Monday, May 01, 2006

I went to a restaurant last night and as I was leaving, a waitress stopped a patron who was wearing the above tee shirt to ask him about it. I thought "oh boy: here it comes." I didn't stay to see how it ended up.
The Mayday illegal immigrant laydown may or may not be the Y2K moment of 2006 - the crisis that wasn't - but the media have certainly been salivating in rapt anticipation of a big disruption to public life. I want to believe they will be disappointed, but who can say? I suppose we'll know in a few hours.

If I couldn't think of Mexican examples of exceeding wealth and popularity in the USA, I might say, yeah, they're getting a real bum rap, but the fact is that illegal immigrants have been a tremendous drain on the public coffers in the USA for a very long time, while not contributing in the form of income taxes. While I concede they contribute largely in the service sector, if Mexico and its culture are so wonderful, why do they leave there? Also, if they are demanding to turn the USA into a Mexican colony, how can they expect more than the squalid conditions and violent, defective culture they came from? Here in Texas, legal Mexican-Americans are already profoundly respected members of the community with large flourishing businesses that count people of many other cultures among their best patrons - I'm not seeing the disrespect the media claim Latinos are getting from other Americans.

The fact is that for hundreds of years and for better or worse, people have been leaving beloved homelands and throwing their lot in with other Americans, facing great adversity and prejudice upon arrival. Yeah, it's crappy that people don't just automatically respect each other because it's the decent thing to do, but we're basically pack animals and we like us/them equations. Ergo the wild popularity of professional sports.

Around the industrial revolution, Italian and Sicilian immigrants were the bottom of the social barrel. Did they bitch and moan and insist government forms be written in the mother tongue? Who knows, but they found a way to make living here work and took the crappy factory work there was in abundance, instead of trying to break down the system and prove what big swinging balls they had. They sucked it up and adapted and although their old grannies never learned English, their kids and grandkids have become wildly successful and live happy, prosperous lives as vaccinated and public-schooled Americans, some of them even enjoying the witness protection program. In short, they were grateful for the opportunity to live here instead of the economic deadend of the hopeless tuberculosis-riddled places they came from, and appreciative of a society in which they had a fighting chance to flourish and raise families free of violent political revolutions.

Then along came the big potato crisis in Ireland, and massive waves of Irish folks came to these fair shores and would you believe it? Suddenly being Italian wasn't the crappiest thing anyone could think of. Remember that nightmare tornado scene in The Wizard Of Oz where there's a store's Help Wanted sign that says "Irish need not apply?" This was the great depression, 1930s America, and discrimination against Irish people was common and accepted. Yup--you read correctly - white people discriminating against white people. It's a cycle. Yes, it sucks, but it's likely that someone born in the desert 100 yards north of the Rio Grande tonight may in fact one day have a housemaid and gardener of Ukranian and Thai Hill Tribe extraction. That's just the way it goes.

When Mexican pop star Selena died, Howard Stern caught all kinds of hell for saying that hispanics are melodramatic. Their outcry over this was melodramatic off the chain. Turning the streets of the USA and the wheels of commerce into a mercurial gauge with the fluctuation of a Mexican soap opera is, in fact, the fast track to turning the USA into the same rundown, crappy place they came from. Way to go, losers!


June Cleaver's Revenge said...

Excellent post!!!

Thomas J Wolfenden said...

Thanks for mentioning the Irish. Not many people know about that, unfortunately. I'm mostly Irish, but my family on my mother's side came from Germany. The FIRST thing they did when they got here was learn English.

I know, a unique concept.

And living in the southwest for as long as I did, I would look around and say "WE went to war with Mexico over THIS? Give it back!"

I used to call Arizona when I lived there "Northern Occupied Mexico"

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Your piece was very well spoken.
Immigration really is cyclical, as you say. And the most recent waves of immigrants migrate to areas of the country/city where: a) people whom they know live,
b) the living is afforable, and
c) work is available and accessible.

When Jerry's family came to Canada, they got off the train in Toronto even though they had tickets for Winnipeg, because that's where they knew people. They settled in an area of largely Polish immigrants like themselves,and eventually as they prospered, they moved on. The next wave of residents in that area were from China and Thailand, and after that from Jamaica and Haiti.

I understand the importance of Mexican migrants to the work force in the US, but can't understand how those without proper working papers could possibly expect the same rights as those with them.

phlegmfatale said...

jcr - thanks, hon!

ranger tom - my pleasure - I just wanted to cast back within the lifetime of many people alive today and point out that just being white is no ticket to milk and honey, as is implied by protest movement I'm mentioning.

barbara - I worked in an office of a doctor who had many patients come to the USA to have their babies so they could stay and get free treatment, particularly for high-risk babies. In fact, one of the babies was born to a pair of Mexican doctors from Mexico City who had a high-risk pregnancy and came to Texas and had the baby and didn't pay a DIME of the hundreds of thousands in medical bills it took to keep their child alive. So it's not even just the hard-scrabble folks who are coming here for a better life who are screwing our public service for indigents. Obscene. It's insulting.

Dick said...

Just because I can, and the fact that I want to prove a point.
I'm dropping about $1500.00 into the economic machine after I leave the office this afternoon.

Btw, absolutely zero on the no-show account here at my place. Every last one showed up ready to work and every last one had bills to pay, and not much patience with the illegals.
I'm proud of my boys.

