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Tag Archives: Immigration

Our collective ignorance of American history is deeply perplexing to me. Even more perplexing is the thought process that inspires people to click “forward” when equally ignorant e-mail messages end up in their inboxes.

It appears Rosemary LaBonte was irritated about those immigrants, and chose to write about it. The “politically correct” editors of the Orange County Register (ironic, given the OC demographic) saw fit not to print her rant. Mr. LaBonte, crusader that he is, went ahead and set it free into the internet wild.

Maybe we should turn to our history books and point out to
people like Mr. Lujan why today’s American is not willing
to accept this new kind of immigrant any longer. Back in
1900 when there was a rush from all areas of Europe to come
to the United States, people had to get off a ship and stand in
a long line in New York and be documented. Some would even
get down on their hands and knees and kiss the ground. They
made a pledge to uphold the laws and support their new country
in good and bad times. They made learning English a primary
rule in their new American households and some even changed
their names to blend in with their new home.

I don’t doubt that more than a few early 20th-century immigrants eagerly learned how to speak English. Given that previous generations of immigrants (primarily from western Europe, e.g., Germany, Britain) treated so poorly this new wave of southern and eastern European immigration, assimilating quickly was to their benefit. No longer would they be discriminated against — poor and dirty and of “ill repute” — if only they could be more “American” sooner rather than later.

Understandably, assimilation isn’t an instant process. It makes sense that it would take more than a generation, perhaps two, if not more, for a family to be fully assimilated into “American” culture (whatever that is).¬† But the impetus for that process wasn’t a feverish devotion to Americana. It was a realization that the people already here wanted nothing to do with these new immigrants and wanted to ostracize them. They didn’t Anglicize their names to be more like the Joneses — they did so to keep the nativists/racists/classists at bay.

They had waved good bye to their birth place to give their
children a new life and did everything in their power to
help their children assimilate into one culture. Nothing was
handed to them. No free lunches, no welfare, no labor laws
to protect them. All they had were the skills and craftsmanship
they had brought with them to trade for a future of prosperity.

The irony and humor of bemoaning labor laws in the context of this discussion isn’t lost. Without labor laws to protect their children who were also searching for prosperity, these children ended up working in mines and sweatshops All manner of dangerous lines of work had children on the clock. And when these children were injured on the job, their impoverished families had no recourse — no way to treat their injured children, no way to recover lost wages, nothing. And this was admirable?

Most of their children came of age when World War II broke out.
My father fought along side men whose parents had come straight
over from  Germany, Italy, France and Japan. None of these
1st generation Americans ever gave any thought about what
country their parents had come from. They were Americans fighting Hitler,
Mussolini and the Emperor of Japan.
They were defending the United States of America as one people.

Japanese-American soldiers, like their black American counterparts, fought in segregated units, and separate from their white American counterparts, so it’s highly unlikely the Mrs. LaBonte’s father fought alongside Japanese immigrants to the U.S.

It bothers me greatly that people embrace the ideas put forth in this e-mail because so many of the ideas are wrong and flat-out ignorant of history and reality. It bothers me greatly that people have this conception of immigrants today being so dramatically different than the immigrants yesterday.

It bothers me greatly that people assume that assimilation into American culture is a simple thing — as though one can “flip the switch” and magically become more American, particularly when it’s not likely their ancestors did anything of the sort. It bothers me greatly that the same nativist prejudices that marred American history are still strong today.


It’s clear the folks out in Los Angeles do like to get down, so to speak, legitimate reasons or otherwise. So when hundreds of inebriated Laker fans decided to turn the area surrounding Staples Center into a warzone, it comes as no surprise, really.

lakerfans I mean, we’ve already seen this sort of thing before, whether or not the Lakers win. So when they emerged as victors in Orlando on Sunday, I suppose this was inevitable, right?

And if you look at the commentary on sites such as the L.A. Times, this sort of thing is absolutely inevitable, given the sort of antisocial behavior most people of Latino heritage display. Those brown-skinned Laker fans — who are probably illegal aliens anyway — they’re always at the center of these incidents. At least, that’s what many of their readers seem to think.

Well, given that Latinos make up approximately 47% of the population in Los Angeles, is there really any surprise that it’s Latinos that we’re seeing here? They make up the largest group of people in the city! And this is not to suggest that only Latinos were partaking in this nonsense, as there were plenty of other people out being idiots as well. I just want to point out that there’s a reason we see mostly Latino faces in these pictures — because it’s mostly Latinos who live in LA. looted

But what really bothers me is how quick these commenters were to point the finger at Latino Laker fans, assigning blame to them for all manner of maladies, not just what went down on Sunday evening. What’s even more troublesome is the implication that only unruly Latinos are capable of such ridiculousness. Of course, because this sort of thing could never happen in a more civilized place (i.e. a place with more white people) such as Philadelphia, or Boston. Those mild-mannered fans in New England; they’d never do the sort of thing that, heaven forbid, would jeopardize someone’s life, now would they?

It’s really odd to read the comments of anyone trying to imply that drunken hooliganism is somehow particular to one race of people/one particular west coast state/one particular city in California. It’s disturbing to read the comments of people who naively think this wouldn’t happen anywhere else, and is somehow endemic to Los Angeles. It’s terribly sad to read the comments of people who unintentionally reveal that they believe in some pretty unjustifiable beliefs. What happened Sunday evening had nothing to do with the Latino population, immigration, or anything other than pure stupidity.

This sort of incident is just plain sad, no matter how you dice it. Sure, just as LAPD Chief William Bratton said, “knuckleheads” are to blame for this sort of thing happening. This isn’t some sort of systemic issue taking place. People get drunk, people get stupid. It’s a theme that goes down everywhere, from the streets of Los Angeles, all the way to the cornfields of Iowa.