~~ "It's All Life, until it's Over" ~~
Kilgore Trout

~~ " In the absence of justice, what is sovereignty but organized robbery?”" ~~
Saint Augustine

~~ “Nobody would do anything if they knew what they were in for.” ~~
"Amarante", in "Milagro Beanfield War"

~~ "May you Walk with Beauty All Around You" ~~
Navajo Blessing

Friday, July 19, 2019

The History of Racism and Immigration policy....



....in one succinct essay from David Leonhardt of the New York Times.  That is, in case you didn't see it.

Please see the whole OPed piece HERE  to obtain links to all the sites he included in his article. 

I have to ask: Is this one of the reasons that the Democrats are being targeted as being too far left?  Is it because we always were too far to the right already that no one knows where the devil the Center is?   

This says it ALL, and it exposes the Ugly Truth about too many of us.

"The history of American opposition to immigration is to a large extent a history of racism, which was often promoted by powerful or influential people.
Calvin Coolidge wrote in 1921 that "Biological laws tell us that certain divergent people will not mix or blend." Henry Cabot Lodge warned, in an 1896 speech on the Senate floor, that immigrants could devastate the "mental and moral qualities which make what we call our race" — and Theodore Roosevelt praised Lodge for "an A-1 speech." Roosevelt also told a friend he was worried about the "multiplication" of "Finnegans, Hooligans, Antonios, Mandelbaums and Rabinskis."
A New York Times editorial in the 1920s warned of "swarms of aliens," while a Washington Post editorial referred to Italians as "degenerate spawn of the Asiatic hordes." Cold Spring Harbor, the prestigious laboratory, gave scientific credence to racist nativism. The same book editor who published Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald also oversaw a string of xenophobic books.
These details come from "The Guarded Gate," the latest book by the journalist-turned-historian Daniel Okrent. In it, Okrent tells the story of American leaders and elites who promulgated racist falsehoods to justify immigration restrictions. They succeeded. In 1924, Coolidge signed a law with quotas that remained in force until the 1960s.
President Trump is their nativist heir. His hateful remarks, his lies and his violation of immigrants' basic human rights all fit the pattern. His behavior is a throwback to an uglier era.
And yet not every part of the immigration debate is so clear. I wanted to mention Okrent's book — a fascinating, well-told story — as a way of grappling with what I find to be a difficult part of the issue.
Immigration restrictions are not inherently racist. Nor is border security. All countries have borders and restrictions. They have to, because they have to make decisions about who can enter their country and who can be a citizen. Nations can't function without such basic laws.
But the fact remains that the pro-restriction side in American politics has historically revolved around racism and still does today. That's important to acknowledge for anyone who wants to make a case — a non-racist case — for less immigration.
As regular readers know, I have become somewhat hawkish on immigration. I think our immigration policy should take into account the sharp rise in inequality over the last few decades. One way to do so would be to reduce, or at least hold constant, the level of immigration by people who would compete for lower- and middle-wage jobs while increasing immigration among people who would compete for higher-wage jobs.
History also makes this point. It's not just a coincidence that the period of strongest income gains for middle-class and poor families — starting in the 1940s — followed, and overlapped with, a period of falling immigration. "Immigration restriction, by making unskilled labor more scarce, tended to shore up wage rates," the great labor historian Irving Bernstein wrote.
The economists Peter Lindert and Jeffrey Williamson have noted that the foreign-born share of the labor force fell to 5 percent in 1970, from 21 percent in 1915. Countries with "slower labor force growth" in the middle of 20th century, they note, "experienced deeper income inequality reductions."
Since the 1970s, of course, immigration has surged, as has income inequality. Many other factors play a role in rising inequality: corporate consolidation, slowing educational attainment, the decline of unions, falling tax rates on the rich and more. Some of these are substantially more important than immigration. But immigration belongs on the list.
All of which raises a question: Will any political leader figure out how to make a principled case for less immigration, rather than simply a racist one? So far, the answer is no. Trump is an unrepentant lifelong racist. Other Republican politicians are largely cowed by him. And Democrats have become uncomfortable talking about any immigration policy other than liberalization.
That's a shame.
Related: Okrent wrote a recent Op-Ed about immigration, and Linda Gordon reviewed his book in The Times.
Reihan Salam has been the most prominent conservative advocate for economics-based immigration restrictions, while Dean Baker has made a left-leaning case for restriction. (Bernie Sanders once made this case too.)
"Undocumented workers who are already here," Baker wrote, "should be allowed to normalize their status and become citizens." But, he continued, "I would not like to see large numbers of middle skilled professionals come into the country … As far as less-skilled immigration, I would want it sharply limited, except for family re-unification."

3 comments:

  1. It seems like every day the news is more disturbing. Is society unraveling? Will it even matter now that we are at the tipping point on climate change?

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  2. Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Linda. It’s much appreciated.
    There’s no telling where this will all end up. But with this wave of immigration, most talking heads, and even the above author, forget to mention that the troubles we stir up abroad, to support things like the IMF and the World Bank, are now at our doorstep.
    We terrorized, in the words of Howard Hunt, the people of Central America. This has left them at the mercy of drug lords who battened on the CIAs meddling there in the 70’s. Those sort of “Chickens”, have come nome to roost. We have to be mindful off our own history. We made this mess, and not that long ago. We should make sure we don’t let politicians stick our kids with the consequences.

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  3. Typing on a tiny key board is the pits! 🤓

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