Maven said...

Great thought provoking post!!

All I know is, my mother's paternal grandparents came here from Italy, unable to speak a word of English. They came here, learned the language. "Tomasso" became "Thomas," "Anna" became "Ann." They fully immersed and embraced all that America was. So much so that no Italian was uttered in their homes, save for FOOD and the occasional insult. As a result, the only bit of me that I recognize as my "Italian side" would be my worship and appreciation of food. Not just Italian. Here I am three generations after, and I embrace all there is of America as it pertains to food, whether it be Italian, Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Indian... you name it.

Learning a language seems so small of an effort to not only "fit in," but to increase one's value in today's workforce.

And of course, being here LEGAL and being a TAXPAYING CITIZEN perhaps then they would have some "SAY" in the way things are done here. What's going on right now is nothing short of an invasion.

I do find it ironic and sad that our government can't protect us from the t*rrorists, but are going apeshit over folks who for the most part are here doing jobs that pay so little most Americans would rather opt for unemployment benefits. The bigger issue rather than herding 13 Million folks out of here is the pittance that passes for "Minimum Wage" these days.

Oh and PS, the idea of setting up a colony isn't that great of an idea. Look at the post-Civil War invention called Liberia. I don't see how that's a viable solution.

phlegmfatale said...

dick - I'm glad you didn't have to fire anyone. Maybe the illegals in Texas have a little more sense and know which side their bread is buttered on after all. I went and spent some money today, too, and I'm going back out tonight.

nugget - Great point - learning the language here is part of being a viable worker in the marketplace.

I don't agree that every single job in society should pay a living wage - some jobs are entry-level and SHOULD be worked by high school kids or people who just want a wee bit of extra change.

And agreed, Liberia is a tragic mess.

John Mutford said...

I can agree that illegal immigrants shouldn't be complaining to be treated with the same rights and privileges as those that immigrated legally. But, as for the Mexican immigrants being proud of their culture, good for them. I'm not saying they shouldn't adapt a little into American life/ culture if that's where they chose to go, but really, they can also hold onto to the good things about Mexican culture. To say they shouldn't have left if it was so great is so ignorant. Culture is one thing, poverty is another. And while they may be linked from time to time, I doubt the Mexican immigrants left their country because they hated horns or the smell of tacos.

And while we're on the topic, I can't believe that Bush can complain that the "Star Spangled Banner" was performed in Spanish. They were still singing the "Star Spangled Banner" for frig sakes, it's not like they were singing "Cuba Forever!" I've heard O Canada done in about a dozen different languages and the thought that it should only be sung in English or French has never even occured to me.

phlegmfatale said...

John, thanks for your comments. I'm not saying Mexicans shouldn't be proud of and celebrate their culture. 4 days from now is Cinqo de Mayo, which is a massive celebration held every year and celebrated by whites and hispanics in Texas, and I think that's great - I have no problem with that. You may think it's ignorant, but I do say if people block the streets in my city and try to prevent society from functioning normally while they march and wave a Mexican flag, yes, I absolutely declare that such people have no business here, period. I also don't appreciate gang culture whether it originated in Asia, Guatemala, or in Oakland California - it's all defective and not worth salvaging. I will not apologize for saying so, either.

I wouldn't presume to tell you what is appropriate for the Canadian national anthem, but thanks for sharing your thoughts on ours.

In the USA, we depend on people being able to communicate with one another here, else we are a melting pot no more. Learning to communicate on the terms of the society you expect to benefit from is not too much to ask, and should in no way be considered disrespectful of one's native culture. In the words of one of the 20th century's most patriotic artists - the Russian-born Irving Berlin - God Bless America.

:P fuzzbox said...

I can remember the day that Selena died because the day after on every streetcorner was a vender selling Selena memoribilia.

Линдсей Иосифовна said...

Okay, this has nothing to do with this post, but I'll put it here anyway:

My camera is nothing fancy, just a Kodak EasyShare C340. It takes absolutely lovely pictures outdoors, and rather mediocre ones inside, because it is pretty cheap.

Tam said...

My best buddy Marko must not have know that it was "immigrant boycott day", what with him dropping by and buying a rifle and all...

Doesn't he know that he's supposed to be all bitter and anti-American today? (Which would pose a dilemma, what with him actually being an official American and all now...) ;)

phlegmfatale said...

fuzzbox - for real! And I'm sure all the proceeds were donated to charity.

liusia - thanks for the info - I loved your White Sands photos on your blog.

tam - woops - I guess Marko didn't hear about that. Wow - is he Dutch? Belgian? Yes, this is the day for him to ask not what he can do for this country but what this country can do for him.

:P fuzzbox said...

Something that struck me yesterday was the fact that the protesters were yelling 'Yes we can' in Spanish. I asked someone why they screamed this, Yes we can What? I was told that it was for Yes we can speak and learn English. All I can say is WTF.

phlegmfatale said...

fuzzbox - the irony is staggering, eh?

Oh, and for them to screw their employers by not showing up is so biting the hands that feed them. A friend just told me that Mi Cocina, a Mexican restaurant owned by a Mexican-American, couldn't open 21 of their restaurants Monday because no one showed up for work. Wow, way to stick it to the man!

Also, my feeling on the initial protests earlier that Mexican American teenagers took the opportunity to blow off school for a day, which teenagers LOVE to do, anyway.