The David Brooks column in today’s New York Times contains the following paragraph:
"In the field of immigration, Republican sentiment seems to be shifting away from the idea that the United States is a universal nation, where immigrants come from across the world to work, rise and join in the pursuit of happiness. Now Republican rhetoric emphasizes how alien immigrant culture is; how slowly the Mexicans assimilate, if at all; how much disorder and strain their presence creates."
Reading the entire article (which requires a subscription) makes it clear that these are not David Brooks’ views and he thinks it is a mistake for the Republican Party to be moving in this direction.
Locally when Mexican leaders raised the alarm that they were hearing similar sentiments about the undesirability of immigrants and Mexican immigrants in particular during the debate over the Triumph Food pork processing plant at least one blogger denied that such sentiments were being expressed. I hope no one now claims that David Brooks is slandering the Republican Party or that although people in other parts of the country may be saying such things the Quad Cities is an enlightened enclave free from such sentiment.
I hope that we can all agree that the idea that Mexicans are assimilating more slowly than previous waves of immigrants is an emotional reaction to large numbers of recent immigrants and not based on any objective reality. Third and fourth generation Mexican immigrant families are as completely American as anyone else. Our schools today are just as efficiently turning immigrant children into English speaking Americans as they ever did. Just like my great-grandparents who came to American from Schleswig-Holstein most immigrants who come to America as adults do not become fluent English speakers but those who come as small children and those who are born here learn English and prefer to speak it to everyone except their parents.
Racist statements ascribing negative traits to all people of a particular race or ethnicity are usually challenged and considered unacceptable by most Americans today. But there seems to be a blind spot about blanket negative statements about Mexican immigrants where the statements elicit no reaction and apparently are not even remembered.
If the Republican Party, as David Brooks fears, is going to be adopting an anti-immigrant posture this could be the chance for Democrats to win Florida and the Southwest if they can speak with unified voice about their support for all working people, including recent immigrants.
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