Frosty Wooldrirdge’s shtick is to tell us how the country is falling apart at the hands of migrants. Then he presents us with a “real person’s” view of the situation via emails and/or letters he receives. In this letter a woman attempts the classical explanation that those that came before the “new people” were far better and more respectful. Personally I tend to think that people against slavery are far better than those which came before us and felt it was perfectly ok to import people and chain them to labor, but that’s just my take.
Ellis Island will forever be a classic symbol of U.S. immigration and if you’ve ever been there you’ll note it’s a powerful place. From the pictures of those who migrated here to the artifacts which now rest inside glass cases. Those were indeed harsh times with ships being the only method of travel and many dying on the trek over. But the stories are all quite similar – our ancestors, just as the new migrants, come here for a better life leaving behind oppression and poverty.
Sadly, throughout our history the vilification of the “new people” has always been par for the course. In today’s times it’s no different yet advancements in travel and technology provide new ways to interact and move about the world. So it’s strange to me, as we’ll see in this article, that one compares the methods
“So many letter writers have based their arguments on how this land is made up of immigrants. Ernie Lujan for one, suggests we should tear down the Statue of Liberty because the people now in question aren’t being treated the same as those who passed through Ellis Island and other ports of entry.
”Maybe we should turn to our history books and point out to people like Mr. Lujan why today’s American is not willing to accept this new kind of immigrant any longer. Back in 1900 when there was a rush from all areas of Europe to come to the United States, people had to get off a ship and stand in a long line in New York and be documented. Some would even get down on their hands and knees, and kiss the ground. They made a pledge to uphold the laws and support their new country in good and bad times. They made learning English a primary rule in their new American households and some even changed their names to blend in with their new home.
If we carefully read these concerns we’ll see the fact that European migrants are being held in the most high regard. However, in those days of old, accents and customs made it all to easy to spot a “foreigner” and people from all over Europe where treated as “dirty people.” Many fail to mention this, but Italians were lynched and beaten just as blacks were for many years. Is this any way to welcome a newcomer? And what of the Irish who nobody wanted to hire or the Germans who were believed to be trying to take over the government? And of course there’s the Chinese exclusion act and Japanese detention camps. What does that tell us? Are those the romantic times of the past – the reminiscence of a time when immigration was so much more beautiful?
The letter’s desire to make the past a beautiful place and today’s world of immigration evil is no more founded in truth than the plaque on the Statue of Liberty is held in the nativist’s hearts.
The letter goes on to claim that the new migrants want a “free ride.” This is wholly untrue, but effective propaganda. “They’re taking everything from us.” Surely this is not believed.
“And here we are in 2008, with a new kind of ‘immigrant’ who wants the same rights and privileges. Only they want to achieve it by playing with a deferent set of rules that include free entitlement cards of food, rent, education, medial, etc, and a guarantee of being faithful to their mother country.
What we as Americans need to do is start thinking globally rather than locally. This does not mean that we lose our sovereignty or “give away” our country. What this means is we should not support inhumane labor practices for the sake of saving a dollar and we should stand up to intolerance and injustice all over the world. This should be done peacefully, without war, as war does nothing but destroy.
What these nativists and others who opine against the “new” migrants fail to recognize is the reason for this immigration. Rather than take the important step of addressing the “why” they prefer to spend their time trying to convince everyone that these migrants are evil and want to take everything from us. If these nativists would spend their time working on the “why” and helping correct it then we would all be better off. Why not make the world a better place for all?