The new racism

The raging debate over immigration serves the unfortunate but all-too-American need to feel superior to other less-than-white groups of humanity.

It brings out racism and places it in the forefront of American political debate.

Oh, we can sugar-coat the debate with rhetoric about the economic impact of so many immigrants working so many low-paying jobs but in the end the core of the debate is good-old American racist-bred fear.

Latin-Americans now comprise the largest minority group in America and that scares the hell out of white Anglo-Saxon Protestants who must find someone to hate and fear. Forget about blacks. They're now a minority among minorities. Let's focus on the Mexicans.

But let's try and hide the racism by talking about jobs and crime and other buzzwords that mask our true intent. That's the American way.

People who used to cross the street to avoid blacks now do the same when Hispanics approach. Nowadays the ethnic slur of choice is "wetback" or "greaser" or "spic." The names change but the hate is the same.

Yet those whose protests originate from racism scream and moan about how their real concern is that all these immigrants will take away jobs while they ignore the fact that most illegal aliens work jobs that most Americans feel is beneath them: Cleaning hotel rooms, mowing yards, working hours on end in the hot sun hanging shingles on a roof.

Back in the 60s, the United Auto Workers, upset over the influx of foreign cars into America, issued bumper stickers that read: "Buy a foreign car. Put 10 Americans out of work."

That prompted someone with their head screwed on straight to put out a rival bumper sticker that read: "Buy a foreign car because 10 Americans don't want to work anyway."

Americans created the job market for immigrants by deciding that certain service sector jobs were beneath them and that anyone who worked as a maid or served up cheeseburgers at the local McDonalds was a second-class citizen.

So it's hard to blame a motel owner for hiring an immigrant who will work his or her butt off instead of a complaining, whiny American who feels the job is beneath their dignity, assuming that owner can find a complaining, whiny American even willing to take the job.

Knee-jerk right-wingers scream foul because the immigration bill that just failed in the Senate included a guest-worker program that they claim is amnesty for illegal aliens.

Yet those who scream the loudest forget that most of us are descendants of immigrants and the earliest of those were also illegal aliens who came to a new land uninvited and made a home for themselves.

If immigrants are indeed invading this country then it is just history repeating itself. That's how America became America.

Comments

  1. Roadapple00

    I once read an editoral about all immigrants. I believe it appeared in a FL newpaper. Basically it said, ‘you come here, speak our language and do things the way it is done in America. We do not care how it was done in your country. If you want to do it that way, go home’.

    If anyone has read this or has a copy, I would like to get it.

    Thanx

    Roger

  2. Richard0896

    My objections to the immigration bill currently before the Senate are as follows:
    1. The welfare costs and Social Security payments that will be mandated for the immigrants and their families. Since these immigrants will be for the most part low skilled and low paid, these costs will be born by us middle income taxpayers who now live under the threat of a bankrupt Medicare and Social Security system. Didn’t Sens. Kennedy and Dodd express on camera to the news media that they should be granted these benefits? I would be much more likely to support the bill, if it mandated employers to pay the welfare costs for the families of the immigrants.

    2. The temporary worker provision will not work. We need only look to the example of European countries like France, Germany etc. who created temporary worker programs only to find that the temporary workers did not leave. Now they have large numbers of a disgruntled immigrant population that has become a breeding ground for terrorist.

    3. The HB1 visas are already suppressing the salaries and wages of American citizens who have borrowed money and spent years educating themselves for high tech employment. This provision, like other provisions in the bill are being pushed and financed by business interests like the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Round Table and similar special interest organizations representing high tech industries, construction and building businesses, hospitality and restaurant businesses wealthy families individuals who want a source of cheap labor that they can let go and send them out to be the responsibility of the taxpayers.

    Make the business interests who are the ones most responsible for financing the mad rush to pass this bill, responsible for the welfare, Medicare, and Social Security costs which have been estimated by several reputable organizations like the Heritage Foundation to total in the trillions of dollars and I’ll support the bill.

