I got the same email from several people I know — not bloggers; just regular folk. The title of the email is “critical immigration overview.” As I always do, I slid over to www.snopes.com to find out if the info in the email, which quotes Dick Lamm, former Governor of Colorado, explaining the various ways America can be destroyed (by multiculturalism) is true. Lamm leads off his list by saying ” No nation in history has survived the ravages of time. Arnold Toynbee observed that all great civilizations rise and fall and that ‘An autopsy of history would show that all great nations commit suicide.””
Actually snopes.com not only verifies that Lamm made those anti-multiculturalism statements, but also offers a revised version, provided by Lamm, himself.
Now, I did watch Dumbya’s address to the nation last night as he set out his proposals for trying to get the various problems caused by illegal immigration under control. I pretty much never listen to anything he has to say, but this is an issue that has so many implications for how we define this country that I forced myself to lend my ear.
I mean, we ARE a nation of immigrants. All four of my grandparents were born in Poland and came through Ellis Island. (I also have a relative or two [now deceased] who sneaked in through Canada — one, so I’m told, hanging on to the back of a boat.) They all became citizens, all paid their taxes, all learned to speak, read, and write in English. They assimilated and considered themselves true Americans, even while continuing to share their native language and religious and cultural traditions within the family — both blood and extended.
So, as I listened to Bush refer to immigrants being expected to learn the English language, I agreed with him. (Maybe for the first time agreeing with him on anything!)
And when I read Lamm’s list of ways to destroy America — all of which relate to “diversity,” I found myself re-thinking my usual radical/liberal view.
We might be a nation of immigrants, but until recent times, those immigrants uprooted themselves from their homelands and planted new roots in America. They did not keep themselves in separate cultural pots, refusing to become part of the root system implanted in America’s constitutional soil.
The concepts of a “tree of peace” and a “tree of life” are not new ones. It seems to me that that America needs to adopt (and adapt to) the metaphor of a tree, wherein to be an American, one must be rooted in American language and law, for that is the very earthy basis of this country. What flowers from those solid roots, and what feeds them as well, are the diversities of customs and cultures that all immigrants bring to the tree that is America.
I believe we need to expect immigrants to re-root themselves officially and legally in this country. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think that Bush’s initial take on that aspect of dealing with the overwhelming influx of immigrants is right on. But that’s only the beginning. Without giving prospective citizens free and easy avenues for learning how to read and write in basic Amrerican English, assimilation into the root system won’t work.
There is something to be said for “America for Americans” — and that includes wannabe Americans. But they hafta wannabe.
“Give us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses longing to be free…” And I would add to that “…and eager to transplant their own roots into the system in which the American Constitutional Democracy continues to struggle to survive.”
Then, of course, once they get to be legal Americans, they’ll be free to bitch and complain and try to improve that system, just like the rest of us.
Oh, and if you haven’t yet clicked on the link that will take you to all that Lamm had to say, please do.