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Guest Editorial

Immigrants being made scapegoats for our nation's woes

BY JACOB G. HORNBERGER

In a speech delivered a couple of years ago, former governor of Colorado Richard D. Lamm made the startling claim that the way to destroy our country is to "...turn America into a bilingual or multi-lingual and bicultural country. History shows that no nation can survive the tension, conflict, and antagonism of two or more competing languages and cultures."

What about Switzerland, a country that has survived centuries, even though its languages and culture are French, German and Italian? In an article he published previous to the speech, Lamm explained that Switzerland can be reconciled with his amazing thesis because the country "has divided its geography into three separate areas, each of which has a common and dominant language."

But how is that different in principle from a country whose common and dominant language is English but where people within different geographical areas of the country speak a foreign language with their friends and relatives?

I wonder whether Lamm is familiar with my hometown of Laredo, Texas, located on the Rio Grande, which is both bilingual and bicultural - and has been for at least 150 years. The city, whose street names include the names of many Spanish and Mexican historical figures and whose store signs are often in Spanish, has the biggest celebration in the nation honoring George Washington's birthday. As far as I know, the city's survival has never been threatened by "tension, conflict and antagonism of two or more competing languages and cultures."

Surely Lamm knows that California, along with New Mexico, Arizona, Texas and parts of Colorado, once constituted the northern half of Mexico. Those areas were knowingly annexed by the United States in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, rendering all (former) Mexican citizens in that area - Spanish-speakers all and thoroughly inculcated with Spanish and Mexican culture - U.S. citizens. Given all those Spanish-speaking (former) Mexicans living in that part of the United States, a part that had been the northern half of Mexico the night before the treaty was implemented, was the demise of the United States imminent? I don't think so.

For that matter, did the open borders that were maintained between the United States and (the remaining part of) Mexico for the next 80 years or so, which enabled Mexicans and Americans to freely cross back and forth across the border to visit, tour, work, or open businesses, result in the demise of the United States? I don't think so.

Contrary to what Lamm suggests, what is destroying America is not immigration, legal or illegal. Immigrants are just convenient scapegoats for ever-increasing crises and woes arising out of failed paradigms of socialism and empire that hold our nation in their grip.

The foreign-policy paradigm entails the presence of U.S. military bases in more than 100 countries, invasions of sovereign and independent countries, and support for brutal foreign regimes, all of which have given rise to the anger and hatred that has produced terrorism against Americans and the resulting U.S. "war on terrorism" all over the world.

On the domestic side, we have such failed welfare-state programs as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling and the drug war. The anti-immigrant crowd cries out, "They're coming to take our welfare!" But rather than calling for a repeal of such failed government programs, they instead use them as an excuse for immigration controls, excluding even those who are simply seeking a better way of life through labor.

Socialism and empire will continue to bring us internal moral decay, which will inevitably be accompanied by exorbitant government spending, borrowing, taxation, regulation, and assaults on civil liberty. It is unfortunate that, gripped by a deep reluctance to recognize and address the root causes of our nation's woes, some of our fellow Americans would rather look for scapegoats, especially those who lack the means to defend themselves.

Replacing the immoral, failed and destructive paradigms of socialism and empire with ones based on liberty, free markets and republic, would bring our nation back to a solid moral foundation, one that would nurture such important values as responsibility and charity and that would enable Americans once again to live in peace and harmony with the people of the world.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation (www.fff.org).

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