Living in North Texas, of course there's long been an issue with immigrants workers. Growing up, I knew that in one part of town the people were named Jorge and Consuela, and they worked in the mill. Friends have complained they can't make it paying even minimum wage and hiring workers who expect benefits and time off - they're competing with the contractors who don't. Another time I'll spend more time talking about the problems and the advantages of a mixed culture like that.
I had to laugh, though, to find references to the Middle East's problem with immigrants in an article at CNN today, one I hadn't really noticed before. King Abdullah of Jordan, it seems, is much more under pressure about this problem than we are. Moderate Arabs want
the Bush administration to devote more diplomatic energy on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which has been stagnant since 2000.
Abdullah pledged "all possible support to the Palestinians so they can regain their rights," though he warned that his country would not accept a deal that causes an influx of Palestinians.
"Jordan will not accept an unjust settlement of the issue, nor will Jordan accept any settlement that comes at its expense," Abdullah told lawmakers, who applauded vigorously.
He was referring to fears of a settlement that would cause thousands of Palestinians to settle in the kingdom, upsetting the country's delicate demographic balance.
Roughly half of Jordan's 5.5 million population consists of Palestinian families who fled, or were driven out of, their homes in the 1948 and 1967 Arab-Israeli wars.
The king recognizes the importance of Iraq, diplomats said. Jordan and other moderate Arabs are concerned that growing Shiite influence in Iran, Syria and Lebanon will help hard-line Iran dominate the region and give rise to more extremism.
It's driving the redneck elements here crazy that there are signs in Spanish, and they hear Spanish spoken in public places. Imagine if there were radical religious communities coming in from south of the border, envisioning a return to some golden age when they ruled the world and everyone in the courthouse gang was answerable to them.
I admit I was amused at the reactions of some of my more racist friends and family when it was announced they are now in the minority. White people
make up less than 50% of the population of the 100 largest cities in the United States for the first time in history, census data show.
While they are a majority in 52 of the 100 largest cities, they make up only 44% of the total population of those cities.
In 1990, non-Hispanic whites were the majority population in 70 of the 100 largest US cities, making up 52% of the total.
Hispanics are the fastest growing urban group in the US, according to the census - increasing at a rate of 72% in the 20 fastest-growing cities, compared to 5% for whites.
Overall, US cities gained 3.8 million Hispanic residents, an increase of 43% on 1990. [This article dated Monday, 30 April, 2001.]
Of course, I married into a Sephardic (Hispanic) Jewish family, so my children are part of that majority/minority syndrome in a very odd way. It was never threatening to me that our society had elements other than the Northern European variety, I suppose. But if there had been so much influence of the religion would I have been so sanguine about it? Can't say for sure.
With the issue in mind that in the Middle East there also are problems of integration into an existing society of elements from other places, I read Ahmadinejad's letter to the American people in rather a wry fashion, then. In Wednesday's letter
, he said, "we, like you, are aggrieved by the ever-worsening pain and misery of the Palestinian people" and accused the Bush administration of disregarding public opinion by remaining "in the forefront of supporting the trampling of the rights of the Palestinian people."
"What has blind support for the Zionists by the U.S. administration brought for the American people?," Ahmadinejad asked. "It is regrettable that for the U.S. administration, the interests of these occupiers supersedes the interests of the American people and of the other nations of the world."
He urged Americans to support the right of the Palestinians to live in their own homeland.
Do I detect the subtle note of not just Yankee Go Home, but "Palestinians, Go Home" and perhaps a soupcon of "Iraqis Go Home", breaking through the pan-Arabian gloss of this missive. I have my suspicions.
The exodus of Iraqis in the face of sectarian violence heaped on top of invasion goes on; A few months after reports
indicated that Iraqi university professors and academics were fleeing the country because of violence and kidnappings, new media reports say that the middle class in Iraq also wants to leave.
The New York Times reported last week that more and more middle class Iraqis seem to be " doing everything they can to leave the country."
In the last 10 months, the state has issued new passports to 1.85 million Iraqis, 7 percent of the population and a quarter of the country's estimated middle class. The school system offers another clue: Since 2004, the Ministry of Education has issued 39,554 letters permitting parents to take their children's academic records abroad. The number of such letters issued in 2005 was double that in 2004, according to the director of the ministry's examination department. Iraqi officials and international organizations put the number of Iraqis in Jordan at close to a million. Syrian cities also have growing Iraqi populations.
The reason for the exodus, the Times writes, is the wave of sectarian violence that has engulfed Iraq since the Feb. 22 bombing of the revered Shiite Askariya Shrine in Samarra. Most frightening for most Iraqis was the sense that their government was doing almost nothing to stop the fighting, and in fact may have helped, as soldiers from Shiite-dominated ministries have been accused of participated in the sectarian killings.
With an immigration problem like this, even the Cretin in Chief should be able to enlist the neighboring Arab world in negotiations to bring peace in his war. It would take an incredible level of incompetence to make the Arab world prefer his continued disgrace to solving their economic and social crisis brought about by his delusions. Hopefully his handlers will hold onto him long enough to keep the Arab world from meltdown. Let's hope his handlers will prove up to the job, with the assistance of responsible Arab powers.