- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 28, 2000

Okie pride

"The future honky-tonk hero … was raised in Oildale, Calif., in a railroad refrigerator car his daddy converted into a home. His parents came from Oklahoma in a swirl of Depression-era dust, just another couple working in the fields, sleeping under the California stars.
"He grew up hearing the sting of the word Okie, a curse hurled on underclass whites in the West that, depending upon one's inflection, might warrant a beat-down… .
"[Merle Haggard's] 1969 smash 'Okie From Muskogee' [is] so twistedly pure a ballad of working-class pride I know Maoists who today consider it a masterpiece. It sums up what a lot of people love about Hag, and what a long line of hippies and hipsters have never forgiven him for.
"At the height of the Vietnam War, with protesters and hard hats battling in American streets, he … [called] for a return to small-town values."
R.J. Smith, writing on "Workin' Man Blues," in the November issue of Spin

New 'underclass'

"Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan praised immigration in Senate hearings earlier this year, then added, 'While I can hold forth on the economic benefits of immigration … there are many, many issues … cultural questions, issues that have bedeviled the United States for 100 years in this area.'
"These questions are based on evidence that unskilled immigrants are being exploited, are not assimilating as well as previous immigrants, and are forming a new immigrant 'underclass.' …
"During recent hearings … Assistant Secretary of Labor Raymond Uhalde warned, 'Immigration fixes undercut efforts to improve public education, create better worker-retraining programs, and draw the unemployed into the labor market.'
"In fact, today's policies foretell many dangers. What will happen to these new immigrant workers the vast majority of whom arrive with no skills when the economy slows down? …
" 'We will have to create another miracle economy to absorb everybody,' says Robert Bach, executive associate commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).
"But short of a new miracle, wages will fall, unemployment and welfare will rise, crime will increase, social conflicts … will again break out, Americans will call for more and higher fences along the Mexican border, more vigilante groups … will form, and hundreds of thousands of immigrants seeking permanent residence in America will be on the streets."
James Goldsborough, writing on "Out-of-Control Immigration," in the September/October issue of Foreign Affairs

Degenerate America

"In fall 1994, Professor Eugene Genovese noted that the Clinton administration all along had intended to serve the interests of multinational corporations and soothe any distress this occasioned among cultural radicals by giving the latter a free hand within America.
"The alliance of these two groups is less strained that it might seem. Both thrive by inflaming appetites and by destroying the norms that restrain various forms of consumption.
"Both groups have a materialist view of human beings and behavior. Since they deny any truth but impulses, they encourage, even require surface conformity to tropes of sensation and sentiment.
"They sell styles of feeling that intrinsically turn inward, faked compassion and autoerotic sex. Cynicism is their joy because it is the most pure reflection of their radical autonomy. As Genovese summarized, 'They are moral degenerates, utterly bereft of principle.' "
Eugene Narrett, writing on "Clinton, the Legacy, Part I," in the September issue of Culture Wars

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