You Think You’re A “Real American?”

Over the past two years, we’ve seen a lot of actions by the Trump Administration and its supporters seeking to ban various groups from immigrating, attacks on refugees, numerous bigoted statements, and a host of attempts to demonize various ethnic or religious groups who meet their definition of “undesirable.” The definitions they’ll use are often rather fuzzy, but if you use “not white” or “not Christian,” you’d be on the money.

This is nothing new in American history. Any look back would show you any number of efforts to slur, attack (literally), or bar various immigrant groups. There were even political parties formed along those lines, often with great success, in addition to various groups whose goal was to maintain “purity of race” or “purity of America.” No, it wasn’t in the distant past, either. It’s been a pernicious strain in the American psyche, and it has once again arisen.

Let me tell you some stories. There were a young man who belonged to a persecuted religious group, living in a country that was on the verge of another civil war. He decided to escape to another land. There was a young widow with an infant daughter who was experiencing grinding poverty with no hope a better life. She agreed to marry a man in another country she had only corresponded with, bringing her daughter with her. Another young man left his country to escape famine, religious discrimination, and oppression. Another realized that he was never going to able to support his family in their country, so he packed them up and left in the hopes of being able to make a living in a new country. People who were refugees, poor, belonged to oppressed religious groups, lacked desirable skills, doing “chain migration,” not always fluent in English or even speaking it at all, and facing prejudice and hardships when they got here. Some even joined criminal gangs. All of them the sort of people Trump and his supporters consider “undesirable.”

Those are just a few of my ancestors. Over the generations, we’ve become doctors, lawyers, engineers, nurses, teachers, scientists, business people, and a host of other solid members of society. We’ve served in the military in almost every war this country has fought. But our back story? It wasn’t anything like that. My ancestors weren’t “the cream of the crop” when they decided to come here. The truth is that “the cream of the crop,” the “desirables” that are getting talked about today, weren’t the people who left their homes to come here, and the same is true today. They have it good where they are, so why would they pack up and move to a different country to start over?

But, at least all of my ancestors came here legally, just like you’ll hear from any Trump supporter, right? Well, not quite. There’s a difference between “wasn’t illegal” and “legal.” “Legally” assumes there were laws relating to their immigration, quotas regarding their countries of origin, a process that had to be completed before leaving their country, and that your ancestors went through that to come here. Given that “immigration laws” really didn’t happen here until the late 19’th century, most of our ancestors came here when it wasn’t … illegal. That is, they showed up at the port, and walked in. Quite a few of the early laws were to prevent more people like them from coming here, because they were illiterate, probably diseased, didn’t speak English, were likely criminals, looked “different”, worshiped in a way that wasn’t “American,” and were “taking jobs from Americans.”

So you want “secure borders?” You think building a wall will prevent people from coming in? You whine about open borders? Well, maybe you have a point. You see, we had open borders for most of this country’s history. The “unwashed scum of the world” came to our shores without any barriers. That’s why you’re here now, and you somehow think you’re a “real American.”   So yes, there was a downside to having open borders.

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31 Comments

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31 responses to “You Think You’re A “Real American?”

  1. Deport illegals and build the wall deep & tall, that’s what the American people (including legal immigrants and people of all races) want and deserve.

    • Right. Walls don’t work. They’ve never worked. The Chinese built one, and it’s still there, it’s called “the Great Wall.” It didn’t work. The Romans built one, it’s called “Hadrian’s Wall.” It didn’t work. The French built one, called “the Maginot Line.” It didn’t work.

      No, the American people don’t want a wall. In fact, the American people who live on the border don’t want one. It’s called “the government will take their land.” Who wants a wall? A bunch of bigoted, frightened white people who go into hysterics when they think of brown people.

      • Oh I am so tired of hearing the left screeching “walls don’t work!”, how convenient though you forgot to mention Berlin, the wall that worked so well they tore it down.
        I wonder why people build backyard fences and walls around prisons then if that concept is so flawed; Walls work when you construct them well and thoroughly and when armed men guard them with weapons. Not to mention when you implement immigration policy that works and actually enforce it (which the left is historically astoundingly bad at).

        The only reason America elected the president they did is because he promised them the wall in addition to more and better border security along with it.

        Bigoted white people ? Um……That’s racist… Which is ironic.

