Arrogance on immigration is an old story in America


Published: Friday, June 1, 2007 at 7:21 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, June 1, 2007 at 7:21 a.m.

George Will's May 24 attack on proposed legislation for immigration reform smacks of the same arrogance and superior cultural attitude that has long clouded the thinking of American intellectuals.

To justify the war with Mexico, Mexicans were called degenerate Spaniards, a mongrelized people whose culture "rested on their static, even regressive, Hispanic heritage." President Ulysses S. Grant's proposal to annex the Dominican Republic was opposed by congressmen who claimed that the United States could not absorb "degenerate races."

Immigration laws of the 1920s established the notorious national origins quota system that drastically curtailed immigration from eastern and southern Europe and continued the almost total ban on Asian immigration.

Will continues the theme of Anglo superiority. He writes that there are 100 million nonwhites in America and then devotes considerable space to the anti-Hispanic diatribe of Heather Mac Donald, of the Manhattan Institute, who claims that America is importing an underclass "with the potential to expand indefinitely."

Mac Donald scoffs at "the myth of the redeeming power of Hispanic family values, the Hispanic work ethic, and Hispanic virtue" by citing statistics showing that many Hispanics are poor, few receive high school diplomas and some have children out of wedlock. Surely Will and Mac Donald must know that ever since we were colonies of Great Britain the great majority of our immigrants, free and slave, have been poor and uneducated.

In the 1920s the Congress enacted immigration legislation that was a disgrace to the United States. It is devoutly hoped that in 2007 Congress will ignore Will's criticism and enact immigration legislation worthy of our ideals.

John DeWitt,

Gainesville

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