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January 11, 2006

Pulling up the Moat (Contd.)

Roy Meachum

The KKK you know about; they made a lot of noise in these parts in the last years of the 20th century. The ballyhooed Minute Men Movement might fill the local vacuum created when attorney Willie Mahone led the crowd that literally chased the Dirty Bedsheet Brigade (DBB) out of the county. Maybe not.

The Klan was started, to get the facts straight, by a group of former Confederate officers led by ex-general Nathan Bedford Forrest whose portrait, incidentally, I saw in an active FBI agent's home four years ago. The bearded gent's oil likeness hung in an honored spot in the agent's Mississippi living room.

What became the DBB was founded to protect southern interests against "carpetbaggers" taking advantage of the Confederacy's defeat. As you may not know, the original Klan dwindled away. In its second coming, the Kluxxies took on the massive wave of late 19th century immigrants, which included large numbers of refugees from European anti-Semitism, especially Russia's pogroms.

Jews joined Catholics and African-Americans as targets for the new DBB, which reached its greatest glory with a parade down from Capitol Hill that tied up Pennsylvania Avenue for hours and hours. Ohio's Warren Harding occupied the oval office. The Kluxxies were very big in his Buckeye state.

Before shrinking during the Depression, the modern Klan was responsible for hundreds of lynchings, not all of them in the south.

When African Americans returned from World War II, their uniforms loaded with medals, demanding their rights, they were met with a slew of white supremacist groups, including the Klan, revived once again.

The rag-tag DBB-reinvention tried and utterly failed to whip up sentiment against its earlier victims, Jews and Catholics, who surprisingly turned up in stories about violence against blacks. Go figure!

Today's bigots - generally limited to invective - want the United States surrounded by a high wall to keep all foreigners out. Behind a screen of protests against people present illegally, they also agitate against legitimate immigrants, arguing that only U.S. citizens should receive such benefits as education and health care.

In fact, because of their status, workers here without official permission wind up contributing millions to government programs. Their employers are required by law to make deductions for taxes paid into accounts that do not exist, except on phony documents, especially fake Social Security cards. The illegal workers cannot collect.

If you think backdoor immigrants labor only in fast food establishments, furtive sweat shops or depend solely on the kind of day work hangouts publicized by the Virginia Minute Men, think again. The INS pulls regular and successful raids on such large employers as Wal-Mart: so far hundreds of illegals have been loaded up in buses and shipped back across the Mexican border.

If the currently proposed fence extends farther, along the entire Rio Grande, which forms our southern border, it will prove a costly mistake; they will still come - those hungry, ambitious men and women looking for at least survival and for their children something more.

They cannot be turned back, any more than the mighty Roman Empire stopped the hordes of tribes pouring out of Asia, in what has been called the Transmigration of Nations. If that phrase means nothing to you, then let me tell you, that's how the people we know as the Germans and the French arrived in Europe. Their cousins, the Ostragoths, ruled Spain until displaced by an Arab invasion, in 710 A.D.

There's no intention here to bore with what you consider meaningless facts, but the first men on earth were nomads who moved around to find food and shelter. Mankind has retained the nomadic instinct ever since, and for the same reasons. How do you suppose this country got started?

Moreover, it may surprise the dimmer-watt brains among us to learn every developed nation in the world finds itself under assault by waves of immigrants from poorer regions.

You might think that story about famine in Kenya this week, or the wretched state of refugees from Sudan, have nothing to do with you. Think again!

Police in Spain's sliver of Morocco were forced to use machine guns to turn back Africans trying to breach the fence that surrounds the colony. Blood was shed; some got through anyway, taking a giant leap toward crossing the Mediterranean and getting into the European Union.

France recently suffered horrible riots, staged by legal immigrants, chiefly from Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, once part of Paris' empire. Mostly Muslim, they reacted to the government's order outlawing girl students from wearing the religious scarf over their heads.

Many of the rioters were actually full-fledged citizens, born in France. They revolted really against their treatment as an underclass, chronically unemployed and living in rundown housing, segregated in fact though not by law.

Germany wrestles with the presence of thousands of Turks brought in as "guest workers" when the economic boom was threatened by a lack of manpower to do lesser jobs, in factories and in cities.

With unemployment up, Berlin would like to see the backs of people who have lived in the country for over 20 years; getting rid of their children is really impossible. Born in Germany, the second generation of guest workers has merged into the general population while keeping their differences generally intact.

While Latinos are the main focus in the United States of the MMM hate squads, there have been stories about smuggling rings that charge Asians thousands to reach these shores, where they disappear into networks of friends and relatives.

The fabled boy whose thumb stopped water from coming through the Dutch dike exists only as a mere fable. In the real world, if he tried to put a cork on immigration that way, he would simply drown.

Over the years I don't have an impressive record on advice that was actually taken, but that doesn't stop me now.

To those disgruntled, disgusted and deathly afraid crowd that wants all those foreigners sent back to where they came from, I recommend a version of the prayer that preaches acceptance of things that cannot be changed.

Immigration is here to stay. It's always been this way. Get over it and get on with life. Those folks you hate today will most likely be your neighbors tomorrow.

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