker, and you think that entitles you to dictate the character of who citizens are.

Another simple insult.

And any resident of any country that had race riots like yours has no business complaining about ancient hatreds.

Again confused, but again meant to be crudely offensive.

These are only the worst parts of a post that was meant to attack my character, and that of all Australians. These are the words I complain of. Retract them and apologise, or the hell with you.

sarah ismail: Please forgive a typo, born of inattention and of being in two minds. I was wrong even to attempt to specify nationality - for I did not want to associate such behaviour with any nation, but with a specific cultural value, which is that adult women are the responsibility of a senior male relative, who is entitled to use violence to sanction their personal behaviour. I'm sure we both find that idea abhorrent. I unreservedly withdraw any other imputation, and apologise for any offence given.


#207 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 09:17 AM:

Graydon: Who has been talking about fault?

The person who posted this: "Your country does have a sickness. And it's not caused by immigrants."

#208 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 09:17 AM:

Another Aussie here. Just a quick comment on the whole immigration issue from the perspective of someone who is second generation Australian (or to look at it from the other side, third generation Anglo immigrant). Firstly, in Australia, we are *all* descended from immigrants (and the majority of those immigrants are "illegal boat people"). Homo sapiens did not originate on this continent, so all the human beings in Australia are descended from people who came from outside this landmass. Even the Aboriginal Australians - it's just they get a longer runup on property rights (Forty thousand years sounds pretty good to me).

Secondly, if anyone is going to speak about assimilating into the dominant native culture, then ideally speaking I should be writing this in a dialect of Nyoongar (that being the native language of the area I was born in, namely South-Western Australia). That I'm not is an example of an immigrant culture forcing its own cultural patterns onto the local one. (Possibly the USAlien government is frightened that they're facing a wave of Mexican colonialism?). Any claim that assimilationist policies are not politically motivated (ie motivated by questions of power) is certainly made suspect by the experience of Aboriginal Australians when faced with a group of British migrants on the East coast a little over two hundred years ago.

Thirdly, for a group of people who are claiming their legitimacy on the grounds that they're inheriting their political rights from a group of illegal immigrants (who weren't welcomed to the country, and who didn't bother to find out whether there were any existing laws they were breaking when they arrived) to then turn around and deny other people entry to the same country strikes me as hypocrisy of an extremely high order.

I'm a descendant of immigrant grandparents - three out of four of my grandparents emigrated to Australia from Britain. My family is still highly anglocentric, and nowhere is this more apparent than when we turn on the television, or choose our preferred authors, or go for a style of music. Yet this is apparently more culturally permissible than for someone who is the product of three Greek grandparents to speak their grandparents' native tongue, or watch Greek-language television, or listen to Greek music. As for someone of a Chinese, or Vietnamese heritage doing the same thing... heaven forbid.

Any discussion of assimilation is political and race-based, from conception up. Trying to whitewash it with concern for the emigrants in question is just trying to embroider a suitable slipcover for the elephant in the lounge room.

#209 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 09:35 AM:

Dave --

If there are actual race riots, yeah, there is a sickness.

It might be a sniffle in the body politic, it might be pleurisy, it might be the Black Death, but it's surely enough a sickness.

Same with any violent protest; something real is really wrong. (The wrongness isn't necessarily the violent protest -- Pennsylvania coal towns a hundred-odd years ago come to mind -- but something is bad wrong.)

That's still not a question of fault, any more than a less metaphorical illness is a question of fault. Those are questions of "why?" and "now what?", and I think the same in the case of the body politic.

#210 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 10:10 AM:

For anyone interested, I took a trip to Flushing yesterday and took some pictures. We shopped in a Chinese grocery store, and bought ingredients to make dumplings. Nearly all the signs were unreadable and much of the food unrecognizable, at least as food. There was a box of frogs, for example. I posted pictures, and a recipe for anyone interested. I completely agree with the OP, immigration is what makes NYC kick ass.

#211 ::: Michael Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 10:16 AM:

Lydy Nickerson said:

Rick S. said:
America had a feeling of vastness, openness, stretch. That sense began to disappear thirty or thirtyfive years ago.

That has been caused not by an increase in population, but the metastatic growth of suburbia. People live in larger and larger houses with vast tracts of empty land between them, filled with Chemlawn grass.

Rick is off by about a hundred years. Fredrick Jackson Turner defined the change in his "frontier hypothesis" in The Significance of the Frontier in American History.

While looking for Turner online, I came across Atlantic Monthly (May 1893) which had a charming article entitled European Peasants as Immigrants. This bemoaned the error our ancestors made in "filling half the continent with africans" and then went on to bemoan the horrible anti-americanness and failure to integrate of the European peasants (from England and Germany) who were immigrating when author N. S. Shaler was agitating. "The American commonwealth could never have been founded if the first European colonists had been of peasant stock. It is doubful whether it can be maintained if its presentation comes to depend on such men."

If slavery hadn't come to the fore, the issue would likely have come up in the mid 1850s, when the American Party (AKA know-nothings) were banging the same drum against Irish Catholic immigrants. Later evidence suggests that it was not the Irish Catholic immigrants who brought down the republic.

None of this is new, and it's been wrong every time in the past. Why should it be right, now? It's hard to ever take conservative scaremongering seriously when you can look back at prior conservative scaremongering and find that it's frequently both wrong and repugnant.

#212 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 10:26 AM:

Graydon, I realise that you are not speaking of blame. You asked who was. I told you. This is the same person, who in the same post insisted that the Cronulla riot was "STARTED by racists". If this is not blame, then I don't know what is.

I quite agree, "something real is really wrong". I reject the simplistic assertion that it's all because of Anglo-Celtic racism and xenophobia - which, I realise, you never implied.

#213 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 12:45 PM:

I did actually read the thread, but I have a funny related to the very first post.

My boyfriend often listens to right-wing talk radio during the day. He wants to keep an eye (ear?) on the current right-wing talking points, and his blood pressure can take it (mine can't).

One such day, he heard a radio ad against Rep. Brad Miller (not our local congressman, but the local congressman where the talk station originates). The ad began by decrying Rep. Miller's support for liberal immigration policies, using exactly the sort of racist code language you might expect. Then it switched gears, and started decrying Rep. Miller's support for same-sex marriage.

Finally, there came the tagline, which I am not making up:

"If Miller had his way, America would be nothing but one big fiesta for illegal aliens and homosexuals."

(Ad transcript can be found here, if you want to enjoy the craziness for yourself.)

#214 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 01:16 PM:

It's the Mayans who wrap tamales in banana leaves, says gf, who grew up in the D.F., so those immigrants are probably from the Yucatan.

Daniel, "I'm not sure the Minuteman phenomenon is about racism, per se, so much as it's the expression of a strong form of cultural conservatism that's woefully uninformed about the culture it thinks it's conserving."

That's a fairly accurate description of racism; racists after all do not call themselves racist. (For lots more on this, see Dave Neiwert, who has done admirable research on these groups.) The "minutemen" leadership has many racists; the people you are talking to are the "useful idiots" of the movement.

#215 ::: JoshJasper ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 01:22 PM:

Dave Luckett: You're right. I don't know enough about your character to assume you're a wimp, or that your have the attitudes I ascribed to you. I'm sorry for that part. It was hotheaded of me.

If I were convinced that you cared to listen, I’d explain why what you said was such a hot button issue, but I figure you don’t care to hear, because I’m not going to say I’m sorry for certain statements I made. If not, feel free to let me know.

My diagnosis of a sickness in Australia, is from the same place as my ideas about the sickness in America when it comes to the immigration issue. I'm not sorry for that. So I guess it's to hell with me. I'm certainly not going to change my opinions on racist trends in order to make you happy. I couldn't respect myself if I did.

#216 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 01:48 PM:

Michael Croft's use of Turner's end of the frontier as the terminus for America's feeling of vast open space would be more convincing to me if I hadn't spent a couple of years in the mid seventies on the road between Ellensburg and Pullman, Washington, and then seen that territory thirty years on.

Of course, it depends what road you take; I-90 is crowded with sprawl at every interchange, while there are straight gravel roads on section lines that run on for scores of miles without sight of a house or barn, although the miles are filled with monocultures of wheat and potatoes.

There's great beautiful emptinesses in all of the states I've been in, but it always seems that an outlet mall and a tract of three-story apartment buildings (all as similar as if they were baked in the same waffle iron) are always as close as the next right turn.

That many of the faceless freeway exit cluster developments have teriyaki places with Korean cooks and Central American dishwashers gives those inclined to fear of strangers something to blame for their phobic reactions. Unfortunately for them, getting rid of the strangers would just mean recognizing that it's our cousins who are pressing in from all sides.

(Also apologies for the jarring lack of S/V agreement in my last post, and the inpenetrability of my sentence structure at the best of times.)

#217 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 01:59 PM:

Sean - Sounds like you had a fun afternoon. When I lived in NY, I used to go to Downtown Flushing for Dim Sum on weekends. Not only would I eat too much for brunch, I'd stop at one of the bakeries and get a fried sesame ball with red bean paste. Yum.

There's also a great Korean supermarket on Northern Boulevard, IIRC relatively near the Broadway station on the Port Washington Branch of the LIRR.

Is that vegetable in the Gyoza recipe the same that groceries often call Chinese Leek?

#218 ::: Daniel Boone ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 01:59 PM:

After I wrote "I'm not sure the Minuteman phenomenon is about racism, per se, so much as it's the expression of a strong form of cultural conservatism that's woefully uninformed about the culture it thinks it's conserving" Randolf Fritz replied "That's a fairly accurate description of racism."

To which I must reply with the immortal phrase "I don't think that word means what you think it means."

This thread is not the place to get in a big argument about the meaning of racism. But if the word is to mean anything, it must describe a phenomenon having to do with race. The sort of cultural bigotry that once created signs reading "No Irish need apply" was assuredly deplorable, but it was not racism.

It's possible to be a cultural bigot, but not a racist. I'm offering one man's anecdote -- for whatever little value it may have -- that I've met some so-called Minutemen in that category.

#219 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 02:05 PM:

Oh, and while we're on the 7 train, you can get off in Sunnyside for great Korean or in Jackson Heights for an amazing mingling of Colombian and Indian shops annd restaurants.

Queens and LA counties continually vie for the title of county with native speakers of the largest number of lanugages. Queens may be a little rough around the edges here and there, but it's mostly a safe place filled with small houses and medium sized (for NYC) apartment buildings, interesting shops and distinct neighborhoods. Queens is a poster child for diversity that works.

#220 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 02:22 PM:

Xopher: I suppose that was a bit cryptic. By your "shortswarthyblueeyedpeoplepossiblyakintotheBerbers..." I was immediately reminded of the Picts. For the Picts, then, the first association that jumped to mind was the track on Pink Floyd's Ummagumma with the famously long and absurd title "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving With a Pict". It's all perfectly logical, for my brain. Probably not so logical if you're not me, unfortunately.

While I'm posting I'll just throw in my vote for the melting pot (especially the cooking pot, mmm) and add an anecdote of my own life:

When I got out of college in 1980, I was imbued with a great deal of late '70s post-hippie and quasi-Marxist fatalism - you can't get ahead in this country no matter what you do, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, etc. (I think this fear, even more realistic now than then, permeates a lot of ordinary people's fear of immigration.)

In my case, I ended up living in a succession of cheap cruddy apartments in Honolulu with Vietnamese immigrant neighbors. I found out several of my neighbors had come to the US with nothing but the clothes on their backs, and ended up owning their own stores, businesses, and one of them a whole chain of small restaurants. They'd done it by working two or more jobs, for as many hours as needed to take care of their families and pull together their savings to strike out on their own.

I revised my beliefs to: you can get ahead here, or nearly anywhere - though with no guarantees of success - provided you are willing to work as hard as immigrants do. That change in attitude has improved my life substantially.

#221 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 02:54 PM:

Dave --

started by racists can perfectly well be a statement of fact.

Pretty much all the immigration problems in (at least) Ontario, and I strongly suspect the rest of Canada, are down to side effects of dominant culture rascism, xenophobia, and whatever label you want to stick on the use of political power to maintain relative social position. That pretty much has to be a dominant culture responsibility; it's not like the immigrants have a whole lot of actual power to enact change, or made the rules under which they arrived.

I don't think it's useful to think of these things in terms of blame; I think it's much more effective to think of them in terms of possibility and responsibility.

#222 ::: Michael Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 02:57 PM:

JESR:

Michael Croft's use of Turner's end of the frontier as the terminus for America's feeling of vast open space would be more convincing to me if I hadn't spent a couple of years in the mid seventies on the road between Ellensburg and Pullman, Washington, and then seen that territory thirty years on.

