Saturday, March 06, 2010

We're all immigrants or descendants of immigrants

The demagogues of both of the corrupt political parties in America have decried "illegal" immigration recently, and most Americans seem to support their demagoguery, for economic or racist reasons.

But our shores and doors used to be wide open, and the best, brightest and hardest-working people of the world poured in -- many of them simply great workers, some of them great working minds.

America, herself, may not exist if not for one man, one immigrant man: Thomas Paine.

Paine came to America from England in the notable year 1775 and became a quick citizen with the help of Benjamin Franklin. Paine had written only one published piece in England before arriving here, but within one year wrote "Common Sense," which ended up selling millions of copies and, most likely, stoking the fires of rebellion more than any other tract in history. He is known, perhaps correctly, in many scholastic circles as "The Father of the American Revolution."

And he was an immigrant -- from the country we went to war with, no less.

There have been other notable and/or great names: Joseph Pulitzer, Albert Einstein, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Irving Berlin, Martina Navratilova, Andrew Grove (founder of Intel), Levi Strauss, Alexander Graham Bell, Bob Hope and, of course, thousands of others.

It is a cliche to say that this country was founded and fueled by immigrants, and it is true. But the fires of anti-immigration have always been hot against virtually every nationality coming to our shores: Irish, Italian, African, Asian, Polish, Mexican, etc.

But I say, let them come. Let them all come except those who openly seek us harm. Open the shores, the doors, the harbors, the ground borders to all who seek liberty, work and happiness.

Let them compete with us already here. Let them bring their creative minds, their calloused hands to the marketplace of people and ideas that is America. This is not our land. It is the land of those who wish to work it, here and abroad. Xenophobia is not our government's job, and it is not an attractive trait for those of us immigrants and descendants here already. We need more good people, more good ideas.

We need another Thomas Paine.

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