I haven't blogged about the immigration protests because, well, because I didn't feel like blogging about them. During a lunchtime conversation, Don Quixote and I decided we were in agreement: We believe the vitality of immigrants is good for the nation's health, and we strongly disapprove of those who break the laws as they currently exist — and who get a free pass for doing so. I'm with the Captain, who objects to those who have
the temerity to demand that we allow them to live here without following our laws governing entry into the US as well as continue to provide government services to them. In the meantime, people who come here legally and wish to stay wind up having to go home and reapply for permanent residency. Joe Gandelman has a guest poster from Britain who cannot avoid leaving the US after coming here legally and showing nothing but loyalty to his new home.
As more information comes out from the demonstrations, though, I'm getting the urge to blog. What really disturbs me about the demonstrations, as I gain more information about them, is the intense hostility they express to the United States. In the "picture is worth a thousand words" category, Michelle Malkin has this image of flags hoisted by students in Southern California:
03/28 : Student protest
Whittier area students from Pioneer, California and Whittier high schools walked out of classes to protest the proposed federal immigration bill March 27, 2006. The protestors put up the Mexican flag over the American flag flying upside down at Montebello High. (Leo Jarzomb/Staff photo)
Going back to the Captain, he points out that this hostility is part of the growth of a fringe movement, present since the late 1960s (a decade one wishes one could wipe out politically), that envisions a return to 18th Century borders:
The rallies in Southern California only ripped the lid off of a well-known dynamic in the culture that mixes native guilt with radical illegal-immigrant activism to fuel the La Raza dream of Aztlan, the reconquest of the the Southwest and its return to Mexico or existence as a separate nation. This radical notion has been around since 1969 and plays a part in the fringe politics of the Southwest. However, the increasing sense of entitlement for illegals in the area has led this impulse out of the shadows and into the forefront of the amnesty movement by enabling people to argue that the illegals are returning to their own land and that the US lacks the sovereignty to declare otherwise.
I know Aztlan is out there, but I doubt that many of these students are thinking in those specific separatist terms. They're just working off the multiculturalist template, which says that America is a debased culture and that any other culture is better. Under that rubric, there's no doubt that the American flag deserves to be treated with disrespect, especially when that disrespect is explicitly contasted with a heightened respect shown to the Mexican flag.
This kind of thinking, which is less sophisticated than the political goal Aztlan advances, still strikes me as crazy. These kids left Mexico — or their families left Mexico before their births — because America was better. Or at least they perceived it to be so. Had that not been the case, they would have stayed in Mexico. America has a better economy, America has better opportunities, America has a better lifestyle even for the poor (if by better you mean more access to modern technology such as cars, TVs, radios, computers, etc). Given the reality of their lives — leaving worse for better — why are they so bound and determined to bring about changes in America that will make it duplicate the Mexico they left behind? One word: Multiculturalism.
Thus, the irrational thinking these kids display really highlights the poison that is multiculturalism. Previous groups of immigrants sought desperately to embrace what American had to offer. The group with which I'm most familiar — and about which I can speak with most authority — is the Jewish group that flooded into America from the 1880s through the early 1910s or so. They knew what they were escaping: the economic dead-end of the shtetls, a dead-end enlivened periodically by murderous pogroms. When they got to America, they knew what they wanted: they wanted their children to leave the tenements and become true Americans, with myriad economic opportunities. They knew how to achieve it: through education and hard work. Another group that has followed this same escape and success story is, of course, the Asian immigrant group, a group that the multiculturalist poison has pretty much bypassed.
And then there are the Latin American immigrants. Many — most? — are incredibly hardworking people, grateful for the opportunity to make a better life for themselves and their family. However, a disproportionately large minority came here to escape the bad times in Latin America, only to be embraced by a multiculturalism that says you can have it all: American prosperity, without American hard work, without American English, and without abiding by American laws. And the fruit of that terrible mindset has been on display in the streets of L.A.
Truth be told, while I was pretty passive about the whole immigration reform thing before, seeing these demonstrations has very much hardened my view. I want (a) much harsher enforcement of immigration laws and (b) a federal edit requiring schools to teach old-fashioned civics — a civics that was about the benefits of being in American, and the concurrent burdens and responsibilities — if they don't wish to lose federal funds.
UPDATE: For more information about the mechanics behind the rallies, check out this Ben Johnson article.
UPDATE II: Please, please read Peggy Noonan's lyrically beautifully Wall Street Journal column about teaching immigrants to love our country.