Secret Nativists

People see absolutely no contradiction between constantly repeating how much they support immigrants and then wailing about AOC and Co in the same breath, “they were born here! Don’t tell them to go back!” All of a sudden, it started to matter where everybody was born. There’s been nothing in my FB feed and blogroll for two days other than haughty declarations of where everybody was born. Suddenly, everybody is a huge nativist, defending the sacred nature of those who were born “right here!” I’ve never seen the word “born” used so much outside a meeting of born again Christians.

These jokers, gosh. Trump took away their moral high ground in one tweet, and they are not even getting it.

58 thoughts on “Secret Nativists”

  1. First, he was factually wrong about three of the four congresswomen. A lot of the mockery concerned his ignorance.

    Also, there is a big difference between saying that someone is an immigrant and saying that they should leave.

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    1. I have zero interest in Trump’s tweets because I don’t like to be crudely manipulated. But the reaction to the tweets is, indeed, extremely jarring to somebody who “wasn’t born here.”

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  2. It’s quite a feat to arrive at “nativist” in response to that.

    I’m tired. To people of GSLiC’s ilk and nice white people who don’t think of themselves as racist, it hardly matters that three congresswomen are natural born citizens born in America or one is a naturalized citizen who grew up here. To them , “white” = “American” and if you’re not white then you need to explain yourself. Or some rot.

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  3. All my sons, who btw are as white as they come, were born in the US. Yet, to my middle son, someone at school told (and he internalized it) that he’s not a “real American,” that he’s a hyphenated American (I say I come from Godforsakia, so he’d be Godforsakian-American) because his parents are not “real Americans” — probably meaning we weren’t born in the US — even though we have American citizenship. By that logic, no Americans are ever real. I think this is because my son’s name is not Anglo-Saxon and apparently that’s the realness criterion (we speak English at home, English is his first and only language, so he doesn’t have an accent or anything). So my son is supposed to hyphenate with a country he never visits and whose language he doesn’t speak. I really feel for all ethnic minority Americans who are forever hyphenated even though they might be many generations in the US and with little connection to country of origin. Sometimes I fuckin’ people. Alright, all the time.

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    1. \ my son’s name is not Anglo-Saxon and apparently that’s the realness criterion

      The first name or the family name?

      If it is the first name, has he or \ and have you ever considered changing it to an English sounding name?

      In Israel taking a new first name or “Hebrewizing” the old one are considered a normal and (almost?) expected part of immigration for kids who arrived young to the country or were born here.

      That’s the signal of full integration into the new culture, and a kid with a Russian or Ethiopian sounding name is perceived as choosing to separate oneself to some extent from the collective Jewish-Israeli identity.

      My brother who immigrated just before school age chose to take a new Israeli name instead of his old Russian one. And, as many children of immigrants, was ashamed of me speaking Russian to him in public.

      Doesn’t your son want to Americanize his name?

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      1. Changing names and stuff is not going to help. It’s just how people think. All people and not just Trump, as we like to believe. This whole situation demonstrates that it’s absolutely everybody.

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        1. Changing names does make all the difference in Israel. Of course, it differs from America, but even in USA behaving and presenting oneself as a non-hyphenated American influences how most people see one profoundly.

          I talk about children of immigrants here.

          One fool and\or thoughtless, tactless person like the described classmate can always be found. I talk not about such people, but about most people one encounters.

          As to the question who is a real American, I believe your grandkids will be that even by Trump’s definition. Aren’t even his children already seen this way that despite their foreign mother?

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          1. Hey, you misunderstand. I’m very comfortable with fluidity. I’m doing great. I’m guessing my grandchildren will be in even a better position to laugh at all this sad little pride in where they were born.

            I just find it funny, that’s all.

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          2. Some people do take English nicknames and so on but it’s more for convenience from what I can tell, it doesn’t make as profound a change in how they are perceived the way it sounds (from what you say) in IL. Participation in culture / society / local customs does more for assimilation. The people who want to say “you’re not a real American” will do it on the basis of whatever they can grasp — my mother, because of her (actually British, but misunderstood by those who wanted to misunderstand) name used to get this despite being from a family that has been here with that name since 1635! This goes against civic values, which are that you can be authentically US with any name – yet this is a constant struggle.