The Frontier as Turner described was literally the frontier of US cultural settlement, a line beyond which there was not permanent settlement. This line existed and was tracked in census data until 1880. It was removed from the census in 1890 because such a line didn't exist.

Turner used that to frame a frontier-based historical model of the US, and it had a paradigm-shifting effect on then-contemporary history and historians akin to Mahan's "The Influence of Sea Power upon History" (also 1890s). Some good and some bad came out of what was a shock to people who had always lived with an open frontier. The conservation movement, and national parks/monuments are a product of the post-frontier culture.

I suspect that you can pick any 35 year period and find that someone will feel that we've crossed the line in that period from "enough open space" to "not enough open space". I may feel that way when I'm 55 looking back at places I spent time at 20. Someone who went through that part of the country in 1935 might feel that by 1970 the country was no longer open and unspoiled. It smacks of the kneejerk conservative "things were better 25-50 years ago" response, which somehow always manages to find that the pinnacle of history is the libralisms that brought about the conservative's childhood, and then nothing since.

And to get back to anti-immigrant feeling, I think the same concerns about immigrants that we're seeing here were instrumental in the rise of limited-access craft guilds in the middle ages, which get a lot of good press these days but were designed to exclude outsiders from plum jobs.

#223 ::: David Young ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 02:59 PM:

While I agree with the general thrust of the ideas our hostess expressed above...in what sense can her city kick mine's ass?

I strongly prefer San Antonio to New York, and I also approve of our "unofficial" work force. I don't know if I can say much about immigrants, because SA is really a Mexican city that happens to be located north of the border, but still...who's being provincial, again?

The above meant mostly in fun. But, really...NYC is an ugly, smelly place IMHO. YMMV.

#224 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 03:22 PM:

"No Irish need apply" was a racist statement. "White" is a shifting category, and a good friend of mine blurted out "I'm not white, I'm Irish" in an online discussion. Here in New York, that friend would be white; in Britain, my friend's Irish accent and looks added up to not-white.

A non-racist cultural conservative might sincerely believe that it doesn't matter what color you are, or even what your accent is, as long as you're speaking English, teaching your sons to play baseball and barbecue hamburgers, eating turkey and pumpkin pie at Thanskgiving, and marrying exactly one person of the other gender and having children. [I simplify, I'm sure, not being a cultural conservative.]

#225 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 03:22 PM:

I think we win hands down in the food section.

I'll cop to NYC being pungent at times, but ugly? No way!

#226 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 03:29 PM:

The sort of cultural bigotry that once created signs reading "No Irish need apply" was assuredly deplorable, but it was not racism.

When Tolkien first submitted some Silmarillion-related material to his publishers in 1937, their slush-reader's comments included the lines, "I confess my reading has not extended to early Celtic Gestes, and I don't even know whether this is a famous Geste or not, or for that matter, whether it is authentic.... It has something of that mad, bright-eyed beauty that perplexes all Anglo-Saxons in the face ot Celtic art." (Source: HoME III, "The Lays of Beleriand", pp 365-366)

The gradual widening of the old-guard in-group from WASPs-only to the inclusion of weird Catholics from elsewhere in Europe is, I think, a somewhat encouraging sign of progress. Hurrah?

#227 ::: Michael Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 03:30 PM:

Vicki:

"No Irish need apply" was a racist statement. "White" is a shifting category, and a good friend of mine blurted out "I'm not white, I'm Irish" in an online discussion. Here in New York, that friend would be white; in Britain, my friend's Irish accent and looks added up to not-white.

That change in the US is the subject of Noel Ignatiev's 1995 book "How the Irish Became White".

#228 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 03:58 PM:

On racism:

It is helpful to recall that any evolutionary biologist will tell you humans do not have races. Stop. Consider. Be boggled. Repeat.

From a biological perspective, there are no human races. I don't pretend to understand the technical issues, but as I dimly recall it's a matter of humans having no "covariance" of traits. For example skin color, height, type of hair and facial features are not tightly tied together but can vary in any combination, and do.

All "race" is a social construction.

A concrete example: A "black" in the US may well have lighter skin than an Italian-American or Hispanic American. (She may also have an acquiline nose, thin lips, and type B blood; in fact it's quite possible that she might have no recent African DNA at all.)

As noted above, "Irish" used to be a racial category. So were "Mediterranean" and "Slavic" just a few decades ago. Now we enlightenedly consider those to be nothing of the kind. We're not too good at seeing past our current racial categories, though.

Neither am I, though I talk a good game - I still lump people into "Black", "Asian", etc. But I do find it helpful to stop occasionally and remember that this is a mass delusion I share with my society.

Given that all racism is about the perceptions of the viewer, the implication for me is that prejudice against ethnic and cultural groups is about precisely the same topic as racism. It also involves the same presumptions that a person's origins - genetically or socially - determine their attitudes and future. From my personal experience, this is obviously wrong - the child of a strict Korean family may grow up to be a total Valley Girl.

I think there are profound implications in this for the whole immigration and assimilation discussion.

#229 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 04:05 PM:

Michael Croft writes: "I may feel that way when I'm 55 looking back at places I spent time at 20."

Well, bingo. I went back to Tucson after 25 years away and was appalled to see that the suburbs had moved west from 6th Avenue to Gates Pass (a fair number of miles). It's what happens when cities have a (perceived) limitless amount of space to expand into. We see it in Hawai'i as well, even though by any definition of "limitless" Oahu doesn't qualify. How much of my surprise is just human reluctance to accept change and how much is a sense that the change shouldn't happen for aesthetic or environmental reasons I haven't yet determined.

#231 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 04:13 PM:

I'm a bit late here but since race has been shown not to be a biologically meaningful concept (I've Got People Coming Over, you'll need to do your own search for the references), I too find it difficult not to read "no Irish need apply" as racist.

I remember being asked by my landlady in western Maryland, 30 years ago, whether I thought that "God intended for us to mix races and nationalities." She was clearly uncomfortable, based on how often I heard about it, that one of her daughters-in-law was "part Italian."

I do also see racism as pretty general in the context of cultural conservatism, since the point is hankering back to a day when everyone knew their place, and by inference the speaker's place was on top; the modern expression may take the form of denying that racism exists or is a problem.

The temptation is to ascribe my perception to my southern background (my redneck cousins are certainly more openly racist than I remember of our parents' generation), but then I remembered a Jimmie Durante moment ("Am I mortified!") at a British horse show maybe ten years ago.

I was sitting with a friend, who recently opened her garden as a fund raiser for a politician I've seen referenced here as representing the "barking mad right wing," when a mare and foal pair were led into the ring by an African-appearing couple. My friend sat up and bristled and when they reached our point along the ring announced, in tones clearly intended to carry to their hearing, "I never thought I'd live to see that at the Arab Show!"

(I confess it, I'm weak [and she's old enough to be my mother]; I cringed away from her with a stricken expression, but I didn't say anything.)

#232 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 04:18 PM:

Clifton Royston, what can I say? It took me a long time to type and preview all that.

But never mind my landlady, I just remembered Sister Genevieve SSND (my seventh and eighth grade teacher): "Only the bad, low people mix races." Not an out-of-class opinion, that was delivered as part of my gradeschool instruction (admittedly I'm having trouble picturing where it fitted in).

#233 ::: Ken Hirsch ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 04:40 PM:

Poverty rate in NYC: 21.2%
Poverty rate in U.S.: 12.4%

Great ass-kicking there!

Here's another way New York is kicking the rest of the country's butt: New York Is Losing People at Fastest Pace in America. I can't wait until all the other states emulate California and New York. Although if all the other states have citizens leaving, I'm not sure where they'd go.

You're being provincial in one way. In many states, the immigrants are not polyglot from all parts of the world. They speak one language and are from one small part of the world.

I'm sure you didn't mean to apply that assimilation will automatically happen no matter how many immigrants arrive, whether they all speak one language or many, whether they're all from one country or many, whether they arrive all at once or over a period of decades, whether they all live together or are spread out, etc. etc.

Your thesis "That's the way it works. That's the way it's always worked." is just naive extrapolation, but I'm sure that even you would not think assimilation would magically happen if (say) 50 million Chinese all settled in Oregon.

So let's not pretend that any of us actually know what will happen. Details matter and the present situation is not, in fact, the same as the past.

#234 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 04:54 PM:

It's not racist to mourn the loss of a cultural tradition, nor is it racist to feel uncomfortable especially if members of another culture are going out of their way to make you feel unwelcome.

I remember when I was a kid, my dad took me to his old college hangout, "The Crystal Creamery," an old-fashioned ice cream shop that had been around for ages and made homemade ice cream. Of course the ethnic makeup of that part of the city was changing, so alonside the burgers and fries, they had a list of Mexican food items and a list of Vietnamese items, and I was vastly entertained that there was catsup, taco sauce and plum sauce all there on the table (in bottles and pots). Exit the 70s, enter the 80s, that whole section of the city had become the Vietnamese district and the building now housed a Vietnamese restaurant. Rather sad.

#235 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 05:11 PM:

Exit the 70s, enter the 80s, that whole section of the city had become the Vietnamese district and the building now housed a Vietnamese restaurant. Rather sad.

i dunno. wouldn't it be just as sad if the olde soda shoppe were a mcdonalds?

more sad, in my opinion. but i guess i have moved around enough that i don't really feel proprietary over any city or its "cultural traditions." i grew up in columbus, ohio, lived in jerusalem for a long time, & now reside as a not-yet-permanent resident in vancouver, bc. each of those cities has a very different ethnic mix & pattern of immigration.

vancouver, depending on how & where you count, is not majority "white" anymore. there are probably native vancouverites a generation or two older than me that remember it without all these weird restaurants, signs, & temples. probably fondly. but i think i'm luckier.

i'm really grateful that i got to go to art school when there were dozens of cultural traditions & perspectives being taught, rather than just one. & if a teacher said something ill-informed about some aspect of world art history, that there was a real persian, or japanese, or mexican student to correct her.

#236 ::: David Young ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 05:22 PM:

John Jasper: More varieties of food in NYc, sure. But our "Mexican" food is something you can't find up there, and I have to say we have a thriving Greek population & aren't far from several German towns that happen to be located in Texas as well...

Okay, okay, I'll give you the food thing. {8'>

#237 ::: Jim Kiley ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 05:30 PM:

Laurie Mann (a hundred-plus responses too late): Yeah, I go down to the Strip regularly, and I work on Carson Street right now. But I want more. More!

#238 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 05:40 PM:

abi: The very IDEA of haggis makes me feel vaguely ill. In fact these days the mere mention of the word... I find it hard to imagine anyone enjoying it as other than a tough-guy macho thing.

Caroline: Can I send money to Miller's campaign? I sure would love to attend the nationwide fiesta...if the illegals are cute guys from Ecuador.

Vicki: I have friends in UK who have told me that people rough them up just for having red hair. One young guy had a half-full beer can thrown at him from a speeding car. The thugs who did it yelled "Ginger!" According to him, this is a frequent thing to yell at red-haired people, like "Faggot!" at gay people.

All prejudice is stupid. That one just makes my brain hurt.

I finally remembered the quote I wanted to quote to Mishalak. Neil Simon, on why he was moving back to New York from Los Angeles: “When it’s 100 in New York, it’s 72 in Los Angeles. When it’s 20 in New York, it’s 72 in Los Angeles. However, there are six million interesting people in New York - and 72 in Los Angeles.”

#239 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 05:48 PM:

At the risk of flogging a dead horse, it seems worth pointing out that historically there was no clear distinction between biological and cultural "race"; phrases like "the Irish race", "the French race", and so one were common. The idea of race as a purely biological thing has existed only for a relatively brief time; it was invented as a last-ditch attempt to salvage the concept, and it has been exploded biologically.

#240 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 06:13 PM:

I distinctly remember learning in grade school that there were three "races": Caucasian, Negro, and Mongolian. What absolute balderdash and tripe! Yet they taught it to us in schools in New York state 50 years ago and said that it was "science." (They taught us also that atoms were composed of different combinations of three basic, indivisible particles: electrons, protons, and neutrons. I imagined them as little balls whirling around each other inside an invisible but impenetrable shell.) They taught us New Math, too, in 7th grade. Venn diagrams were wonderful. The rest of it -- never mind. Sometimes I think I've spent a lifetime unraveling the lies -- the deliberate ones, and the unwitting, unmalicious ones, which probably should be called errors, not lies -- that I was taught as a child.

#241 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 06:24 PM:

CHip says,

"Unfilled jobs" is too often the mantra of people looking for cheap labor. The U.S. has at least 6 million formally unemployed the last I heard, and many more underemployed or given up. This is why organized labor (what's left of it) has been vacillating on immigration controls; some of them are more generous people than their employers, and some know why their employers aren't interested in constraints.

