Thursday, June 14, 2007

Furriners

Tbogg knocks the idea that immigrants sticking together is somehow a new thing:
As an American Southwesterner I'm not exactly sure where these "apartheid communities and enclaves" have sprung up, but I sincerely hope that they are surrounded by a buffer zone comprised of Little Italy, Chinatown, Koreatown, and maybe a pleasant neighborhood where you can still get a nice piece of whitefish to nosh on....
This kind of thing reminds me of the debate between Haroon Siddiqui and George Jonas about immigration in Canada in new revised edition of Great Questions of Canada. Jonas gives the usual line about all these brown people (ok, he doesn't use the term, but the implication is fairly clear) who cling to the ways and language of their mother country and who – horrors! – sometimes only come here to work for a while before fucking off back home, cash in hand.

Siddiqui has to gently remind Jonas that the English and French were doing all of that from the moment the country was "discovered." Many still do. After all, who were the ones huddled in forts and speaking an alien language for the first half-century of this country's existence?

My own parents, immigrants themselves, made a point of avoiding some of the anglo motherland enclaves in the area where they eventually settled, where people spent time in tea rooms deploring calling trucks "lorries" and television "the telly" and generally deploring the colonies. And yet, for all their efforts, they remained as English as beans-on-toast, bad teeth, and emotional impotence.

Intelligent discussion of immigration often gets cut short by knee-jerk cries of "racism!", but that's because the discussion too often is implicitly racist, however unintentionally so. It's like gay marriage: any possible discussion of the potential cons (and I'm all for it, by the way, though I am always open to hearing the contrary position, just as I waited in earnest and in vain back in 2002/3 to hear an actual intelligent, non-crazy argument in favor of the US invading Iraq) is totally overwhelmed by impassioned-yet-evasive arguments made by people who can't simply admit that their biggest problem with the thing is the idea of penises in bums. (Talk about your contrary position! Ba-da-boom!)

Where was I...

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