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      2. We had the first son when we were still new to the country, so we gave him a name that’s easy to spell and pronounce and that goes well with the last name; he uses an English nickname and I wouldn’t mind if he changed his first name to the Anglo version, but he doesn’t want to because now apparently his actual name makes him cool. By the second kid, we came to our senses and gave a very common international name and a very common international/completely unremarkable in the Anglo world name to the second and third child, respectively. But that’s not enough. They have to be called Kyle Anderson AND be lily-white; they cannot be brown/black OR have the first name Vladislav/Jamal/Anvesh/Yanbing OR have the last name Ivanov/Baratunde/Ramanathan/Kim, otherwise sooner or later someone will question what they are doing here or insist they don’t belong.

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      3. It’s this standard slur, and the standard retorts are I was born here, I don’t come from another place, and I am a resident / naturalized here, I’ve got the same right to be here as you even if your ancestors were naturalized earlier. I get this all the time if I criticize any current policy, these people think loyalty to whatever the current regime or military adventure is overrides citizenship no matter how longstanding. It’s fun in the heat of the moment to throw back, ha! I’m as authentic as you but the more objective response is to point out that their non-support of right to dissent goes against bedrock US values.

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    2. It’s this standard slur, and the standard retorts are I was born here, I don’t come from another place, and I am a resident / naturalized here, I’ve got the same right to be here as you even if your ancestors were naturalized earlier. I get this all the time if I criticize any current policy, these people think loyalty to whatever the current regime or military adventure is overrides citizenship no matter how longstanding. It’s fun in the heat of the moment to throw back, ha! I’m as authentic as you but the more objective response is to point out that their non-support of right to dissent goes against bedrock US values.

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  4. The US has a thing called birthright citizenship. It’s a protected Constitutional right, and it means that any kid born in the US is a US citizen. It was a big deal a couple of years ago when a hospital in Texas was refusing birth certificates for children born to illegal immigrants in the United States — because even if the mother isn’t here legally, the child is.

    So where you’re born has always been important from a legal standpoint. People are just making a big deal about it now.

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    1. It’s not a constitutional right. Some dazed judge found it in a footnote quite recently.

      I’m very much opposed to birth tourism because it’s rampant in my part of the world and it’s horrible.

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      1. 14th amendment, 1868. Go back to where you come from is a famous racist and anti-immigrant slur. It’s insulting to tell people they got here via “birth tourism.”

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          1. People are so dazed by the need to feel noble that they prefer not to notice the damage they cause with their misguided beneficence.

            The value of awarding citizenship to the child of every Russian or Ukrainian bandit who installs all his wives and mistresses here for the birth is nil.

            But try questioning the wisdom of that, and you are the racist of the century. Why? Because people need to imagine immigrants as invariably downtrodden, miserable and non-white. The possibility that they can be rich, white and very cynical doesn’t occur.

            In my country, there are barely any government officials whose children aren’t living overseas with foreign citizenships. It’s a way of laundering dirty money they get through corruption.

            But hey, I’m a huge racist for pointing out that these m-fuckers are poisoning the whole world with their rot. And than they and their evil spawn – whose excretions I observe on social media regularly – should be thrown out of every civilized country immediately.

            People here are clueless, just clueless. And I have been writing about it for years, yet every single time it’s a blank slate. People seem incapable of holding on to the memory of where I come from and why birth tourism is a very very sore subject.

            Once again, it’s hilarious that people clamor in support of immigrants while showing they have very little capacity to recognize that immigrants have their own concerns based on their own history and experience. This isn’t about liberal Americans and their sense of moral superiority. This is about the damage this practice causes to us. We are now on our second generation of our political and financial elites acting with complete impunity because of this. But thank you, your beneficence to the downtrodden oligarchs – because who else has the money to drag a pregnant wife all the way here and install her in Miami? – is duly noted.

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            1. Yes, although you don’t have to have citizenship to do a lot of these money laundering and related schemes, and you don’t need birth citizenship – you just get citizenship based on professional qualifications, or via the investment program $500K-$1M. I know of so many rich-ish people who do things like this, from various countries, and it doesn’t take having a baby.

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        1. Many people openly call it that as they do it and find it incredibly funny. I think I shared recently that I witnessed a whole group of people from my part of the world share tips on how better to engage in birth tourism and making fun of idiot Americans who permit it.

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      2. It’s not a constitutional right. Some dazed judge found it in a footnote quite recently.
        I don’t know what ideological fumes Clarissa has been huffing recently. It is an interesting way to characterize the basis of her daughter’s U.S. citizenship.