  3. bryan mcclellan

    Welcome to the USA. If you are here legally obey our laws, and if you have time,learn some English,it will smooth your transition.If you are here illegally go home and seek the proper channels to enter our country.In the meantime,while you are HOME, why not try to address the corruption that has sent you packing from your place of birth and do something to correct it. We have enough troubles of our own without having to deal with yours.By being here illegally, services denied needy Americans who can’t afford them are diverted to you who possess no right to said benefits.Plus,for you they are provided at no cost because all you have to do is move on when the bill comes due and then we have to cover it with tax dollars.Hard working, doing the work Americans won’t do,BULLSHIT, you are THIEVES profiting off the backs of the middle class tax payer.And by the way this is a free country so don’t call me a bigot, I’m exercising my right to free speech.

  4. Hal Brown

    I wrote in my column “Local politics warts and all” about some isolated examples ugly racism coming out as the Mashpee Wampanoag (the good people who met the Pilgrims) move towards builidng a resort casino here.

    Those who have joined an organized effort to stop the casino claim that people like myself who are vocal supporters (I am part of a website called Casino-Friend.com )claim that when we bring up racism among a minority of the anti-casino group we are playing “the race card”.

    When we’re discussing Mexican and other Latin immigrants or native Americans and point out underlying racism, and then are accused of playing the race card, I suggest that if there wasn’t such a card to play those of us who see it wouldn’t be talking about it.

    Saying it’s a race card doesn’t mean we’re wrong.

  5. Ladywolf55

    Either everyone gets in here legally for FREE, or they DON’T. I resent MY husband having to pay mega-bucks to become a citizen, while not taking ANYTHING from the government in return, while the Mexicans or any other illegal immigrants trot in here scott-free, suck off the teat of the government till, and try to get us to speak their language rather than vice-versa. That is not racism. That is wanting JUSTICE FOR ALL!!!

    And while we’re discussing it, I agree this is just one of the many issues being used by the corporate snake-heads to divide and conquer this country.

  6. Paolo

    Allow me to interject a libertarian perspective into the debate over immigration.

    In a just world, America would control its border to keep out criminals, thugs, epidemics–you name it. But if a foreigner can demonstrate he or she is not a criminal, he or she should be let in and be allowed to work on the up-and-up.

    Unfortunately, we don’t live in a just world.

    One faction supports things just as they are. These tend to be businesses that like people coming here illegally, because they can be ruthlessly exploited, since they don’t have the protection of the law.

    Another faction wants all illegal immigrants rounded up and shipped home. These tend to be people who perceive the immigrants are stealing jobs or living off the welfare system.

    My view as a libertarian is that there should be no regulation of economic acts between consenting adults. If one person is willing to do a job for less money, he or she should be allowed to contract with an employer to do so.

    In like manner, if a company wants to sell widgets for a lower price than its competitors, it should also be allowed to do so.

    Governments have the duty to secure the border. Once that is done, immigration should be allowed to anyone who passes a basic background check for things like criminal history or disease.

    The same arguments being made now against Mexican immigrants were made a century ago against freeing black slaves: after all, they would undercut the wages of white workers!

    Appealing to racism is very convenient for those who want to continually exploit people who have no rights under the law.

  7. Sandra Price

    I have lived with Mexicans all my life. I never had a racist feeling about them at all. The last two homes I’ve own in Arizona have found me living next door to entire Mexican communities. If anything I was the minority. In California, as a teenager we all dated Mexicans, Jews, Arabs, Japanese as we were all beach bums and understood each other.

    I really have to think about this Doug, and see if it fits. I want the borders closed because we are turning into a Mexican community of ILLEGALS. I use a lot of Mexican labor but know them to be here legally and honestly. They do charge less for their labors and are probably the only workers who can take this heat! For this reason I tip them generously. I get my money’s worth with these people and they are worth every penny as they are reliable.