That's a good point, as I realized after I posted. But as others have pointed out, the problem of opportunist employers would be undermined somewhat by their people not being under threat of jail or deportation. It seems fundamentally unfair to me for people to be denied an opportunity to legally earn a livable wage, even if it means crossing into another country to do so.

I was taught in economics class that anything under 5% unemployment is considered a problem, because it supposedly leads to inflation. I'm not sure I believe this, but it's something to consider in terms of what governments are likely to do. Ultimately, of course, you'll never match up every job to an individual willing, able and available to do it. I'm not sure the average out-of-work computer programmer is going to accept a job cleaning hotel rooms, even if the alternative is no job at all. On the other hand, I know an aging programmer whose current job is on a department store loading dock, so I may be wrong about this. Bottom line, there's probably no easy answer, but I think you have to start with finding a way to let people earn a living, here or in Mexico or both, wthout risking their lives in the Arizona desert.

Oh, on the sign-reading thing, I remember my husband getting extremely upset years ago while driving on a freeway in Montreal, because "Everything's a Rue." Tired, in unfamiliar territory, and unused to the word order, he was unable to read the highway signs on the fly, and pick up on the words that mattered. I suspect that there's a frustration element whenever we see words we can't read properly, that might tinge any rational response we might have otherwise.

#242 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 06:39 PM:

Okay, that was weird. My previous comment was initally denied for "questionable content." I could not figure out what reasonably inoffensive Karen could have said to upset a filter, and was quite frustrated until I removed the name of the language spoken in Montreal. If that's the reason for the problem, it's kind of ironic in light of a post that praises cultural and linguistic diversity.

#243 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 08:58 PM:

A question: If the Aboriginal people, or the original Americans, had been capable of effectively resisting European colonisation to the point of largely preventing it, would they have been morally justified in doing so?

#244 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 08:58 PM:

Exit the 70s, enter the 80s, that whole section of the city had become the Vietnamese district and the building now housed a Vietnamese restaurant. Rather sad.

The Crystal Creamery! My husband used to eat breakfast there, and one day he noticed that while he was getting eggs, bacon, and toast, the Vietnamese patrons were getting these delicious-smelling bowls of soup. So finally he gathered his courage and asked for the soup too. It was his first taste of pho, and he's been hooked ever since.

Re: signs in foreign languages: I've been thinking about this all day. Then, while I was out doing errands, I noticed that Oakland had put up signs saying "Welcome" in foreign languages along the streets. (I presume that's what they said -- anyway they said "Welcome" in English.) I recognized English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese ... and then there was Vietnamese (??), Tagalog (I think), and finally something I don't think I've ever seen before, letters attached at the top with horizontal lines.

I used to think I was hot stuff at identifying languages because my family was quadrilingual (father -- German, Dutch, and English, mother -- Hungarian, German, and English), but lately I'm way out of my depth. The thing is, I love it. It's terrific that I get to learn new things. One thing I have learned from my family -- you can learn a whole lot about English from other languages.

#245 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 09:13 PM:

Clifton Royston: that's because "race" to a biologist is a taxonomic classification. "Race" as it's being discussed here and elsewhere is political shorthand for "other." Many people scoff at "Irish" being a race, but this phobia has nothing to do with anything rational, it has to do with prejudice. There's a word you don't hear very much anymore. It's very hard to change prejudice (a gorilla/lizard brain issue) but it's easy to address "race" (a political distinction of “otherness”).

It’s an old joke that many people are tolerant and easy going about race change their tune when one of those “others” move into their neighborhood. If you think you’re tolerant, just try this (overworked cliché): you’re walking alone down an urban street at night when from around a corner a (insert description of “other” than yourself) comes out and starts walking in your direction. It’s a lizard brain issue. Sure, you may not flinch (high-brain function) and you may continue walking where you were going without putting up defenses (did you just mentally check all your possessions?) but I’ll bet your lizard brain is throwing up flashing red warning signs of “watch it.” You don’t have to confess. This is “normal.” It functions on the same level that shadows of predatory birds do to chicken. Does that mean it’s okay to just up and spray this person with mace? Not on your life. You are not a chicken.

Many immigrants are coming here for jobs. The Asians, Africans, Europeans and Latinos, all looking for jobs. The US’ problem with not filling these jobs isn’t that our people aren’t industrious, it’s that our poor (the people who will work for those wages and accept those conditions, just being realistic) aren’t mobile. Many of the “unemployed poor” are stuck in urban centers and either can’t or are unwilling to relocate to get the jobs. The other poor are in rural centers for the most part. Both would have to give up their lives (friends, family, roots) to get to the jobs. This isn’t a problem with immigrants who by definition are on the move.

With all the discussion of food here, I just gotta say, you people need to eat more. Sheesh. It’s like you’re all starving and then everything relates to “pizza.” I’ll just throw in my comment here on food, I grew up in Southern Jersey, I now live in Amish Country Ohio. I miss hoagies (real Italian immigrant food). A Subway BMT just doesn’t cut it. And give me a kosher garlic pickle, a real one, and I’m your pal for life, or at least until the pickle is gone.

#246 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 09:28 PM:

Graydon: "Pretty much all the immigration problems in (at least) Ontario, and I strongly suspect the rest of Canada, are down to side effects of dominant culture rascism, xenophobia, and whatever label you want to stick on the use of political power to maintain relative social position."

Well, all right, if you say so. I certainly wouldn't dispute your insights. However, I would say that this is a pretty effective statement of whose fault it is. That is, the people who are speaking of fault now include you.

Mr Duncanson, if he is still present, would have it that there are no problems at all. I think differently, and you agree. You and several others ascribe those problems to a simple cause: dominant-group xenophobia and racism. There, alas, we part company.

#247 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 09:42 PM:

Steve Buchheit --

I live surrounded by people who speak Slavic or Chinese languages. The 'other' switch in my lizard brain doesn't care, thankfully. (Body language, yeah, that it cares about. But that's not got much to do with where people are from in so far as the threat analysis goes.)

Dave Luckett --

Of course they would have a moral right to. The arriving Europeans were intended to exterminate, enslave, and forcibly convert them. Not at all a parallel case to "we want better lives for our kids" immigration, and not within light artillery range of "I want to be a citizen of this nation" immigration.

#248 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 09:52 PM:

you’re walking alone down an urban street at night when from around a corner a (insert description of “other” than yourself) comes out and starts walking in your direction. It’s a lizard brain issue.

yeah, though for me (based mostly on my experiences but probably also on literature, anecdote & folklore), that other group would be, men. honestly, race is immaterial, but i stiffen up & look for exits if there is a male over fourteen walking in my direction.

i am able to live quite peacefully in a neighborhood filled with men, however. there's one even lives in the same house as me. so i don't know what dark alleyways have to do with policies (or even feelings) about immigration.

#249 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 09:57 PM:

...until I removed the name of the language spoken in Montreal.

If you were trying for francais, no problem.

If, on the other hand, you typed it as ending with the string ...c-i-a-l-i-s, there's the problem, because that's the name of drug advertised by Mucho Spam. And we did get a hit on the word c-i-a-l-i-s today (90 hits so far).

#250 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 10:37 PM:

Graydon: What, all of them? They all came intending to exterminate, enslave and forcibly convert the natives? There were no colonists who came for any other reason? They were all, without exception, murderers and enslavers?

Well, all right, if you say so. But suppose, just suppose, that there were colonists who arrived to obtain a better life for their children. A laughable proposition in the face of their manifest wickedness, obviously, but bear with me. Suppose there had been such people, and suppose that they, dissatisfied with the indigenous culture - believing, for what seemed good reason to them, that it was deficient in some important aspects - demanded that the indigenous culture rapidly change to meet their requirements. Would the indigenous people have been justified in resisting this demand only to the extent of maintaining their own culture, of requiring that the pace of change be kept to a rate that they felt comfortable with, and of requiring that the new arrivals also be prepared to reasonably examine and, where necessary, change their own ways?

#251 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 10:58 PM:

Xopher -- I had a similar thought about the big fiesta, although I thought more of delicious food and dancing. (I'm a straight woman, so I fear the attractive Ecuadorean gay men wouldn't be interested in me. Sigh.)

You can give money to Miller if you like, though. Here's his website. I used to live in his district; he's a good congresscritter.

#252 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 11:34 PM:

"If the Aboriginal people, or the original Americans, had been capable of effectively resisting European colonisation to the point of largely preventing it, would they have been morally justified in doing so?"

Any people has a right to resist an armed invasion and conquest. Armed invasion, however, is not the subject here. The comparison does you no credit.

#253 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 11:44 PM:

I'm aware of the data Turner used; I'm also aware of how little respected his ideas are among certain sectors of the social science community. Not that his data is wrong, mind you, but rather that there is doubt that it has any observable correspondance with social structure or land use, to name two componants of frontier culture.

I tend to define civilization as public transportation, same-day home delivery of the New York Times, and easily available sushii. I could set those parameters and map out a contemporary set of frontier boundaries, and it would be just as valid as Turner's, and possibly more useful in predicting social behavior.

#254 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 12:02 AM:

The bit about the coming of European peasants throws me. They think that all the Europeans immigrants should be nobles of whatever degree? Not enough (or too many: YMMV) for that. Most of those who came to the US were farmers or merchants (and the merchants may have been farmers on the side from necessity, after they got here). There were a lot of people who came as servants, frequently of the indentured variety, and not all got out of it. Some were transported (you can go to jail or to America ... you might notice a difference). So bemoaning the peasant seems a little ingenuous, or at least ignorant.

#255 ::: Bill Hooker ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 12:19 AM:

[Scene: pretty much any political discussion in the USA]
[Dramatis personae: one Bush League Republican, one normal, sane human being]

Republican: outrageous and/or disgusting statement.

Normal human: that's outrageous and/or disgusting!

R: *clutches pearls* Oh, the incivility!

NH: Huh? What you said was horrible.

R: *clutches pearls harder* See the Leftist hate! I'm being oppressed!

[continue for as many rounds as NH has patience for, with R becoming increasingly oily and oh-so-civil]

NH: Eh, whatever. Life's too short.

R: Yay, I win!

------

Is it just me, or is this pattern playing out above ("Retract them and apologise, or the hell with you"... "on condition of your adherence to civilised standards")? And is this Dave the same one who wrote "I cannot help but think that too much is made of respectful demeanour and polite discourse"? (Yes, I went and read the "view all by".)

#256 ::: nona ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 12:45 AM:

More eloquent people than me are making the political arguments, but I wanted to contribute my favorite bit of the melting pot.

In the DC suburbs, there's a particular shopping center off Rockville Pike that always make me smile. There's Italian, Vietnamese, Japanese, Mexican and Lebanese restaurants, a Lebanese grocery, an Indian clothing store and video store, and an IHOP. The Lebanese grocery has amazing gelato, in a ton of interesting flavors-- my favorite is mango, but I try to get something different every time I go, so I can definitely recommend the papaya, too.

DC is so heavily built up that you can get pretty far from the city and still be in a diverse neighborhood. I know I'm supposed to be against sprawl, but it's actually kind of nice.

#257 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 01:01 AM:

Bill, to call Dave Luckett a Republican is meaningless.

#258 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 01:33 AM:

If you were trying for francais, no problem.

Actually, I didn't think of Francais until later, and would have shied away because I wouldn't know how to make the thingy on the c that I once knew the name of and have since forgotten. No, I went for the English word that precedes "toast" in the popular name for bread dipped in egg batter and fried. The only possible objection I can think of to that word involves a type of kiss.

Maybe some other word I used shared letters with a pharmaceutical brand name, and I edited it out by accident. I guess I'll never know. [Shakes head and walks away muttering]

#259 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 01:35 AM:

Quoth Mr Luckett: Mr Duncanson, if he is still present, would have it that there are no problems at all.
I'm still here. I was just happy, having offered my two cents worth (plus tax) to quietly agree to disagree. However...

I never said there were no problems. Sure there are - remember the riots? But most of the problems you have cited are matters of opinion, taste and tolerance. Most of the things you have complained about, I relish. The few instances of truly beastly behaviour you have cited are not, in my mind, problems of immigrants, but problems of individuals of all races, creeds, cultures and kinds. Football fans fight. They fight regardless of the nationality of their opponents. Certainly, one person of Malaysian descent did beat a daughter in the manner you describe and may well have tried to use the "It's my culture and I'll beat who I want to" defence. These are the actions of a disturbed individual which would be a violation of the laws of his country of origin just as much as it would be here. In the meantime, white anglo-Australians are also, from time to time, mistreated for becoming romantically involved with persons of other races. It's not a problem unique to other races or cultures. White folk act every bit as horribly toward each other as anyone else. I don't feel any less safe in the Vietnamese, Greek or Turkish neighbourhoods that I sometimes frequent than I do in the predominantly white area (with a substantial middle-eastern Islamic component) in which I live.

