THE IMMIGRANT ROCK. The Washington Post has a notably good history of the immigration debate today. From Germans who saw no reason for linguistic assimilation to Jewish communities that served as hotbeds for socialism to Italians who lagged in educational attainment, the various arguments being trotted out to prove that, no, Mexicans are different, were all paraded about in the past to prove that group X, finally, was too intrinsically deviant to accept into American society.
Of course, each group was perfectly assimilable, and now none of us can imagine it any other way, but it doesn't stop the broken record from replaying its nativist remix, no matter how worn-out the last recital sounds in retrospect. Much is being made of the audacity of those who want a Spanish version of the anthem, but Ellis Island's literacy test, for instance, was in the immigrant's native language, and somehow English survived. Further, according to tonight's Dateline, a random sample of senators and congressmen didn't turn up a single one able to sing the complete national anthem. One day, this will all look deeply silly, and, come that day, a nice, fat subsection of the country will no doubt be protesting that no, you don't understand, this time it's different...
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