  8. Bill Robinson

    I bristle with contempt at those who say of an immigrant: “They can’t even speak English.” I reply, “Perhaps not, but how well can YOU speak Spanish, or Mandarin, or Vietnamese, or Italian etc., etc?” These bigots, for that is what they really are, find a need to immediately change the subject.
    Sure this country is an English speaking country, and in my travels I have seen the efforts people all over the world put forth to learn to speak English. However, English is a very difficult language to learn (as evidenced by over 67% of our native born Americans who cannot speak or write properly,) and for many the goal is not realized, or at least not immediately.
    I speak 7 languages, none as well as English but all with some degree of fluency. This is not meant as a claim to super intelligence, but simply to illustrate that whereever I have gone in the world, the only people who have ever made fun of me and my pronounciation or mis-pronounciation of their native tongue were the French, and everyone knows about ‘THEM’. After all, they are the people who perfected the art of making perfume so they would not have to bathe!
    But I digress, and admit to a great deal of bigotry when it comes to French people. The point is that language skills are learned skills, and some are able to learn them more easily than others. These skills are NOT a sign of intelligence, just an ability to learn and remember sounds different than those we learned in our early years. To deride, ridicule, and insult a person because he or she cannot speak YOUR native tongue very well is not a good reason for anything. It is quite common in the USA and in France. I have never experienced it elsewhere.
    Bigotry and ridicule of immigrants is nothing new in the USA–any ethnic group who followed the original English settlers has experienced these attitudes. So we should not be surprised when someone tries to cloak their anti-xxx feelings in the cloak of whether an immigrant is “legal” or “illegal.” All the known-to-me generations of my family have felt this bigotry, despite the fact that my grandparents came to this wonderful country and entered legally and properly. Those facts did not save them from the insults and derision heaped upon one ethnic group by another. Hell, the Italians are still being subjected to these bigoted attitudes in movies like the Godfather, and the Jews are still being accused of running all the banks, newspapers and whatever else some bigot can blame them for (please explain the Mellon Banks and the Murdock Newspapers, or the McCormack Enterprises aka The Chicago Tribune. Certainly the owners of the Washington Post, the Graham family, would not be classified as Jews.
    It’s stupid, but it is what exists in America. We should not be surprised when the Mexicans or the Cubans, or the Viets, or Chinese, or … are subjected to the same rude comments and behavior as those who came before them. And then there are the untouchables–the “African-Americans.” Good grief, if you say something bad about a negro you are immediately branded as ‘anti-black.’ I know, I criticized Barak Obama and was accused of being a hater of black people. Actually I prefer brown ones to the black or pink variety. Golden ones are also good, as well as pale yellows. They are far less bigoted than either the pink or black variety.
    Hell, the “Rainbow Coalition” was as much a coalition as Bush’s in Iraq, and the only thing “Rainbow” about it was the pot of gold that Jesse Jackson mined at either end, and still continues to mine–and YES! I am jealous of his $4,000 suits and undisclosed but obviously huge income.
    So let’s cut the Mexican immigrants some slack, or else you might find yourself cutting your own grass.
    Bill Robinson

  9. adamrussell

    Personally I dont believe that the penalty for being here illegally should be that they are allowed to stay here illegally but work for slave wages. Make them legal or send them home. No middle ground.

  10. bryan mcclellan

    Slack you say, am I afforded slack when I break the law? Hell no !Why should we be forced to adapt to their culture? With Spanish it takes sixty seconds of babbling to say the same thing the English language can in ten,and your point is English is too difficult for the poor things….Bullshit..I’ve been on job sites where graffiti is all over the place stating FUCK AMERICA,DEATH TO THE GRINGOS,THIS WILL SOON BE MEXICO, etc.etc. I was trying to be fair minded earlier but slack for THIEVES is just too much to ask.Point of origin or fluency in the language has nothing to do with it. Total contempt for the hand that feeds them on top of breaking the law is a way of life they were taught in their home country.If they can spell curses on outhouse walls then they damn sure should be able to learn the rest of our language. I mow my own Fucking grass,unlike all the fat lazy fucks out there who are aiding and abetting these criminal blood suckers. Slack ? The only slack they deserve is not having to wait long in a detention center before we ship their asses back where they came from!!!!!!!!!!!!! Illegal is Illegal PERIOD !!!!!!!!

