Why immigration reform likely will prove toxic....
Hispanic Politics. Black/white issues are not the only major ethnic factor. Hispanics comprise a greater share of the electorate than do blacks. Sen. Ted Cruz's Jan. 26 speech (39:50) at the National Review Institute's conservative summit called for immigration reform and more sensitivity by the GOP towards nonwhites. Monday's "Gang of Eight" announcement by four Democratic & four GOP senators, and then the president's remarks Tuesday have placed immigration front & center in the policy arena. A Fox News report identifies the main differences between the two--foremost of which is that unlike the Gang of Eight's proposal, which requires an upgrade to border security before starting illegals on a path to citizenship, the president's version does not require same. The arguments pro & con are complex--too much so for me to sort through persuasively in short order--so try this WSJ editorial pro versus NRO's John O'Sullivan con for size. G-of-E member Marco Rubio is in full "charm offensive" mode selling the G-of-E principles, on display in his solid Tuesday interview (16:19) with Rush Limbaugh.
But I can predict with some confidence that the effort will once again fail....
And the fourth reason comes from two things the president incorporated into his remarks yesterday: (a) "the time is now" urgency--this after ignoring the issue in his first term despite a 2008 campaign promise to address the issue; (b) his "us/them" formulation hinting that the GOP are racists. A president earnestly seeking reform would hardly play these transparently disingenuous cards--new-found urgency & a code-word warning. Nor is it reassuring that a "moderate" Hispanic group has advised GOP lawmakers to avoid inflammatory terms such as "Reagan, illegal, amnesty" and other terms. A debate governed by such sensitivites becomes not a frank exchange of views, but rather a one-sided debate where skeptics pull punches or risk political ostracism.
But the most poisonous ethnic politics in America today remains race, where the president has, sadly, also been a divider, not a uniter. To see why this subject--and that of immigration as well--has become so toxic, return to....
A 1991 warning on race, delivered by JFK's sage, unwisely ignored...A Sage Voice from the Recent Past. In 1991 Arthur Schlesinger, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian who later became the Bard of JFK's 1,035 days, published The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society. What he wrote then bears heavily upon what America under Barack Obama is increasingly becoming--though the baleful process was well underway already.
Schlesinger notes that "race" in the 18th century meant what "nationality" does today. He writes that the goals of Europeans who emigrated to America sought "escape, deliverance and assimilation ... based upon common political ideals ... [to forge] a new American culture."
This ideal was upset in the 20th century, courtesy of Woodrow Wilson's 1917 call for "self-determination" of all peoples, and the decolonization after World War II that energized ethnic passions. A "cult of ethnicity [denounced] the idea of a melting pot, to challenge the concept of 'one people,' and to protect, promote and perpetuate separate and racial communities."
Schlesinger identified education as to main incubator of the new norm, with baleful consequences for American unity:
Separatism, however, nourishes prejudices, magnifies differences and stirs antagonisms. The consequent increase in ethnic and racial conflict lies behind the hullabloo over "multiculturalism" and "political correctness," over the iniquities of the "Eurocentric" curriculum,and over the notion that history and literature should be taught not as intellectual disciplines but as but as therapies whose function is to raise minority self-esteem.
AS later adds a coda: "The endgame is self-pity and self-ghettoization."
AS notes of history that it has become a "weapon" that inculcates a faux past which supplants "meditation" on America's actual past & traditions. Historical figures are re-invented--even Beethoven was, in the new narrative, Afro-European.
In 1974, AS writes, Congress passed the disastrous Ethnic Heritage Studies Program Act, which took from the people their self-identification choices and institutionalized tribalist concepts. What began as a protest against Angolcentrism became a a cult and threatens to become a counter-revolution that destroys the original assimilationist ideal.
AS adds" "[B]elated recognition by white America of the wrongs so viciously inflicted on black Americans has created the phenomenon of white guilt ... a vulnerability that invites cynical black exploitation and manipulation."
To which AS counters by noting "a crucial difference" between the Western cultural tradition and others: "The crimes of the West have produced their own antidotes." As for the crimes of Africans:
There is surely no reason for Western civilization to have guilt trips laid on it by by champions of cultures based on despotism, superstition, tribalism and fanaticism. In this regard the Afrocentrists are especially absurd.
Of black history he writes:
... Afrocentrists teach children about the glorious West aFrican emperors, the vast lands they ruled, the civilization they achieved; not, however, about the tyrannous authority they exercised, about the ferocity of their wars, the tribal massacres, the squalid lot of the common people, the captives sold into slavery, the complicity with the Atlantic slave trade, the persistence of slavery in Africa after it was abolished in the West.
AS skewers Afrocentrism with perhaps the ultimate derogatory reference to the Ku Klux Klan:
Indeed, it is hard to imagine any form of education more than Afrocentrism to have "a terribly damaging impact on the psyche." The best way to keep and people down is to deny them the means of improvement and achievement and cut them off from the opportunities of the national life. If some Kleagle of the Ku Klux Klan wanted to devise an educational curriculum for the specific purpose of handicapping and disabling black Americans, he would not be likely to come up with anything more diabolically effective than Arocentrism.
