Sunday, July 01, 2007

Let Go (And Turn Off the Spanish-Language TV While You’re At It)

Peggy Noonan, who’s been posting some thoughtful pieces on immigration for the past couple of months, had another one in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal. Writing of “the decision” past immigrants to the U.S. made to finally relinquish their psychic ties to the old country and cast their lot with the new, Noonan put a finger squarely on what’s made Americans uncomfortable with the massive illegal relocation of Mexicans and Central Americans here for the past 25 years or so:

A problem with newer immigrants now is that for some it's no longer necessary to make The Decision. They don't always have to cast their lot. There are so many ways not to let go of the old country now, from choosing to believe that America is only about money, to technology that encourages you to stay in constant touch with the land you left, to TV stations that broadcast in the old language. If you're an immigrant now, you don't have to let go. Which means you don't have to fully join, to enmesh. Your psychic investment in America doesn't have to be full. It can be provisional, temporary. Or underdeveloped, or not developed at all.

And this may have implications down the road, and I suspect people whose families have been here a long time are concerned about it. It's one of the reasons so many Americans want a pause, a stopping of the flow, a time for the new ones to settle down and settle in. It's why they oppose the mischief of the Masters of the Universe, as they're being called, in Washington, who make believe they cannot close our borders while they claim they can competently micromanage all other aspects of immigration.

Which is what we’ve been saying here, ad nauseam and with a good deal less polish, for the past year or so. With the demise of the Grand Bargain, we’d humbly suggest that immigrants who are here illegally might use this time to “settle down and settle in” and consider what it actually means to be a citizen (this would entail of host of baseline duties, from learning English to not parking your pick-up in the front yard to buying car insurance to realizing the public schools are more than a baby-sitting service for your children to not throwing your scratch-off lottery tickets all over the parking lot to not tossing beer and screaming obscenities at U.S. soccer players to not waving the Mexican flag at your next “immigrant rights rally” … but you've probably figured that last one out by now).

Perhaps some of America’s leaders could step up and offer friendly, non-coercive persuasion to that end, the way the governor of California did recently when he suggested constituents stop watching Spanish-language TV. Maybe our mayor in Houston could feint or jab in that direction, seeing as how he has no overriding mission, and he likes to make TV commercials.

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