  11. lm945

    People keep screaming about “no amnesty for the illegals” and how they should all be rounded up and deported.

    I have one question for them.

    How?

    The number I’ve heard bandied about is 12 million illegals in the U.S. How do they propose we round up 12 million people, kick them out of the country, and keep them out? It’s logistically impossible.

    Some form of amnesty is the only logical choice.

  12. Carl Nemo

    All this racist nonsense won’t mean a tinkers damn when the U.S. fails as a nation. A dollar bill is the most egalitarian facilitator of non-racist behavior in the world at least for the time being. Life is like a “shit sandwich, the more bread you have, the less shit you eat”. Bill Cosby, Oprah et. al. are quite wealthy and rest assured there’s a bunch of whitey’s running after their butts saying “yes Ms. Winfield, yowzah Mr. Cosby etc.! The almighty dollar is a great leveler when it comes to racist issues!

    Unfortunately the U.S. government has been commandeered by thieves, swindlers and worse! They’ve stolen the U.S. Treasury’s credit card and are spending this nation into oblivion.

    So while everyone is mewling about racism, gay rights, and a “woman’s choice” this once great, late nation, America is going down a financial drain; i.e., a rathole!

    None of our obsessions with racism, gays, a “woman’s right to choose” will mean a tinkers damn if we fail as a nation. Are there any other nations on earth to step up to the plate to simply say “no” to tyranny…I think not!? You need to kick your reps, your senators, and your leaders out of office asap on their next bid for re-election. They are all traitors to the Republic and the principals on which it was founded!

    If you fail to do so, your skin color won’t mean anything compared to the yoke of NWO/AIPAC slavery under which you will suffer…!

    Carl Nemo **==

    p.s. American’s including their infants in the crib owe a mind-boggling $300,000 per capita!

  13. jbaspen

    Doug – You’re usually the preacher & I’m the choir!
    But here is where I get off the so-called progressive bus!

    When I saw THOUSANDS (last year) of working class white and black Americans scrambling for jobs at a new suburban Chicago Walmart, or hundreds of black and Puerto Rican kids scrounging for jobs at a new New York fast food franchise, the idea of millions of new poor, desperate, often illiterate residents is mind-blowing! We don’t even take care of our OWN less fortunate citizens! Hell, in our phony economic models and reports, our poor don’t even exist.

    Here in Western Colorado, parents in one school system were forced to form their own Charter School (in Carbondale). The reasons were because because of Latino gangs, bullying, and, as one mother related to me, a learning atmosphere straight out of “Lord of the Flies”! Wealthy Colorado developers and hoteliers love to exploit cheap Latino labor. Except that “cheap labor” is the ultimate oxymoron. The whole laundry list of social costs – overburdened schools, criminal justice systems, hospitals, social services, etc. – gets dumped on us! By “us” I mean the American working and middle class, not America’s aspiring noveau rich nobility who cannot mow their own lawns, take care of their kids, or powder their own behinds! Wealthy business interests have already bought Congress and Universty professors to inform us that America desperately needs millions of poor, unskilled immigrants. While “Beelza Bubb” gets a lot of it right – the rich love to pit one group versus another – it still doesn’t change the fact that allowing tens of millions of low skilled individuals into this country is both pure, unalloyed greed and a disaster waiting to happen.

