As Mondays are meant to be filled with ire and grumpiness, I decided to have a gander at the ultra-racist website Minutemanproject.com this morning to see what this thriving-on-hate white supremacist group is up to. Low and behold on the first page was a link to “A New Argument About Immigration” by Phyllis Schlafly. In order to get all riled up with my coffee, I decided to check out what this anti-feminist, recent honorary award recipient (?!?) had to say about immigration that is ‘new.’
Well, the first line certainly is an entirely new approach – she ponders the question “how to deal with illegal aliens” noting that there are “arguments that need public exposure.” Citing Mark Krikorian’s forthcoming book The New Case Against Immigration, Both Legal and Illegal, Schlafly notes “Krikorian’s new argument is that while today’s immigrants may be like earlier ones, the America they come to is so very different that our previous experience with immigrants is practically irrelevant.”
It’s always so encouraging when people refer to history as “irrelevant.” Yes, who cares that this country is an immigration-nation. It is “irrelevant” that if “illegal immigrants” hadn’t landed on these shores hundreds of years ago to declare “sorry native people and indigenous nations, this place is ours now” people like Phyllis might still be living in, I don’t know, Scotland (her great-grandfather hopped the pond in 1851).
So, it was ok when her ancestors migrated, but not when other peoples from subsequent generations do so? Now, some people might play the “as long as you migrate legally and go through all the motions of becoming a citizen it’s ok” card here. But, this ignores the rabidly racist policies regarding who is and is not considered “immigration material.” If you have white skin and come from western-European ancestry (I’m talking about you Phyllis) it has been historically easier to get a ticket into the U.S. of A. Or, if you are needed at a particular time as for slave labor (as with Chinese laborers who built our railroads) you can come in, but please leave once your slaving is done. Are these the types of immigration facts that Schlafly sees as “irrelevant”?
Schlafly claims that “Immigrants of the previous generation were expected to earn their own living, pay taxes like everybody else, learn our language, love America and assimilate into our culture.” Hmmm, did your great granddaddy have to learn “our language”? I think not. And what is ‘our language’ anyhow? Does Ms. Schlafly realize there is no ‘official language’ in the USA even though she and others like her act as if there is? As Indioheathen writes at Traditional Indigenous American Values:
Most “English-only/English-as-the-official language ” advocates are the same morally conservative, politically right wing, neo-Cavalry Amerikaner nativist-types who regard undocumented Mesoamerican Indian-blooded migrants from Mexico and Central America to the United States as “invaders” and “illegal aliens.” I have compared these nativists in previous commentaries as the American version of pro-apartheid era Afrikaners who live under the illusion that they are just as indigenous to the Americas as we Indigenous American-blooded peoples are.
As Indoheathen’s point makes clear, Schlafly’s ‘nativism’ is predicated on the false belief that she is a native citizen while actual natives and indigenous peoples are the invaders and ‘illegals.’ Perhaps this erroneous belief is a testament to her claim that history is ‘irrelevant.’
Schlafly’s argument also ignores that immigration and assimilation was (and still is) far easier for some groups than others. Also left unexamined is the idea that assimilation is a necessary precondition for being a ‘good American.’ Well, if everyone ‘assimilated’ according to Schlafly’s terms, we would have a country with women still chained to the kitchen sink, an education system that ignored evolution and sex education, no laws ‘pandering’ to women about violence, sexual harassment or anything else, and citizenry that understood homosexuals should not be given any ‘privileges.’ For an idea of assimilationist America Schlafly-style, take a peak at a few of her quotes (thanks to Brainyquote.com)
“ERA means abortion funding, means homosexual privileges, means whatever else.”
“Sex education classes are like in-home sales parties for abortions.”
“Sexual harassment on the job is not a problem for virtuous women.”
“In a world of inhumanity, war and terrorism, American citizenship is a very precious possession.”
In regards to the last quote, how lucky for Schlafly that she has this “precious possession” thanks to her great-grandfather’s migration. Too bad we can’t revoke this ‘possession’ from inhumane, hate-mongering, terrorists like her. (What? You say she is not a terrorist? Well, if you take the general definition: “the act of terrorizing; use of force or threats to demoralize, intimidate, and subjugate, esp. such use as a political weapon or policy” seems to me she fits the description.) Think about it – what if we could revoke citizenship, that “precious possession” in Schlafly’s terms, from people who are intent on terrorizing the majority of the U.S. populace (in Schlafly’s case, women, immigrants, non-heterosexuals, atheists, etc.) Rather than giving her an honorary doctorate, let’s revoke her citizenship and send her ‘back home’ (would that be Scotland or hell? – yes, I am grumpy and mean this morning!) As the sharp as a razor Katha Pollitt documents so well in her following piece from The Nation, Schlafly deserves to have her “precious possession” revoked:
“Washington University is giving Phyllis Schlafly an honorary doctorate. Let me run that by you again. Washington University, the distinguished 155-year-old seat of higher learning in St. Louis, is giving an honorary degree to Phyllis Schlafly–arch foe of the Equal Rights Amendment, the United Nations, Darwinism and other newfangled notions, and the promoter of innumerable crackpot far-right conspiracy theories who called the Bomb “a marvelous gift that was given to our country by a wise God.” Her eighty-two years haven’t mellowed her one bit: last year she blamed the Virginia Tech massacre on the English department; called intellectual men “liberal slobs”; advocated banning women from traditionally male occupations like construction, firefighting and the military; and defended men’s property rights over their wives’ vaginas (“by getting married, the woman has consented to sex, and I don’t think you can call it rape”). The campus is in an uproar, and no wonder. After four years of hard work, female seniors get to watch their school honor someone who thinks they should park their diplomas in the kitchen sink. Washington U might as well bring in mad misogynist Chris Matthews as commencement speaker. Oh. You mean…? No! Yes.”
As Feminsting and others reported, this honorary doctorate business had much opposition from students and faculty alike. Further, it seems very odd that Schlafly would even want an honorary degree given her claim that “After Big Media, U.S. colleges and universities are the biggest enemies of the values of red-state Americans.”
On Schlafly’s terms, the “precious possession” of citizenship belongs to what she calls “native-born Americans.” Hmmm, does she mean Native Americans – you know, those people that were actually here before all the IMMIGRANTS came in? (As an aside, this reminds me of a funny story: A few semester’s back I had a student group who chose to focus on immigration issues for their semester project. In their proposal, they shared they would focus on Native Americans. Sad that I had to remind them Native Americans were, you know, native.) Seems that Schlafly is hardly an expert on the history of migration and yet she was named an ‘expert witness’ who testified at the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims in 2006. With experts like her, I shudder to think what non-experts look like… Perhaps they look like this minuteman here who claims immigrants are “only here to rape our women.” Wow, the bigotry, stupidity, and downright idiocy of people never ceases to amaze me. Alas, this is why Monday mornings are so often filled with ire. Yet, I find solace in groups like Minute Men Unvarnished that seek to expose the hateful activities of these ‘border vigilantes.’
I hope that as you go about your Monday, you consider this – no humans are illegal and the concept of immigrating is only possible do to border-industrial-complex that divides the globe into haves and have-nots, into ‘citizens’ and ‘aliens.’ No one ‘deserves’ to be in the USA more than any other human just because s/he lucked out in the birth lottery system… All humans deserve equal opportunities on this planet and borders are constructs that keep the playing field rabidly unequal. If you had been born on el otro lado, mightn’t you see the set up as unjust as well?