For the record, I want it known that I have personally listened to Donald Trump and find him to be shallow and stupid. He most reminds me of Warren Harding, the man who brought his mistress with him campaigning in 1920. Harding was most interested in what the presidency would do for him, not what he could do for everyone else. That is the epitome of Trumpism. He speaks in his fourth grade style, and appeals to the baser intellect.
One of the most respected American Presidents was President John F. Kennedy, who spoke so quickly that reporters could not get past the fact that he spoke on average 351 words per minute. He did not dummy up to appeal to the easiest listeners. He spoke his truths, and even proceeded to write them in books. The most famous of them was « Profiles in Courage, » in which he looked at a variety of men who sacrificed themselves on the altar of truth in order to appeal to the best instincts of the voting populace. When he wrote it some detractors said that he showed too little courage and too much profile. He sued and won. Some people had even questioned whether or not he wrote the book. He did, the court decided, and he collected.
The other book that Kennedy authored while in the Senate was called « A Nation of Immigrants. » That book fascinates me. He took on all of the issues belittled by Donald Trump, and he addressed them in a book that would probably now make him a has-been before his time. « Each new wave of immigration helped meet the needs of American development and made its distinctive contribution to the American character, » he wrote on page 17 of the book. He did not question whether it was necessary to make room for the immigrants, he allowed that room had been made for them for centuries. He did not press for a wall across boundaries anywhere on American soil. He admitted that America would be nothing without immigration. He charted the immigration from the 1620’s until 1960’s. « The Irish, » he said, « were in the vanguard of the great waves of immigration to arrive during the nineteenth century. »
« They had replaced England as the chief source of new settlers making up 44 percent of the foreign born in the United States. » My hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts did not automatically hold up the Irish as valuable citizens, although Mr Trump is, I believe, part Irish and a beneficiary of this immigration wave. He noted that, in the century between 1820 and 1920 four and a quarter million people left Ireland to come to the United States. Most needed jobs and in the beginning the jobs were among the lowest paying in our industrial society.
« They were mostly country folk, small farmers, cottagers and farm laborers, » he wrote. My Irish ancestors landed as indentured servants in 1842, well before the potato famine. I have no record of why they left Ireland to come to the United States. I do know that their family had to work for a Canadian farmer for over 19 years in order to pay off their being carried by sailing ship to the North American continent. When my many times great grandfather wanted to start his own life, he took advantage of the Homestead Act and got his forty acres and a mule. He transformed that, through incredible luck and effort, to 1100 acres in South Dakota, enough land to make him rich and all of it farmed by his family. I used to go to South Dakota and meet the clan. I got to meet his grandson, my great-grandfather, a man named Harkin whose claim to fame was geing eighty years old and climbing a ladder to paint his unpainted barn.
What we learn about our ancestors heightens us. It makes us larger than life. Immigration in Lowell started with our ancestors man-handling gunpowder to blast canals into Lowell which would use water as a power source to make weaving manufacturing mills in Lowell. That industrial might is still in place and those mills still exist. Visit the Lowell National Historical Park to see it.
Immigration was a necessary part of building this America. In my opinion, NAFTA robbed us of our impetus to be strong. The North American Free Trade Agreement robbed America of the beauty of building its own products. Trump is right in one thing, we need to make America Great Again. NAFTA has to go.
We need to fight the people who are really harming our nation. This includes those countries which use lax safeguards in our American economy, such as low tariffs, to bring America down. Instead, we need to watch our progress and intelligence, and use immigrants, if they have the knowledge, to build products of a greater nature, such as electronic equipment, because that is exactly what other countries do to us.
In the 1980’s during a Republican administration, the Chinese forcefully pushed an America AWACS plane down on Chinese soil. What should have ha[pened os the bombing of the plane to keep the software and hardware out of Chinese military hands. What happened was that our President declined to attack and destroy American technology, giving the Chinese information that was worth trillions.
We may have to make America great again, but we do not have to do it at our own expense. Relations with China partially depend on our ability to deliver nuclear weapons if they are needed. The last thing the Chinese want to do is become embroiled in a nuclear war with the United States. That is why I am so against President Obama’s desire to denuclearize. Nuclear Arms keep us safe.
I was against Obama’s trip to Hiroshima. My father would have died attacking Japan in 1945. I would not be here without the use of the atomic bomb. And General Curtis LeMay looked at ten Japanese cities in 1945 and came to the conclusion that he could not tell the difference between eight cities and Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Eight had been firebombed. Firebombing was the use of five gallon tanks of gasoline dropped with standard bombs on a city. He could not tell which cities had been firebombed and which had been nuclear bombed.
John Kennedy stated that the Irish climbed the social and political ladders by becoming forman and section bosses on the railroad building. « Rung by rung » they climbed the ladders of respectability. One of my favorite Kennedy stories actually had something to do with « Honey Fitzgerald, » JFK’s grandfather. He was being challenged by a man who was urging people to write him in on the ballot. He went so far as to have the printer, who was a friend of his, to not put glue on the ballots’ backs. When the people voted against Honey Fitz, the opponent’s glue was not applied and the ballots lost their vote. The Irish knew how to use the system.
« Many of the first immigrants, like many of the (our) most recent, came to America to escape oppression at home. » Kennedy said. People still come to the United States to escape oppression at home. « Many of the new settlers did not come as free men, » he stated. They were, like my great many times grandfather Harkins, indentured servants. They worked without wages. In America, they could only be indentured for seven years. That period was settled by the framers of the Constitution.
We have not ever been able to settle on a number of people who became, eventually, American citizens. « From 1870 to the end of the century, more that eleven million persons came to America, an increasing number from southern and eastern Europe and the Near East. » He stated in his book. These people were not wanted, they just came. Just like the Muslims.
We take the time to worry about the rising different, immigrants. I will write more on this issue in the future. But, let’s not forget that the United States was able in the past 150 years, to include millions to our ranks of citizens, including my own State Representative. In my family. someone very close to us became recent American citizens. They would not be members of our family if we excluded them from citizenship. So, the fact is that we learn from persons who grew up citizens of different countries. We will never stop immigration. Trump can state that he will stop people with a huge wall (remember the Great Wall of China?), but that method has never worked. Look at the Berlin Wall which was torn down after Gorbachev ordered it abandoned.
We did not want the Chinese, the Eastern Europeans, the Jews, the Irish, and myriad others. We can try to turn people off of the United States, maybe by abandoning the Manifest Destiny of Andrew Jackson, which was the settling of the United States from the East coast to the West coast.
This is a moral divide. No one is right, and no one is wrong. We have done it all before. We cannot say to the Muslims that they have no right to settle here if we have sent them passes in the past. Mexicans are going to try to transgress our boundaries. We are an egalitarian society. We believe that everyone basically has a good heart and is aiming for the highest of values. We need to concentrate on making those of a different class, religion, or national origin. We are Americans, and we know, no matter how frustrated we get, that people are basically good. That does not mean that we believe in permanent goodness. We have jails, courts, and other processes. Personally, I believe if we want to learn legal processes we can just go to our local Registry of Motor Vehicles. That is one place where everyone is at the same level of citizenship. Let people emigrate, let them immigrate. It is how our grandfathers did it.