Sunday, February 15, 2009

What Made Us Americans

In these modern times we are reminded constantly of the origins from whence many of us came, ostensibly to quell the perceived anti-immigration sentiments of which we are accused. Our diverse - and sometimes remote - heritages are tossed back at us as a counter to our desires to stem the flow of illegals, yet the folks doing the pitching neglect to address that fact; that we are only anti-illegal immigrant. Our new neighbors who are either first or second generation immigrants have been quick studies of the liberal postures of those who have deeper roots, and they have formed an alliance that threatens that which made us a great nation.

Again, most of us are descendants of Europe and, to a smaller degree, other parts of the world. The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw the largest influx of our ancestors ever, but there was a completely different mindset back then. Our forebears were often refugees seeking a better place in order to flee oppression or bad economies, and once they got in, they were grateful. They did not have an easy time upon their arrival, and usually having little more than the clothes on their backs, were given nothing, either. They truly started all over and through hard work and perseverance, made lives and built families. More importantly, they became Americans.

Their main interests were in improving their lives and the lives of their children while strengthening their new country. They struggled, in many cases, to learn English and the customs of America. They were not preoccupied with their former countries and they did not attempt to remake America in the image of that from which they came. And they certainly never dreamed of asking for a handout from either the government or from a neighbor. To do so would have brought shame and an admittance that they were not self-reliant. Pride was not a dirty word.

Somewhere along the way, that line of thought has been been obscured to the point that criminal behavior has become an acceptable standard, often defended and even encouraged by people who misguidedly think that they are being kind and humane. Cities such as San Francisco and New York are known as sanctuary cities, places where people who have come here in violation of our laws can be assured that they are welcome, nevertheless. Organizations have placed water stations in the desert between Mexico and the U.S. so people sneaking into the country will remain hydrated. Border patrol agents get incarcerated for doing their jobs, and private land owners get sued for millions of dollars, simply for defending their property.

Everything we buy that comes with instructions has a multi-lingual manual. Many places we go to shop seem foreign. Walking into a mall sometimes feels like entering a country that is not America, where suddenly we can't understand the language being spoken by other patrons. Gone is the desire of new arrivals to conform to Americana, to learn the language and embrace the culture. I have often wondered aloud why someone would flee their homeland, only to come here and try to remake this country in the image of the one they fled. It's akin to leaving a crumbling house for a new one, only to immediately set about cracking the walls.

Americans have historically been an accepting people, both in our homes and in our country. We can't be blamed, however, for taking umbrage to those who disrespect our home. No one would tolerate even an invited guest walking on the sofa. Why should we be expected to embrace those who come here uninvited, only to soil the carpet?

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