On the subject of Tamales: About a month ago a friend who had spent a year in Costa Rica challenged me to make tamales for her. I had never eaten them before but I like a culinary challenge, so I googled and googled and came up with a recipe that absolutely horrified her: "Corn husks? I hoped you would take this seriously! You have to use banana leaves to wrap them!" More Googling followed. It seems that just about everywhere south of the north of Mexico, banana leaves are the wrapper of choice. I figure that, since USAlien tamale makers are closer to the north of Mexico than any other tamale-eating region and most recipe web sites are American-run, that's why nearly all the online tamale recipes use corn husks and why most American tamale eaters are surprised by the use of banana leaves.

Larry Brennan: Gyoza is something else I have some experience with. The vegetables in the recipe called Green Onions have a lot of different names: spring onions, scallions, shallots, Chinese onions... the list goes on quite a bit. I haven't heard them called Chinese Leeks but it wouldn't surprise me. Nira, the bunch of grassy-looking stuff, is also know as "garlic chives". Hope that helps.

#260 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 03:33 AM:

I promise you, French isn't a word despised by our filters.

#261 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 03:52 AM:

Mr Duncanson, on review I see that you never did say that there were no problems, and that you actually did say that there were some. My apologies. You ascribed all of them to simple xenophobia on the part of white supremicists, which is not, I think, entirely correct.

#262 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 04:42 AM:

Nobody has said anything about it, so perhaps it was obvious, but I want to note that the area of Zanzibar is actually 1,657 square kilometers.

#263 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 05:26 AM:

Mr Luckett: I think if you review my first post again you will find that I only attributed one problem - the Cronulla riots - to the xenophobia of white supremacists. The xenophobia of individuals who, while not advocating any agenda of racial superiority, still find themselves uncomfortable when surrounded by an unfamiliar culture is common, even here in happily multicultural Melbourne, but most choose not to act aggressively against those with whom they are uncomfortable. So long as feelings of discomfort do not become unpleasant action, the problems are minor. When they do flare into violence, such as at Cronulla, it seems unfair to blame the trouble on immigrants when it is not the immigrants who are rioting.

#264 ::: Raincitygirl ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 05:39 AM:

Dave, your comparison doesn't really hold up. The white colonists who first arrived in Australia had vastly superior technology to the Aborigines. Also, while the first colonists probably didn't outnumber the Aborigines, the very low population density of pre-colonization Australia by nomadic hunter-gatherers meant that they would quickly come to outnumber the Aborigines in whichever part of the country they were. And European diseases to which Aborigines had no immunity also helped with the whole population issue, by killing people off.

The average Third World immigrant to the First World could be more closely compared to a small group of time-warped Aborigines arriving by rowboat in modern Sydney harbour, unable to speak the dominant language, ill-educated in comparison with white Sydney city-dwellers, and with no home to go back to (what with the whole time warp thing), so they have to take whatever jobs they can get, which usually means back-breaking menial labour. If immigrants were aliens landing in First World cities in bright shiny spaceships, possessed rayguns, had millions of colonists following in more bright shiny spaceships, took over the "primitive" human government, announced that their alien language was now the official language, and killed any of the lesser race who resisted, then you could compare modern immigration issues to the British arriving at Botany Bay.

Most immigrants are impoverished people from developing countries who have little formal education. If they'd been able to get ahead in their own countries, they'd still be there, running the place and sending their kids to boarding school and university in the West. Here in Vancouver, Canada, most immigrants are at the bottom rung of the economic ladder. The exceptions are wealthy immigrants with degrees and white-collar skills who are coming to Canada because of political instability* back home rather than lack of prosperity. Most of them are Chinese people from Hong Kong or Taiwan, although there's a small but steady-growing trickle of Americans.

* I realize that there is significant political instability in the developing countries from which poor immigrants arrive. Hence the presence of both economic migrants and refugees from ethnic/religious/etc persecution. When I talk about wealthy, well-educated immigrants who come here because of political instability, I'm talking about political instability in countries which aren't strikingly poor.

In fact, here in Vancouver, many of the immigrants who don't speak English and don't want to aren't the ones working as janitors or nannies, but the wealthy investor-class immigrants who didn't really want to leave their homeland, and have enough money to be able to avoid dealing with many of the difficulties which plague poor immigrants. But even in those cases, their kids soak up English from school and TV, and tend to be get very impatient with what they perceive as the old-fashioned attitudes of their elders.

Oh, and for the record, I'm part of the statistically-insignificant minority of white middle-class Western Europeans who emigrate from one First World country to another more or less because they feel like it, or because they're following jobs which can be done in another English-speaking country without much difficulty. I was born in The Hague to British parents who moved to Canada when I was a toddler. But most immigrants leave their countries of origin because they feel they have no choice. Either they have to flee because they have the wrong politics/religion/dialect/whatever, or the situation back home is so economically bleak that starting over seems preferable.

#265 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 06:00 AM:

raincitygirl: Yes, I know that Aboriginal people did not possess the technology or any other aspect of the means to successfully resist European colonisation.

But if they had, would you have supported them resisting it?

Is it true to say that colonisation can only ever be carried out by force of arms? Are any other means ever possible?

#266 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 06:27 AM:

Yes. See NZ, and the Treaty of Waitangi.

I think, on balance, that they'd the right to try and resist colonisation, but that it would have been wrong to do so, were the immigrants to guarantee the Aboriginal societies their continued existence. This would, for instance, include guaranteeing the Aborigines their land, i.e. the whole of Australia.

#267 ::: Michael Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 07:15 AM:

JESR:

I'm aware of the data Turner used; I'm also aware of how little respected his ideas are among certain sectors of the social science community. Not that his data is wrong, mind you, but rather that there is doubt that it has any observable correspondance with social structure or land use, to name two componants of frontier culture.

I tend to define civilization as public transportation, same-day home delivery of the New York Times, and easily available sushii. I could set those parameters and map out a contemporary set of frontier boundaries, and it would be just as valid as Turner's, and possibly more useful in predicting social behavior.

So it would, but it would be unlikely to have the effect on historiography and popular culture that Turner's paper did. When I talk about the sense and the shock and the effects, I'm not judging the rightness or wrongness of his thesis/model but rather looking at the effects of it. See also my comments on the 1850s, medieval guilds, and "any 35 year period".

P J Evans:

The bit about the coming of European peasants throws me. They think that all the Europeans immigrants should be nobles of whatever degree? ... So bemoaning the peasant seems a little ingenuous, or at least ignorant.

The link in the comment with that quote is to the actual article in Atlantic Monthly from 1893. The whole thing is like a slow motion train wreck.

#268 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 08:15 AM:

It's always jarring when a nation of immigrants talks about immigration as an invasion. I know the right wingers in the US are trying to create the impression that immigration is some sort of sinister conspiracy to wrest control from the current Americans, but I never really thought about it being a commonly used tactic elsewhere. Makes sense, though.

I wonder if some sort of archive of anti-immigration sentiment might be compiled some day, so when someone starts blathering recycled nonsense about the immigrant menace, we can point to just where it was recycled from.

#269 ::: Giacomo ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 08:29 AM:

this debate is becoming meaningless...
Italy has been invaded over and over from asian people, european people (from all the 4 corners of this weird continent), african people, arab people... Italy was really pillaged and colonized, its women raped, its children enslaved, its art stolen to enrich foreign courts... but the Catholic Church never went out of business for one day. We still use stadia and roads built by Romans, and latin culture "resisted" well enough to be the basis for future empires to come (look at London buildings, and from there, Washington).

You know, the only big obstacle to a civilized world are weapons, atomic bombs being the worse. Everything else, we can sort it out somehow, to mutual satisfaction. Now, if you'd like to see this little magic glass I have over here...

#270 ::: Dan S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 08:57 AM:

"Is it true to say that colonisation can only ever be carried out by force of arms? Are any other means ever possible?"

It's an interesting question, one that depends on the definition of colonization being used, and whether it's taking place at a point in history where groups not utilizing force of arms -even strictly defensively - are likely to survive. But just taking a range of historical situations and hypothetically dialing down the the force of arms factor, one gets the clear idea that colonization will take a rather different forms depending on the force (both military and otherwise) used. In other words, see rainycitygirl's comment.

For example, the orginal wave of European settlement in North America fairly quickly (disease aside, even) became very bad news for the Native Americans (that's a massive simplification through, obscuring various strategies of accomodation, adaptation and resistance, but I'm in a rush). The big wave of immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe around the turn of the last century, on the other hand, had very different results. Certainly, however, it greatly changed American society in a multitude of ways, from culinary (from bagels&lox to garlic) to cultural (imagine a strictly Anglo-Saxon Friends). Even if just on the local level, many of these group evens gained some degree of political influence and power, within the overall system. An early 20thC. xenophobic-ish gentleman of the old order, looking ahead, might indeed be deeply uncomfortable, even horrified, with the results of the 'invasion, ' which is indeed how many viewed it, as a cultural/racial and demographic (both in terms of population and rate of increase) invasion.

Meg wonders above if "[p]ossibly the USAlien government is frightened that they're facing a wave of Mexican colonialism?" Not the government, but indeed there is in certain poorly ventilated quarters a near-hysterical conviction that there is an organized plan by Mexicans to take back the Southwest in a second Reconquista, a dastardly conspiracy spearheaded by the student group MEChA and assisted, it would seem (according to Bill O'Reilly) by radical liberals and the New York Times, who wish to remove White Christians from power and replace them with a multicultural rainbow coalition.

This idea of malignant invasion crops up time and time again in these circumstances, each time proving unfounded (well, let me qualify: they tend to be accurate in a certain sense; for example, Anglo-Saxons in the U.S. have indeed lost some degree of cultural and political hegemony over the last century, but oddly enough the sky refused to fall.)

It's hard for me not to hear Dave's question above, which I read, rightly or wrongly, as attempting to establish a rhetorical equivalence between Britain's destructive colonization of Aboriginal Australia and modern-day immigration, as fitting into this particular cramped pigeonhole. Perhaps I could be convinced otherwise.

"I don't like walking through my old neighbourhood - Campsie, in Sydney's south-west - and not being able to read the signs on the shops. My old home has become alien."

Certainly that sort of thing can be upsetting. But you say old neighborhood, old home. I take that to mean you left, right? Was it supposed to stay the same, like someone coming back to their parent's house after years away and finding their room just as they left it? If I go back to my old neighborhood, all sorts of things have changed! The little butchershop that used to sell chicken feet is gone, replaced by an optometrist! (Ok, that happened years before I left). A chinese restaurant has opened up down the street, and a video store! Many of the kids I grew up with are either gone or, bizarrely, grown up, and with kids theselves! The older people are all wrinkly, or dead, and there are all these new little people! It's an invasion from Infantistan! (and they don't even speak English!)

As they say, you can't go home again.

Street signs in other languages, etc? Wait long enough, and even in the complete absence of immigration, you'll end up surrounded by people who dress funny, listen to annoying music, and speak something that, while sounding like English, is completely incomprehensible.

Yes, you raised more substantial concerns. When I get back from mulching and a dr.'sappointment (ihateneedles ihateneedles nonono!!), maybe, if this thread's still goin'.

Although I may have to skim through Terry Pratchett's Jingo, first . . .

#271 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 10:54 AM:

Michael Croft: Now that I've looked at the first few pages of that one (I'm on dialup at home, so had to wait) it looks almost like some sort of 'well, first you have to civilize them' which I think translates as 'get them to be like us'. This weekend I was looking up the ancestors fo a cousin by marriage; they're Italian Swiss, and mostly farmers. Somehow I get the feeling they were exaclty the 'peasants' it was about.

#272 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 11:26 AM:

JESR: I tend to define civilization as public transportation, same-day home delivery of the New York Times, and easily available sushii. By those standards, I do indeed live in a howling wilderness (and it took me several years to get used to being carless in a place with neither buses nor resources like Freight & Salvage, the Emeryville theater and the San Francisco music halls). Ah well -- at least I get lots of free galleys!

Some recent stories on the Phoenix news stations reminded me that even the "establishment" shuns certain kinds of racists -- skinhead, tattoed, meth-using hate-mongers with a whole lot of weapons. A group like that was arrested last week, and the general attitude was "good riddance!"

#273 ::: Bill Hooker ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 12:43 PM:

Bill, to call Dave Luckett a Republican is meaningless.

