Years ago now–and apropos of nothing–I wrote a poem that began like so:
I long to linger among the Hmong; how I hunger to hear their tongue!
These nonsense poems frequently come as a sort of whisper I strive to catch up with in writing. More often than not, I’m unsuccessful.
And at this remove I can’t even remember the rest of it–a good thing in general, I’d say, for poetry.
But the point here is the Hmong–and, by extension, the plethora of immigrants among us. It is who we are.
Except for this, from the Oxford Research Encyclopedia: “Laws barring Asians from legal immigration and naturalization in the United States began with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and expanded to include all other Asian groups by 1924. Asian exclusion in the United States began with the 1875 Page Law and the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, which restricted the immigration of select groups of Chinese. Building on the “Asiatic Barred Zone” established by legislation passed in 1917, the 1924 Immigration Act completed the legal exclusion of Asians from both immigration and naturalization eligibility by making the ability to immigrate to the U.S. contingent upon a person’s ability to claim American citizenship. Given existing racial restrictions limiting naturalization to peoples of European and African descent, legal Asian immigration effectively ceased at that time.”
And this: FDR’s Executive Order 9066, subtitled “Springtime For Manzanar.”
So, our first wave of immigrants had it fairly good until 1492; successive waves, it seems–except for those who came to conquer–have ever endured the acrimony of the status quo toward the newcomer.
Nothing has changed.
Or maybe everything has changed. Like Columbus, we seem to be voyaging through uncharted waters.
Upon what uncertain shore shall we henceforth venture?
I know! Let’s “elect” as president some lecherous narcissist.
Let’s make sure he doesn’t divulge his taxes, and let’s see to it that he can use his office to enhance his business interests. After all, what’s good for him will be good for us! Viva trickle-down economics!
Let’s surround ourselves with idiots! Wait–we’ve already done that.
Let’s not pay any attention to the truth! In fact, let’s lie to the American public and the world at large! Especially about matters that are easily verified.
Let’s have our erstwhile Cold War enemy settle our elections! Because, clearly, there has been pervasive voter fraud.
Let’s belittle the free press. And let’s only take questions from journalists affiliated with conservative news organizations.
Let’s honor and salute women by fondling their genitals. Especially upon first introduction. Let’s make it our way of saying, “Hello!”
Let’s ruffle the feathers of every foreign leader we can. Because we can.
Let’s totally co-opt one of our two major national political parties and expose it as comprising the cowards and hypocrites it truly does. And let’s not name which party–everyone knows which party we’re referring to.
Let’s only like those who like us.
Let’s mock anyone who isn’t us.
Let’s see to it that the Supreme Court consists of an even number of justices–at least so long as it suits our purposes. But why stop there? Why not get altogether rid of an independent judiciary?
This is a New World.
What a hideous tapestry of hubris and stupidity.
“Let’s set up a fort,” as Bob Dylan once exhorted, “and start buying the place with beads.”