Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Most Infamous Of The Sodomites

I apologize for throwing up so many posts on the immigration issue in such a short amount of time. It's just one of those things that gets me really annoyed.

I did a little web research today, and I discovered that Tom Tancredo, the most infamous of the sodomites, is the grandson of an Italian immigrant, as his own biography proudly points out. I also gleaned the following quote from the Wikipedia article on him:

"America is wrestling with an identity crisis. Part of it is a result of what I call the 'cult of multiculturalism.' The idea that there is nothing—nothing—of value in Western civilization, that we have nothing to offer the world, that we have nothing to offer as a viable society, that everything we have is bad and ugly.... If we are truly in a clash of civilizations... which I happen to believe, then it is important for us to understand who we are. What does it mean to be part of Western civilization? Are there inherent values that are worth anyone's allegiance?"

In 1892, poet Thomas Bailey Aldrich had this to say about immigrants, including Tancredo's grandfather:

"In street and alley what strange tongues are these
Accents of menace alien to our air
Voices that once the Tower of Babel knew!
O Liberty, white Goddess! Is it well
To leave the gates unguarded?"

Aldrich wasn't alone, and neither is Tancredo. I honestly can't understand how someone whose grandfather suffered the attacks wrought by Aldrich and his ilk can turn around and lob the same invective at today's immigrants. Tancredo even goes so far as to suggest that legal immigration be limited to a mere 30,000 per year!

I understand the fears of people like Tancredo and CNN anchor Lou Dobbs that an influx of legal immigrants will create labor competition that will drive wages down. However, a lot of American companies already hire illegal immigrants for the sole reason that with illegal employees, they can break labor laws with impunity (since the workers would not raise a fuss for fear of being deported). Giving all these employees legal status would force companies to obey labor laws, which removes the incentive to hire them over other employees. This means that Americans and immigrants alike can now fill the jobs that were once solely the domain of the illegal immigrant. May the most effective laborers get the job, whether they're born in Greensboro or Guadalajara. And an effective minimum wage (not the joke we currently have) will fix the falling wage problem. I might further remind the American laborer that his/her facility with the English language will serve as an asset in a labor market where there is no inherent advantage to hiring immigrants.

Besides, immigrants have just as much of a right to make a life for themselves as native-born Americans. We should make it the objective of our society to make that possible for both groups of people.

I leave you with a thought: the author Oscar Handlin once wrote, "Once I thought to write a history of the immigrants in America. Then I discovered that the immigrants were American history." America has always been strongest when it has been willing to accept contributions from both new and old sources. We haven't always lived up to that. It's about time we do so.

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