Saturday, November 14, 2009

I rue the day you learned to type

Another day, another tragic massacre of Americans, and, since the massacre-er was non-white, that must mean it's time for another edition of Pat Buchanan's Crazy Talk.

Pat starts by reminding us of the brilliant insight that in war, people have to choose sides.

"Let none but Americans stand guard tonight," said Washington at Valley Forge. Irish Catholics deserted the Union army to fight beside Mexican Catholics in the San Patricio battalion against what they thought was American aggression. Honored today by Mexico, the San Patricios were hanged when captured by Winfield Scott's army.

In Scott's march to Mexico City was Robert E. Lee. The hero of Buena Vista was Col. Jefferson Davis, who had married the daughter of his commanding officer, future President Zachary Taylor. Davis went on to serve in the Cabinet of Franklin Pierce and the U.S. Senate.

Yet, in 1861, Davis and Lee would depart the service of their country to wage war against the United States on behalf of their new nation and the kinfolk to whom they belonged and whom they believed had a right to be free of the Union. Were they traitors – or patriots?

Isn't the honest answer "both?" Or maybe "Neither?" Or even the always reliable "It depends who you ask?"

This is not to compare the deeds of the San Patricios, Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, all of whom declared themselves openly and fought heroically and honorably, with the crimes of Maj. Hasan.

Oh good. Wait, then why did you bring it up?

But it is to raise the issue of conflicting loyalties in the hearts of men in a nation that has declared religious, racial and ethnic diversity to be not only a national good but a national goal.

Whence came this idea? No previous generation believed this.

How are you defining "previous generation?" Which decades are we looking at? Also, if you're trying to suggest that the Founders thought that all Americans should be white Christians, you might be right (kind of-- they weren't all as uniformly Christian as some people like to claim), but so what? Sixty years ago we didn't think blacks were entitled to vote. The fact that an earlier generation may not have thought of something or thought something was good doesn't invalidate it.

In World War I, Wilson feared that if he went to war, German-Americans might march on Washington. FDR was so fearful that the blood ties of Japanese citizens and residents would trump their loyalty to the United States he ordered 110,000 transferred from California to detention camps for the duration of the war.

So the fact that two US Presidents were paranoid AND xenophobic means multiculturalism is bad and suggests that internment was justified (despite there never being a single proven case of disloyalty from Japanese-Americans during the war). There's quite a lot of crap stuffed into that sausage, Pat. By the way, take a good look at that last line in bold. Ok, stare at it, memorize it, no, don't show your card to me, you just remember it, ok? It'll be important later.

In Arkansas last year, a Muslim opposed to the U.S. wars shot two soldiers at a recruitment center, killing one. In Kuwait, before the invasion of Iraq, a Muslim soldier threw a grenade into the tent of his commanding officer, killing two and wounding 14.

So? No one's arguing Jihad is a good thing, Pat, but those cases were never connected with a conspiracy larger than one. The bigger issue should be how is the military screening recruits and then how is it keeping an eye on the "well-being" (very broadly defined for these purposes) of its people, both for their safety and the safety of those around them.

This is not to suggest that all American Muslims or Arabs should be citizens under suspicion. Muslims have died fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, as German-Americans died fighting against Germany in two world wars. But it is to say this:

America is unraveling. No longer are we one nation and one people. Tens of millions have come and tens of millions are coming whose first loyalty is to the kinfolk and country they left behind, and to the faith they carry in their hearts. And if, in our long war against "Islamofascism," we are seen as trampling on their nation, faith or kinsmen, they will see us, as Hasan came to see us, as the enemy of their sacred identity.

