If you were unaware or unmoved by the picture of the three year old refugee boy washed up dead on a beach then maybe you should not read on. I am just one of millions if not billions who saw it and the madness ripped at my soul. Has this so called civilization we live in come this far or this low that we have to be uber shocked to sit up and take notice?
Our first reaction is to explain it away. If Assad hadn’t unleashed his fury on his populace they never would have come and everything would have been hunky dory. Same for Afghanistan, Iraq, Honduras and India I guess. The Donald says the world is transactional and he may be right. It comes to down to pluses and minuses and net effects to deem whether something is worthy of our consideration. Sorry for being emotional but I have a little more soul than that. But let me try another track.
As I put on my detached professorial hat, the current crisis is not really such but rather a recurring theme of history. For millennia people have been moving from one place to another. Incredibly for the most part the motivation has been the same…to find a better life. Now they may beset by a myriad of factors from hunger, thirst, poverty, political oppression, physical danger et alia but the grass somehow has to be greener somewhere else.
Forget about Mesopotamia to Africa and the land bridge from Asia to North America,we have a wonderful example of wanderlust in our young nation. Pre 1820 there were 11.3 million immigrants to the New World. Incredibly 8.7 million were slaves which can only be considered forced migration. But the others were well to do. They had the wherewithal and the gumption to set out on a rather arduous journey to seek their fortune. By definition they were some of the youngest and brightest and they put their business plan into play.
As time went on they needed manpower for their enterprise and that had to go beyond slaves and indentured servants. Post 1820 it turned to a more muscular if shall we say a less educated group. The Chinese to Left Coast and the Italians, Irish et al to the East Coast. They were harassed and derided but were put to use as cogs in this economic engine that the Industrial Age was fueling non stop. They didn’t speak the language and they hung out together in ghettos of a sort (sound familiar?) but that was okay. Just keep working and mind your manners. It wasn’t until 1920 that we started to put the brakes on.
Even without the horror of war the same is true today. Over 350 million Chinese have made the transition from a rural economy to an urban one. Why? The guys in the sticks make less than $1000 a year. Go beyond that and the young and restless of Italy, Russia, Spain and Portugal want to call Berlin, London and Copenhagen home. The end result is that the deserted countries now have an aging population that doesn’t pay taxes but now lives off the dole. Fascinating stuff.
This gets enormously complex if you don’t pause and look at the possible scenarios and pitfalls. The obvious is the need for social services from everything to schooling to medical help. The oil fields of the Dakotas bring workers and families that overwhelm the local governments. Very much akin to the Gold Rush days, they have to cast a wary eye as to when the gravy train stops running and $45 oil takes its toll.
Now you can say no more and good for you. I find it comical that we even consider sending 11 million illegals back. This is not a political statement but one of fact. Who would clean the houses,cut the lawns, bus the tables, mind the children if that happened? Well, TTG they are taking jobs away from us good old boys. I guess that is why 25% of the current crops are lying rotten in the fields from California to Georgia because they can’t find workers to pick them. They are paying $18 an hour with meals and housing with no takers. I drive down Colorado Boulevard and see sign after sign asking for help at anywhere from $9-15 per hour.
Immigration is good for any country. Several have actually seen a reverse migration. Mexico has a net inflow of people coming back. The economy and opportunity is on the rise. It is in the older countries of Europe that these people should be welcomed with open arms because they will be reinfused with youth and talent that is sorely needed. There are doctors, engineers and architects in that group that should be regarded for their talents rather than their funny language.
It is mind boggling that Germany has set goals of hundreds of thousands of immigrants while France and GB will graciously accept 20,000…over five years. I don’t know about you but I watched the good people of Munich applause and warmly welcome train loads and a bit of pride welled up in me that they are part of our developed world. Someone said they were just trying to make up for WWII. Well good for them. The Poles and Hungarians seem to have a short memory.
Maybe I am on a bit of a soapbox. Sorry for that. It’s just another one of those things that we have to put more than dollars into the equation. I think of my grandmother and her sister who walked down a lane in the town of Boyle to make their way to Cork and the unknown of the States at the age of 14 and 16. It took guts and some open arms. I am glad I am part of a country that had the largesse. I wonder what would happen if that little boy had washed up on the beach on Long Island or Santa Monica if we might give a different thought? Immigration and striving for something better is a part of life. I am not so smug that I can say let someone else do their part. I think we have to do ours.
Ted The Great
The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus . The inscription on the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. Take a moment to read it.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Unless you were born in the Levant or the heart of Africa, depending on your version of history, all of us from Native Americans to European were immigrants at one time.