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February 24, 2008

We are a country of immigrants, are we not?  Except for the small population of Native Americans who came here a few thousand years before the rest of us, every single American arrived in this country as a foreigner, often with little English, passels of children, and few useful skills.
I think maybe sometimes people forget that.
I think about the dinner the other night, and the reaction people in my home town would have had.  How my uncle would have assumed all the Asian guys were Chinese (though in this case he gets lucky – except for Aaron they are all Chinese) and stupid.  How a number of people would probably have assumed Hasan was some crazy Islamic fundamentalist.  Heck, just how people would have talked to the foreign kids, in that painfully loud and slow way that they think makes them clearer.  More than that, though, these international students would be seen by many in my home town as simultaneously dumb and stealing jobs from “hard working Americans”.
Because, of course, by dint of having been here a generation or two more, we’re harder working and more intelligent.  Simply because we have no accent, we belong here more, and deserve jobs more, even if we’re not willing to work as hard for them.
Of course, I have to admit, I’m hardly perfect.  I get upset when non-citizens tell me what it means to be American, or in one memorable moment when I get told what the American dream is.  I have to step back and not be insulting on the topic of citizenship, because don’t understand the wealth of permanent residents who choose not to become citizens.  If you’re here, in my opinion, and you want to stay, prove it and get your citizenship.  So I guess I’m not always better.
Still, I don’t understand the immigration debate.  I don’t understand closed borders.  And I don’t understand dislike of foreigners.  There’s a lot to learn from them, and we all ought to take a moment to remember our recent past, which existed in another country.

In other news, the I before E rule basically never works, does it?  It’s not right for “foreigners”.

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