« How work sustains us | Main | A little light housekeeping »

A nation of immigrants hates immigration

My colleague Steve Kilar has an article in today’s Sun about the likelihood that encouraging immigration is the only means by which Baltimore can hope to replenish its diminishing population. The arguments put forth in the article seem plausible enough, but I want to focus a little on the sadly predictable comments.

It is apparently an article of faith for many people that immigrants come to this country to live luxuriously off welfare, supported by the native white working class, whose jobs they are taking away.*

Of course, anyone whose last name is German, Irish, Italian, Eastern European, or Asian in origin is very likely descended from immigrants who were widely despised as trash—lazy, improvident, dirty, and unable to speak or write proper English.

Assimilation over a couple of generations is well attested. But this fantasy of a horde living large off the rest of us makes it difficult for people to cope with the realities. Assimilation is only one of them.

Another is that many of these illegal immigrants are working, are in fact performing tasks that are too unpleasant or ill-paid to attract the native-born. Many of them are also paying part of their wages into Social Security, buoying up that system.

But the most difficult reality to cope with is the number. If the estimate of about 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States is correct, there is no way that a population of that size can be excised without enormous ill consequences. It would require establishment of a police state beyond anything ever seen in this country, and the economic dislocation of the removal of that labor force would be immense.

George W. Bush recognized this, and his attempt to deal forthrightly with the issue was thwarted by his own party. Any sensible effort by anyone else is immediately shouted down by xenophobic, racist demagogy, of the sort supplied by the commenters on Mr. Kilar’s article.

It will take people with courage to address the issue effectively, but courage has not been on abundant display in the recent political scene.


*That people are able to hold these two ideas simultaneously says something about their mental processes, but we go on. This article also gives the commenters an opportunity to scorn the impoverished, dangerous, crime-ridden, black/Hispanic city, but we’ll give the racism a pass this time as well. Although, the readers who bash Baltimore might want to take note that the level of immigration in Baltimore Country is greater than that in the city. The white fastness may not be as secure as they think.



Posted by John McIntyre at 1:26 PM | | Comments (9)


There are two maxims that account for this horrible behavior: "Heads off all around but us" and "We're the last ones in the boat."

The first immigrants to the western hemisphere arrived between 15,000 and 30,000 years ago. The rest arrived within the last 500 years. I think it behooves the original immigrant group to start a movement - let's call it "Unoccupy," to send the rest of us back to the Eurasian land mass from whjich we sprang. Once that action is completed, the buffalo should get together to chase out the first group.

Marc Leavitt,

Aah! Lest we forget.

It was the later 19th-century kinfolk of those earliest of so-called 'civilized' European immigrants to the New World who almost singlehandedly managed to nearly drive the once thriving, mighty American bison herds to the very brink of extinction, in what came down to their wanton, unfettered 'sporting' blood-lust, sheer misguided folly, and confounded ignorance.

From speeding locomotives, those mighty iron-horses of the plains, the 'enlightened', upper-crust White Man would shoot, wound, and kill hundreds-upon-hundreds of these noble, innocent creatures for the mere vicarious thrill of it; as easily as firing at lame cutout ducks in a carnival shooting arcade.

Sadly the same basic scenario obtained w/ our now long extinct, once ubiquitous passenger pigeon, although they weren't picked off from moving train cars like the sitting-duck bison.

Massive herds of roaming bison once literally blanketed the vast gently rolling, and flatter expanses of our Great Plains and Central Basin in huge agglomerations, spread out, en masse, as far as the human eye could see.

The original 'human' immigrants to this once pristine, bountiful, unexploited, uncivilized eden----what were erroneously labelled by the earliest invading Europeans of first-contact as "Indians"--- had a profoundly symbiotic, organic, bordering on spiritual relationship w/ the wild buffalo. The Plains Native Peoples-----the Sioux, Blackfoot, Cheyene, Fox, Arapaho et al----- for millennia depended on these magnificent , lumbering, wild beasts for their very sustenance, and survival. Almost every morsel and body part, from blood, to tendon, bones, hides (even testicles) of a slain bison would be put to practical use by these resourceful nomadic hunter gatherers.

The bison was essentially, to many Native American tribes, their very life-blood, as say maize was to the early Aztec and Mayan cultures, the potato to the Irish, or cattle to the herding Masai of Kenya.