        Have you really not heard of the walk away movement? It’s a bit difficult to call brown and black people “bigoted whites”.

        Far lefties need to find a new tagline because “RACIST WHITE SUPREMACISTS!!!” is pretty worn out at this point. It’s kind of embarrassing that you people really think that is a sound argument or rational philosophy to have. Very pathetic copout.

        • No, the Berlin Wall didn’t work either. People still got through it, over it, or around it. Which apparently you overlooked.

          The minority of the American people elected Trump, and not even most of them think a border wall is a good idea. I might note that it’s only with Mexico that one’s being proposed, which I find … interesting. Considering that I live near another country’s border with the US, and no one is talking about building a wall there. That’s why I say it’s due to bigotry. After all, we’re only talking about building a wall with that country that has brown, Spanish speakers. Not the one with the mostly white French speakers.

          In case you’re wondering, I’m white, so you’re demonstrating your idiocy.

        • Tony Giegler

          Identifying fear and/or hatred for what it is is not racist. Claiming that it is makes a nice redirect for people with that hatred and/or fear, though. Comments like that are great identifier s for such.

          Inclusion of non-aggressors requires rebuffing aggressors. It is a simple concept that people who don’t understand that there actually are racist white supremacists just don’t understand. It is not a copout, it is just being a decent person with a heart.

        • Here’s another liberal screeching that walls don’t work for you:

          “fallacy that a wall equals border security.” He explained, “I have more border (in my district) than any other member of Congress, 820 miles,” and added that we can use available technology to keep us far safer than a wall. Hurd closed with a key point: “Building a wall from sea to shining sea is the most expensive and least effective way to do border security.”

          Oh, wait… he’s a Republican representative from Texas. Oops.

          • I’ll include my response in the piece I’m working on now, I’ll link it to you when it’s up.
            But I will say I find it interesting that the guy who is inclined to jump to race-baiting identity politics also conveniently believes walls don’t work (despite the dozens of walls currently up and working on borders of nations around the world). It’s just interesting, that’s all.

        • You mentioned the Berlin Wall. Which was not meant to keep immigrants out, it was meant to keep its citizens in. Even at that, it was a failure, as numerous East Germans managed to go around, or even through the wall over the time it existed. And the one point you missed? Eventually it was taken down.

          • What on earth does what a wall is “meant” for have to do with it’s effectiveness at doing it’s job? You’re going in circles. First it’s “the wall is racist”, next it’s, “walls don’t work”, and then it’s generic liberal talking points about meanings of historical walls.

            Are you really saying that in 2018 it is impossible or even that difficult to construct a wall that people can’t go under through or above? Especially with guardsmen waiting to shoot at them if they even try? I don’t think you understand what people mean when they say “wall” and “border security”; Obviously the fence that Clinton bragged years ago about putting up doesn’t work, that’s not what we’re talking about.
            We’re talking about putting as much funding as is necessary into constructing a impenetrable border (while taking funding away from stuff like the DACA and Dreamers nonsense that’s been pushed on us for decades).

      • dbtheonly

        President Eisenhower wrote that persons who build walls around themselves do not build a fortress but a prison. I’ll find you the exact quote & cite if you wish.

        Were I to respond to Amanda I’d ask if you’re going to have armed guards that the border; why do you need a wall? I’d also ask when Mexico is going to pay for it.

        BTW, I’d argue that slaves & their descendants are no less immigrants and played no less a part in building America.

        • Not to mention the little problems that an estimated 2/3’rds of the “illegal immigrants” don’t come over the Mexican border. They came here on student, work, or tourist visas, and never left. I also noted in the comments that we aren’t talking about building a border wall with Canada, even though we have a much longer one with them, and in many places, you can simply walk across the border. Which is why I attribute this to bigotry, since it doesn’t seem that Amanda and others are worried about French speaking people coming here and forcing socialist medicine and poutine on us.

          • All illegals should be deported, and that includes expired visas. I’m not sure what that has to do with a wall, since when we’re talking about illegal immigration we’re not talking just about body count but also about the flow of heroine and cocaine. This year alone far more than enough Fentanyl was confiscated from illegal aliens to kill every single person in America; I don’t think students on expired visas are making that happen. Gang leaders sitting in American prisons are making that happen.

