Skip to comments.Immigration: Our National Neurosis
Posted on 01/07/2004 12:24:01 PM PST by Buck72
Life Without Immigration
Psychiatrists say that a neurotic person cannot imagine life without his symptoms. Perhaps the same can be said for our country: we cannot imagine life in the U. S. without immigrants. Such lack of imagination means we have grown neurotic over this issue.
Instead of taking a long term, rational look at the implications of uncontrolled immigration, we hide behind the irrational smokescreen of a liberal ideology and short term political gain. To borrow a metaphor from psychiatry, immigration is our national repetition-compulsion. It is a defense mechanism against liberal guilt. Like a neurotic habit, we'd like to do something else, but we can't stop what we do.
The political struggle over immigration defines our age just as the political struggle over slavery defined the age of Abraham Lincoln. Furthermore, just as the political structure of 19th century America could not solve the problem of slavery without a violent upheaval, so in the 21st century, our political structure seems unable to deal with the problems of immigration. This inability may lead to a similar upheaval. Just as in the past, the fate of the union hangs in the balance.
The political struggles of our time are often solved by short term policies instead of long term ones. This seems inherent in the electoral process itself. A president may hold office for no more than 8 years, members of the House of Representatives are elected for 2 year terms. It is hard for politicians to imagine policies that span 25 years, when they are forced to think simply about reelection in 2 or more years. Nevertheless, when it comes to immigration we need to take a long term view. We need to ask what will the U. S. be like in 50 years if we do not clearly face the issues of immigration, today.
Prior to the War Between the States, liberals were a driving force for abolition and preservation of the union. Conservatives, especially in the South, were in favor of states rights, so much so that the union gave way to a confederacy. Since then there has been a political reversal of these positions. This dialectic of reversal is to be expected, for over time ideas often turn into their opposites.
Nowadays, liberals argue for open borders and amnesty for illegal immigrants, or as their supporters write it, ''undocumented aliens.'' They base their argument on the belief that all men are brothers and that the nation state is approaching obsolescence. Liberalism has become now like a glutton who continually tests the limits of what he can swallow. How many immigrants can the U. S. digest before it gags or passes out? The consequence of this gluttony in 50 years will be the dissolution of the union.
Many Conservatives prefer to preserve the union and to be cautious when allowing into the U. S. a flood of immigrants, especially immigrants from nonwestern countries. Most of these conservatives also believe that Christianity is right in teaching that all men are brothers. But these conservatives caution us to remember what anyone who has ever had a brother knows all too well. Brothers often fight. When this happens, a wise father will give the brothers separate rooms.
Five Myths About Immigration
There are at least five myths about immigration that need to be exposed so that we can develop a long term policy on this issue. These myths may be summarized as follows: We need immigrants to populate the country, we need immigrants to sustain our economy, a diverse and multicultural America is a better America, immigrants are harmless people looking for a better life, and finally, the diverse people that come to the U. S. will assimilate and eventually become Americans. Let's look at these myths and see how they contribute to our neurosis over immigration.
We no longer need immigrants to populate our country. An America of about 300 million people is enough. If you want a parking place for your SUV when visiting a national park, you won't get one if 400 million people live here. ''Give me your tired, your poor. Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free," no longer rings true in an age of over population and international terrorism. After 150 years, the words of Emma Lazarus ought to be reconsidered. Are we to think of others before we think of our children?
Instead of taking in the wretched of the earth, the U. S. should have a foreign policy that works to raise the level of underdeveloped nations. Instead of bringing the underdeveloped to our shores, and instead of encouraging the best and the brightest to come here, we should raise up our own generation of the best and brightest Americans, and encourage the foreign best and brightest to stay home and make things better where they live.
No one wants to admit it, but there is sometimes an element of bad faith on the part of many recent immigrants to the U. S. These immigrants gave up on their old country for one reason or another. They did not stay and fight for what they believed. What makes anyone think they will fight for what Americans believe? If the going gets tough here, then they'll just go somewhere else. Patriotism and nationalism are not what they value.
When I saw the Iraqis who live in Detroit cheering the capture of Saddam Hussein I thought, ''What on earth are they doing here cheering on OUR troops in THEIR country?'' They ought to be over there fighting, too, if they really believed in a free Iraq instead of a color TV, indoor plumbing and a new car.
The argument that we need immigrants to sustain our economy is not credible. In the short term, legal and illegal immigrants may make an economic contribution, but in the long term this will prove to be just the opposite.
Leo Lacayo is a good example of one who holds the discredited view that immigrants are a boon to the U. S. economy. In a recent article on ChronWatch.com, Mr. Lacayo writes: ''Just as we do not have or produce enough oil, we import, legally import thousands of 'brains' from India, (the) Philippines, and other countries...Americans simply are not available in sufficient numbers to serve our construction, agricultural, industrial, and service needs.''
