Friday, August 04, 2006

"The New Immigrant"

I recently received a forwarded forwarded forwarded forwarded email from a relative that pertained to the illegal immigration issue that's become so heated. It was one of those, "Excellent email! Everyone should read this!" types of forwards. I typically gloss over them, then delete and forget. But this one has stuck with me, kind of like a hangnail, because it does a very good job of encapsulating what I think many Americans feel.

The email was supposedly a letter to the editor that a woman had sent to the Orange County Register (your NOTW, Paula?), that the OCR refused to print. Here's the email:

    New Immigrants
    This is telling it like it is!!!

    From: "David LaBonte"

    My wife, Rosemary, wrote a wonderful letter to the editor of the Orange County Register which, of course, was not printed. So, I decided to "print" it myself by sending it out on the Internet. Pass it along if you feel so inclined.

    Written in response to a series of letters to the editor in the Orange County Register:

    Dear Editor:

    So many letter writers have based their arguments on how this land is made up of immigrants. Ernie Lujon for one, suggests we should tear down the Statute 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. Lujon 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. They had waved good bye to their birth place to give their children a new life and did everything in their power to help their children assimilate into one culture. Nothing was handed to them. No free lunches, no welfare, no labor laws to protect them. All they had were the skills and craftsmanship they had brought with them to trade for a future of prosperity. Most of their children came of age when World War II broke out.

    My father fought along side men whose parents had come straight over from Germany, Italy, France and Japan. None of these 1st generation Americans ever gave any thought about what country their parents had come from. They were Americans fighting Hitler, Mussolini and the Emperor of Japan. They were defending the United States of America as one people. When we liberated France, no one in those villages were looking for the French-American or the German-American or the Irish-American. The people of France saw only Americans. And we carried one flag that represented one country. Not one of those immigrant sons would have thought about picking up another country's flag and waving it to represent who they were. It would have been a disgrace to their parents who had sacrificed so much to be here. These immigrants truly knew what it meant to be an American. They stirred the melting pot into one red, white and blue bowl.

    And here we are in 2006 with a new kind of immigrant who wants the same rights and privileges. Only they want to achieve it by playing with a different set of rules, one that includes the entitlement card and a guarantee of being faithful to their mother country. I'm sorry, that's not what being an American is all about. I believe that the immigrants who landed on Ellis Island in the early 1900's deserve better than that for all the toil, hard work and sacrifice in raising future generations to create a land that has become a beacon for those legally searching for a better life.

    I think they would be appalled that they are being used as an example by those waving foreign country flags.

    And for that suggestion about taking down the Statute of Liberty, it happens to mean a lot to the citizens who are voting on the immigration bill. I wouldn't start talking about dismantling the United States just yet.

    Rosemary LaBonte

    P.S. Pass this on to everyone you know!!! KEEP THIS LETTER MOVING!!

    I hope this letter gets read by millions of people all across the nation!!

What's frightening to me is that a massive amount of people feel the same way. And that's based on their completely ignoring and revising history.

As a quick aside, let me say that I do think we need to strengthen our border security. We can't allow people to come into the country illegally. We live in a time and a world where there are no longer rules of conflict, engagement and war. For the safety of our nation and her people, we need to know who's coming in.

But to the writer of the above letter, and all those like her, it's not about security. It's not even about illegals. It's about the type of immigrant coming into our country. And that type is Latino, primarily Mexican.

Here's a history lesson for Ms. LaBonte and her ilk. While those immigrants came to the U.S. from Europe at the turn of last century to find a better life than what they had, the idea that they dropped their heritage, culture and language is a complete and utter fallacy. If that were true, there would be no Little Italys or Chinatowns or Irish neighborhoods or Jewish neighborhoods or German neighborhoods... These people, while starting a new life in a new country, cherished their heritage. They spoke their native languages in their homes, and on the streets to their friends and neighbors. They opened business with signs in their native language, and restaurants that served their native dishes, and markets that sold the groceries they needed to cook corned beef and cabbage or borscht or lo mein. Many of the older generation NEVER LEARNED ENGLISH. It was their children growing up in America, attending schools in America, who learned English. Oh, and by the way, my family was one of those whose name was changed when my great grandparents came over here. It wasn't because they thought, "Hmm, Koslowsky sounds too Russian. Kosloski will be much more American!" Their name was changed for them by some arbitrary person filling out papers. Ask a Jew named Goldsmith or Shoemaker where their last name came from. I seriously doubt they'll say their family chose it because they wanted to assimilate into one culture.

Here in Colorado, we have a very high population of Latinos, again, primarily Mexicans. And I'll tell you something -- it's a rare occurrence that I interact with one who doesn't speak English. I might have a high level of education and a good job, but I'm monolingual and there are Mexican immigrants out there putting fries in a bag or mowing a lawn who are bilingual! That's freaking embarrassing, man. How many languages do you think Ms. LaBonte speaks?

And the notion that every single immigrant who came over here did so to be a good citizen is so incredibly moronic. The Mafia wasn't invented in the U.S. It came over on a goddamn boat. This was the land of opportunity, and to a chunk of people from other countries, that opportunity was go gain money and power. Violent people came here, along with the good. A lot of the good got here and discovered that this country wasn't nearly as welcoming as they thought it would be, and they struggled to support themselves and their families, and they turned to crime as a means of surviving.

It is also infinitely more difficult to gain a work permit in this country today than it was back then. Do you think all those immigrants had gone through a myriad of channels and red tape and bureaucracy before ever leaving their native land? Hell no. They came here on a boat and a hope. And they weren't turned away. It is nothing like that today. Simply getting a green card is incredibly difficult.

Finally, the Statue of Liberty. Most people have no idea what the plaque at the base of her says:

    Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

This woman and those like her should absolutely want the Statue of Liberty taken down, because they don't remotely represent a nation that would welcome the homeless, tempest-tossed, wretched refuse of another nation's teeming shore. Plus, in case she didn't know, Lady Liberty was a gift from France, and you know how we feel about France now.

We are a nation of immigrants. We are a nation of laws.

We are also a nation of bigots, isolationists and dittoheads without an original thought in their puny brains.

I'll take those bilingual Mexicans over them any day.


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