Things have been bogged down in my corner of the bureaucracy, but this piece
deserves to be read. A teaser:
"In other words, your spontaneous, visceral hatred of atonal music reflects your true, healthy, normal reaction to abstract art. It is simply the case that you are able to suppress this reaction at the picture gallery.
I completely agree with every opinion stated in this article. That's the good thing about Washington -- you don't have to pay anything (other than your taxes) to look at the stuff. And the modern art museums are the best places on the Mall if you need a bathroom, because there is never a line to get into them. Modernism: feh. (via
talks about the path one woman took from illegal immigrant to citizenship. It's a bit light on the types of details that I like to know, like how exactly she made it from Fujian to Los Angeles. My guess is that a smuggler was involved somehow, and that she either arrived with a false passport or no passport at all. Still, it's interesting to see a little bit about what happens after the initial arrival, since I never really had much experience with that end of things.
It looks like this was a case study related to another article on a shelter for unaccompanied minors
. I don't understand how parents can send their children alone to a foreign country, much less how it can happen so frequently.
Since one of the recurring themes here is immigration, I thought I'd start the year by commenting on this article
, which says that Chinese immigrants are sending their children back to China to be raised there. (Via Shotgun
). The comments to the article make for some interesting reading. Who knew Canadians could get so spirited?
One thing that strikes me about the current immigration debate is the whole idea of assimilation. Is immigration simply an economic choice, or do other factors enter into it? There's a strong subtext in the article and in a number of the comments that it's something that needs to be pushed along by the Canadian government. Back in the olden days of immigration, or so the typical narrative seems to go, people came because they wanted to become Americans (or Canadians, if that's where they were going).
Except that I don't think the real story was ever quite so neat and tidy. Part of this comes from my experience with the immigration process, and part of it comes from family lore. My own ancestors were perhaps typical of the great wave of immigrants during the latter half of the 19th century. My great grandfather worked in the coal mines, and he apparently met and married my great grandmother here in the United States. He seems to have come to America alone, but she came with her parents. He apparently missed his own family, because according to lore once they started having children, he sent her and the children back across the ocean to the old country to stay with his relatives. My great grandmother was put to work on their farm, which did not sit well with her. According to the version I heard, she threatened to kill herself and the children if she had to stay with the in-laws -- I don't know whether this is something that got embellished over time or whether it's an accurate accounting of what actually happened, but there does seem to be a flair for the dramatic in my family. And so great grandmother and children came back across the Atlantic and lived out their days as Americans in the United States. I'm sure that happened a lot (although perhaps without the explicit threats of violence) before two world wars and the Great Depression effectively closed the gates for three decades.
I think that there were two big incentives pushing for assimilation prior to the modern era, which started with changes to the immigration laws in the 1960's. One was, for lack of a better term, xenophobia. People may prefer to associate in their own ethnic communities, but they generally have to adjust themselves to society at large. Multiculturalism and the whole idea -- particularly in Canada -- of a "salad bowl" instead of a "melting pot" tends to reduce the pressure to assimilate, but children don't like to stick out, and the children of immigrants usually seemed to become American whether their parents like it or not.
The second reason for assimilation was logistics. It used to be that boarding a ship to America meant severing your ties to your home country, because travel across the globe was extremely difficult. That has definitely changed, so that now a person can board a plane in New York or Los Angeles and arrive almost anywhere in the world 24 hours later. That means that you can take your daughter back to China to stay with your parents and still expect to see her on a fairly regular basis.
I guess it comes back to the issue of what we want immigrants to do when they come here. Do we still want to make them citizens, or are we just looking for workers?