I didn't. I made reference to an underhanded method of dispute at which it seems to me Mr Luckett is as old a hand as any Republican.

#274 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 01:06 PM:

I don't like feeling alienated in my old neighbourhood.

Leftist: You're an arsehole.

Eh? Do you mean that there is no downside to immigration at all?

Leftist: So's your mother. You screw your sister, too. So does everyone, where you come from.

Listen, that's nothing but personal insult. It isn't remotely like debate.

Leftist: Oh, diddums. Are you trying to make me get all oily and polite?

No, I'm just asking you not to be crudely offensive.

Leftist: You screw your sister's poodle, too.

I have nothing further to say to you.

Leftist: Yay, I win.

#275 ::: Bill Hooker ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 01:37 PM:

For someone who thinks that "too much is made of respectful demeanour and polite discourse", you have an awfully thin skin Mr Luckett. You also have an unproductive tendency to work yourself into a state of high dudgeon over "insults to all Australians", as though that population somehow needed your defense.

But eh, whatever. Life's too short.

#276 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 02:30 PM:

Oh, honestly. People are being SILLY. Cut it out.

I don't like being alienated in my old neighborhood either, but then I felt the same when I lived there. I've been alienated my entire life. After a while you get used to it.

Different circumstances, but the solution is the same: don't go there. You can't go home again...unless you realize that home is a place you've never been. The place that used to be your home belongs to someone else now, someone who will feel just as alienated when they go back there in twenty years.

So it goes.

I refer you to the Masonic symbolism of one of the great works of American literature of the 20th Century; to find your way home, you need Brains, Heart, and Courage. And eventually you will realize that the way home (indeed, the home itself) is something you carry with you; that, and the people you find along the way.

When that happens, you may still be uncomfortable in your old neighborhood (I certainly am, but then etc.), but you will no longer resent the people who live there now.

Bill, I'd like to point out to you that Dave Luckett is one of the few commenters on ML who has ever admitted to changing his opinion based on arguments put forth here. He is not given to trying to short-circuit discussion through logomachy.

#277 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 03:15 PM:

From Murphy's Laws of Combat:

"If you've made it impossible for them to get in, you've made it impossible for you to get out."

#278 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 03:53 PM:

I am an immigrant (quite legal, I assure you), and have been most appalled by one claim in the immigration debate. That claim is that illegal immigrants are, somehow, unfair to legal immigrants who have to wait long periods to get into the US. I come across loony right-wing nonsense all the time, but this one truly is beyond my understanding.


I should add that I live in a city with excellent Chinese, Mexican, Indian, Jamaican, Honduran, Peruvian, West African, South African, Korean, Vietnamese, Greek, and, for all I know Martian restaurants (a bad experience in an Ethiopian restaurant has made my wife swear never to set foot in such an establishment again).

I've sat on the train while behind me Mexicans swore in an amazing mixture of English and Spanish (¡Este fkng pendejo cheated me out of my plata! ¡Cabrón!). I've listened to Africans speaking in French, Ethiopians chatting in Amharic, Surinamers speaking in Dutch. I've watched young Latinos listening to English-instruction tapes while reading their textbooks. I've had conversations with Iranians, Canadians, Irish folk, South Africans, Jamaicans, Trinidadians, people of dozens of nationalities. All this just on the train, mind you.

I've taught students from every continent except Australia and Antarctica.

And I've found one thing out. They all want, in varying degrees, to be part of America. Unlike native-born Americans they tend to have a lively sense of the world and its complexity.

#279 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 04:04 PM:

Apologies if I missed this when I skimmed through the thread, but how does a nation ensure that immigrants indeed become integrated into society? Yes, the issue seems to take care of itself over time -- in North America, at least. My impression, however, is that European countries have tended to be less successful in integrating native and immigrant cultures, and that these failures have lessons for us. Heck if I know what they are, though.

And heck, for that matter, if I know what defines successful integration....

#280 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 04:29 PM:

What, all of them? They all came intending to exterminate, enslave and forcibly convert the natives? There were no colonists who came for any other reason? They were all, without exception, murderers and enslavers?

As a matter of policy, yeah. The original colonies in the Americans were to establish territorial claims and funnel loot. There wasn't a lot of concern for the pre-existing populations involved. (Frex, Cartier's claim of the entire continent, or the original grant of Pennsylvania that stretched west without limit. Australia wasn't much different in terms of the nature and scope of the claims; not even different in being used as a dumping ground for undesirables, since Canada got most of those cleared out post-1745 from the Highlands, frex.)

By the time voluntary colonization started -- the initial colonists in New France and Virginia weren't, particularly -- it was mostly for land; title to the land was obtained by force or the threat of force.

That held all the way to the last mass wave of prairie settlement in the early 1900s; it's only been very recently that the Canadian indigenous population has been held to have enforceable property rights to land.

And sure, you don't like feeling like a stranger in your old neighbourhood, but I don't see how that's a fault in the neighbourhood. Cattle die, kinsmen die, all things come in time to die; that's true of everything loved in the heart of man as much as it is true of the heart.

#281 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 04:30 PM:

My wealthy, conservative great-aunt just sent me the following wad of clueless "humor:"

A Somali arrives in Minneapolis as a new immigrant to the United States. He stops the first person he sees walking down the street and says,

Thank you Mr. American for letting me in this country, giving me housing, food stamps, free medical care and free education!"

The passer-by says, "You are mistaken, I am Mexican".

The man goes on and encounters another passer-by. "Thank you for having such a beautiful country here in America!"

The person says, "I no American, I Vietnamese."

The new arrival walks further, and the next person he sees he stops, shakes his hand and says "Thank you for the wonderful America!"

That person puts up his hand and says, "I am from Middle East, I am not an American!"

He finally sees a nice lady and asks "Are you an American?"

She says, "No, I am from Russia!"

Puzzled he asks her, "Where are all the Americans?"

The Russian lady checks her watch and says..."Probably at work!"

[Oaf laughter]
Yeah! Huh-huh-huh!
[/Oaf laughter]

We're talking fundamental, abject, fact-challenged, block-headed cluelessness here.

I could point out to the old lady that the husband who was responsible for her fortune was an Italian immigrant, but, nah, I'm sure to her that that was different.

#282 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 05:27 PM:

Do it, Stefan. Tell her "yeah, those rotten Italians sure were lazy when they came over here in [year her husband came over]."

Nahhh. Old people get an exemption from being called on their bullshit in my book. Not because it's useless; everyone can learn while they draw breath. Just because they tend to be a bit fragile.

#283 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 05:30 PM:

Oooo, better: send it back to her with each response changed to "I'm [whatever], and sorry but I'm hurrying to work." Then the Russian lady answers his question with "It's Saturday. They're all sleeping late, the lazy bums!"

#284 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 05:55 PM:

The old lady is of Irish extraction herself.

And, OH!, the family made its money in the lettuce industry around Salinas (Steinbeck country). All picked by "real" Americans, I'm sure.

But, yes, "fragile" describes her. Fragile and arrogant, blinders of privilege firmly in place. And her grandkids have an in-ground trampoline, if that means everything.

I haven't told her to take me off her CC list because I like to keep track of wingnut crankery.

#285 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 06:29 PM:

I wonder if some people in 1890 along the 100th parallel 100th parallel?


Steve Bucheit: I guess I have an overdeveloped lizard brain, because I have that reaction to pretty much anybody who appear in the dark, and to a whole lot of everybody when the sun is up (body language and number being the big factors). I do confess to being less prone to such reaction to females, but that's not racist (it might be sexist, but it might be statistics, it isn't as if I never have a defensive mindset when I see a lone woman on the street).

That said, I'll cop to minor amounts of predjudice. All of them cultural, and some remaining even after members of that group have been married into my family.

But, as you say, I don't make decisions based on that level of reaction.

#286 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 08:13 PM:

I don't like feeling alienated in my old neighbourhood.

The problem is that it isn't your neighbourhood, it's everyone's neighbourhood. When I was a little child I didn't like my younger brother playing with my favourite toys but my mother insisted I should share. It didn't matter that he was an annoying, snot-nosed little freak. Until I bought my own toys, he could play with them too.

#287 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 09:01 PM:

Dave Luckett: I don't like feeling alienated in my old neighbourhood.

Dave, I can understand and empathize with this since I have had a similar kind of experience. The neighborhood I grew up in had the most dramatic demographic shift in the US in the 1990s, going from something like 80% white (using the Census Bureau definitions) to 80% non-white, the majority of whom are of Caribbean descent.

It's all too easy to be critical. The stores were different, the people looked different. There were more store signs in Spanish, or for products I didn't recognize. I had to sit for a few minutes to realize that it wasn't my neighborhood anymore. Not because the people were different, but because I had moved away, and out of its demographics, before or after the population shift.

In fact, in many ways the people who now live in my old neighborhood were very like the people who lived there when I grew up. An older generation of recent immigrants and a broad swath of first-generation Americans, strivers and seekers all. The very thing that has made America work since the beginning.

Australia may be different, but I suspect it's more similar than not.

#288 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 10:23 PM:

I miss my old neighborhood too. We used to go to a dinky playground in LA (merry-go-round, haunted house, pony rides) that was later replaced by this humungous shopping mall. Now when I go back to LA I get lost in some neighborhoods because they've torn down whole blocks and put up new buildings, not always to the betterment of the place.

#289 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 10:45 PM:

Graydon: By the time voluntary colonization started -- the initial colonists in New France and Virginia weren't, particularly

If I made such a broadly, wrongheaded claim about Canadian history, would you be polite about it? On the evidence, no.

wrt your prior sentence -- yes, the conquistadors were out for all they could get. However, note how ]successful[ they were; Spain became a second-rate power (at best). (There's also the interesting irony that their helter-skelter approach has produced a far more mixed population than in North America, albeit in worse economic condition.)

#290 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 11:35 PM:

I edited the smuggery my great aunt sent me and returned it, CCing my sisters who were on her To: list:

* * *

A Somali arrives in Minneapolis as a new immigrant to the United States. He stops the first person he sees walking down the street and
says, "Thank you Mr. American for letting me in this country, giving me housing, food stamps, free medical care and free education!"

The passer-by says, "You are mistaken, I am Mexican. Now I have to go, I have ten hours of landscaping work ahead of me."

The man goes on and encounters another passer-by. "Thank you for having such a beautiful country here in America!"

The person says, "I no American, I Vietnamese. Now please forgive me for hurrying, I have a twelve hour day ahead of me on the family shrimp boat."

The new arrival walks further, and the next person he sees he stops, shakes his hand and says "Thank you for the wonderful America!"

He finally sees a nice lady and asks "Are you an American?"

She says, "No, I am from Russia! Now I must hurry along. I have to clean a dozen hotel rooms by lunch."

Puzzled he asks her, "Where are all the Americans?"

The Russian lady checks her watch and says:

"On a Saturday morning? Probably at home, taking it easy and congratulating themselves for making it through their grueling work week."

#291 ::: Dan S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 12:16 AM:

"I edited the smuggery my great aunt sent me and returned it . . ."

Very nice job. I wonder what she'll say . . .

#292 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 12:20 AM:

Graydon: I will try once more. I didn't like the feeling of alienation I had when I couldn't read the signs on the shops in my old neighborhood. Not, "I think they should all act exactly like me." Not, "I think everything should always stay the same." Not, "they should all go back where they came from." Not, "they're not allowed to change it." None of that.

I don't like a lot of things that I have to live with. I have to live with them anyway because they are somebody else's choice that they're entitled to make, and choice for them is choice for me - in theory, at least. I think the choice on display here - that English isn't our language, and we're not going to use it - is a bad choice, but I am not trying to force any other choice. I am only saying I don't like that one. I'll come back to choices presently.

Colonisation. I define colonisation as the export of culture from one country to another to such a degree that the culture so exported becomes dominant over some area of the second country. I use the term "culture" because colonisation can consist of the export of something other than the physical. One can speak of "economic colonisation" or of "cultural colonisation", for example.

Nevertheless, most often, and in the cases we are speaking of, "colonisation" actually does mean the physical removal of a population of one culture into the physical territory occupied by a population of another culture, to such an extent that the former comes to dominate some part of the latter. "Some part" may include the whole, or nearly all the whole.

If this process goes far enough - that is, if the colonisers remain culturally distinct and come to dominate whatever the colonised think are significant parts of their own territory, (however defined) then the result is always conflict, and in all the cases we are speaking of, armed conflict. This, in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States and some other countries (but note, please, that I would have to inspect the history carefully before I could say that the effect applies to any other given country) resulted in the substantial destruction of the indigenous culture, the confiscation of its territory and resources and the wholesale murder of its people.