AS saw "mutual suspicion and hostility" among "jostling and competing groups" and that this
....nourishes a culture of victimization and a contagion of inflammatory sensitivities .... [I]t presents a threat to the brittle bonds of national identity that hold that diverse and fractious society together.
AS quotes none other than Theodore Roosevelt, who said:
The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation of all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities.
AS noted that the idea of a unitary European culture "seems weird"; he also cited Jewish & Asian educational achievements as evidence that minorities could perform well without any sugar-coated history of Jews & Asians.
Schlesinger presciently warned: "If separatist tendencies go on unchecked, the result can only be the fragmentation, resegregation and tribalization of American life." But tragically, predicted that professors would, eventually, "cry 'enough' and challenge what they know to be voguish nonsense."
A shocking real-life example of the hostility separatism breeds is in anger some black audiences showed over the kind of songs legendary megastar Whitney Houston sang (italics added):
Some African-American audiences felt Houston and her music lacked soul—so much so that they dubbed her “Whitey Houston” and booed her at the 1989 Soul Train Music Awards, the same event where she met [her husband]. “I don’t think people knew how much that hurt her and made her second-guess herself,” says [sister-in-law] Monique, who recalls seeing Houston near tears at the awards show. “She grew up in the inner city and certainly wanted to be loved by her people.” Particularly since the real Whitney Houston, stripped of her long evening gowns, flawless makeup, and heels, was a down-home, hard-core Jersey girl who loved nothing better than to drink, smoke pot, and have a good time.
But perhaps Schlesinger's most apt fortelling was this gem re Islamists, as to what had by 1991 had actually already happened in New York City: Moslems complained that an illustration of an Islamic warrior with a raised scimitar stereotyped Moslems as 'terrorists.'"
Today's Black Leaders. It is bad enough to have civil rights icons like the Rev. Jesse Jackson leading protesters in chants such as "Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western culture's got to go!" Or to have the Rev. Al Sharpton ascend to a power position in the Democratic party, plus a cable hosting gig, despite having perpetrated a vicious racial hoax that divided the country, and fomented other racial violence & discord. Now there is America's first black president, who public intrudes into disputes with racial overtones, and exacerbates tensions rather than defuse them. Commenting that teenage African-American Trayvon Martin, killed by a civilian community security guard in an incident whose facts have yet to be fully aired in a court of law, looks like he could have been a son of he, the president. Our allegedly post-racial president is in fact an educational product of and an integral part of the culture that Schlesinger so aptly describes.
A Shining Exception. In stark contrast is Bill Cosby--in the 1980s America's favorite dad--in remarks made at the Kennedy Center in 2004, during an event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark ruling unanimously mandating school desegregation "with all deliberate speed." One choice excerpt:
Brown Versus the Board of Education [sic]
is no longer the white person's problem. We've got to take the
neighborhood back (clapping). We've got to go in there. Just forget
telling your child to go to the Peace Corps. It's right around the
corner. (laughter) It's standing on the corner. It can't speak English.
It doesn't want to speak English. I can't even talk the way these people
talk. “Why you ain't where you is go, ra,” I don't know who these
people are. And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk
(laughter). Then I heard the father talk. This is all in the house. You
used to talk a certain way on the corner and you got into the house and
switched to English. Everybody knows it's important to speak English
except these knuckleheads. You can't land a plane with “why you
ain't...” You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of
your mouth. There is no Bible that has that kind of language. Where did
these people get the idea that they're moving ahead on this. Well, they
know they're not, they're just hanging out in the same place, five or
six generations sitting in the projects when you're just supposed to
stay there long enough to get a job and move out.
Now look, I'm telling you. It's not what they're doing to us. It's what we're not doing. 50 percent drop out. Look, we're raising our own ingrown immigrants. These people are fighting hard to be ignorant. There's no English being spoken, and they're walking and they're angry. Oh God, they're angry and they have pistols and they shoot and they do stupid things. And after they kill somebody, they don't have a plan. Just murder somebody. Boom. Over what? A pizza? And then run to the poor cousin's house. They sit there and the cousin says “what are you doing here?” “I just killed somebody, man.” “What?” “I just killed somebody, I've got to stay here.” “No, you don't.” “Well, give me some money, I'll go...” “Where are you going?” “North Carolina.” Everybody wanted to go to North Carolina. But the police know where you're going because your cousin has a record.
Here is the full transcript of Cosby's remarks. It merits a full read.Bottom Line. Sadly, America has lost its cultural way. It will take a new, wiser president to begin to repair damage that, in the best imaginable case, requires several generations to fix. Worse, it may not even be fixable anymore. And the immigration debate of 2013 likely will attest to this anew.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, Conservative Politics