Xenophobia is still alive and well in the United States.
It has always been easy for Americans to hate, it’s part of our culture and indeed not hating is an acquired trait. We hated the Natives, so we exterminated them as we began to build our nascent empire on the Eastern coast, then later in our westward expansion we continued the genocide.
We hated the Irish, but they were good enough to contribute to our western expansion by “working on the railroad.” We hated the Chinese, however they also were useful working on the railroad, coming from the western side. In 1868 two-thirds of the 4,000 workers who had built the transcontinental railroad over the Sierras were Chinese-Americans. After the driving of the “Golden Spike” we went back to hating both groups once again.
White America is culturally predisposed toward xenophobia and hatred. Taking our early history of burning “witches,” slavery and of course, genocide against Natives. These injustices were socially and intellectually acceptable. Things didn’t get much better through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries either. Many immigrants were driven by shame and did not hold on to their cultural traditions, because of fear many among them changed their names.
We “interred” the Japanese and some Germans during World War II, the Italians and Eastern Europeans also came in for their share of bias directed against them. Today, the current climate of fear and hatred is directed towards Muslims, Arabs and as well, Latino immigrants. Americans have always viewed foreigners with suspicion, fear and hatred, even when they needed these immigrants they still looked upon them as something less than human, just think of our favored idiom for foreigners: “alien.”
Known and very popular cialis coupon which gives all the chance to receive a discount for a preparation which has to be available and exactly cialis coupons has been found in the distant room of this big house about which wood-grouses in the houses tell.
In the opinion of this writer, I believe we must attribute this – pathological – hatred to the fact that, for the most part, the new wave of immigrants far from being ashamed of their culture, are holding on to it. Names are no longer being changed, music, culture and literature are being extolled within these groups. That angers people, they view these new immigrants as “not being American” enough. Indeed, most of the rhetoric surrounding the issue is always liberally sprinkled with phrases like; “my grandparents learned (or had to learn) to speak English to get by,” or “why do my tax dollars pay for bi-lingual signs, just learn the English language.” I won’t print some of the more objectionable rhetoric, but back in December 2006 I did an opinion piece entitled “Hate is US” which dovetails nicely with this article.
Since most xenophobes and racists have no sense of history they fail to grasp that the United States was always a multi-lingual country. In our early national history it was quite commonplace to hear more than 20 or 30 languages spoken in daily life. We had German, Dutch, French and Native languages. Our very first governing document, Articles of Confederation was written in both German and English and adopted by the Second Continental Congress on November 15, 1777.
History (in this case) does nothing but repeat itself, as it were. Language diversity was always tolerated (of course we may have tolerated the language even while being intolerant towards the speaker of the language) in early America until about the late 1800s, when we experienced a wave of Italian and Eastern European immigrants. The earlier Scandinavian and German immigrants were a OK as far as the xenophobic nativists were concerned and we see the same type of language used today, “they assimilated quickly.” If one peels away the bullshit the inescapable fact remains that the new immigrants were a few skin shades darker than those early Scandinavian and Germans.
A1911 Immigration Commission Report concluded, “Immigration from southern and eastern Europe posed ‘a serious threat to American society and culture’ and should therefore be greatly reduced.” This led to subsequent legislation meant to “Americanize” immigrants, especially those referred to as “lower classes” or “undesirables.” This legislation took the form of English literacy requirements for such things as employment, naturalization and suffrage. In New York the State Constitution was amended with the sole intent to disenfranchise over one million Yiddish-speaking citizens. California did the same thing relative to the Chinese to “protect the purity of the ballot box.” It should also be noted that at this time Native children were being taken from their families and forced to learn the English language, indeed punishment was meted out if they dared speak their own language. So we see, “the more things change…”
Then, as now, the common refrain was that “these people” were taking jobs away from “good Americans.” Whether it was the Chinese, Irish, Italians, Slavs, they were viewed as usurpers of the “American way of life.” Here in the beginnings of the twenty-first century the circle remains unbroken as we hear the same tired rhetoric, and we see the same crimes being committed by those who hate. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center there has been a rise in violence (and threats of violence) as well as an increase in the number of hate groups in the United States. Much of this rise in rhetoric and violence can be directly attributed to the immigration debate.
Just as the above mentioned Immigration Commission – made up of many familiar political names – our political leaders today fuel the fires of violence and hatred. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that there is s direct correlation between the “politics of fear” as practiced by the Bush Administration and the upsurge in the numbers of hate groups as well as violence against immigrants and others perceived as “different.”
According to George Lakoff, a UC Berkeley University cognitive scientist and author of "Moral Politics" the anxiety-provoking anti-terrorism actions and messages of the Bush administration fall into the category of the “strict father” mode of communication.
This is the same mode of communication used by all dictators throughout history, be they ruthless or, seemingly – as in Bush’s case – benevolent. Reagan employed much of the same tactics – on a lesser scale – he might well have been referred to as a “strict grandfather,” his administration also saw an up tick in violence, much of it directed at the gay community.
Many progressives fail to recognize – or verbalize - just how insidious this type of political tacit approval of hatred and violence has become. Instead they rally behind the platitudes of the “gatekeeper” mainstream Democrats who utter all of the correct sound bites while at the same time maintaining the status quo. This is evidenced in the Democrats’ say nothing, mean nothing, position on immigration reform as articulated by Howard Dean: “America needs comprehensive immigration reform that strengthens our borders, protects U.S. workers and their wages, and allows immigrants who pay taxes and obey the law to earn the opportunity to apply for the responsibilities of citizenship.” (Italics added).
Dean and the Democrats want to protect U.S. workers and their wages, in the context of immigration, but worry not one iota about U.S. workers and their wages in the context of the corporate bloodsuckers that have been suppressing wages for the past thirty-plus years. They refuse to talk about the 800 pound gorilla that has systematically worked to destroy unions by off shoring; they turn a continuing blind eye to the Walmartization of the American work force, and they “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” when it comes to the 50 million Americans without health coverage.
But it’s okay to hate, damned infernal immigrants, taking our women and work. Those same people who are involved in the intensification of hate groups across this country, are those self-same folks that Howard Dean – “I still want to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pick up trucks…” – once wanted to suck up to. These “guys” and their Confederate flags, along with their Swastikas, are in the forefront of the xenophobic hatred now running rampant in this country. The Republicans love them and the Democrats – by virtue of their cowardly silence – embolden them.
The internment camps are in place, the Homeland/Fatherland enforcers have a wealth of information on everyone at their fingertips, when will the “roundups” begin? I had better clarify that, the roundups have been ongoing since September 11, 2001; when will they come for the rest of us? Remember Bush’s mantra, “with us or against us.”
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