To The Daily Sun,
When one reads some the attacks on immigrants in the pages of The Sun, it is easy to feel both despair and disgust. What hateful attitudes. Once, I called these attitudes "ethnocentrism bordering on the racist". But, after reading some of the recent immigrant-bashing in The Sun, I wonder if that line has not been crossed.
After all, although I am sure that many writers do not see themselves as bigots, they at least discriminate in their dislike of foreigners. Most of the letters seem to speak of Muslims and Hispanics and not other foreigners. Of course, some say that they just do not like "illegal" aliens, but recently there has been opposition to letting Syrian refugees who are fleeing ISIS into the country. Such immigrants would certainly be legal and receive deep background checks, but opponents are using anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim propaganda.
As a recent writer to The Sun said, we should welcome these immigrants. This is the right, humane, and compassionate thing to do. Sure, we always take a risk but we should welcome them for no other reason than the "ISIS Problem" is largely the fault of our own country beginning with our illegal invasion of Iraq. When you contribute to a problem you should contribute to the solution. Or, as my mother always insisted, one should always help clean up a mess they helped to create.
Many immigrant-bashers say they are only against "illegal immigrants", but if you look closely at what they write and say, they are often opposed to the legal ones too. False rumors prevail against even legal immigrants. For example, we have many refugees from all over the world who have made their new homes here in the Lakes Region are subject to accusations that they "get a free ride at taxpayers' expense". The truth is that Lutheran Social Services and other charities get them a month's rent, a week of groceries and a few household goods. After that they are pretty much on their own.
Let's make it clear: Unless you are 100 percent Native American, do you really have the right to complain about immigrants? So you claim your family came here "legally"? That might be true if you family came in the late 19th century. If you are like me and your ancestors came much before Ellis Island was opened, "legality" becomes hazy. Some of our ancestors came in the 18th century were questionable when compared to today's legal immigration standards.
America is a land of immigrants. It is what we are.
I am glad that same writer cited the inscription on the Statue of Liberty but I am sad to report that America has often not lived up this ideal (and others). There have been waves of immigrant-bashing throughout the nation's history. One of the first was when Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, during the administration of President John Adams. That was to prevent "wrong ideas", including those of people who thought the American Revolution should follow the French model.
In the 1840s and 50s, American hate propaganda turned to the Irish and German immigrants. The former were fleeing famine and the latter were often "free thinkers" and revolutionaries fleeing the upheavals in Germany in the 1840s. The Irish were subject to the dual stereotypes of drunkenness and violence. To make things worst in the minds of right-thinking Protestants, they were Catholic. Many Americans do not realize that historically, anti-Catholicism has been a deeply ingrained prejudice in the country. Lies and urban legends abounded about Catholics in the 1850s, just as false accusations abound today about immigrants we do not like.
My favorite was the one that the pope was digging a tunnel under the Atlantic to invade the U.S.A and that all the recent Catholic immigrants would serve as a "fifth column"!
After World War I, America attempted to close its doors, due to fear-mongering that immigrants, including those from Eastern and Western Europe were communists, anarchists, or in other ways trouble makers. The 1920s saw the rise of the "Nativist" and "100 percent Americanism" movement. Along with a strong Fundamentalist Christian backlash against evolution the Ku Klux Klan was refounded and became a major political player, not just in the American South but in Northern states as well.
This time, the KKK expanded its hate list. Not only did it include African-Americans, but now it included Catholics, Jews, communists, socialists, immigrants (especially if they were Catholic or Jewish), labor unionists, and others who did fit their model of "Americanism". They also opposed the teaching of evolution in schools. Moreover they saw themselves as defenders of prohibition and "white womanhood" (at least until their Grand Imperial Wizard was convicted of getting a white woman drunk and then raping her).
The anti-immigration laws of the 1920s actually backfired. Although Americans like to credit themselves of acting like heroes during the Jewish holocaust, simply because we fought Germany, the truth is that these Nativist laws made it hard for the U.S.A. to accept Jew fleeing Hitler. Some were actually turned back and died in the camps.
Those who oppose immigration often do so with hatred and with a lot of racism. After all, the immigrants that are often bashed are those who look different than white Americans. Some want to build a fence across America's border with Mexico (our porous border with Canada doesn't seem to bother them). Such a fence will cost the taxpayers at least one billion dollars.
Donald Trump has promised that if he becomes president, he will round up and deport all illegals, including those with kids born here who are, constitutionally speaking, U.S. citizens.
How much will that cost us?
If illegal immigrants are such a drain on the taxpayers, as some say, why not find a way to make them legal so they can start paying taxes like the rest of us? This seems like a cheaper and more rational solution.
Again, the hatred many Americans show toward immigrants is shocking. I am especially offended when many on the right who hate those unlike themselves, claim to be Christians and falsely claim that the U.S.A. is a "Christian" country. Can you imagine Jesus acting with such bitterness toward foreigners? There is a commandment in the Old Testament Book of Exodus that comes very shortly after the Ten Commandments and it says not to "oppress a stranger in thy land".
E. Scott Cracraft
- Category: Letters
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