Thursday, May 13, 2010

From Tucson

I've been pretty hard at work most of the time since arriving (although the work part of the trip is now over), but a few impressions are worth recording.

As always, the scenery blows my mind. The mountain ridges, foothills, intense blue sky, scarlet stars of bougainvillea flowers clinging to adobe-hued walls, palo verde trees whose branches are tipped with cadmium yellow blossoms, saguaro cacti signaling mysterious messages with their arms, quail marching across lawns, white-winged doves ...

Magic. But there are disturbing signs. On the ride from the airport, the southwest side looks seedier than I remember it. Clearly there is severe poverty around. But also a Third World aura: big houses in the foothills, gated "communities," lots of high-end cars. (White is the fashionable color.) The contrast between rich and poor has gotten more drastic.

One topic is on everyone's mind. You don't have to go far out of your way to strike up a conversation about it.

The Border.

Everyone I have talked with believes that Mexican colonization and drug smuggling are out of control. My wife and I just came back from dinner at the Village Inn, a casual restaurant. The people in the booth behind me were going on about the leaky border. You hear the usual stories. "Immigrants" who want everything on their terms, including their language. Schools overwhelmed by anchor babies. Children kidnapped and held for ransom in Phoenix. Delinquents sans frontieres who get crocked to the eyeballs on cerveza and tequila shots, want their half of the road in the middle, and have an unsettling habit of turning themselves and various innocents in other cars into shredded flesh.

The open talk is new in my experience. When I lived here from 1999 till 2002, Anglos may have thought the same things, may have expressed them but only among close friends. Now the inhibition is gone. Anglos -- including a concierge at the fancy hotel where my seminar was held and a pharmacist in a drug store where my wife got a prescription refill -- have been up front about the crisis and their anger over the federal government's refusal for decades to do anything about it.

It's hard to say how this is going to play out. But some emotional dam has burst and feelings long held in check are in the open. It's past the point of being a question of political philosophy. Arizonans are afraid. Afraid that their beautiful state and neighborhoods are falling victim to reconquista. Afraid for their safety. Someone put up a billboard by the highway as a memorial to a policeman who was killed by an illegal.

But I perceive more than fear. I sense determination, a feeling that it's now or never. Time to take a stand, whatever the cost, or it will be too late.

I've concluded more than one conversation in Arizona these past few days with the words:

"The Mexican Invasion stops here. And it stops now."

I don't know if I believe it. But I've received in return wholehearted agreement.


Anonymous said...

The true question is whether or not, the American people want half of Mexico, indeed, half of the world, immigrating to our country.

I say no. Lower all forms of immigration for ten years, especially since we have a weak economy and high unemployment.

Concerned Linguist said...

I really liked this entry, but I have just one quibble: it's about using the term Anglo.

Now, I've never been to Arizona, so perhaps your use of it merely reflects how people in Arizona refer to whites, but it has always seemed to me that using the term Anglo is accepting the enemy's term for us, and not using our own word(s) for ourselves. This feeling is heightened by the contexts in which Anglo is used: either in contrast to Mexicans, or, in the longer term Anglophone, in contrast to Francophone (a Canadian problem, of course).

Of course, this is nothing next to whites using gringo to refer to themselves, and my objections to the use of Anglo may be off-base. But I just thought I'd share my concerns anyway.

Rick Darby said...

We now have enough Mexican, Afghan, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and Jamaican restaurants.

With a very few exceptions, I see no reason why we need any immigration. The population of the United States has grown by 100 million in 40 years. It shows, and not in a good way, in quality of life.

The term Anglo is traditional in the Southwest and long predates the current immigration issue.

Hermes said...

I can't stand it when immigration enthusiasts bring up the subject of ethnic restaurants, as though that ends the debate. As though spicy food were the most important thing in life. I'd gladly live on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, three meals a day, for the rest of my life, if that was the price to pay for living in a stable, prosperous, first-world, white society.

MaryJ said...

The ethnic restaurant argument is bogus.

You don't need to import tens of millions of aliens to have ethnic restaurants; a few thousand will do.

Rick Darby said...

I was being ironic about the ethnic restaurants. While culinary variety is perhaps one upside of immigration, it hardly justifies massive population replacement.