(This entry’s title is made of the first two lines of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song.)
I make it a point to hang out with people of all sorts of political persuasions. My preference is to treat life like an invitation to an exclusive party: make sure you RSVP, bring a gift for the host, remember that the reason you were invited is because the host believes your presence will add something to the party and last but not least, work the room! As Manhattan party organizer Chi Chi Valenti said in an interview with Gothamist a couple of years back:
Since someone’s always hooking up, getting wasted or starting a fight these days, my standard for a great party is somewhat higher. Most importantly, there must be a MIX – Vampires and diamond dealers, legends and New Kids, fetishists and objects of worship, romantics and cynics, geeks and pop stars, boys, girls and everything in between. Historically, New York’s best parties (and club nights) have combined all ages, gender prefs, income levels and style schools. A roomful of one kind of person is boring and predictable – it is the mark of the provinces.
Give it a try sometime. Urban hipsters, go visit your friends who moved to the ‘burbs (you have some, and you know it). Suburbanites, try a night at Julie’s speakeasy (email me for directions). Mother Jones and National Review readers, mix it up once in a while! The adage “travel broadens the mind” was coined because travellers meet people with experiences quite different from theirs.
One person whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in my “at-home travels” is Bob Tarantino, who writes the blog Let It Bleed. Bob’s a conservative and a funny one at that — his blog’s motto is “All the Left has to offer is hypocrisy and lies. We’ve got that PLUS good looks. Testify!”.
It’s always struck me that having about as open an immigration policy as possible is the best strategy, culturally, economically and politically. Perhaps I’m biased. The resiliency of the host culture is often understated – and, without getting too melodramatic about it, not every component of our cultural heritage “deserves” to withstand change; the ones which manage to withstand the assaults are the best ones (because they’re the ones worth fighting for). That should be suitably vague to get me on the wrong side of just about everyone.
I think it’s pretty right-on, but I also expected some lively arguments to ensue as well.
The two comments that his article managed to garner pointed out one of the urban legends of the Right: that the vast majority of current immigrants are either Jamaican gangsters or Islamofascist (to use a term popular in the right-wing blogosphere) sleeper agents, and how the old European immigrants were better people who contributed more. It’s an old canard: “ever since my family came to Canada, we’ve had to put up with crap from the immigrants.”
There’s a certain bit of disingenuous conflation going on every time a right-wing blogger crows about his or her cultural superiority by quoting William Henry III’s In Defense of Elitism and says “It is scarcely the same thing to put a man on the moon as to put a bone in your nose.” The statement, while true, should not be used in such a context by anyone who falls under two or more of the following categories:
- You have never worked in anything related to a space program or aeronautics.
- You neither major nor work in science, technology or engineering nor did you ever take a non-mandatory science, technology or engineering course.
- You give credence to the concept of Intelligent Design.
- Any math beyond addition, subtraction, multiplication and division confounds you.
- You have trouble assembling IKEA furniture or hooking up consumer electronics.
(I have no problem with elitism; I just think one should claim membership in an elite honestly.)
Now while I think that we ought to ensure that we don’t admit gangsters, family members of warlords and Sharia freaks, I would like to remind everyone out there not to throw out the baby with the bathwater — don’t forget about good-looking, hard-working, value-adding immigrants like Yours Truly or my late dad, whose contributions to Canada and medical science probably outstripped the entire room at the right-wing-heavy political blogger bash that took place in January.