Friday, March 31, 2006

My bleeding heart

On some things, I'm conservative. I favored --- naively, in retrospect --- the war in Iraq (and, if deemed feasible by a more trustworthy administration, I'd support military action against Iran and North Korea ... Americans, with all their faults, have a damn good track record of liberation). I'm against "big government" because it's never worked and it's bloated with corruption. I'm inclined to favor a national sales tax. And I'm against government interference in our private lives.

Abortion ... not going to touch that. One of the benefits of being gay. Not my concern. You people handle that yourselves.

But on other things I'm starkly liberal, by modern terms. Being against the death penalty seems a conservative viewpoint; giving a fallible government so much authority sets a bad precedent. I'm also for conservation and developing alternative energies ... conserve, conservative, I'm confused.

On today's hot issue -- don't worry, it'll pass --- I veer to the far left. Seems to me this whole immigrant debate is tinged with xenophobia. Others have said this, but it bears repeating: If Sweden was on our southern border, there'd be no debate. Besides, what's happening now mirrors our nation's history.

Every immigrant group, upon settling in America, begins on the bottom, doing the most menial of jobs. That's where the Italians started, and the Irish, along with Asians and, now, Mexicans. Each invariably moves up, through the business world and into politics. After time, their country of origin doesn't matter. Does anyone address Rudy Giuliani as the Italian-American former mayor of New York?

Though lacking any political or academic expertise, I can vouch anecdotally that Mexican emigres benefit our society. I grew up in the self-proclaimed poultry capital of the world --- Gainesville, Ga. When I was in high school, our Mexican population was represented by Jorge Padilla. He was the only Hispanic I remember from those days, in the late 1980s.

Now, an entire section of town has been revitalized by a Mexican populace that's emerged as Gainesville's largest minority. They came for the jobs no one here would take, as we've been familiarized with a better life, one that doesn't include chopping off the heads of dead chickens for minimum wage or less.

But Mexicans were desperate, and industrious. Now, barely 20 years after settling there, Hispanics form a respected and influential power base in this otherwise backwards north Georgia town.

After escaping Gainesville, I ended up in Los Angeles, which survives on the shoulders of Mexican immigrants. By the way, the mayor of my second home is named Antonio Villaraigosa. Apparently, Hispanics have done a pretty good job assimilating in the City of Angels.

I'll cop to the cliche: we are a nation of immigrants. So why should a fourth-generation Scotch-German transplant like me be in a position to decide whether wannabe first-generation opportunists get admitted?

Secure the borders tomorrow. I'll support all reasonable efforts. But don't punish people who've already made the jump to pursue a better life (granted, there's some Mexicans, as is the case with all other groups, who end up a being a drain on our society).

Put yourself in their shoes. Wouldn't you do the same?


  1. You have to admit that all the illegal immigrants broke the law by crossing the border and are therefore here illegally. If you make the case to provide them amnesty or some guest worker program, you're basically wiping their slate clean and ignoring their previous infractions. Where does this end?

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  4. Benefit of being gay? You get to turn a blind eye to human life being murdered? Sign me up! I don’t care if Sweden or Italy was on our southern border, I don’t care if you’re black, white or purple, I don’t want people coming here illegally. What the liberals don’t seem to understand is that conservatives encourage the pursuit of happiness, just do it legally, is that really too much to ask. As an American I cannot break my own laws, but someone from another country can?