So that great wave of second 'occupiers', the descendants of earlier European stock, true believers to a fault, basically wiped out, or at least decimated, the once thriving herds of American bison. (At one point in the early decades of the last century there were only a few hundred barely surviving bison on U.S. and Canadian soil, combined.)

Thankfully, today, their numbers have amazingly rebounded into the now tens-of-thousands, due in large part to the unflagging efforts, and sheer dedication of many concerned and humane naturalists, biologists, conservationists, and ranchers (yes ranchers), who collectively realized that to lose these majestic native creatures, forever, could (and would) not be a valid option.

Marc, thank heaven the bison DID get a second chance, a reprieve if you will. So I strongly doubt (even if they could) that they'd be forming an 'occupying' herd any time soon.

What was that old rejoinder?

"Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam,
And I'll show you a house full of dung"........ or mud, or something. (I believe the late standup comic George Carlin came up w/ that line.)

Now as for those "deer" and "antelope".......... a totally different story. Much more fastidious, and less messy creatures I've been told. HA!

Interestingly, late yesterday afternoon I was doing a Costco food mart run, and was stopped in my tracks by an open freezer display of ground, (very bloody) bison meat; of course, in the more convenient bulk format 2-pac vacuum-sealed contaner. It wasn't cheap either.

Initially, I must admit, I cringed a tad, thinking back to those days not that long ago when the great bison, as a species, was on the very brink of oblivion.
My-oh-my, how times have changed.

Don't be totally gobsmacked when we start seeing horse meat* as the next exotic delicacy in your local supermarket. There are red-blooded American carnivores out there who would rather see a chunk of wild mustang simmering on their backyard grill, than running wild and free on our dwindling open prairie. Just sayin'.

Hmm...... maybe those mustangs should form an 'occupy' group, as well. A coalition w/ those activist bison, if you will.Of course, not unlike the very young kids of today's so-called illegal immigrants to the U.S. from south of the border, who have no real say in their ultimate fate, invariably becoming ad hoc criminals in a strange land, the domesticated Old World horse was brought to these then-foreign shores, w/ little say in the matter either, by their Spanish conquistador masters----- Cortez, Pissaro, Balboa and their marauding legions.

Ironically, our Native Americans, who were initially spooked by these strange, powerful, fleet-of-hoof, yet thoroughly handsome creatures (I'm talking about the horses, here HA!), eventually grew to embrace, and love these mighty steeds, and treated them w/ the respect and reverence they so deserved.

Interestingly, North America had numerous ancient species of horses, both big, medium and small, as evidenced in the existing documented fossil record. But all these precursors of our noble, long-domesticated horse that we so love, and admire today, died off thousands of years back, just like those giant ground sloths, saber-toothed tigers, wooly mammoths, and mastedons.

Marc, let's face the hard reality. We are all immigrants, or at least the progeny of earlier immigrant stock, augmented today by the plethora of varied emigré cultures continually coming to our American shores to start a new, and hopefully better life in this land of (alleged) boundless opportunity and personal freedoms.

At least that is the idealized, perhaps naive, new immigrant's perspective, for many. Unfortunately the reality of the American dream is far less tenable, and much more complicated than our optimistic founding fathers had envisioned.

As Prof. McI. earlier phrased it, "A nation of immigrants hates immigration".
Sad but true, and an irony that defies seeming logic and reason. But emotion and self-preservation appear to be the dominant imperatives working a cross-purposes here, and easy solutions to this ongoing dilemma appear far from tenable at this point in time.

I think the bison and horses might have a better chance of setting us straight. HA! Where's that bison whisperer when we need him?

*Historically, many Europeans aren't averse to eating horse meat, particularly the French and Belgians who consider it a culinary treat.; perhaps taking a page out of the Korean book on rare food delicacies , namely their appetite for cooked canine flesh. (UGH!)


Alex, our apartment in Switzerland was across the street from a Pferde Metzgerei (that's a horse butcher to the rest of us). I never went inside, and rarely saw anyone else enter or leave, but I did see deliveries from Argentina.

Dear John,

I love you but spare me. In 1954, Eisenhower implemented Operation Wetback and thankfully rid the Southwestern portion of this country of millions of illegal immigrants. So such a move would hardly be unprecedented or necessarily conform to your hyperbolic narrative. Historically, most have left of their own accord to avoid forcible deportation. Any substantial decrease in the illegal population would be a wonderful boon.