  14. murph

    Doug,
    I guess it’s been a long time since you’ve done any manual labor. You sound like a neocon yuppie completely out of touch with what is going on, at least out West.
    For one thing, since when are Mexicans a different race from whites? They are still Caucasian, aren’t they? My son’s best friend growing up in California was of Mexican-American descent and my best friend in my neighborhood now in Oregon is as well. I used to work with La Raza Unida and supported the Grape Boycott back in the day, and I am not anti-Mexican.
    But, I am adamantly opposed to the immigration policy and I’ll tell you why. Let me give you my town, South Lake Tahoe as an example of what the corporate exploitation of illegal immigrants has done to my former town.
    The family owned casinos hired a mixture of people to work as housekeepers, etc. Eventually, the big corporations bought out the casinos and then they hired immigrants almost exclusively. They also subcontracted them all and got rid of benefits and increased the workload. Eventually, the immigrants worked their way up to supervisory positions and now you can’t get a job there if you don’t speak Spanish, or Filipino, or are a temp from Europe. Their kids went to the public schools, of course, and overwhelmed the system with all the English as a second language and support services for them. I have worked with kids that were Hispanic, but got fired from jobs at McDonalds (actually it was KFC) when they found out that they couldn’t speak Spanish. A friend of mine was a battered woman who sought help from the local women’s center. They had no openings for women who didn’t speak Spanish. I tried to take a bus, and couldn’t read the bus schedule because they didn’t have any in English.
    I worked in the County Office of Family Support and we had seven computer pages of Hispanic names – all of whom had the same social security number. But, it was against the rules to confront them on the phony numbers. Each woman who applied for support gave numerous possible fathers, all with fake names and ss numbers that had to get DNA tests. Each test cost $700. Now, Californians were on death row at the time and couldn’t get DNA tests to prove their innocence, but the state was paying for all these bogus DNA tests and paying child support for the illegal offspring.
    Every job that requires working with the public goes to Mexicans first. Even a white kid who has had years of Spanish classes is passed over for these positions because he speaks Spanish as a second language. So, now the town is one third Mexican (most of whom are illegal, except for their offspring)and the locals are moving away because they and their kids can’t work there.
    Meanwhile, the corporations are taking advantage of the illegals by requiring horrible job and housing conditions. The workers take speed, now meth, to be able to work hard enough to keep up. So, now there is a big meth problem as well. The rich people in the mansions all over the place there, hire servants to do their lawns and take care of their homes at pathetic wages and can get away with it because the illegals have no rights.
    This causes a lot of resentment, the Mexican kids are justifiably mad as hell, and beat up the white kids.
    So, wake up and smell the coffee, Doug. The problem is much more complex than you think. The problem is not so much with the Mexican people, it is with the ruling class who is systematically transferring the wealth of the land into their own pockets and creating serfdom for all the rest.

  15. dr. boris

    Doug,

    As a scientist I’m well aware that the average genetic differences between whites/blacks/hispanics/asians/whatever is small compared to the difference between me and my brother – not to mention me and my wife. So, on this basis alone, there is clearly no legitimate justification whatsoever for any kind of racism.

    Which is not to say that I don’t find certain aspects of certain cultures extremely offensive. The treatment of women in parts of the Mideast comes easily to mind.

    That said, there are, in my mind, perfectly legitimate reasons for controlling immigration:

    Population–

    It’s my best estimate that the world now has at least six times the number of people that it can reasonably support long-term with our standard of living. And that this country itself has three times what it can support long-term. Advances in technology may change this in the future, but they haven’t yet.

    Politicians, business leaders, clergymen – everyone with something to gain – incessantly promote “growth” as the solution to every problem. It isn’t. Endless growth, like cancer, destroys its host, and it will destroy us in the end. Each additional person in the country requires additional space, housing, infrastructure, manufacturing capacity, agricultural capacity, you name it, all created from scratch from ever dwindling resources. And all, of necessity, created by those already here before the new person arrives.

    Think about that last line… If our population doubles every forty years – as it has – that means that, in one working lifetime, in addition to maintaining the civilization we have – homes, industry, infrastructure, parks, schools, everything – we have to build an entire, complete, new civilization from scratch – and with no additional resources to the ones we already have. Traffic congestion getting you down?

    “Growth” is the ultimate addictive, destructive drug, a Ponzi scheme to end all Ponzi schemes. It will end us too if we’re not careful.

    Fairness–

    Americans are rich not just because they own nice houses and fancy cars, and have lots of room to play in, but mostly because of a vast infrastructure of roads, utilities, parks and other commons, schools and universities, industrial capacity, intellectual capacity, clean air and water. and so on. Granted much of this is actually owned by a few, but, even so, as long as there’s a boundary around it all, it doesn’t matter who owns it, it benefits everyone within the boundary.

