Note: the trigger here is a provocative essay by OpEdNews' Rob Kall, asking,"Why Do Immigrants From Communist Nations Tend to Become Right Wingers?" What struck me goes farther afield, evaluating the wider immigrant picture that makes laughable all rightwing cries to "take back their country." Instead, we find an invaluable legacy from centuries of migrations, even the promise newly-minted citizens will push reform of their adopted, less than perfect union.
If not enlightened demographics to the rescue, then what? Not today's cacophony of nativist goons dreading "illegal aliens."
America is not just a land of immigrants, but one built by "foreigners" who risked life and limb, enduring high costs and truly horrible early transport, to reinvent themselves. In the process, an endless flow of optimistic newcomers left an indelible mark both on infrastructure and our capacity for wonder, even change. Like Gatsby, they stare with fascination at that "green light, the orgastic future," readying "boats against the current." Why, without large-scale immigrant sweat on construction, farmland and at factories, and somewhat better weather, we might not wield imperial power any more successfully than, say, Greenland.
Not only does superpower status elude us without a tsunami of over 100 million+ entrants, would we ever have fostered a standard of living envied by the world? For better and of late worse, our "melting pot" has cooked up a fancy plutocratic stew thanks to low-cost immigration muscle, enslaved Africans, plus overworked Native Americans and early Hispanics.
"Manifest destiny," whatever its geopolitical virtues, didn't come cheap for underpaid serfs. Whose hands mined coal and fired steel, built cities, highways and bridges, planes (and aircraft carriers), trains and railroads, as well as manufactured numberless automobiles, trucks and buses? Yet even now, as work itself changes, emigre brainpower fuels both intellectual capital and reform pushes to regain the luster of their once promised "beacon of democratic freedom."
Immigrants, especially Hispanic and Asian, represent the most formidable critical mass against an entrenched right, whether blue collar or blue stockings gung ho to erase the very opportunity that spurred the world's greatest migration. For a reality check, FDR captures our truest legacy, "Remember always, that all of us, you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists."
Years of GOP Amnesty