Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Fencing out

After writing this column in New York Times, Ken Davis may have helped himself to a chuckle. After all, he bared the underbelly of American attitude towards immigrants over the years.

Quoting a xenophobic Ben Franklin for an opener, Davis made it clear that the [anti-immigrant] sentiment did not emerge from the rancorous debate over the immigration bill defeated last week (the bill was so bad that even the Congress couldn’t pass it!) in the Senate. It was neither the lament of some guest of Lou Dobbs show nor that of a Republican candidate intent on wooing bedrock conservative votes. It was from vintage America. Excerpts -

“As Americans celebrate another Fourth of July, this picture of American intolerance clashes sharply with tidy schoolbook images of the great melting pot. Why has the land of “all men are created equal” forged countless ghettoes and intricate networks of social exclusion? Why the signs reading “No Irish Need Apply”? And why has each new generation of immigrants had to face down a rich glossary of now unmentionable epithets? Disdain for what is foreign is, sad to say, as American as apple pie, slavery and lynching.

That fence along the Mexican border now being contemplated by Congress is just the latest vestige of a venerable tradition, at least as old as John Jay’s “wall of brass.” “Don’t fence me in” might be America’s unofficial anthem of unfettered freedom, but too often the subtext is, “Fence everyone else out.”

Logical? I had always held politicians normally don't like getting too far out on an issue. John Kennedy didn't when it came to civil rights, for instance. History is not all that bunk….

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