Oregon has a rich history of racism, starting with statehood, where the voters chose not to allow slavery and not to allow black people either. And with each successive round of immigration (leaving aside that African-Americans didn't exactly voluntarily emigrate), Oregonians have loudly protested that "those" people don't belong here, and they're ruining everything.
There has been more and more anti-immigrant sentiment lately. And by anti-immigrant, I mean anti-Mexican. I'm sick of it. It's time to call this what it is: racism.
Bless the Blue Book for including quotes like this, from 1885, "it is apparent that the Chinese are a curse and a blight to this country, not only financially, but socially and morally." (p.347)
And then there's Jim Ludwick, 2006, who writes in last Saturday's McMinnville News Register, "The fact is that current immigration policies that allow in 2 to 3 million legal and illegal immigrants per year are overwhelming our public schools, our public health systems, the criminal justice system (about 30 percent of the inmates in federal prison are noncitizens), the livability of our communities and eventually our natural environment." The language is a tad toned down, but the intent and meaning are the same.
Mr. Ludwick also recently sent a letter to the Secretary of State's office, protesting the provision of the Spanish-language "How to Start a Business in Oregon" guide at the Mexican Carousel of Information events. Given that he believes most immigrants are "poorly educated and unskilled," (from the same article as above), I guess he has low entrepreneurial expectations. (Self-promotion: click here for my take on Madeleine Albright's rather different expectations for immigrants).
Mr. Ludwick is the founder and President of the artfully named Oregonians for Immigration Reform, which is holding a Capitol Steps rally at noon on Friday. With Rep. Linda Flores, who must make an extra-effort to overcome the ill effects of her Hispanic surname. And KPAM's darling, little Lars herself, Victoria Taft. Word is Mannix and Saxton will be there too, each hoping to appear hateful enough to snatch up votes with vitriol.
Ms. Taft has collected letters from the four people who listen to her radio show, demanding that state services require applicants to show proof of citizenship. (More self-promotion, tongue-in-cheek this time: what would Jesus do?) Of course, it is already required by law that you be a citizen to be eligible for state services.
The immigrant bashers would prohibit people from access to information (like how to start a business), to education (punishing the child for the sins of the father), to drivers licenses (because they prefer unsafe roads), and to all of the resources that can assist people in becoming productive members of society, preventing exploitation, and improving our communities.
Immigration isn't an easy issue, and it won't be solved by soundbites, by building a fence between here and there, or by making information accessible only to a (white) elite. Especially when much of Oregon's agricultural economy depends on immigrant labor. The Statesman Journal and the Oregonian aptly note this in their editorials.
And let's be clear. The immigrant bashers are not bashing Russians or Vietnamese or any other large community of immigrants in Oregon. Nope, they've focused their bile on Mexicans. I wonder why.