Btw--Why don't we ask the Indian's how open-boarders immigration turned out for them, huh?

And would raising the salaries of native born American's--by eliminating super-cheap Mexican competition--be such a bad thing?

Lastly, for someone who evidently has made a hobbyhorse of decrying Intelligent Designers, it's a pity you and other Liberal Creationists consistently fail to see that a Darwinian framework makes very real the possibility of socially consequential differences between different populations of immigrants.

Dear Traherne,

Respectfully, I would recommend that before you start wagging a self-righteous finger at our blogmeister McIntyre, you just might want to get your ideological 'labels' straight.

I doubt our dear professor would see himself as a 'Liberal Creationist' *(your words), but would likely be more inclined to perhaps put himself squarely in the Evolutionist/ Darwinian camp, while still seeing no intrinsic conflict between his holding a belief in the evolution of species, and his abiding Anglican faith, and ipso facto, his belief in God.

On the other hand, Intelligent Designers and Creationist are basically cut from the same dogmatic cloth, essentially believing that our planet earth, from the Genesis event(s) onward, is roughly 6,000 years old, and further that the personages of Adam and Eve are our primal human progenitors, created in the image of God. (In other words, a strict literal reading of the Old Testament Biblical scriptures, and hardly allegorical in its intent.)

Of course that wacky Darwin had a totally non-religious, hard science/ reason-based, empirical perspective on man's (and other earthbound species') origins, seeing life on this marvelous planet in terms of millions, upon millions of years of gradual evolution, through the mechanism of "natural selection", the impact, over time, of specific environmental/ behavioral factors, and the tooth-and-claw struggle of 'survival of the fittest'. (The nature/ nurture dynamic)

And in a nutshell, here's where the Creationist and Darwinian camps strictly diverge. The debate rages on, w/ no clear end in sight.

Moving right along.

Traherne, now if we could only get those damn Mexican illegals to hand over their pittance-paying, back-breaking stoop-labor migrant-labor farm jobs to all those ready-willing-and-able "native born Americans" (your words) who are stepping up to the plate, as I speak....... why everything would be just plain old hunky dory..... right?........WRONG!

Problem is, many American farmers who have historically, for decades now, relied on these cheaply paid, often ill-treated migrant workers from south-of-the-border (mainly Mexico and Central America) have in recent years had to let many of their bumper crops rot in the ground, or on the vine, because able-bodied U.S. citizens are unwilling to take on the back-breaking, physically demanding, abysmally low-waged vegetable and fruit 'picking' jobs that are clearly available in spades. (No pun intended.)

With the heightened clamp down by Federal U.S. immigration authorities in recent years on undocumented migrant farm workers trying to emigrate to the U.S., and accordingly fewer illegals risking deportation, humiliation, or physical abuse in the States, many once thriving independent farmers are having to declare personal bankruptcy, losing their livelihoods due to a dearth of capable, willing, dependable, hard workers at peak harvest time.

Some type of controlled, well-monitored, and vigorous guest worker program would seem to be the most humane, fair, and most practicable solution to this vexing problem, for the foreign migrant workers and U.S. farmers alike. And yet most ardent anti-illegal immigration advocates will likely have none of it. "We don't want no stinkin' illegals! Period."

Better still, why don't we build a higher, longer running-fence, and put more INS/ ICE armed troopers on the borders? Yeah, that's definitely progress, w/ a capital "P".

Hmm.... and it wasn't too, too long ago that I seem to recall those now immortal words from a defiant President Ronald Reagan---- "Mr. Gorbachev....... TEAR DOWN THAT WALL!".

Kind of ironic, ain't it?

*'Liberal Creationist'? Kind of an oxymoron, no?


I believe your title of your article is missing a word... It should read:

"A nation of immigrants hates ILLEGAL immigration".

We have no trouble with "legal" immigration...

A nation of immigrants hates ILLEGALimmigration. unlimited background checks are an affordable and legal way to find out...

Can't help but wonder what the comments from mike everify and heather would have been if they had paid any attention to what my post said.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
Baltimore Sun Facebook page

Most Recent Comments
Sign up for FREE local news alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for local news text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Stay connected