            When we have a crisis of illegal French immigration, let me know, so I can be worried about it. But until we have caravans of Frenchmen on the way demanding rights and resources and citizenship for themselves and their army of children, I’ll stay concerned with the Central American ones that are.

          • dbtheonly

            No particular argument.

            But “the Wall” always struck me more as slogan than practical idea. Like Trump University or the Trump Charity, it was never planned to function as advertised. In fact, I don’t really know if the “pro wall” people have actually published a specific idea of what it is, where it’ll go, & how much they expect it to cost. There’s been lots of Trump bluster all over the place. But that’s Trump bluster. Conflicting ideas with no specifics.

            The Trump Wall won’t perform as advertised. We know that. I suspect Amanda knows that. You’ll notice that Amanda is backing her wall with armed patrols. Which, to me, vacates the need for the wall in the first place. Logic. Sigh. Any wall will take years to construct.

            More than that; the wall doesn’t come up far in my scale of worries. I simply don’t much care. I’d gladly trade wall funding for comprehensive immigration reform. You’ll recall Rush Limbaugh vetoed that idea almost two years ago. Trump wants wall funding? What’s he prepared to trade for it? Though Trump’s welshed on any number of his prior deals. I’d need some guarantee of performance of his end of the bargain.

            8 year old died in custody today. Makes my holiday wishes sound kinda hollow.

            But sincerely Norbrook, I hope you have a good one.

            • It’s always a Trump thing with you people isn’t it?

              The reason so many people want a better wall than the puny fence we have and stricter enforcement on the border is because we’ve been complaining about the legal and illegal migration crisis for so many years and no president – including Republicans – has delivered a goddamn thing despite their promises, they all go soft on immigration.

              We just want some solutions, and I don’t see Democrats offering solutions (not to Americans that is). They’d rather put funding toward Dreamers and DACA and keep the flow of voters they can manipulate coming in.

              When you come up with a better solution than a guarded wall, call me. Until then, I along with so many centrists, libertarians, independents, and the entire #walkway movement will continue voting for the wall until it’s complete.

              And by the way, when you drag sick children through the Mexican desert for weeks and throw them over a fence, you don’t get to blame the American government or anyone but your stupid, selfish, criminal self for your child’s death.

              Have you noticed that children who come in legally aren’t dying? That’s because their parents actually give a shit about their well-being enough to do things the lawful way. Illegals don’t get medical treatment until long after they’re already over the border and caught. And it is not America’s job to provide services it’s taxpayers funded to look after the citizens of other nations or the children they failed to look after.

        • European settlers founded (in other words, created) the United States of America, and allowed LEGAL migration way later as it benefitted the country, not the migrants. (Despite the newfound obsession the left has with the statue of liberty, which I don’t think means what they think it does.)

          All of which has nothing to do with ILLEGAL migration. You thinking immigrants “built” America (which is a slap in the face of the forefathers and a nod to slave work) does not justify unauthorized border crossing. That’s a pathetic, used up copout at this point. Find some new material.

          • Your understanding of history is suspect, to put it mildly. The first European settlers on this continent did it by conquest (Mexico and most of the South and Southwest), or just moving in on what was then depopulated land. In what is now the US, many of them were coming here to get away from terrible situations. That first example I mentioned above, of the young man who left his country that was on the verge of civil war? That was in 1630. You might want to look up English history as to what was happening in that period. In fact, you might want to look up European history to see why so many wanted to get out of Europe back then. You might want to also read up on the “Know Nothing” party here.

            Your statement that they allowed “legal immigration” because it benefited the country is laughable on its face. Immigration did benefit the country, but that is in hindsight, not because they felt that way. Read history, read the laws. No one at that time wrote those laws because they felt that only English. French or some Scandinavian immigrants benefited the country, while others didn’t (Although you seem to feel that way). It was because of fear, that we didn’t want “non-white” people coming here. Of course, the definition of “white” didn’t include anyone from southern or eastern Europe, which is why there were such strict limits placed on people from there. Not to mention banning anyone from Asia, the Middle East, or Africa.