In few of these cases was the initial phase of colonisation accompanied by any significant degree of armed conflict between the indigenous society and the colonisers. New Zealand was first settled in 1814, but significant conflict between Maori and Pakeha only started in the mid-1840s, (after Waitangi, not before it) and the major Maori Wars occurred in the 1860's. Sydney Cove was settled in 1788 without a shot fired except for salutes. Casual murder occasionally occurred, (and, as others have noted, there were hideous effects from European diseases like measles and smallpox) but conflict was on a small scale until at least the 1830's, and the real atrocities were later still, extending into the twentieth century (and some would have it, the twenty-first).

In the Americas, it typically took a generation or two from colonisation until real armed conflict, although there were a few exceptions to this. The first "Indian Wars" to which I can find reference in the United States date in the 1670's, half a century after colonisation. The same pattern generally repeats across the continent, although it is true that the time-gap between local European settlement and actual armed conflict generally lessens. I put this down to a sort of snowballing effect; once the process of colonisation was fully established, it took less time in each new area to reach the tipping-point I described. That is, the faster the colonisation occurs, the sooner the conflict erupts.

That (physical) colonisers are immigrants is undeniable, ipso facto. Are immigrants colonisers? The answer depends on the conditions I gave above being satisfied. If they remain distinct, and if they come to dominate some portion of the territory of the indigenous culture, then they are colonisers. Colonisation always leads to significant conflict up to and including wars, massacres and genocide.

Immigrants who don't remain distinct and who don't dominate significant territory en bloc are not colonisers. The sooner they mix with the natives and trade cultures, rather than imposing their own over some area, the less likely conflict becomes and the milder it will be if it does occur.

That's why I didn't like walking through a suburb in south-western Sydney and feeling alienated. I felt that way because I was an alien there, a feeling made more poignant because it was the place where I'd been brought up. Those signs might have been saying "fruit and vegetables" or "pants pressed while you wait", but because they were saying it in Arabic, they were also saying "this is our territory now". The small groups of young men standing about in the street were no doubt all discussing philosophy or the prospects for the football season, but they were also watching me. I was in their territory.

I am not going to debate your contention, Graydon, that European colonisation was always and invariably driven by policies of deliberate murder, enslavement and expropriation. It is enough that we agree that those things happened.

For the nub of it is this: I cannot understand how one can retain simultaneously the ideas that colonisation was always and invariably an unalloyed evil, but that it's unreasonable to try to control immigration. Uncontrolled immigration leading to the creation of areas of different culture within an earlier society is colonisation. It's then a race between the integration of those areas into the indigenous community and conflict. Conflict is already occurring. I want integration to win the race, and I want to stack the odds as much as possible.

Choices: It would indeed be a wonderful thing if we all had wider choices, and certainly many here enjoy making choices from outside Anglo-European Western culture (however defined). Sometimes I do, too.

But rather often I don't. I'll eat what's put in front of me with thanks to my host, but if you ask me what I'd prefer, it'd be roast lamb and baked spuds. Or a grilled steak. Coffee? Thank you. Milk and two, please. You see, I've given up asking for tea. Tea is made by dunking a wretched little bag in hot water. Fairly hot water. If made in a pot, it's green and weak. That's not what I mean by tea.

I went out to breakfast, two days ago. Local cafe, nice people, served breakfast all day. I could have foccacia with BLT and poached eggs on top . I could have - let me think - flatbread with various fillings. I could have an omelette with cheese. Sausages? Yes, but Italian sausages with garlic and, um, interesting spicing. I didn't want interesting spicing at that time in the morning. I wanted eggs and bacon, I wanted tea, toast and marmalade. Couldn't have them.

The thought of eating raw fish makes me blench. Thai food, curries... sorry, but I don't like food that bites. Pho? Call it chicken soup and I'm fine. Um... what else has it got in it? Souvlaki, maybe, or a tamale? OK, but hold the chilli, and I'd really rather a (good) meat pie.

Yes, yes, sure, I'm an unregenerate unreconstructed culinary caveman. But here's the thing: I'm allowed to be. That's freedom, isn't it? I'm an Anglophone Anglo-Celtic Australian. I'm happy with that, and I don't want to be anything else. You can be what you like, and I'll do the level best I can, in conscientious goodwill, to engage with you. But don't you dare sneer at me for being what I am.

#293 ::: Michael Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 12:46 AM:

Dave Luckett :
Jamestown was founded in 1607 and the first Anglo-Powhatan war was 1609-1613, followed less than a decade later by the Indian Massacre of 1622 and the second Anglo-Powhatan war. If it was not large scale, it was only because of the limited number of seats in the theater.

I don't share your view of immigration as colonization, because I think there's both a difference of intent and a difference in the effect on the "native" population. I can argue the difference, but it's too early in the morning for that for me.

However, even granting your point for the sake of argument, why isn't the choice to put arabic (or gaelic or spanish or Low Martian) on the business signs merely a rational choice by individual actors who want to get a message to the customers who are there? There's no plot or bad intent required, simple desire to do business drives this. They don't have tea or bangers and mash because it's not economically advantageous for them to do so.

#294 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 01:08 AM:

Unlike many of you who have discovered your homes changing into bizarre alien landscapes, my experience is quite different. I grew up in a succession of small country towns; none with a population larger than about 5000 people. When I was a child a chinese meal meant a 30 minute drive to another, slightly larger small town (and the quality wasn't good enough to make it worth the trip). With the exception of a couple of families of Greek and Italian descent there was nothing but white anglo-Aussies as far as the eye could see. I knew such people existed - they were everywhere on the occasional vacation trips to the big city.

At the age of 17 I moved to Melbourne to study and found myself surrounded by an amazing variety of wonderfully alien cultures - people, food, films, products and lifestyles that were unlike anything I had ever seen before. I'm not sure how much I should blame the ridiculous amount of science fiction I read, but all those different ways of being weren't frightening, they were fascinating. 22 years later, I am still finding new experiences to pick from the melting pot and enjoying it immensely (I hadn't had Moroccan mint tea before last Friday, now I fear I may become an addict) but I feel alienated in towns I grew up in - everything is exactly the same and it feels so empty.

#295 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 02:37 AM:

Michael: If "the customers who are there" are exclusively Arabic-speakers, a sign only in Arabic makes good business sense. But that fact has implications beyond that. Facts are often polyvalent.

And yes, it wasn't economically advantageous for the cafe to serve bacon and eggs for breakfast. (Bangers and mash is for dinner, not breakfast.) I'll accept that - I did accept it, ate the foccacia BLT and drank coffee, paid the bill, left a tip, and thanked the cashier. But don't kid me that this transaction was a wonderful example of how my choices have been increased by multiculturalism. The truth is to the contrary.

#296 ::: Jacob Davies ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 03:42 AM:

Dave Luckett: "I cannot understand how one can retain simultaneously the ideas that colonisation was always and invariably an unalloyed evil, but that it's unreasonable to try to control immigration."

What I cannot understand is how one can hold the converse of that position; that colonisation was no big deal, but now that your transplanted British culture is established, there's any moral weight at all behind your desire to exclude newcomers or force them to assimilate as you desire.

I also think it's a little disengenuous to say that you're being attacked for liking bacon & eggs for breakfast. You stated before your belief that integration means immigrants must learn (and apparently use) English, and your disgust with those who retain their own language or identity.

You're being criticized because those sentiments are hostile and entitled. You don't seem to be enjoying that criticism, to which I say, well, imagine how immigrants feel when they come to Australia and people like you tell them that it's not okay for them to retain their language (or cuisine, for god's sake!) or put up signs only in their own language or stand around on the street - even though of course all of those things were just fine for the white people who happened to get there first.

It doesn't help that your example of multiculturalism narrowing your choices is that you couldn't get bacon and eggs at one particular cafe. Is that all you've got? My heart is not exactly breaking at this anecdote.

#297 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 03:53 AM:

CHip: Spain became a second rate power for the same reason it became a first rate (albeit short lived) power: the gold and silver the Treasure Fleets brought back to Seville.

There was so much money floating around that moving money became the business of Spain, and her industry and infrastructure weren't developed. When the crash came (and Spain had several things which influenced things, Charles being Holy Roman Emperor, and lending money to Popes, as well as getting the Low Counries as a property, with all the income they generated, and the trade the engaged in; but with it the Protestant troubles, the wars that led to and the lack of Spaniards building up trade, because after all, Holland was part of Spain), it was sudden, and dramatic.

But the colonising, that was pretty effective, Spanish is the native language where hundreds used to flourish, Christianity (mostly Roman Catholic is the religion where dozens, if not hundreds, used to hold sway.

That part of the program was a resounding success, from the Spanish point of view.

#298 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 06:34 AM:

Jacob: In three short paragraphs you have made so many false statements about what I said that it is plain that you are reading blind through a red mist.

1) I didn't say that colonisation was no big deal. I said exactly the converse: that it was catastrophic.

2) I didn't say I wanted to exclude newcomers; I said I wanted to control the influx.

3) I didn't say I wanted migrants to assimilate. In fact I specifically repudiated the idea. I want all of us to integrate. For a definition of both, see upthread. There is a difference.

4) I didn't say I was being attacked for liking egg and bacon for breakfast. I said I was being sneered at for being what I am. And I was. See Dan S's first post, above.

5)I did say that I wanted immigrants to learn English and use it. The reason for that is the one I gave to Graydon, above: that you can't be in the conversation if you can't speak the language. Not being able to speak the majority language of a country means you are excluded from opportunity, prevented from developing social contacts outside your own ethnic group, and that you are far less able to negotiate, deal with bureaucracies (private and government), obtain recognition for skills, or participate in government. It's a very good poverty trap. A large agglomerated number of people in this situation, and you have the makings of a ghetto. Nobody with the least sympathy for the actual problems faced by migrants would want them to face those handicaps, but I never said, never implied, and never wanted them to lose their own language, or to stop using it.

6) Nowhere did I express disgust at those who retain their own language and identity, nor do I feel it. On the contrary, I have every sympathy for them, for after all, I wish to retain mine. (With two minor provisos, with which I hope you would concur: that any ethnic hatreds and prejudices of their homelands be left behind them, even if they are important there, and that they respect the law. That is not to say that they don't, in general, of course.)

I don't enjoy criticism, true, but I can engage with it. (I enjoy personal insult even less, mind you.) I can only suggest that you try criticising, instead of making baseless accusations.

#299 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 07:49 AM:

Stefan: you ran with it! And very well too. Keep us posted on her response. *kvells*

#300 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 09:56 AM:

Apologies for the belated response - I was a little busy this weekend.

Lisa Goldstein: The unknown language with the letters attached with horizontal lines was most likely Hindi, but could also have been Punjabi or another language in that family.

Richard Anderson: I don't think it's possible to ensure integration of immigrants, but my take on the difference between Europe and places like the US and Canada is here. The short version is the oft-repeated: '[Insert appropriate affluent New World country here] is a country of immigrants.'

#301 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 11:41 AM:

A few points from a Denverite.

The Day(s) without immigrants did not affect any I knew. I could still shop, I could still drive, get gas, do my job and for once get to work in a timely manner (all the construction was on hold) which is a god send this time of year in this state. I still got to the farmer's market, I still had my trash taken out both at work and at home.

This isn't about wage wars as much as one might think. NO ONE can live off a minimum wage job for long many who do have a minimum wage job have at least two if not three. This includes illegals as well as american and legal immigrants. I'm astonded that this does not come up. No one mentions that Americans are turned away from jobs that they think no one will do or that no one can really live $6.00 and support children.

Basically what I think is this: Business/corporations that hire illegals should be held responsible. Background checks and reporting criminals to authorities should be mandatory. When I say criminals I mean those that commit crimes on top of being here illegally. If they are here illegally but want citizenship companies should have a sponsorship program. I think a guest worker program is great, there are many families who only want to work here, not live here. When my parents & grandparents moved here from Canada they had to sign a contract with an American company and the gov to work for that company for 6 years. In that time they had to apply for citizenship or be deported at the end of the 6 year period. They did it. They are all legal. Why is this so hard for everyone else? They were poor btw. Don't give me **** about how it takes money.

The Mexican government should be held responsible (many who come here illegally do not know there is any other way)

I don't think there is an easy solution but I do think that this is problem. When I lived in Mexico it was very apparent that those with Native blood were below those with European blood. In many ways Mexico is kicking out the natives for lack of jobs, utilities and work.

On a lighter note: Of course Denver could kick NY's ***. Unlike tv, people who come to Colorado never go back East again.

#302 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 11:42 AM:

Graydon, what ever gave you the idea that the folks that colonized Virginia weren't volunteers?

