Too good (as in ha,ha) to ignore: via ThinkProgress, Phyllis Schlafly’s latest rant – an anti-immigrant diatribe that aims to push all the paranoid zenophobe’s buttons. Seems Ms. Schlafly got all worked up by a report in the New York Times to the effect that “white” births are outnumbered by children born to often immigrant minorities. Here’s a sample of the high-level entertainment, Schlafly offers:
The NY Times liberals seek to destroy the American family of the 1950s, as symbolized by Ozzie and Harriet. The TV characters were happy, self-sufficient, autonomous, law-abiding, honorable, patriotic, hard-working, and otherwise embodied qualities that made America great. In other words, the show promoted values that NY Times liberals despise.
Instead, the USA is being transformed by immigrants who do not share those values, and who have high rates of illiteracy, illegitimacy, and gang crime, and they will vote Democrat when the Democrats promise them more food stamps.
I don’t think that Schlafly wants to imply that the New York Times is directly responsible for those minority births, just that the reporter doesn’t see changing demographics as a catastrophe.
Schlafly’s a bit behind the times, though, in her evocation of the TV show Ozzie and Harriet as the zenith of American culture. As I remember it was an especially lame bit of fluff that was mostly held in affectionate contempt by my generation in the late sixties and seventies. I think that we long ago pretty much rejected the sterile picture of American “family values” projected by the Nelson family – narrow-minded, unthinking conformism – while affirming that the virtues Schlafly attributes to the ineffectual Ozzie are not restricted to members of any particular ethnic group.
Of course, Schlafly’s panic-mongering is nothing new. Consider Wikipedia’s description of anti-Irish sentiment in the 19th century:
Anti-Irish racism in Victorian Britain and 19th century United States included the stereotyping of the Irish as alcoholics, and implications that they monopolised certain (usually low-paying) job markets.[…] They were often called “white Negroes.” Throughout Britain and the U.S., newspaper illustrations and hand drawings depicted a prehistoric “ape-like image” of Irish faces to bolster evolutionary racist claims that the Irish people were an “inferior race” as compared to Anglo-Saxons.
Now the Irish are so assimilated that, if they wish, they can fully participate in the same zenophobia that afflicts Schlafly. You will find similar stories about almost every group of immigrants into the U.S. At the beginning of the 20th century, for example, nativists were similarly worked up about Italian and Eastern European immigrants and the cultural changes they were imagined to bring with them.
Schlafly’s mean-minded protests are simply more evidence that the process is now repeating itself. But one can’t help thinking that it would be an excellent sign that humans are actually capable of intellectual progress over time if we could manage change this time without the usual displays of nastiness emanating from the dominant tribe as it contemplates losing its privileged status.
*“Often immigrant” was added to the last sentence of the 1st paragraph.