Tuesday, March 28, 2006

There are immigrants and immigrants

This week's New Yorker has a fascinating article by Jane Kramer about the immigration crisis in Holland, of all places. Kramer's article shows an interesting paradox. Political correctness does not equal real tolerance. It is instead a perfect example of the road to hell being paved with good intentions.
Given that we seem to be having a little immigration crisis of our own, all I can say is look at their immigrants and look at ours. Europe would not be going through such social calamities if instead of inviting Muslim peasants to work jobs that the natives didn't want, they had invited Mexicans and Latin Americans instead. Probably a bit of culture shock (in the form of loud music, cheesy soap operas and trenchant conservatism) but no fatwas, no sharia, no fear, no intimidation. All I'm saying is we should be grateful we have such nice immigrants who are happy to be exploited and don't try to blow us up just because we believe in something else.
But having said that, I believe that if people choose to make a living in a country not their own, they have to respect the customs of that country, whether they like it or not. I know I'm going to sound like a right winger, but the Muslims in Europe who, with their violent religious intolerance, are terrorizing the entire population, among them mostly moderate Muslims who dare contravene them, have to understand that the West is a free secular society. If they don't like it, they can go back to their countries of origin and stone everyone they want to death to their hearts content. When in Rome, shut the fuck up and follow the rules like everybody else.

In a way, the same goes for my compatriots who come here. Learn English, try to understand the culture. You don't have to like it, you don't have to accept it, but it is in your best interest not to marginalize yourself and remain clueless and unguarded while you are living in the most powerful country on Earth. I have known immigrants who have been here for twenty years and they still don't speak English. That is the reason why they can't get a decent job, better wages, and they remain mired in poverty, even if they are much better off than where they came from. If you have come all the way from rural Mexico, which might as well be a different galaxy, and you have gone through incredible danger and risk to get a better life, then get a life as good as you possibly can, because, believe it or not, the US is a beacon of real tolerance, as opposed to other countries. Here what counts is your pluck and your ambition and your desire to work hard. True, you'll be exploited, but paradoxically, in this land where the motto should be "scratch your own back", you will be given more of a chance to thrive.

1 comment:

  1. Conchita6:56 PM

    Check out today's nytimes article on the citizen test in Germany. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/29/international/europe/29letter1.html?8hpib

    It's ironic from a country who should have learned the consequences of intense religious and racial hatred, separatism and facism, and that was split in east and west by the politics of suspicion and mistrust, is struggling with similar ugliness all over again.

    One has to wonder where this will lead. I have been afraid of this sentiment growing all over. Now, please tell me, what is it that people don't get: This is ONE world. There is nowhere to hide. Migration of humans has always existed and population explosion and modern technolgy simply was setting up the stage.

    We can't all of a sudden say, "Stay on your side of the fence, and I mean it this time"....that's never been able to work! We have reams and reams of re-drawn maps of empires and continents to prove this. I am SURE Rome was struggling with it's "diversity" too, thus the Barbarians at the GATE!

    So here we are: A world of depleted natural resources, pollution, global (READ BORDERLESS) underground economies of everything from drugs, arms, and sex slaves, let alone Prada knockoffs!
    The breakdown of barriers has ushered the breakdown of lawful engagement and civility among nations, the lowering of standards from education to the lack of any real accountability of our leaders.

    Seems to me that when regular folks have no control over all these forces, they try to control the one thing closest to them, that is they retreat to their own tribal instincts and persuasions. This is one BIG MESSY CULTURE WAR, with the aforementioned underpinning of economic interdependence and exploitation.

    You know, it's gonna sound stupid and idealistic, but I used to believe that maybe one day we could really have a FEDERATION EARTH.

    Now I know we would fuck up space as badly as we have this little floating chunk of organic matter.