Racism Again? Look Again


must have lied. I’m posting again. Wow, I am so thoroughly behind the times. Yes, my fault for not keeping up with the news, or rather the parts of the news that make me write.

Anyway, for anyone who still hasn’t seen Pat Buchanan’s several-month-old opinion piece about the Virginia Tech shootings, I find parts of it utterly loathsome, while other parts of it I find agreeable, though they, too, have some red-herring quality.

The bad

Here is the part that really makes me tick (and yes, unlike the vast majority of white Americans I can hyphenate correctly in English, as seen above):

Almost no attention has been paid to the fact that Cho Seung-Hui was not an American at all, but an immigrant, an alien. Had this deranged young man who secretly hated us never come here, 32 people would heading home from Blacksburg for summer vacation.

What was Cho doing here? How did he get in?

Cho was among the 864,000 Koreans here as a result of the Immigration Act of 1965, which threw the nation’s doors open to the greatest invasion in history, an invasion opposed by a majority of our people. Thirty-six million, almost all from countries whose peoples have never fully assimilated in any Western country, now live in our midst.

Cho was one of them.

Hello? Right, no one heard me. Take two: ahem, excuse me?

Just what does Buchanan mean by “us” when he says Cho “secretly hated us”? The context supports that by “us” he meant Americans. I’m sorry, but I have never heard of hatred for Americans being the reason for the Virginia Tech shootings.

Forget the model minority myth. Asians are not immune to these atrocious “antics”, if you could call them that. Maybe very cynically. But I think it’s worthy of notice that – actually, I’ll pass over the fact that Asians have not been known to do these things in California. This shooting was not because legal Korean immigrants are bad.

太過分了. Oh, yes, what was Cho doing here? How did he get in? Oh, the same legal way that both of my parents got in, thank you very much, Uncle Sam, as well as, let’s see, all of my mom’s side of the family.

Alright, enough with the emotionally charged polemics. Let’s just say that my family immigrated legally, and I myself was born legally, an American citizen by no trick or manipulation, in the East Alabama Medical Center (ignore the suboptimal typography), while my dad, who at the time had recently become naturalized as an American citizen, was teaching at Auburn University.

I still fail to see how the 1965 Immigration Act flung wide the gates for an invasion, one that Buchanan so aptly calls “the greatest invasion in history”. I must have missed the part where the gates of legal immigration from Asia were also the fabled gates of Janus, but it certainly must be true.

“Thirty-six million, almost all from countries whose peoples have never fully assimilated in any Western country, now live in our midst.” Oh, the horror! That I, an American citizen by birth, legally eligible in all things but age for the U.S. presidency, should be less than “fully assimilated”! And yet ’twere impossible that I should rule any in civil governance in Asia. This fact notwithstanding, if it’s assimilation Buchanan is worried about, then I, too, am one of “them”.

Caveat emptor (aut visor equidem), for this is my consistency: natively Cantonese-speaking, archaically Sinophilic, and bookish, bespectacled and not an engineer. So guess what? I do not deny that some Asians, including some Chinese, are dangerous, and I shall not attempt to exonerate Wen Ho Lee in any way. But blame systemic racism on the one hand and postmodernist political correctness on the other before you place the onus delicti on immigration.

Disintegration in America

But Buchanan continues, and I believe on these points he is closer to the truth:

But documents no matter how eloquent and words no matter how lovely do not a nation make. Before 1970, we were a people, a community, a country. Students would have said aloud of Cho: “Who is this guy? What’s the matter with him?”

Teachers would have taken action to get him help – or get him out.

Since the 1960s, we have become alienated from one another even as millions of strangers arrive every year. And as Americans no longer share the old ties of history, heritage, faith, language, tradition, culture, music, myth or morality, how can immigrants share those ties?

The problem of disintegration rests not with immigration but with internal dissolution. That immigration may have exacerbated the problem is only a detail in comparison with Americans’ own failure to be educated – really educated – in history, heritage, language, morality and all those other things Buchanan mentions. That is, the failure is not the immigrants’ but the old-timers’.

And small surprise that is, when what fills our culture is a virally relativistic form of social constructionism, one that pulls and pushes, pulls toward “contextualization”, toward unexaminable assimilation, and pushes to ghettoization.

Both thrusts are hard for immigrant communities, being inexorably disorienting, and both ultimately deprive people of intercultural engagement. As even the UN recognizes, this kind of relativism will not do (N.B.: the term “cultural relativism” is not used precisely in the document).

Blame postmodernist political correctness, not immigration.


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