Expect to hear more about the 1965 Immigration Act in the weeks to come, as the right revs up to full indignation mode over the influx of non-white people crossing our borders. Lloyd Billingsley at the execrable Front Page is worried that brown people will demand to be treated fairly, and that just ain't right.
Why all the fuss? Here's a little background.
The Immigration Act of 1965 essentially repealed the immigration act of 1924. The '65 law had the support of Dems and Republicans.
The 1924 Immigration Act was a product of its time - namely, it was racist. It excluded certain ethnic groups, especially Chinese. America was all freaked out about communism in 1924, and KKK 2.0 had been recently rolled out as a user friendly Christian organization that attracted millions of white people. So naturally Congress gave America the immigration act it wanted.
But the issue today is illegal immigration. The 1965 act set quotas on legal immigration. But that's how the right argues. It conflates one thing with another. So Al Qaeda is the same as Shiites, and illegal border crossers are the same as foreigners with green cards.
As far as I can tell, critics of the 1965 act are upset because it lets in too many brown people. This is very upsetting to Republicans who think the US is meant to look like the cast of a Frank Capra movie. But the really cool part about America is that every nationality has contributed something to our culture. I challenge you to go one day without brushing against something that was brought to our shores by a non-white ethnic group. Jazz, margaritas, sushi, hummus, Pokemon, peanut butter, canoes, kung fu all vie for our time and dollars in the great American marketplace.
Immigrant fears and American xenophobia are nothing knew. Virtually every immigrant group suffered the wrath of ignoramuses at some point in the long American experience. Even the Swedes were abused at some point. How do you make fun of a Swede, for God sakes! "Hey Lars, we don't need your, uh, things that you do around here. Go back."
The Republican right talks a great game when it comes to staying the course in Iraq. The standard answer to every criticism of the war is "Don't be a quitter", and dissent is equated with treason. But the right's patriotic mettle turns to limp rigatoni when the issue is non-white people living here. Suddenly the knuckledragging wantwits who make up Bush's base turn white with fear, and dishonor 200 years of immigration history. "Oh no, immigration is hard work!"
We can't have that now, can we?