The members of the Virginia Company came looking for wealth and fame, and they WERE volunteers. Many of them were from the landed gentry (second or third sons). BTW, Disney was right on the mark in this case:

"For Glory, God and Gold, and the Virginia Company!"

By the time of the Revolution, Virginians were the aristocracy of the Colonies. That's why John Adams wanted Virginia to be the first to declare for independence.

The places that got the dregs of British society were Georgia and the Carolinas...

I was born in Virginia, and my ancestors came over from the British Isles in the mid to late 1600s. To the best of my knowledge, all of them came here of their own free will.

#303 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 12:25 PM:

Okay, I'm way back in 5/19 postings, so I apoogize if I'm reiterating here, but I'm gonna lose track if I wait 'till I get to the current posts.

Jacob Davies:

I love it here. Please send more immigrants! I am hungry

My brain just kind of stopped here in your sentence and had a breakdown. Couldn't figure out whether you were going Swiftian Proposal or Florida Tourist (The old alligator shirts?). Any way, turns out neither, but thanks for the laugh anyway, however unintentional.

otherdeb:

I do not understand what these jackasses are so afraid of. What, they might be forced to learn about some culture other than their own? They might have to reexamine their stereotypes and prejudices? They might have to accept that the immigrant kids pay more attention in school than their Neanderthal brats do?

No, not exactly. Or, not just that. Several years ago when flag burning was a "big issue" (Okay, several severals of years ago) someone pointed out that very often laws, and political noise for those laws do not represent reality, but what people fear. So, what do they fear?
Well, as someone said in the "patrolling our borders" thread, they think everyone thinks like them, so one thing they fear is people who speak languages they don't understand. Because, well, isn't it obvious that if they're using a language that you can't understand, it's because "they don't want you to understand". Best case scenario in this case is the fear that they're "talking about me" -- because, after all, Mr. Border knows he'd talk about them, and does. Worst case is the fear that they're planning something. After all, why speak another language unless you have something to hide? If you were really here to be American, then "you'd best learn to speak English and behave like a proper guest, not be plotting in another language."

The other fear, already articulated earlier is that these people are very visually (and/or audibly)not like me. Therefore, they don't want the same things I want, so they will vote for different things. I'll get less than I am now, so that they can get more (read "some"). It doesn't matter what the immigrants lives are or aren't like, they are not real, except as a drain on resources. There's a reason most of this noise comes from the suburbs: that's where people go to get away from multi-taxing. In the suburbs you can have your taxes applied just to the one or two programs you like, because everyone else is like you and wants the same thing. If more of them come in, then they'll spread out and "I'll lose" something.

This is why a large part of the sub-sonics of the immigration argument refers to minority birth rates and the "horrible idea" that children of illegal immigrants that are born here are legal citizens.

It's also why there is all the attempts to re-district to ensure minority groups remain minorities across the board and don't get a voting blok.

Apartheid ... Coming soon to an America near you!

I work in an "inner city" school. Every day I see immigrants, both kids and parents, who are trying to survive in what to them is a completely foreign culture, much the way my great grandparents did when they came to America. And these kids work against tremendous odds. Why do those in our government forget that their when their own ancestors came here it might not have been leegally? Why do they refuse to extend the same courtesy to others? Is it, perhaps, because many of the emigres in this wave have "brown" or "yellow" skin? Is it because many of those in other parts of the country than the southwest may be of Muslim descent?

Only in so far as they are the current bogey-men. In my grandfather's day it was the Irish -- and we didn't look that different ...

Again as articulated earlier, there is something in human nature which rates satisfaction by comparison to others, so it is important that "they" stay down so "we" can be up.

Thing is, I don't really give a damn why. Stupidity is stupidity. Besides, isn't it their own Bible that tells these folks that the only person who may cast the first stone is "he who is without sin"?

To paraphrase Ben Frankilin:

Otherdeb, I'm surprised at you. Don't you know that Biblical prohibitions are only applicable in the third person, "They are throwing stones"? In the first person, it's piety, "I am doing this for your own good."

Seriously, though, Biblical quotes are easy, they'll always have a back-up for why "this time" is an exception to your rule ...

#304 ::: Brendan ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 12:37 PM:

We do okay. They learn to be Americans. We learn to eat their cuisine twenty years earlier than you do.

I couldn't have said it better. I remember growing up in the 70's when there were 2 kinds of Doritos, the little triangles with "nacho cheese" and the little triangles that were plain. My mother would dice tiny pieces of Monterrey Jack cheese, spread the plain Dorito triangles in a single layer on a cookie sheet, place one piece of cheese and one tiny piece of jalapeno in the center of each chip, then back it in the oven until they were melted. That's how we made nachos back in the day!

#305 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 12:56 PM:

Dave --

Have you tried asking for bacon and eggs? Even if it's not on the menu? (I have some dietary restrictions, so I'm getting used to asking about stuff.)

I don't, generally, order bacon and eggs; nobody running a restaurant is at all likely to have what I consider good bacon. (Farm kid. Grew up on milk fed, maple cured bacon. Spoiled for life.) The times I've tried, though, if they had eggs, and they had bacon, they'd make it.

Territorial claim by signage, well, I don't find myself able to worry about this unless and until the health inspectors, city works inspectors, the census taker, and the tax collector have trouble going there.

Toronto restaurants -- the ones that have survived the practice -- all have sheet-of-paper sized green-bordered signs somewhere on the door or outside glass window that says 'pass'. (Fail = the city just closed you; warn = your former customers close you.)

I may find this reassuring for reasons having nothing to do with the implied kitchen inspections, I don't know, but if that's happening, there is no effective territorial claim going on, no matter what the signage looks like.

CHip --

New France is Canadian history. And the initial colonists were mostly Norman or Breton and considered problematic back home. (It wasn't a major population shift; most of the population of Quebec is due to a really astonishingly high population growth rate for a couple centuries.)

Lori --

The Virginia Colony was, if memory serves, the third or fourth attempt. I could be wrong about that; it's been a good long while since that history class.

I seem to recall that Sir Walter lied his ass off to prospective colonists, as well.

#306 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 12:59 PM:

Toronto restaurants -- the ones that have survived the practice -- all have sheet-of-paper sized green-bordered signs

LA restaurants have signs of that size with a 3-inch letter in the middle: that's the grade from the health department. (A and B are good signs.)

#307 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 01:20 PM:

P J Evans: I recall when that practice was new, there was more than the occaisional stealing of "A" grade signs.

C is as low as it goes (a "D" means closure until the problems are corrected. Richard Riordan (the second Mayor in my living there [and that was a shock, I'd been away at Basic Training when he was elected, seeing a sign which said, "Mayor Riordan Welcomes You To Los Angeles" was just WRONG] had his restaurant [The Pantry] closed for the first time it its history [for those who don't know, it's open 24/7/365, and has been since the late teens, or early twenties, to include the time it moved. For a little while there were two of them, with the customers asked to take a chair, or their place setting, or something down the block to the new place).

But he failed a County Health inspection, twice.

Up here (San Luis Obispo) and in most of the state, there's a sign declaring that anyone who wants to look at it may see the most recent County Board of Health inspection report.

#308 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 01:39 PM:

Lori Coulson "what ever gave you the idea that the folks that colonized Virginia weren't volunteers?"

I'd say that a hell of a lot of them weren't. Virginia was a plantation colony, and its colonisation involved the clearing and planting of land by slave labour.

I don't believe you're arguing either that the slaves were volunteers or that they don't count as Virginians.

#309 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 01:47 PM:

Dave Luckett: If "the customers who are there" are exclusively Arabic-speakers, a sign only in Arabic makes good business sense. But that fact has implications beyond that.

Signage can be an emotional issue - ask any non-francophone in Montreal. Well, ask just about anyone in Montreal.

FWIW, if a business doesn't have English signage but what they have on display looks interesting, I'll go in anyway. If all I can see is non-English signage, I move on to the shopkeeper's loss. Odds are, his nearby competitors are hawing the same stuff bi-lingually.

#310 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 01:48 PM:

I should clarify, I meant if all I see is signage I can't read and no clue as to the merchandise on offer, I move on. I really don't mind if I don't see much in the way of English signage.

#311 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 02:05 PM:

Wasn't Virginia one of the places English criminals (and "criminals") were sent when they were "transported"? There's a song that mentions it ("Gone to America"); it's from the POV of a woman whose man has been transported, and it talks about him being sent "to till the land they call Virginia." This was for poaching, that is, hunting on formerly-jointly-held land that had been proclaimed to be Crown property.

#312 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 02:48 PM:

My great-aunt replies:

"Your version is as true as the one I sent out.
I have a Mexican cleaning woman and 3 Mexican boys who do the yard."

("boys" is underlined).

#313 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 02:51 PM:

Anyone ordering *bacon* and eggs in a resturaunt with signs in Arabic is going to get the same looks as they would in a store that had Hebrew signs. It's forbidden. I thought everyone knew that.

Beyond that, here in NYC, we've got plenty of shops with signs in foreign languages. They target a niche markey. They may not get all of the English speakers, but what they do get is almost all of the speakers of the language that they put the sign up in. They don't need to be in an enclave for this to happen. Just being a comfortable place for people who speak that language to shop is enough.

Worried talk of 'colonization' has no basis in reality. The US wasn't 'Colonized' by the Jews form Europe, or the Irish, or anywhere else, except for the actual colonists who took land by force from the natives. Waves of immigration are not colonization. The US is no more an Irish state than it is a Jewish one, or a Mexican one.

#314 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 03:01 PM:

Fragano, Virginia started out with strictly white colonists, and they bloody well worked the land themselves. John Smith laid down the law with this bunch, "If you don't work, you don't eat."

Early in colonial days, indentured servants, also from the British Isles, provided the heavy labor. Later, as slaves became available and affordable, more people bought them. I know very well that the slaves weren't volunteers. But I also know they weren't there at the very beginning of the colony either.

Graydon, you're thinking of the Roanoke colony, located off the Carolina coast. I was under the impression there was only one attempt to settle there, which ended when those settlers disappeared. Again, these were all volunteers.

As for the Jamestown colony, while it needed several infusions of settlers, it was an ongoing concern for many years. Eventually the population spread out from it, and relocated to more convenient areas.

Xopher, originally most of the Eastern USA was called "Virginia" so the song was right in that respect. However, by the time England was transporting criminals, about a century after Jamestown was founded, those criminals were sent to the Carolinas and Georgia.


#315 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 04:23 PM:

A slight tangent. Terrence Malick's lyrical take on the Pocahontas story, The New World, is now in circulation at most local video stores. Well worth renting if you like Malick's work. The story line, however, adds little to the discussion upthread.

#316 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 04:42 PM:

In the DC suburbs, there's a particular shopping center off Rockville Pike that always make me smile. There's Italian, Vietnamese, Japanese, Mexican and Lebanese restaurants, a Lebanese grocery, an Indian clothing store and video store, and an IHOP.

I'm still catching up with this thread, but I wanted to contribute a little squee of recognition at this; I used to live in Wheaton (the Little UN) and drove past this all the time. I did not, alas, take full advantage of all the cuisine on offer, but can vouch for the Lebanese. (Damn, but I miss that place. Harford County, by contrast, is all too pale, in several senses of the word.)

And not too far from there, down Randolph, there's another plaza with a Korean grocery that has a little cafe in the back; that's where I had my first heaping bowl of jap pong (affectionately dubbed, by the friend I shared it with, "Cthulhu soup.").

#317 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 05:59 PM:

Rob Rusick wrote: AFAIK, resident aliens in America are not allowed guns [..]

Clark E Myers responds with a lot of useful information.

Thanks for the post!
Nice to get an informed opinion.

I don't plan to rush out an get my gun,
but its nice to know I'm not discriminated against by law.

I'd like to get an equally helpful contradiction
about the school loans and scholarships;
any takers?


#318 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 01:07 AM:

I suppose what I find disturbing about Dave Luckett's attitude is the same thing he finds disturbing about immigrants, namely his refusal to adapt and integrate himself into his community. I don't see much difference between refusing to learn a new language and refusing to enjoy new styles of cooking; both are maladaptive behaviors that inconvenience their practitioners, and won't survive in significant numbers more than one or two generations.

I regret that my own neighborhood is becoming less diverse, as prosperous white people move in and corporate chains displace old Chinatown businesses. I like that it's becoming more upscale and vibrant, but I do wish it weren't losing so much of its character in the process.

#319 ::: Anarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 03:25 AM:

Dave Luckett: But don't kid me that this transaction was a wonderful example of how my choices have been increased by multiculturalism. The truth is to the contrary.