            I also note that you keep harping on border security, but only as it relates to Mexico. You were “promised” a “Big, beautiful wall” and Mexico was going to pay for it. Mexico was never going to pay for it, and if you thought that, you’re pretty dumb. But, if you want one, here’s the deal. I’ll believe it when I see Republicans pushing through the tax increases to pay for it, and for the additional federal workforce needed to staff it. It’s going to be expensive, and it’s going to take a long time to be constructed. There are still eminent domain cases in the courts from G.W. Bush’s attempt at a fence. It turns out that people who own land on the border don’t want the federal government taking it. If you’re not willing to cough up the enormous tax dollars to pay for it, then you weren’t serious.

            • dbtheonly

              Norbrook,

              The whole concept of legal vs. illegal immigration doesn’t exist until well into the 20th. Century. Though nativism goes back to 1798 & the Alien & Naturalization Acts. And runs, against different groups, until the present day.

              So I guess you could call all those immigrants “legal” but you’d have to ask the displaced/destroyed Indian Tribes to get an accurate answer.

            • Quite the rant. I’ll include a response to that comment as well in the same piece. If I can find anything relevant in it. It seems like you want to go off on tangents about nothing related to my original comments, this happens ALL the time with liberals because they’re all about formulating personal attacks rather than on topic discussion. As if your public school esque history lesson buys you credit on walls being white supremacist and dysfunctional. Your understanding of why Americans want a wall to begin with is suspect and that’s the problem. You’re arguing against points no one (or at least I) never made, at least not in defense of the wall and immigration/border enforcement. You resorting to digging up men dead for centuries to connect it back to the “RACIST!” fear narrative is laughable, because that is literally nothing to do with what I said. The distractions and the trying to make things about people being “afraid” of something is bizarre;

              Being critical and unaccepting of a culture is not being afraid of it, and even so, statistics show Central America is home to several of the most violent countries in the world. So really, if you aren’t “afraid” of those cultures being imported en masse, then you’re kinda pretty dumb aren’t you?

              I don’t care who pays for the wall, I did not vote for a wall because I thought Mexico was paying for it, I voted for a wall because I agree with the idea. I don’t see how several billion dollars is not a solid starting budget. And I don’t think “white supremacist europeans!” is an answer to why you’d rather argue against border security than for it. And I don’t think someone harping is someone being wrong; If liberals weren’t expert harpers then we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation.

              • I used the word “Bigoted,” not racist. But let’s go through that. Your “reasons,” turn out not to be based on real numbers or actual facts, but what you fear. I also note that the only place you want a wall is on our southern border, not the northern one. I guess you forgot that we have a much longer border with another country, which turns out to be mostly white. You also want armed guards along the border. That’s going to require a lot of guards, and I haven’t noticed any tax increases proposed to pay for their salaries and training. That’s an ongoing expense in addition to the costs of building the wall in the first place.

                Unlike you, I actually have met Latin American immigrants. They’re hard working, decent people for the most part. Not criminals, not diseased, not thugs. They’re doing the jobs most Americans won’t do, like work for Donald Trump at his resorts. I find it astonishing that there were hysterics over a caravan of men, women and children who are walking here to ask for asylum, and the reaction to it was to deploy three times the number of military troops to “protect us” from them.

                Back in my youth, there were a lot of movies where the bad guys were Nazis or Russians. A common scene was of people being stopped and asked for their papers, and if they didn’t happen to have them on them, well, they were sent to concentration camps or gulags. It was a literary shorthand to show how bad they were, how “less free” than we were. Well, welcome to America 2018. I’m sure you have your papers on you, right?

              • Yes, I have never met any “Latin American” people (I was referring to Central American people actually, which is more specific and pertinent here) and that is the reason I support stricter immigration enforcement… Except that I have and it isn’t.
                (I shouldn’t have to give personal information to validate that I’ve met a nationality of people because that is absolutely ridiculous, but I grew up in a community with a massive population of Central American migrants, some legal and some not).

                I’ll save all your comments to respond to in my next piece. I wish I had time to sift through the anti-pretend bigotry manifesto right now but I don’t. (But I will say, since you continue to INSIST that fear is inherently bad and wrong and bigoted, and that fear of mass immigration of people from the statistically most violent countries in the world is wrong – When the northern border is being threatened on nearly the same scale as the southern, then I’d be a hypocrite not to want something done about it. But it isn’t because of bigotry, it’s because nations should be sovereign and immigrants should be documented.)