Pat assumes that everyone thinks like him, that everyone puts ethnic identity first, that no one is capable or interested in having multiple, simultaneous or interactive identities (but Pat, how can you be Catholic and identify as a Southerner?), and that essentially everyone just wants to exist in their own box. There are certainly plenty of box-people in the world, including, apparently, Pat himself. But to categorically write off the patriotism of millions of immigrants (as well as millions of future immigrants) really just shows how little regard Pat has for reality outside his own head. I'd love to see any evidence backing up Pat's implication that there are potential cells of would-be militants all over the US who could turn on us should the government decide to pursue the wrong foreign policy against their motherland. Of course, it'd be easier to check into this were Pat interested enough in specifics to mention a single immigrant group so his readers who don't live in hypothetical-rhetoric-land could actually look into his ramblings. Help me out here, Pat. Are we talking disgruntled Norweigians, or suspicious Bangladeshis? Quakers? Ba'hai? Amish? Who exactly do we need to be on our guard against? Everyone?

There is no American Melting Pot anymore. It was discarded by our elites as an instrument of cultural genocide. Now we celebrate America as the most multiracial, multiethnic, multicultural country on earth

No Pat, the reality is that there never was a melting pot in the first place. It was a flawed model based on biased assumptions about what American culture was or should be. If the idea of America being multiracial, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural makes you mad, all I can say is the idea that the only legitimate America is one populated by white Christians (and they'd better speak English, dammit) makes me pretty mad, too. The difference is that I don't try to ascribe every crime committed before 1965 to the Melting-Pot, whereas you seem incapable of watching the news without connecting every bad thing with multiculturalism and prophesying imminent race wars.

Eisenhower's America was a nation of 160 million with a Euro-Christian core and a culture all its own. We were a people then. And when we have become, in 2050, a stew of 435 million, of every creed, culture, color and country of Earth, what holds us together then?

Um, Pat, Eisenhower was President in the 1950s. At that time the total population was approximately 150 million. This included 15 million African-Americans, 380,000 Native Americans, and 320,000 Asian-Americans. Out of around 135 million whites, 5 million were Jewish, and at least 2 and a half million were Latino. Clearly, 127 million white Christians is still a majority, but it takes a lot of balls to willfully whitewash 23 million people out of American history because they contradict your fairy tale that 1950s America was something out of a Lincoln Rockwell painting. Also, you're living in a fantasy land if you don't think that "American culture all its own" wasn't affected by white Christians interacting with different kinds of people.

Now, think back to Pat's earlier comments. You know, the ones about Wilson and FDR worrying about German and Japanese Americans and foreign nationals. Funny thing, Pat, according to my calculations, these messy moments in multiculturalism relations happened BEFORE Eisenhower was President. How could Eisenhower have been President of White-landia when just ten years earlier FDR was interning Japanese-Americans?

Truth time: there have always been different races in America. African slaves arrived in Virginia in 1619. There were Chinese men in California as early as the 1820s. Indians were in the US in the early 1800s. Native Americans were here long before the US was formed and didn't disappear just because we stopped thinking about them. Some of Pat's German ancestors didn't immigrate until the 1830s. Who is he to write off anyone else as not being American enough?

There are other races and cultures whose presence in America predate Pat Buchanan's family, but because they were denied the opportunity to identify as Americans, Pat assumes that they never have considered themselves American. He thinks being an American is synonymous with being a white Christian. Never mind the historical record or the experiences of millions of Americans that says otherwise.

Maj. Hasan may have been a wacko. He may have been a terrorist. He may have been both. Ft. Hood may signify that there is something very dangerous happening within the military, or perhaps within American society itself. But it is not the fact that we welcome people here or encourage ethnic diversity (What is the alternative, exactly? Refuse to allow anyone into the army but white people? Step on down, Pat, and sign up.) America has benefited when it has expanded its vision of who to let into its cultural tent, and when we have persecuted each other for our national origins, as we did with Germans during WWI, and Japanese during WWII, we have come to regret it.

There may indeed be some American Muslims who use multiculturalism as a screen to protect their true intentions. I still say it's worth it. Multiculturalism may not be a perfect system, but it is far more benign an approach to American identity than aggressively enforcing a pan-whiteness on millions of people who have earned the right to live however the hell they please. And at least it's based on the reality of America being composed of many different people and cultures, as opposed to the revisionist whitewashing of history that Buchanan uses to try to show how far we've fallen. We've always been multicultural, Pat. People like you just never wanted to see it.

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