Friday, November 23, 2007

Justifying, Tom Tancredo Style

Joel Stein has a rather cheeky column up in today's Los Angeles Times about having a meal with Tom Tancredo in Iowa. It seems Mr. Tancredo is quite a fan of good Mexican food. No, I am not making that up. At any rate, Stein was invited to join Mr. Tancredo at a particular restaurant one evening, but it was necessary to change the location:

On my way to Mami's, however, I got a call from his aide. A local Republican had tipped Tancredo off to the fact that Mami's owners marched in the Great American Boycott on May Day 2006. So Tancredo was now driving all the way to Davenport to go to Carlos O'Kelly's Mexican Cafe instead.

The food at this second restaurant was, shall we say, an interesting fusion of Irish and Mexican cuisine. Or we could say, more accurately, that the food was awful. In any event, Mr. Stein did get his interview.

For all his talk of assimilation, Tancredo conceded that Carlos O'Kelly's may, in fact, have gone too far. He truly enjoys the authentic Mexican restaurants in Washington, D.C., and Colorado. "Food and music are things America has always been able to accommodate and benefit from," he said. "The thing that is difficult is the lack of assimilation. It has nothing to do with the appreciation of ethnicity." So Tancredo's complaints, like those of many who oppose immigration, come down to which aspects of Mexican culture he is personally comfortable with: language and flags, no; burritos and ballet folklorico, yes.

History, Tancredo knows, hasn't been kind to anti-immigrant crusaders -- the Know-Nothing Party, the No-Irish-Need-Apply sign makers, the internment camps for Japanese Americans during World War II. "But things are very different today," he said. "Can you think of a time historically when you had millions of people in the street on May Day saying very, very divisive stuff?" He feels that if America is too diverse, we'll be stripped of our national identity, no longer bound together as a country. He also feels certain that he has the wisdom to determine exactly how much diversity is OK.
[Emphasis added]

All of which shows that my assessment of Mr. Tancredo was a bit skewed. I had him pegged as a cynical and crass politician pandering to the lowest (and I do mean the lowest) common denominator among the reich wing of the GOP. Instead, and I think ultimately more frightening, Mr. Tancredo actually believes what he is spouting: he really is that xenophobic, that racist. And it is Mr. Tancredo who is driving the immigration issue in his party, and, because of the very nature of current American politics, the Democratic party.

Joel Stein's conclusion was right on the money when it comes to what impact Mr. Tancredo's ideas just might have on this nation.

However, if he gets his way -- even if history proves him wrong -- his personal cost will be much smaller than that paid by the millions of Mexicans denied the opportunities his own grandparents got. And smaller still than the cost to us all when America loses the very thing that historically has given it advantages in economic growth and innovation.

Exactly so.

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Anonymous Cindy said...

The vast majority of Americans (80% or more) want the borders secured. The majority of Americans do not want amnesty, do not want people coming here illegally. Are you saying that the majority of Americans are xenophobic, racist bigots? Congressman Tancredo is simply stating what the majority of American citizens believe and want done.

Webster's Dictionary defines illegal as "prohibited by law; against the law; unlawful; illicit; also, not authorized or sanctioned, as by rules-n. AN ALIEN WHO HAS ENTERED A COUNTRY ILLEGALLY. So what is it that you don't understand?

Do you not understand why illegal aliens should not be able to break U.S. laws? American citizens aren't expected to break the laws. If an American citizen chooses to break a law, they are held responsible and must suffer the consequences. Otherwise, there is chaos. What's so difficult to comprehend about that?

Throughout America's history, immigrants have managed to assimilate into America's melting pot while at the same time contributing to the culture. The difference: these people were legal immigrants who wanted to come here to become Americans.

These legal immigrants didn't refuse to assimilate by learning English and obeying U.S. laws. They didn't march in the streets demanding U.S. laws be changed to suit them; nor did they denigrate America by displaying the American flag upside down with the Mexican flag flying above it.

I enjoy soft tacos and cheese burritos. So what? I also love Chinese food. I just expect immigrants (no matter what country they're from) to follow U.S. immigration laws and be legal, not illegal.
That's all Congressman Tancredo is saying. People are not xenophobics, racist, and bigots simply because they insist the laws be followed. That's ridiculous!

11:30 AM  

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