              • There’s a phenomenon called “misperception of risk.” In other words, the fear you feel does not match the actual risks. That’s why people are afraid of flying because of the chance of crashing, but have no problem driving back and forth to work in a car – even though your chances of dying are far higher in the car. They perceive the risks as higher.

                The same is true of everything you said. You perceive the immigration over the southern border as being a serious threat. You hear that from Fox News, radio hosts, and the President. Unfortunately, the actual data doesn’t back you up. Immigrants as a group commit far fewer crimes, both in raw numbers and as a percentage of their population, than native citizens. The figures we do have show that the numbers of people crossing the border decreased long before Trump took office, in fact, it happening over a decade ago, and more left this country during this time. Yet you’re told it’s a huge, enormous problem now, and you believe it. Fear drives your motives, not hard facts.

                How do you know Canada hasn’t been a problem? I have news for you, I know of at least two major smuggling rings which were broken up in just the past few years. From Canada. Oh, and a lot of the drugs that are coming in? They’re not coming over the Mexican border these days. They’re coming in through ports.

                So, in order to fight a minimal threat, you’re willing to spend billions of dollars on a wall that basically won’t work, or at best work for a very short time, create a virtual police state, and won’t do anything to assuage your fears.

            • meteorofpoo

              actually, conquest was a 2nd option in the south west.
              we were first INVITED to homestead in Texas.
              after our citizens established homestead and improved them, Mexico saw that there were quite a few Americans in Mexican territory and reneged on their invitation and told the people to leave.
              yeah you don’t get to do that. especially when you send troops and start calling them racist names.
              yes we fought a war to maintain our homesteads. when it was all said and done, the treaty of friendship (also known as the treaty of guadalupe hidalgo) was signed and we paid over 3 million dollars for the land AND gave any mexicans living in our new territory the choice to either sell their land and leave or become American citizens. that’s much more than mexico did.

              • Um. your knowledge of history is seriously lacking. I guess you were home schooled in Texas. Reality check: They went to Texas to live, and revolted against the Mexican government not for “freedom” or because they were asked to leave, but because Mexico had decided to ban slavery. That’s right, the war of Texas independence was about slavery. The white “homesteaders” wanted to keep their slaves. They then spent the next decade begging the US to take them, because they were broke. They got their asses kicked several times after starting new wars with Mexico and the US. After they finally were admitted to the Union, they bullshitted the US into a war with Mexico. And just about everything else you wrote was bullshit as well.

      • meteorofpoo

        if walls didn’t work, Pelosi and the democrat party would happily build one.
        However we ALL know that walls work. the great wall worked for 900 years.
        the wall around the vatican STILL works and it’s 40 feet tall.
        the suicide attacks in Israel numbered around 1000 a year and then when they built a wall, they went to zero

        walls work. only an idiot would suggest that they don’t. they especially work against people who are walking and have no equipment to climb the wall or dig under it.
        if they get that equipment, that means that they have help from drug cartels, Human trafficking organizations or the mexican government.
        That only reinforces the case for walls and extra security.
        Because your ancestors were able to freely immigrate does not mean that everyone is allowed.
        Since we are a sovereign nation, we have passed Immigration laws.
        since we are a nation of laws, they will be observed.

        Now, you might be worried about President Trump’s remark about calling a this a national emergency and enacting a national emergency on that basis.

        I assure you that he has the authority and there’s not much that nancy pelosi can do about it.
        while she may believe that the constitution says that she’s ‘equal with the president’, she most certainly isn’t.

        for her to rescind a national emergency, it would take a JOINT RESOLUTION from both the house and the senate and since the intractability of the left has forced the conservatives to go further right, I can assure you that the senate is firmly in the hands of the freedom caucus.
        there will be no joint resolution.
        I suggest that you implore the democrat party to work together with their countrymen.

        • Um.. .there is no wall around the Vatican, stupid. No, the Great Wall didn’t work for 900 years, although it’s lasted quite longer. Most of the threat it was supposed to block turned out to run right around and through it. Throughout history, people simply go around, over, or through walls.

          Finally, it’s the Democratic Party, not the Democrat party. I guess you’re a member of the Republi Party, right?

