I believe in open borders and greatly miss the Open Canadian/United States border we enjoyed when were younger. Times pass, people change, and Illegal Aliens settle in the United States of America. But, not every alien is an illegal and it is that dichotomy that causes us to hesitate on emergency acts in the country. I did a major blog, which I have been willing to discuss for a year now, all without fruition, and we conveniently forget who we are and how we got here.
John Kennedy said it best in his book on immigration. He noted the large group of immigrants who moved here from Ireland, something like 47 million people in forty years during the 1800’s. His great-nephew recently made the observation that he would not be allowed into the country now with the anti-illegal immigrant laws on the books. Joseph Kennedy sounded wise beyond his age when he spoke on his rights as a citizen of the United States. His uncle said, that “Each new wave of immigration helped meet the needs of American development and made its distinctive contribution to American character.” Imagine how foreign Italian mafia lords must have looked to our great-grandfathers in the 1900 to 1940 range. Imagine, people who shoot their own kind for profit? How foreign was that? We are scared now, but given what passed before us, how scared can we be?
JFK said, “The Irish 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 forty four percent of the foreign born in the United States.” There is very little in common between the Irish and the English they replaced. And what about those English? They come here, fight the first immigrants, the Native Americans, and take over their inheritance settling millions on Native American soil. In fact, the Native Americans cannot understand the idea that you can own land. In their religion(s), land was like the sky. It could not be owned. Now we say that we can control even the sky.
“They were mostly country folk, small farmers, cottagers, and farm laborers. My great great great ad nauseum grandfather traveled here from Ireland to escape the law in Ireland. Not that he was a master criminal, he just did not believe that the English could control Ireland. Now that is called a patriot. He came over with his wife and four children. Eventually, he and his wife would parent eleven children, most born in Canada. That is where he served as a slave (indentured servant), to a Canadian who’s last name started with a “D.” He had to put in so many years, nineteen of them, because he had to pay for his, his wife’s, and his four children’s passage to America. Eventually he paid off his bill and he left Canada for the plains of South Dakota, taking with him his Conestoga wagon and his wife and eleven children for forty acres and a mule.
What we learn about our ancestors heightens us. It makes us larger than life. The first Lowell Irish were the only ones crazy enough to handle using gunpowder to dig the canals of rock. The Irish eventually did safer things, but not what we would call “safe.” They moved the canal rock to build an Episcopalian Church, St. Anne’s, in downtown Lowell. Mill girls were a step above the Irishmen who blasted the canals. Imagine digging so many miles of rock, solid rock, in order to build a church you would never be invited to attend. Religion was, as Karl Marx once alluded to, the opiate of the masses. By working the girls for six straight days and taking them to Episcopal Mass on the seventh, the mill owners felt that they had their lives in hand. Little did they know, to Kirk Boott’s astonishment, that the girls would be willing to go to school after work let out of the mills and on Sunday’s. Boott felt it was just short of madness. Theodore Edson, the Pastor of St. Anne’s Church, was the first publicly elected school official in Lowell.
He spoke to the girls every Sunday, in ways that railed against the mill owner’s interests. He was there when the girls went to school, and when they started the first girl’s bank in Lowell, the famous Lowell Institution for Savings.
We are at an awful bend in the road of immigration reform. We have often cleared out illegal immigrants. We even took a group of Japanese-Americans and moved them into concentration camps because they were part Japanese. It did not matter, as it does not matter now, that they were more American than Japanese. We just felt comfortable with them out of the way in California. So we moved them east, into large towns, often called concentration camps, occupied by Japanese-Americans.
The Irish played a brand of politics that we do not necessarily understand but laugh about today. One example was the most intelligent piece of mayhem in American politics. “Honey Fitzgerald,” JFK’s well-loved grandfather, was being challenged by a man who was urging people to write him on the ballot, since he had not had the necessary number of signatures on his paperwork. “Honey Fitz” convinced the printer, who was his friend, to not put glue on the back of the stamps with the man’s name printed on them. Each ballot was gathered at the election precinct and each ballot had the man’s name fall off of them. JFK thought it was a good story about electioneering and how far the people would go to get elected to an office. It was a good story about how far the third generation Irish would go to get their opponents off of the ballot. Imagine how it played to those people whose forefathers had settled in the 1700’s. It must have been a terrible breach of the election game.
This entire immigration scandal is a terrible divide of the morality dictated by the forefathers. Indeed, in the immigration question, no one is right and no one is wrong. We have done it all before. We cannot say that the Muslims have no right to settle here. Mexicans, who are starving, are going to traverse our boundaries. We have better homes and food than they can get in their native country. We suffer under the assumption that everyone basically has a good heart and good values. No matter how frustrated we get, we believe in the basic goodness of the people. That does not necessarily mean that we believe in perfect goodness. We have jails, courts and other processes. If you really want to know how to handle the masses, go to a Registry of Motor Vehicles office. There, no one is special. Let people emigrate, let them immigrate. That is how our forefathers did it. And accept the fact that no one whether English or Irish, or Muslim or Greek, is worth more in the eyes of the law. We have all had the opportunity to make our mistakes according to the mores of the first people who emigrated to America. And, in war or in peace, we have all had the opportunity to fix our mistakes. Let’s allow those who have come after us to have the same protections we were allowed.
That is basically my stand on immigration. It is very close to the usual American beliefs.