Despite all its economic, social and cultural shortcomings, one of the really big things the U.S. has had going for it was its openness. This situation didn't exist entirely out of altruism, as immigrant labor was essential for our economic growth, but it had the side effect of enriching us culturally as well and imbuing our national values with something extraordinary and almost unique -- a lack of fear of others.
To listen to the GOP candidates during their debate before Latinos is to realize that this openness and our formerly innate optimism are at risk.
Where is this anti-immigrant fervor coming from? It's certainly not very
Immigration to the U.S. is actually in decline, as the world's poor looks to Europe, Canada, Asia and emerging countries like Brazil for less jingoism and more opportunity. And economically, anti-immigration measures are demonstrably counterproductive.
Is it to deflect attention from this?
"The lesson to be learned from the election is that voter distrust of their leaders, fueled by corruption and inaction concerning critical problems, is a key issue heading into the 2008 election. While immigration is an important issue, it is not the bogeyman that Republicans hoped it would be." The Reform Institute, Nov. 27, 2007
The one GOP candidate to boycott tonight's debate, Tom Tancredo, had this comment:
“It is the law that to become a naturalized citizen of this country you must have knowledge and understanding of English, including a basic ability to read, write, and speak the language. So what may I ask are our presidential candidates doing participating in a Spanish speaking debate? " and " “Bilingualism is a great asset for any individual, but it has perilous consequences for a nation," Tancredo said. "As such, a Spanish debate has no place in a presidential campaign." Scandinavians, who perhaps not coincidentally enjoy prosperity we can only envy, speak five or so languages and might disagree with Tancredo's beliefs.
Remember when Spain spent a few hundred years kicking out Jews and Arabs, groups that had brought architecture, engineering, math, music and other learning to Iberia? As a result, Spain quickly became "the sick man of Europe". Running out of ideas for how to accommodate a growing population of idle lesser sons, they took that sickness, in the form of the Inquisition and other oppressive institutions, to the New World. One could say Latin America has yet to recover 600 years later.