From this perspective, Mr. Lacayo concludes that the flood of immigrants is best for our country. I conclude just the opposite. If we really wanted to trust in the free market and raise the number of middle class families in America, then we would let our economy adjust to a level where it is not dependent on imported labor.
Those who believe in capitalism, will let national market forces determine salaries and occupations, not an influx of ''brains'' nor an influx of poor immigrants willing to accept low wages. A continuing influx of poor immigrants does nothing for the economy in the long term except perpetuate poverty and low paying jobs.
If immigration is our national neurosis, then California is the focus of that neurosis. Problems of immigration and ethnicity can get rather complex in our most populated state. Just consider Karen Isaksen Leonard's book ''Making Ethnic Choices'' about California's Punjabi Mexican Americans to see how complicated ethnic relations can get. If you want to know where violence over immigration will begin, then I predict it will be in California. Perhaps Los Angeles will be the new Fort Sumter.
Robert D. Kaplan gives us another example of what life is like in the globalized territory of Orange County, California. In his book ''An Empire Wilderness: Travels into America's Future,'' Kaplan describes a diverse Orange County population that includes Latinos, Asians, and Anglos that has no cultural patrimony holding it together. Only the economy and the luxuries it provides keeps Orange County from falling rapidly apart.
Reviewing Kaplan's book in Commentary Magazine, David Brooks writes that Kaplan ''does arrive at an organizing theme: namely, that under the ruthless force of the global economy, our once-cohesive nation is disintegrating into isolated and radically unequal city-states.'' Thus, loyalty in places like Orange County is concentrated on oneself.
Little wonder the senate race in California is bringing to the fore the issue of immigration. Mr. Lacayo, a legal immigrant himself from Nicaragua, enters this senate race debate when he writes ''President Bush understands immigration. He knows that you can round up all 13 million and send them back to wherever they hail from...and at the same time you would destroy this country....Truth be told, illegal immigrants...are overwhelmingly here to work, to produce, and to build.''
These words may be true in the short term, but in the long term they will be proven false. Our immigration policy is similar to a corporation's economic policy. When short term profits are valued over long term planning, we end up with bankruptcy.
Furthermore, when discussing immigration, no one has ever given me a good argument as to why uncontrolled immigration, especially illegal immigration from Mexico, is good for African-Americans. I am no supporter of Affirmative Action, but if we have such a policy in place, then it should not be subverted by giving a job to a man from Lagos or Guanauato, instead of a man from Harlem.
Many claim that immigrants--legal or illegal--are harmless. These immigrants just want to get a job and to support their families. In fact, many new and wealthy immigrants are transnationals who carry two or even three passports. They care little for this country and wish patriotism dead. They go where their wealth goes.
Other immigrants wish to set up a little colony of their homeland in the U. S. and have no desire to assimilate. At the very least, you would expect new American citizens to assimilate to the point where they speak English. In my state of Illinois, English is the official state language, but you would not know it. Years ago, when I first went to vote, all the signs in the polling place were in English. Later, they appeared in English and Spanish. The last time I voted, the signs were in English, Spanish, and Chinese.
How many more languages will be added to the polling place signs and at what cost? This cultural compromise happens in spite of growing evidence that a common language makes for social solidarity. The moribund, liberal political powers that be in Illinois seem not to care about this coming tower of Babble. They are not interested in preserving the union, but simply preserving their office and power.
No one that I know believes that disrespect for a nation's laws is a harmless activity. Why, then, do many liberals support illegal immigrants by overlooking this fundamental aspect of their presence in our country? Would the Saudi Arabians or the Japanese condone such illegal activity?
The argument that over time those diverse people that come to the U. S. will assimilate and become Americans no longer makes sense. In fact this has not happened for many groups. The Sikhs in California, the presence of Chinatowns in our cities, the persistence of an urban African-American underclass, and the Hmong in Minneapolis are examples of how difficult assimilation is for some groups.
The liberal ideology that all people would be Americans if they had the chance is just that, an ideology. Some foreigners might want a new car, a television, and a fine house, but they don't want to be Americans. Add to that, the more divergent a cultural group is from the core Western values of he U. S., the less they want to assimilate. Diversity and multiculturalism are good up to a point, but too much diversity too soon makes the melting pot boil over.
If the above justifications for immigration are shown to be myths, what then is the reality? The reality is that things are a mess. Without a policy of what is good for the nation in the long term, our leaders fumble from one election to another hoping someone will come up with a solution to the immigration dilemma that will not alienate this group of voters or that. The politicians would like a solution to the pains of immigration that masks the symptoms but ignores the underlying cause.
The actual reason we have immigration these days is to prove an ideology. We have immigration to satisfy the gluttonous appetite of a moribund liberalism. Uncontrolled immigration is the consequence of a worn-out ideology, and not a rational policy. In order to prove its vision of America, this worn-out, liberal ideology sets out to see how much our nation can digest.