This has nothing to do with multiculturalism per se, but with the free market. How many times have I -- have we -- bemoaned the loss of a favored product from the market for no discernable reason? Too damn many. Any expansion of the total number of choices in the marketplace, from multiculturalism to technological advances to marketing "innovations", invariably results in some kind of diminution of choice in a particular locale. It's simply a function of more possibilities crammed into the same space.

[By way of reductio illustration: if everywhere in the neighbourhood used to serve only bacon & eggs when you were younger and now each restaurant serves three breakfast options chosen amongst twenty, your total choices have increased even if your ability to enjoy the same breakfast in any random locale -- your "local choice", if you will -- has decreased.]

Anyway, the nut version is: you like a breakfast option that simply isn't that popular any more. Sucks to be you, sad to say; sucks to be me, too, since many of my favorite breakfast options aren't available around these parts either. So, thanks to the market's invisible wisdom, you have a few choices to make: you can find a new place wherein to obtain your bacon and eggs; you can start a place of your own to ensure its provision to like-minded souls; or you can try to broaden your horizons and find something else that you like for breakfast too. Bewailing immigration as the source of these woes, though, strikes me as missing the point entirely.

#320 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 05:41 AM:

I was lunching today in Balmain, an Sydney suburb that has much focaccia and chipolata as any, and found myself meditating on Dave Luckett's mourning the unavailability of real tea and English-style breakfast. I was about to post something vaguely mathematical in response to the sentence quoted by Anarch above. Anarch beat me to it. You may not be able to get properly made tea or decent breakfast sausages in any randomly chosen cafe, but if you look over the whole area of any suburb with lots of breakfast places, you'll certainly find your choices have been increased, and will very likely include those hallmarks of dinkum tucker. (And, incidentally, I don't ever remember having sausages for breakfast in the far too recent days of White Australia. I think of that as a US inspired innovation, and you can even get maple syrup with your sausages in some parts of Sydney. Now that I'm tempted to describe as taking multiculturalism too far.)

#321 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 06:45 AM:

Oi! Sausages for breakfast are not an American idea!

A Sunday breakfast at my mother-in-law's is a big feed of sausages, rashers of back bacon, black and white pudding, fried eggs, mushrooms, buttery toast and pints of tea.

All around Ireland and Great Britain breakfasts like that have been clogging arteries for hundreds of years.

#322 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 08:39 AM:

Abject apologies. But do you have them with maple or any other syrup? I realise that question has got nothing to do with anything except my own astonished joy when I was first offered that combination. And I do like the idea of injecting the notion of US cuisine as exotic into the conversation.

#323 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 09:18 AM:

Rob Rusick:

I was pretty sure that this was true, and my Dean of Admissions just confirmed it - if you are a permanent resident of the US ('green card' holder) you are eligible for all federal and state student loans and scholarships. Scholarships and loans from other sources (eg private), of course, may have different requirements.

#324 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 09:25 AM:

Josh Jasper spake unto us and he did say: Anyone ordering *bacon* and eggs in a resturaunt with signs in Arabic is going to get the same looks as they would in a store that had Hebrew signs. It's forbidden. I thought everyone knew that.

On the other hand, a local eatery used to employ a chef named Mohammed. The rest of the staff and management were not but he was as Muslim as his name implies. Of all their cooks, he prepared the best bacon and eggs. He never tasted them, but he had been told what they should look and smell like when he learned the job and that's what he aimed for.

#325 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 10:07 AM:

Lori Coulson said:

Early in colonial days, indentured servants, also from the British Isles, provided the heavy labor. Later, as slaves became available and affordable, more people bought them. I know very well that the slaves weren't volunteers. But I also know they weren't there at the very beginning of the colony either.

I've read that Native Americans were used as slave labor, until they all died off or ran away. Then the landowners started importing Africans. (This may apply more to the Caribbean than the US.)

#326 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 02:13 PM:

debcha: The unknown language with the letters attached with horizontal lines was most likely Hindi, but could also have been Punjabi or another language in that family.

Thanks! I knew someone here would know this.

#327 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 02:23 PM:

Jonathan Shaw --

There's a Québécois breakfast dish where you poach eggs in maple syrup, and sop it up with mass amounts of buttered toast.

#328 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 02:33 PM:

Lisa Goldstein: kinda looks like letters hanging on a clothesline, doesn't it? That's where the word 'sutra', meaning a brief passage of text, comes from. It's actually related to our word 'suture', I believe by regular sound change! The text hangs from the thread— or I suppose you could say the thread stitches the text together.

Many authors in English could use something of that nature, come to think of it...

#329 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 03:35 PM:

I suppose having your letters stitched together is not that different to having them woven together (Latin texere, to weave, whence text and texture. And, indeed, artex - we've all seen some writing that could be described that way.)

Ogham, on the other hand, has letters across and on either side of its line, and can be derived from the proto-Indo-European meaning, furrow, or a ploughed track.

I rather like the idea of a furrow in which one can plant letters.

#330 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 04:43 PM:

Graydon: There's a Québécois breakfast dish where you poach eggs in maple syrup, and sop it up with mass amounts of buttered toast.

Whoa! Is there any Québécois rustic cuisine that *isn't* death on a plate? First Poutine, and now this.

I don't mind if the syrup gets on my sausages or bacon, but it should never touch my eggs. And my eggs (if fried) should never touch my pancakes. When I order a ridiculous egg/bacon/pancake kind of breakfast, I usually request a quarrantine plate for the eggs.

#331 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 05:05 PM:

Laurence:

It would not surprise me to find plantations using Native Americans as slave labor before they started importing slaves from Africa.

The problem with indentured servants is that once their work had paid for their passage, they expected regular wages or they wanted to move to greener pastures. Now I'm sure that some of these got along well enough with their employers to stay as tenant farmers, but the rest?

While I do not condone slavery, having lived in Tidewater Virginia in the summer, I completely understand why the colonists wanted someone else to do the heavy work!


#332 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 05:16 PM:

Larry, I'm with you. It was good I read about the syrup - egg monstrosity well after lunch because it made my stomach flip. EEUW.

#333 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 06:33 PM:

Lori Coulson: John Smith brought the first African slaves to Jamestown in 1619, which while not the very beginning of the colony is early enough. It certainly predates the Mayflower. What disturbs me is that you seem not to want to count them as Virginians. They certainly made common cause with white indentured servants in Bacon's Rebellion.

#334 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 06:36 PM:

Rob Rusick: I received a fellowship, and was granted state resident status (entitling me to lower fees), from the University of California. I'm a resident alien.

#335 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 07:03 PM:

Graydon: And I thought the egg-in-a-hole from the V for Vendetta was daring! One day when I'm alone in the house I'm going to try that fabulous cholesterol/sugar concoction.

#336 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 07:21 PM:

I like maple on pork! But if I eat breakfast out, I usually have to order from the Side Order Menu because I don't like eggs. (Okay, in things like frittatas or omelets, where there's lot of other things that taste good.)

#337 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 10:47 AM:

Fragrano -- I don't consider the slaves to be "colonists" as they weren't here of their own free will. I never said they weren't Virginians.

To me, "colonist" means someone who came here WILLINGLY to make a new life. And considering how the slaves got here, there's no way they were willing to come...

#338 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 10:59 AM:

Frangano: (Please pardon the slip of the fingers in the last entry.)

After Googling on John Smith, I can report that he did not bring slaves to Virginia in 1619. The Captain left the colony in October 1609, having sustained a gunshot wound, went to England to recover, and NEVER returned to Virginia.

http://www.apva.org/history/jsmith.html

Please remember that 'John Smith' was a common name even in that day...

#339 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 01:46 PM:

Lori Coulson: That's two slips of the fingers. The onomastic angels will be weeping.

I take your point about their not being colonists (however, see below), but the original post to which I responded spoke of 'Virginians' not merely colonists.

For some reason my mind insisted on John Smith being there. Sorry.

BTW, this link states that the earliest black arrivals at Jamestown were not slaves, which would, surely, make them count as colonists.

#341 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 02:31 PM:

Fragano Ledgister:

The first line of your link says:

1619: Arrival of "20 and Odd" Blacks in late August of 1619 aboard a Dutch man of war. These blacks were sold/traded into servitude for supplies.

That doesn't sound like they came on their own, willingly, with intent to colonize. "sold/traded into servitude for supplies" sounds like they were treated as property, i.e. slaves.

And this site on Chronology of Slavery (among others) says that the ship was a Dutch slave ship, not a man of war:

"1619
The other crucial event that would play a role in the development of America was the arrival of Africans to Jamestown. A Dutch slave trader exchanged his cargo of Africans for food in 1619. The Africans became indentured servants, similar in legal position to many poor Englishmen who traded several years labor in exchange for passage to America. The popular conception of a racial-based slave system did not develop until the 1680's. (A Brief History of Jamestown, The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, Richmond, VA 23220, email: apva@apva.org, Web published February, 2000)"

#342 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 02:37 PM:

1608... The 300th aniversary of the foundation of my hometown, Quebec City...

#343 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 02:50 PM:

Fragano:

Fascinating...I knew that slavery started fairly early in the Colonies' history, but was unaware that the first traders were Dutch, since I knew that England was importing Africans at that time.

There's a lot of hoo-hah written about John Smith (some of it by the man himself), but I didn't think it fair that he be accused of something he didn't do.

Serge:

Jamestown has begun a year's worth of festivities, celebrating its 400th year of existence (1607 - 2007).

#344 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 02:59 PM:

Oops. Darn coffee hadn't kicked in yet. I had meant to say that QC was founded in 1608, and that its 400th anniversary (not its 300th) was coming up.

Jamestown, one year older than QC, Lori? Duly noted.

#345 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 03:13 PM:

Fragano:

I take your point about their not being colonists (however, see below), but the original post to which I responded spoke of 'Virginians' not merely colonists.

While I understand your point about considering the slaves Virginians, if the original post you are referring to is the one about the colonists intentions, it is also worth noting that

1) the original (white) colonists would probably have considered them property, not people, and therefore likely would not have considered them Virginians; and that

2) as slaves who did not choose to be there and had few if any choices in their actions, I am not certain that their intentions are relevant to the point being made, as regards to Dave Luckett's original post.

#346 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 07:08 PM:

Pedantic peasant & Lori Coulson:

I take your points. However,

(1)While the first blacks to arrive in Jamestown arrived on a slave ship, they were treated as indentured servants (i.e., just like the white servants who did the heavy lifting &c.). There's a difference between indentured servitude and slavery; the former is for a term and is not heritable, the latter is indefinite and heritable.

(2) The chronology I linked to points out that slavery per se did not make its appearance for decades, and the slave system took a century to put in place.

(3) At the time, Englishmen doubted, quite sincerely, whether they ought to own slaves. Slavery was only introduced in the West Indies (then restricted to the eastern Caribbean) around 1640, to provide another example, even though the English settlement of St Kitts dates to 1625, and Barbados was settled only a couple of years later.

(4) Most historians I've read attribute strict slave codes and efforts to separate blacks and whites to the aftermath of Bacon's Rebellion in 1676, in which black slaves and white indentured servants made common cause against their oppressors.

(5) While English traders had been trafficking in slaves for decades (Lori, you're undoubtedly thinking of Hawkings and Drake), until the late 17th century primacy in the trans-Atlantic slave trade was held by the Dutch and Portuguese. It was only after the Anglo-Dutch Wars and the Treaty of Utrecht that the English came to play a dominant role in trans-Atlantic slavery (the major customers, btw, being Spanish and Portuguese colonies).

#347 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 07:12 PM:

Serge & Lori: It's worth noting that while the quatercentenaries of Québéc City and Jamestown are coming up, Mexico City was a capital centuries before either Smith or Champlain were born.

#348 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 08:01 PM:

debcha: I was pretty sure that this was true,
and my Dean of Admissions just confirmed it -
if you are a permanent resident of the US ('green card' holder)
you are eligible for all federal and state student loans and scholarships.
Scholarships and loans from other sources (eg private), of course,
may have different requirements.

Do you (or the Dean) know
if this is something which had changed
in the last couple of decades?

I am a permanent resident.
I was denied a New York State Regents scholarship
( a small scholarship, which the state no longer offers )
in 1975, because I was not a citizen.
I was also told then that I was not eligible for school loans.

In the '80s,
I read a US News And World Report article
outlining rights of resident aliens;
the same restrictions on loans and scholarships
were mentioned there.

Never had a lawyer look at the situation;
it would never occur to my parents,
and I certainly never could afford one.


#349 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 08:20 PM:

Rob:

I am a resident alien and had no trouble in the 80s receiving either fellowships or loans from the University of California.

#350 ::: Melody says irritating link spam is irritating ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2011, 08:06 AM:

And I had to go through YOUR post again, spammer, as I could not seem to grasp the entire excrescence in one go.

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Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.