          • dbtheonly

            Isn’t it funny how the RW Memes keep circulating? The Great Wall of China, the (non-existent) wall around the Obama’s house, now the Vatican. The answer is yes, the Vatican has walls, your house has walls. None of those walls are designed to keep out immigrants.

            Amanda’s citation of the Berlin wall really emphasizes President Eisenhower’s quote.Walls make prisons, not fortresses. Her assertion that this is all about Trump is probably accurate. He’s the one asserting, against all logic, that only the wall can stop illegal immigration. He’s the one who has shut down the government and undercut all attempts, by Republicans in the Senate, by Democrats, and by Mike Pence, to broker a compromise. His tweets have asserted the wall is already under construction. His tweets sabotaged the best attempt at compromise, what we call a fence, he calls a wall, by asserting that only a concrete wall will serve. Except sometimes he says a steel wall will serve. Except that his picture of said steel wall was doctored and if accurate would have gaps of several feet between each slat.

            In short Trump’s put himself at the center of the issue. So, yes, it is about him.

            You oversimplify when you ascribe the Texas Revolution of 1836 solely to slavery. Poo is right in stating the Mexicans welcomed Anglo settlement in Texas. What he misses is the plan to have those settlers rein in the Comanche, Kiowa, & Apache tribes from their raids. What you miss is that most Texicans didn’t own slaves. What you both miss is the desire of locals not to be governed, and taxed, by a far-away government. The same local identity that brought you the American Revolution from England also brings you the Texas Revolution from Mexico. Colonies can’t survive at great distances from the governing Country.

            In fact there’s a strong argument that the transcontinental railroad was the deciding factor in preventing California and the West Coast from developing a similar local identity.

            • The key thing in the impetus for the Texan revolution was slavery. If you read the link I posted, the initial settlers were, in effect, scamming the Mexican government. There was a limit on the land allotment they could individually buy. However, by saying their slaves were each buying an allotment, they were able to add even more to their holding. Hence a great deal of the impetus for the revolution was that Mexico had abolished slavery. There’s a lot of myths tied up with that era, particularly in Texas. For example, the Alamo was not a heroic last stand, it was a major fuck-up, and unnecessary. The actual “Republic of Texas” wasn’t what the state of Texas is today, it’s only after the Mexican-American War that quite a big chunk of it was added. Another rather sad/interesting fact is that the second President of the Republic of Texas, who succeeded Sam Houston, never took office. He killed himself when he found out he’d been elected.

              • dbtheonly

                I read the article in the link you cited.

                There’s a bumper sticker to the effect that history is not made by nice women. It errs only in limiting the effort to women. Pre-independence Texas wasn’t settled by proper people. It was settled by men who needed to get away. It was settled by people searching for a second chance. It was settled by those looking for advantage. Slave Owners were only a small part. Check the figures available. Slavery never took hold in Texas to the extent it did on the cis-Mississippian States. The settlers were not nice men. Again though, the settlers of Texas strongly resemble the settlers of pre-Revolutionary America.

                The slaughter of the prisoners at Goliad showed the defenders of the Alamo what was to be expected. SNAFU? Travis’ ego run amok? Or men determined to sell their lives dearly?

                The Rio Grande was always the claimed boundary of Texas. The Americans agreed. The Mexicans disagreed. Now the Rio Grande cuts north at El Paso and rises in Colorado. The river is the boundary. The boundary was settled as part of the Compromise of 1850. Alan Nevins’ book goes into detail & is recommended. Essentially Texas gave up its claim to “West Texas” in exchange for the US assuming the Republic’s debt. Though “ownership” of that land meant little in the face of the Comanche, Kiowa, and Apache.

                Sam Houston was the second President of the Republic after David Burnet. He died in 1863. The third President was Mirabeau Lamar. He died in 1859. Though if you count Burnet as an “interim” President you still have then as one and two. And just for it, Sam Houston was re-elected to succeed Lamar.

                For more fun, look up the history of the Navy of the Republic of Texas.

              • The reason why the Alamo was considered to be a fuck-up was a) it wasn’t strategically important; and b) they’d been ordered by their command (Sam Houston, in fact) to leave it and rejoin other forces prior to Mexican forces arriving. While a great deal of myth long after the fact grew up around it, the reality was the only reason it happened was because Bowie and the others disobeyed orders, and died defending an unimportant piece of property.