ifeminists.com: A central gathering place and information center for individualist feminists.   -- explore the new feminism --
introduction | interaction | information

ifeminists.com > introduction > editorials

California Dreaming: A Response
September 9, 2003
by Pat Taylor

There are two issues here, one of California and one of the United States. Neither knows how to handle the subject.

The problem with California is it is a land of demarcations: Hollywood and Olivera Street, Sonoma Valley and Silicon Valley, San Francisco and San Diego, redwoods and palm trees, old hippies and old money, severely liberal Democrats and equally severely-conservative Republicans - and never the twain want to meet! No wonder there's no assimilation of the Mexicans: nobody knows what to do with them, nobody wants to take responsibility for the doing, and nobody cares anyway.

Much like the Chinese in the 1800's, the Mexicans (including all other Latin Americans who are lumped with them) are used and abused and then ignored to make their own way - but still open for criticism if they do not conform. But conform to which standard listed above? And where do the Spanish and Mexican 'old families' of the 16- and 1700's fit in: do they care, any more than the other groups who are not latino? It's no wonder they band together, live and travel in enclaves, keep their own language and customs. It's called self-preservation. A group or a class of people, like individuals, know when they are not wanted.

Which brings up the second issue, that of the United States. The term 'illegal alien' gives me the willies. 'Illegal immigrant' is not much better. Either term in today's usage is an insult! in this context; while 'immigrant' implies a poor, unworthy stranger better left alone. Together they make persona non grata of everyone. Whether black, brown or yellow, they are not wanted. (As sometimes whites were not, e.g. Irish, Italians, Jews, Germans, almost every group that came en masse thought they were founding a new country for themselves alone - but they advertised it too well!)

Governments have taken it on themselves to place limitations on their citizens. But America was founded precisely on NON-limitation of its citizens - no limits to their freedoms or their quotas. The assimilation of Mexicans or any other immigrants to this country would be swift, harmonious and complete if there were no labels applied to get in the way of natives' sensibilities. When a person is called 'illegal', he/she is afraid to move around, or to call attention to oneself, afraid of becoming known by belonging. Likewise a neighbor will feel fear and animosity toward that person and shun, if not attack, him or her.

But if a Mexican crossed the border with his wife, child and belongings, and set up housekeeping as he could, without labels and without challenge from neighbor or government, he would soon become a part of the community, soon be assimilated in the new culture. By a natural desire to socialize, that family would soon 'belong'.

It is to everyone's advantage to take the labels away, to take the illegality of immigrant status away. Both California and the United States in general will gain - not just citizens and workers, which it has now, but cultural knowledge and tolerance. It is in the knowing of something, not the ignorance, that renders it benign and useful.

ifeminists.com > home | introduction | interaction | information | about

ifeminists.com is edited by Wendy McElroy; it is made possible by support from The Independent Institute and members like you.