Monday, May 22, 2006

Mormons and the Issue of Immigration in America

I've been debating with readers on Vox Day's blog regarding immigration. Some of them are pretty loony, if you ask me, not caring if immigrants crossing the border die of land mines, or being shot, or eaten by vultures, etc. Some fear that America is being "invaded" by Mexicans hellbent on destroying our culture. Mostly, I discovered that the underlying problem is that many fear the result of a mixture of American culture with that of Mexican. One commentator mentioned that America will inevitably look like a Third World country, along the likes of Indonesia. Keeping aside the silliness of such a vision, (America has always been as great as it is BECAUSE of its immigrants), it made me think hard about the problem America is facing on this issue. Also putting aside the point that this is a diversionary tactic by Republicans wanting to change the subject from Iraq to something else---anything else----just as long as it brings their poll numbers back up, let's look at this problem. The concern seems to be the lack of assimilation, the lack of the glue that keeps American culture so united despite the diversity. Many fear that Mexicans won't unite with Americans in their culture. So here's a question: why won't Mexicans unite with the rest of Americans in their culture? Before that question though, another must be asked, is it really true that Mexicans don't want to unite with the rest of America culturally speaking? And if not, is that really a problem? We get so caught up by the fiery rhetoric that we sometimes forget to just look at the facts, and look at the points rationally. So, what unites immigrants coming to America? What is it that inevitably makes them American? I came over when I was seven years old, so I was easily indoctrinated in American culture right from close to the start. I still retain some semblances of Romanian culture, but not much. My accent is completely American (though sometimes it turns Canadian---don't ask me why, as I've never lived in Canada!). But I grew up with America around me and found it to my liking. I felt drawn in and accepted (though early childhood school experiences were not too good---speaking with an accent as a kid did not bring me many friends). I hate to bring race into this, but when looking at the reasons so many Mexicans may not assimilate with the rest of Americans, I fear that race may play a key role. How can someone feel welcomed by people who look down on that person based on the way he looks? I feel that this is a key reason why Mexicans don't assimilate as easily in American culture as we would like them to. I think that some Americans find Mexican culture to be dirty, much as Jews were once looked down upon in European countries as unclean, unshaven, smelly peasants, but just not with the same passionate hatred that Europeans had for Jews. So in thinking about this, the question is: what can bring Mexicans to unite with the rest of America? In those debates on Mr. Day's blog, I brought up my religion, LDS. I actually got a hate comment based on my religious beliefs (which didn't surprise me, but just showed that hatred of religion is still alive and well in America). This church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is a worldwide church, with members in almost every country of the world. I got thinking about how Mormons are. I've travelled a bit around the world (mostly Europe) and wherever I've gone, Mormons were the same, the same smiling faces, the same kind welcomings. What is it about people in such diverse places as Korea, Mexico, South Africa, India, Japan, and America, that brings them together in unity of religion? Specifically on this topic, how do Mexican Mormons and American Mormons act and treat those around them? What is it that makes a Mormon in Mexico not that much different than a Mormon in America? And, can something like this unity happen outside the scope of religion?


At 5/24/2006 12:14:00 AM, Blogger prettylady said...

Hello, Dan!

I read a bit of your heroic effort to talk sense and compassion to the more hopeless elements on Mr. Day's blog. I wish to commend you for your cheerfulness and fortitude, and assure you that the persons with whom you engaged so valiantly are, for the most part, irredeemable.

However, I wish to provide you with a small piece of insight into Mexican culture.

First of all, Mexican culture is more wholly, deeply, openly racist than anything you will encounter in the US. Mexican immigrants do not give a flip for American racism. They are too busy with their families, and earning a living.

Second, Mexican culture is unlikely to assimilate because it is much, much stronger than 'American culture,' such as it is. Mexicans are deeply social, deeply family-centered, and deeply religion-centered. This is their source of strength, and it is why so many of them are able to make the terrifying journey to a strange land, with few or no resources--Mexicans in this country take care of their own.

By and large, I don't have a problem with that, or them. I lived in Mexico for several years, and I sometimes like their culture better than ours.


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