We are neurotic when it comes to immigration because we try to impose a 19th century ideology on a world of 21st century conditions. Our political habits have not kept pace with our political realities. Not realizing world conditions have changed, moribund liberalism attempts to prove its vision. Instead, it ends up helping to destroy the nation state that is America.
The nation state as a form of social organization is under attack from many forces, both external and internal. Globalization, political movements, wars and ethnic and religious conflicts threaten to shift national borders around the world.
So far, the U. S. has managed to maintain its territory and sovereignty in face of these forces, but extensive treaty obligations, multinational corporations, a demand for an increasing role of the U. N. in international affairs, and uncontrolled immigration are straining the ability of the U. S. to remain sovereign, integral and free. To maintain our borders in face of these forces is not an extreme policy.
It is unfortunate that Mr. Lacayo associates criticism of our immigration policies with extremist views. It is not seen as extreme to me for many Americans to protect the national integrity of the U. S.
Mr. Lacayo claims, ''Republicans have been shedding most extremists quickly and efficiently as we build a new party of real inclusion, and not a party of submission like the Democrats.'' I have to ask myself after reading this, to what Republican policy is he referring? It looks to me like the Republicans have no long term plan about immigration, either, and still think only of short term economic gains and votes.
When Mr. Lacayo writes, ''The future holds a program for immigration that has been on hold since 9-11 and sooner or later it will be implemented to the credit of this president,'' Mr. Lacayo must know something many others do not know. How is it a credit to our president or a help to homeland security by having 500,000 illegal aliens working on our nation's farms? It is not in the future interest of the U. S. to have Mexico in charge of our food supply.
If the Bush administration's program includes what Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has recently called ''some kind of legal status'' for the estimated 8 to 12 million immigrants living illegally in the United States, then the program will not work nor is it the policy Americans want. In response to Secretary Ridge's remarks, Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) said, ''Perhaps the administration ought to dedicate more energy to enforcing our existing immigration laws and less on finding ways to allow millions to skirt them.''
Any kind of legal status for illegal immigrants is just amnesty in disguise. A long term and effective immigration policy must include detaining and deporting illegal immigrants and securing our borders, not amnesty. If there are in fact 12 million illegal immigrants here, then we can at least get a start by sending one or two million back to where they came. But what politician wants to do that? The short term political price may be too high.
That high political price also contributes to our neurosis over immigration. We cannot do what needs to be done. The immigration issue is out of control, and to bring it under control Americans may have to act in a manner that seems to some un-American. Enforcing our immigration laws will raise again the specter of nationalism and patriotism, forces that may be as difficult to predict as the corroding effects of uncontrolled immigration.
Like all human concerns, the U. S. is a provisional order. Nonetheless, should our generation dissolve that order by being foolish when it comes to immigration policies? Should our children say someday with regret that the American experiment, ''Was a good thing while it lasted?''
Yale Professor Arjun Appadurai writes in his essay ''Patriotism and Its Future,'' ''We need to think ourselves beyond the nation.'' I believe that most Americans care little for that kind of thinking. In fact I argue that what Appadurai is really saying is that because of our success as a nation, the rest of the world is forced to '''think ourselves beyond America.''
If we are to continue being successful as a nation, then we have to understand the latent resentment writers like Appadurai express and we have to solve the problems of immigration. Our al-Qaida enemies know about this resentment and the extent of our immigration problem. They know that the U. S. can eventually be defeated by one illegal immigrant at a time.
Perhaps in a year or two, our returning soldiers may hold the key to the political future of America. After fighting for the U. S. over seas, will these veterans sit still for an America they do not recognize upon returning home? I suspect that when they switch on the car stereo while driving to work, or when they go to vote, they will want to hear English spoken, not Spanish and not Chinese. Unlike the collaborators in academia who are paralyzed by a neurotic relativism, these returning veterans will not be afraid to stand up for what they believe.
Robert Klein Engler lives in Chicago and teaches at Roosevelt University. His book, ''A Winter of Words,'' about the ethnic cleansing at Daley College, is available from amazon.com.
I think every elected official should be forced to read this article. I can hardly imagine the amount of hate mail this man will be receiving in the near future. LOL
Ditto. I was too.
The above piece was an interesting read, although I found a couple of statements in it about 'conservatives' that struck me as nonsense, particularly as we 'conservatives' represent quite often the Christian wing of the party, and we all know how crucial the Church was to abolitionism.
Freepers will embrace this policy with time.
Spoken like a true Internationalist.
The solution to the illegal immigration problem is simple; enforce the laws already on the books instead of trying to create new laws.
Sometimes I think you people want to give Bush credit for breathing.
If they do then I'm out of here.
You better believe it is. Illegal aliiens will now pour in faster than ever before. Americans have fought too hard to have a country to let it be ruined by politicians. Bush would be wise to change his mind and fast.
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