Monday, January 23, 2012

Addendum to Arizona

CNN blogged about it. I had to quit reading the comments. Some where just too hateful. Some of these uber-Americans need to take a look at American history and acknowledge it for what it is. There are some great and inspirational things in our history, but the basis of our claims are, well, pretty shaky.

Two students of mine--adult teachers--were chatting before class a while back. They were talking about immigration and expressing the, "they should all just go back to Mexico" perspective. I smiled at them and said, "I bet you two are grateful that they didn't think that way about your great grandparents."

One looked at me shocked. "Mine immigrated legally," he said, highly offended.

"Legal according to whose law?" I asked.

It is not a matter of debate. When our great grandparents immigrated "legally," there were a bunch of people, who had already claimed this land as theirs, standing on the shore, watching. No, not a bunch of people--there were nations of peoples.

Do people really have to be reminded of this, over and over? Would it even make any difference if they were? Sadly, it would not.


  1. You wouldn't catch any of the people who say that staying in Mexico, or waiting for anything as long as Mexicans have to wait to immigrate legally. Anybody who wants to stop illegal immigration needs to stop stonewalling and start supporting the complete overhaul of immigration law - to make it easier, not harder!

    And nobody ever whines about illegal immigrants from Canada.

  2. Good points, Peni. The really ugly debates over immigration have always had serious racial and ethnic overtones. This is not new. I'm not a scholar of it, but it seems that every new wave of immigrants, from day one, was decried by the groups that preceded them and subjected to poor treatment. I had to go to school in Norway and return home speaking the language before I learned that there were elders in my family who actually spoke Norwegian. They had hidden the fact because they didn't want to be branded as "dumb Norwegians;" they wanted to be considered Americans.

  3. The Arizona superintendent of public instruction was on NPR and Democracy Now misrepresenting what he saw in his visit to one of the MAS classrooms. In my research and analysis of what he said, I found a speech by Benjamin Franklin that talked of how he didn't want the swarthy or tawny Europeans to come to the US. He preferred it stay red and white. It is a fascinating document. I've quoted the relevant portions here:

    What it says to me is that legal or not, the US has a long history of "not you".

  4. Interesting, Debbie. This is what stands out for me, too. Given the facts of the matter the, "me not you" and "legal vs illegal" emotionally charged debates over immigration have always struck me as people speaking with a truly odd lack of perspective on their own histories.