Saturday, April 6, 2019

The Immigrants

"Brothers can you spare some room?"
There are two kinds of immigrants: point-to-point and Gypsy. The P2P immigrant - you know the one, my grandfather came to New York from Sicily, or my lawn guy came from Mexico City to Houston - is the more historically understood. It is also equally romanticized and vilified. Dig deep enough and everyone finds a P2P immigrant in their ancestry. At an almost perfectly Iinear correlation, the farther back people dig the more romantic it gets. Your immigrant ancestors were good, hardworking people. Factory workers by day, wholesome family patriarchs and matriarchs by night. To the faithful we are all children of the biblically larger-than-life Adam & Eve (peculiarly white in most visual interpretations, but I digress). To the empirical we are all children of stardust.

The Gypsy is mostly vilified. Human tolerance for the un-rooted is limited. Mistrust sets in, and it is almost impossible to eradicate. Ironic, since the gypsy does not stick around long enough to entertain the fears of the rooted ones. 

There is a third kind of immigrant, deserving of mention and respect, the Forced Immigrant. But for the purpose of this conversation let’s focus on immigrants who technically had a choice, regardless of consequences. In theory, we can consider the Forced Immigrant a branch of the P2P. Migrant workers or corporate globetrotters can be a subset of the Gypsy, but if they keep going back to their point of origin, or end up there, they are technically not immigrants. A peculiar hybrid are Gypsies that eventually pick a place and plant roots there for the rest of their lives. Gypsy-to-P2P crossovers, if you will.

Nation of Immigrants” is simplistic political pandering. We are a migrating planet, never mind nations. We are on a rock that is hurling through universal space at a resulting speed of approximately one million miles per hour. Let me unpack it this way: at that speed the entire human race is gypsying through the equivalent of seventeen countries per minute. Hyper-movement is not an option, it is the de facto autopilot of life.

The absurdity of immigration perceptions can be illustrated by simple examples. A man living in Toronto, Canada who drives an hour and a half to Buffalo, New York is a Canadian immigrant. But wait, it gets better: a woman who moves five blocks, from Ciudad Juarez to El Paso is a Mexican immigrant. Meanwhile a family can move 5,823 miles from Kure Atoll, Hawaii, to Riviera Beach, Florida and not be an immigrant. To be clear: that distance is roughly a quarter of the earth’s circumference. Way farther than any Italian immigrant to New York travelled.

This level of absurdity was not lost on Europeans. Against much greater odds than the average heartland American can comprehend, Europe opened its borders within a lifetime to twenty-eight nations, with almost as many cultures and languages. “For Czech, press 24...  But it’s not just about arbitrary borders and physical proximities, is it. It’s also about those elusive jobs, beliefs, customs, rituals, habits, languages, looks and smells.

Pragmatic realism sets in. The EU and the US have been experiencing sympathetic pains since the traumatic events that took place between 1993 and 2001. The earlier event (1993) was the year the European Single Market was born. It rose from the ashes of two World Wars and one Cold War, in the name of “four freedoms”: movement of goods, services, money, and people. As it turned out, the union had to settle for three out of four freedoms. That free movement of people thing has not worked out so well, creating a seismic social shift to the far right all across Europe. As for the latter event (2001), it was one infamous September morn in America that almost broke the needle for Americans, slamming it to the far right. 

Enter Sandman. We talk a big game about “the almighty buck” in America, but we should really consider quitting the charade. The prime directive of our lives is, and always has been, the almighty fear. Fear rules the world, not money. Money is just what most people believe will make the fear go away. In the words of the fearsome Skar,  follow me, and you’ll never go hungry again! Money buys you a personality, so that you’ll never be lonely again. Money, regardless of how it’s obtained, will buy the adulation of millions for someone who will make you great again. 

In every family’s lineage there was once an immigrant who was feared. Who was persecuted. Who was hated. Not recognizing this basic scar of life constitutes a fear, hatred, and persecution of your own kind. 

In the meantime, should you choose to refute that premise, let’s join hands and recite the Purebred’s Creed - shall we?

Immigrants steal jobs.
Immigrants rape.
Immigrants sell drugs.
Immigrants murder.
Immigrants will hurt your children.
Immigrants create “no-go zones”.
Immigrants are dirty.
Immigrants will take Christmas away.
Vote for me, Sandman. 
I alone can make the immigrants go away.


“Hush little baby don't say a word
And never mind that noise you heard
It's just the beasts under your bed
In your closet in your head
Exit light
Enter night
Grain of sand”

-Metallica, “Enter Sandman”

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