Another ungrateful migrant creates a new 'narrative' for ingratitude
Rep. Ilhan Omar was just an opening act. Now, another ungrateful migrant has come out of the woodwork to tell us how awful we are and how ingratitude for being allowed to come here is the rightful state for migrants.
Calcutta-born Suketu Mehta, a bitter revanchist who would have been ripped to shreds as a fourth-rate, fourth world 'intellectual' by V.S. Naipaul (too bad he's not alive) puts forth the argument in the Washington Post that immigration is a reparation. His piece is titled 'I am an uppity immigrant. Don't expect me to be grateful." Based on what he says, it's clear he views migration to the U.S. as an entitlement solely because America is so very, very bad -- and as a lagniappe, because he's so very, very good. He writes:
I’ve been told to “go back” ever since 1977, when I enrolled in an extravagantly racist all-boys Catholic school in Queens, N.Y. — birthplace of President Trump, who recently became the biggest, loudest mouthpiece for this line of rhetoric when he tweeted that four congresswomen of color should “go back” to the “totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” The idea is: White Americans get to decide who is allowed to come in and what rules we are to follow. If you come here, don’t complain. Be grateful we took you in. “Go back” is a line that’s intended to put immigrants in our place — or rather, to remind us that our place in this country is contingent, that we are beholden to those who came here earlier.
To this I say: No, we are not. I take my place in America — an imperfect place — and I make it my own; there’s a Constitution that protects my right to do so. I will not genuflect at the white American altar. I will not bow and scrape before my supposed benefactors. I understand the soul of this nation just as well, if not better, than they do: a country that stole the futures of the people who are now arriving at its borders, a cacophonous country, an exceptional country, but one that seems determined to continually sabotage its journey towards a more perfect union. Nobody powerful ever gave the powerless anything just because they asked politely, and immigrants don’t come hat-in-hand. I am an uppity immigrant. I am entitled to be here. Deal with it.
He says he understands the soul of this country better than we do -- and then goes on to describe the natural beauty of the country towards the end of his piece as something no different from the beauty of other countries. Obviously, he's incapable of feeling for a place the way a native or grateful naturalized American does, but nobody told him. He describes any effort to oppose illegal migration as an expression of white supremacism. He doesn't seem to notice that the federal bureaucracies that enforce legal immigration are staffed by people of all colors, as is the U.S. government. He's firm in thinking America is solely a white-run act.
The essay is hard to read because it's so incredibly hateful and militant in its ingratitude. Migrants are entitled to come here, legally and illegally, because America despoiled their countries, it had nothing to do with their voting choices or their cheers for demagogues promising them free health care, bags of beans or terrorist payment packages to families for their votes. He cites Somalia, Palestine and Central America as his examples, blaming America first and foremost for those countries' conditions, and oh, by the way, his list wouldn't exactly include his own homeland of India. Oops. But here he goes:
The West has despoiled country after country through colonialism, illegal wars, rapacious corporations and unchecked carbon emissions. And now their desperate migrants are supposed to be grateful to be let in by the back door at the mansions of the despoilers, mansions built with the stolen treasure of the migrants’ homelands?
Meanwhile, he describes the awfulness of America, laying out the lousy condition of deep blue cities - which have been made that way by people who ... vote exactly the same way in America that they did in their home countries.
It's hideous garbage. Why is it so bad? Because guys like Mehta are "much honored" U.S. intellectuals and when they write something in a prestigious magazine or newspaper, their claims not only get talked about, they become a new "narrative." We saw that already with Ta Nehesi Coates, a guy who's gotten a lot of academic and foundation honors and then wrote a big case in The Atlantic for reparations. Since doing that, reparations are now the new Democrat narrative. Mehta now wants to make the Omar narrative the normal thrust of thinking here in the states among the academic elites and by extension, the Democrats who suck up to them. I first encountered the idea that illegal migrants are 'owed' by America about five years ago in Murietta, California by a leftist protest leader who had an arm full of tattoos and told me he had been a communist guerrilla in El Salvador in the 1980s. He was a walking argument for immigration reform because how the heck did he get in here. Migrants, he explained, were entitled to come here as punishment to America, he said with a straight face. I wrote him off as a V.S. Naipaul-style left wing clown at the time. Well, now his thinking has gone mainstream and Mehta, who must think he's better than all of us based on his giant string of collected academic and foundation awards, (something that wouldn't have happened had he stayed in Calcutta), now has picked up the torch.
It's a massive shift in sentiment, actually - and does highlight the dangers of the U.S. taking in self-important migrants who have pretentions of grandeur. These are people Eric Hoffer warned about.
As Charles Cooke at National Review writes, migrants really do owe America a debt of gratitude:
Legally, Ilhan Omar has exactly the same rights as someone born here. And she should, without exception. Culturally, though, the idea that Omar does not “owe a special debt of gratitude to the” United States is ridiculous, as is the idea that Omar’s views of the United States should not be affected by that debt. Of course she should be grateful! The United States saved her from a warzone, let her stay, accepted her as a citizen, and then elected her to Congress. If one can’t be grateful for that, what can one be grateful for?
Should Omar “temper her critiques of American politics and culture”? That depends. Again: Legally, Omar should enjoy every Constitutional protection available. And, as a matter of course, she should feel able to take part in the political process on the same terms as everyone else. But, culturally, it is absolutely reasonable for Omar’s critics to look at her behavior and say, “really, that’s your view of us?” It’s absolutely reasonable for Omar’s fellow Americans to dislike her and to shun her as a result. It is absolutely reasonable for them to consider her an ingrate — or to believe, as David does, that she is “a toxic presence in American politics.” And it is absolutely reasonable for them to wonder aloud how a person who hails from a dysfunctional, dangerous place built atop dysfunctional, dangerous institutions can exhibit the temerity — the sheer gall — to talk about America in the way that she does. There is a big difference between saying “I oppose current federal tax policy” or “I want more spending on colleges” or “the president is an ass,” and saying that America needs complete rethinking. As this Washington Post piece makes clear, Omar isn’t just irritated by a few things. She thinks the place is a disaster.
Peggy Noonan explained what that migrant gratitude looked like.
I think we must end with an affirming flame. It has to do with that hopeless place, our southern border.
Members of Congress often go to detention centers and make it worse. They summon complaints, say people drink from the toilet, call it a concentration camp. All the border police are just good Germans following orders. The illegal aliens are victims, the guards Nazis. That goes over badly in America, which has a heart but doesn’t like being manipulated and is weary of being bullied.
But this week on “CBS This Morning,” Norah O’Donnell toured the largest detention facility on the border and talked to a young mother from Venezuela with a 2-year-old son. She told her story. For months at home she’d heard nothing but gunfire. She fled alone with her son, just the two of them on the long trek north. She wept as she talked.
She was a person of modesty and dignity.
She said she had warm food here. They provided Pampers for the baby. Ms. O’Donnell said: But you are sleeping on the floor. Yes, said the mother, “on a mat.”
She showed no resentment, expressed no demand. She was just grateful.
We'll take 1,000 of her over any Suketu Mehta any day. People like her can stay as long as they like because they are the only people capable of being happy here. Mehta sure isn't happy and he's never going to be happy in a country like the U.S. The only thing that's ever going to make him happy is power. He should look for a third world country to take over for that kind of thing.
Image credit: Montage by Monica Showalter, from public domain sources