    When an immigrant comes here he cuts himself a free share of this pie, over and above any free services he may get. We may or may not want to let him do this, but it should be our choice. And, in my opinion, we should only do it for humanitarian reasons, or because it benefits the country as a whole (and not just some industry and its stockholders). And, if “humanitarian” includes giving slices of the pie to the poor, fine, but we will never make even a dent in the poverty in the world by letting all the poor move here, we will only pauperize ourselves. There are more productive ways to fight poverty.

    Economics–

    Traditional theories of free trade assume that different entities are better or more efficient at different things and that, therefore, free trade among them benefits them all. But Americans can write computer code, answer telephones, and pick beans just well as Asians, Latinos, and East Indians. The difference in off-shoring, immigration, guest workers, importing cheap goods from Asia, and other such policies has nothing to do with traditional free trade, it has to do with the fact that all these people are willing (and can afford – they don’t pay our living costs) to work for less than people here.

    And they are willing (and can afford to) because they are poorer, not because they are more efficient at these occupations.

    If the wealth of America were distributed equitably amongst the majority of Americans who created it, this would not be a problem. They would share in the increased profits resulting from the use of low-cost labor, or, they might use their corporate voting power to prohibit the use of low-cost labor, and all would balance out.

    But it isn’t, most of the wealth of this country lies in the hands of a few. Why this is so is complex, and not the topic of this note, but can be easily summed up with the old bromide: “them what has, gets.”

    The net, long-term economic effect of removing barriers to the use of foreign, low-cost labor will be to make the poor of the world slightly richer and the majority of Americans a lot poorer. There are better ways.

    Politics–

    Most of the poverty in the world is due, in my opinion, to the limitless corruption, greed, and arrogance of too many of the world’s leaders. Much of the rest is due to their cowardly unwillingness to even try to limit population growth. Taking some of the pressure off these knaves and fools by allowing the more motivated of their poor to escape here solves nothing in the long run, it only impoverishes us. Which is not to say that we shouldn’t do so, but it should be on our terms, with the consent of the majority of Americans, and not to those who feel they have a “right” to come here, or a “right” to ignore our customs and laws, or a “right” to impose their language and culture on the majority population.

    It’s been a good, long century now since we have had the knowledge and the tools to create a paradise on this planet. And what have we done with them? Endless war, endless genocide, endless poverty, endless growth.

    Unchecked immigration will not fix this, only the election of real leaders and decades of progressive diplomacy.

    Morality–

    Not my favorite word, I prefer ethics, but, whatever. I’m not very religious, but I do have my own vision of what is ethical and moral, and, living high off the hog on the backs of the poor doesn’t make it in my book. I think it’s despicable.

    Regards,

    MS

  16. CheckerboardStrangler

    I need a large terrycloth towel so I can wipe all the paint off my face. Those wide brush strokes are great at covering up the real issues but they’re very messy.
    Doug, ya think maybe you could try painting another large group of people instead?
    They’re called EMPLOYERS.

    JeffH the Racist in Occupied TX

  17. CheckerboardStrangler

    America fell in love with a Cuban bandleader who had a very thick accent. I think all most Americans are asking for is just the barest basic functionality. But you go ahead and paint it in dogmatic black and white if you want to. It’s very fitting with the tone of the main editorial.
    Best way to divide this country into insular warring factions is to forget the importance of a common bond of understanding and communication, which can only happen when the national society shares a common linguistic bond.
    Again, just bare basic functionality, and by the way, I’m basically functional in Spanish and Russian, and I’m forcing my children to learn basic Spanish as well.
    There goes your theory.

  18. CheckerboardStrangler

    We couldnt transport a few hundred thousand out of flood ravaged New Orleans so the answer to your question is, “it would be well nigh impossible”.
    But it’s also not necessary.

    Dry up the job opportunities for illegals and they will be forced to go through the process legally.
    And to do that the immigration system HAS TO WORK properly and be fair and equitable…all of which is ANATHEMA to the base which our elected officials REALLY SERVE….BIG BUSINESS.

    And therein lies the root source of the problem, not a few racists.