CULVER CITY, Calif.
What a good week for the law, if not necessarily order. Paris Hilton emerged from a Los Angeles jail, fed up with mystery-meat sandwiches from the jailhouse kitchen but nevertheless a matured and mellowed New Woman, and the U.S. Senate killed the amnesty that dared not speak its name.
Southern California was a great place to watch the amnesty crumble. This is the pot where America’s ethnic stew — no mystery meat here — is seasoned with the spices and flavors from south of the border that the purveyors of amnesty are determined to erase. You might think that here’s where the Kennedy-Kyl-Bush immigration “reform” would have been applauded longest and loudest. But you would be wrong.
Multiculturalism has forced nearly everyone into the comfort of clichs, and one of the most wrong-headed clichs is that all Hispanics are grape-pickers and chicken-pluckers, eager to do a day’s work for an hour’s pay, and naturally applaud every other Hispanic who manages to slip through the thin blue line of the Border Patrol. “My grandfather came here when this was worthless land,” Juan, who insists on no published surname, says as he waters the hibiscus climbing toward the roof of his carport on a shady street off Sepulveda Boulevard in Culver City. “The law that says an immigrant named Jones from Wales must obey the rules should apply also to an immigrant named Rodriguez or Menendez from Mexico or Honduras.”
Public-opinion polls inevitably reflect this anecdotal evidence, that most Hispanics, new or otherwise, want to do something about the chaos on the border. The Washington politicians can’t get it through their old gray heads that nearly everyone can smell a panderer. Bilingual education is particularly resented in many Hispanic neighborhoods here. “I’m not raising my son to be a busboy in a Beverly Hills restaurant,” one second-generation Honduran man tells an interviewer. “I want him not only to learn English, but to speak it, too.”
Linda Chavez, the television commentator, columnist and onetime Reagan administration official whose family has been American for as long as some of the New England elites, rebuked Arnold Schwarzenegger, “the Governator,” the other day for pandering to advocates of bilingual education, a subset of immigration “reform.” The governor scolds Hispanics for not learning English but eagerly speaks Spanish when an election approaches. Mitt Romney, too. George W. occasionally breaks into border Spanish (some irreverent Hispanics call it “bordello Spanish”).
“When I testified against the bilingual ballots measure,” Miss Chavez writes, “I was treated by my fellow Republicans as the skunk at the tea party. They didn’t want to hear evidence that the overwhelming majority of Hispanics who are eligible to vote speak, read and write English. Indeed, for those who are third-generation Americans three out of four can’t speak Spanish at all. … The real question for Hispanic immigrants is, will they learn English over time, as the Germans, Italians, Poles and others did before them? The evidence, based on studies of Hispanic immigrants’ children and grandchildren suggests they will. But it might help if policymakers like [Mr.] Schwarzenegger didn’t speak out of both sides of their mouth on this issue.”
Not just the Terminator. The debate over immigration in Washington is fraught with condescension, the notion that the only way to deal with illegal immigration is to lie about it. Rube Goldberg, who drew fanciful cartoons with improbable engineering designs to solve everyday dilemmas, was obviously called out of heavenly retirement to design the Kennedy-Kyl-Bush immigration reform. A child could see that it would never work. The designers never expected it to work. It was designed to preserve the status quo, the quickening flood of illegals to furnish an unending supply of cheap and easily abused stoop labor.
George W., who once campaigned as the man who would unify America, imagined that the immigration reform that was so ignominiously deep-sixed yesterday would be his lasting legacy. He can take consolation that now his legacy will be that he did, in fact, unify America. Rarely have so many Americans from coast to coast — Democrats, liberals, conservatives, Republicans, labor union members, Right-to-Work advocates, blacks, whites, Muslims, Christians, Jews and Hottentots — joined together to kill graveyard dead a scheme that would have been a disaster.
Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Times.
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