Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The New Colonization

Articles in both the ultra-right and ultra-left media have proposed a novel interpretation of the recent immigration waves. We’re being invaded, they say, a soft sort of invasion with little violence save for skirmishes along the US/Mexico border. I want to propose another possibility. We’re being colonized.

Call it what you will, the fact is that as of 2006, the United States has accepted more legal immigrants as permanent residents than all other countries in the world combined. In 2006, 1,046,539 individuals became American citizens.  That was a record, by the way. And since the liberalization of immigration policies in 1965, the number of first-generation immigrants living in the US has grown from 9.6 million in 1970 to some 38 million in 2007. Add to this some 11 million illegal immigrants in 2008 and you begin to see the scope of the issue.

Obviously I’m not anti-immigration. I became a naturalized citizen of this country in 2001 and I did so because I truly love the US and its people. Well, most of them. What I see that bothers me today among many recent arrivals is a strong dislike for their adopted home even as they take advantage of the country’s bounty—education, investment opportunities, health care, religious and personal freedom.

So call it new colonialism.

 When Europe parceled out large chunks of Africa in the 1800 and 1900s, the prevailing philosophy was to pirate a colonized country’s resources while very much keeping the native population at bay, using it as a cheap source of labor. Essentially, be it the Brits in India, the French in North Africa or the Dutch in South Africa, the colonizers established British and European enclaves that were closed off to the natives. Colonizers spoke their own languages and often imposed it on the locals as a second tongues. They worshipped as they pleased and sought convertion of the native population. They took the natural resources—oil, gems, wood, silver and gold, copper and nickel—and exported them. There was little respect for the native ways, thoughts, beliefs and history.

Times have changed. Today natural resources are no longer what’s being sought. Today the resources are social—gainful employment, schools and higher education open to all for nominal fees, complete freedom of movement, inexpensive food and transportation, plus a host of welfare options available to nearly everyone. The new colonizers are taking advantage of all these and many have little interest in America’s future. The concept of democracy is alien, and like colonists of earlier times, many new colonists show little interest in building and remaining here.

That’s sad. And dangerous, I think.  This is a nation founded on immigration and aculturization. When the former grows and the later diminishes, there are bound to be problems. We’re being colonized.  This is not a good thing…

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