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        1. I’m starting to get annoyed again. My knowledge about the practices of birth tourism doesn’t begin recently. It’s an established practice for the nouveau riche bandits from my part of the world. These are very nasty people who are taking advantage of these ridiculous laws to prepare bases of operations for themselves overseas in case they need to evade justice. I’ve been observing them do this for at least 25 years. And I already wrote about this several times.

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        2. “It is an interesting way to characterize the basis of her daughter’s U.S. citizenship.”

          Klara doesn’t need “anchor baby” status. She would have automatically become a U.S. citizen when her mother Clarissa was naturalized.

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          1. I can barely go on Russian FB or YouTube without running across some smug dick dispensing advice on how to drag pregnant mistress #567 to Miami “to spawn for the citizenship.”

            So I’m saying, let’s stop fretting about us, who are just fine, and wonder how this cottage industry is “a constitutional right.”

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            1. Look, I understand why you’re pissed. I have a noncriminal related anecdote. I recently had a visiting student on a foreign fellowship who was very enthusiastic/aggressive about coming here. It turns out once she was here, she was uninterested about learning English or getting proficient in any of the techniques our group uses. Instead, the source of her enthusiasm was the boyfriend who was also here. She ended up pregnant and gave birth here — essentially enabling her child to become an American citizen — during the course of her visiting appointment. I felt used and completely duped, and she essentially wasted her fellowship money. I am never getting a visiting student again, which is actually probably unfair because I am sure many of them would actually use that opportunity for what it’s supposed to be. Which is why I don’t think I should advocate that the university disband the visiting student program.

              In the same vein, I am not sure it’s a good idea to do something that benefits many in the way it was intended because a minority of criminals take advantage of it. No matter what the benefit it, there will always be people taking advantage of it. There are people who get tenure and don’t do anything research-wise ever again until they retire; that doesn’t mean that tenure for all should be abolished because most people continue to work hard after tenure. Etc. etc. Also, I come from a part of the world where extreme cynicism is also the norm; we are not happy people. I will choose ‘stupid Americans’ over my gloom-doom compatriots any day of the week and twice on Sundays. Being kind, helpful, and optimistic are not flaws; they make life pleasant. Being a cynic and seeing corruption and a way to dupe someone everyone eats away at your soul; I know because I have lived in that world and that world is shit.

              I know that I am grateful my kids became citizens immediately after birth, because that conferred all sorts of benefits. For example, when I was in grad school, health insurance was shit and didn’t account for families. As a citizen, my baby qualified for state-sponsored vaccines, regular checkups, partial coverage for medications etc. Had he not been a citizen, I have no idea what I would’ve done, because a baby going to daycare often got sick and had an ear surgery, multiple rounds of antibiotics etc. Being a citizen literally enabled him to get healthcare.

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              1. Conferring citizenship on children of legal immigrants or green card holders is a great idea. But it doesn’t have to be sacrificed if citizenship is denied to children of birth tourists. Which is literally people on tourist visas. It would take a minimal effort to ban this practice and ban companies that exist to bring in pregnant women on these visas, and it would have no impact on people like you.

                On the subject of tenure, I no longer believe the majority keeps working after getting it. This is simply not what I see. It saddens me enormously but it’s not what I see. I hate being cynical about this but I see an unsustainable system that will very soon collapse because it’s way too exploited. I see people who can’t fill their classrooms, so they simply don’t show up. And nobody catches them or cancels a fake class with zero student enrollment. They draw full professor salaries and not only do they do zero research, they teach fake classes with zero students. It’s a travesty. And it’s completely off-topic except to illustrate my disillusionment with tenure. I recently met one colleague who is appalled by all this but it took me 10 years to find her. Everybody else is very happy with how things are.

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              2. Of course, in 5 minutes somebody will accuse me of being against tenure because I’ve been brainwashed by Fox News. It doesn’t matter that I have now explained maybe a hundred times where I work and how it impacts me.

                I was a happy, happy person until I got tenure and was placed on the obligatory personnel committee. I could be naive and hopeful. But since I got on that committee and discovered how everything really works, I’m a sad, disillusioned, and scared person.

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              3. OK, I don’t want to inflame the discussion further, but I was on a student visa when I had my first child, then on H-1B. I didn’t get a green card until my faculty position, when he was 6. It was good that he was a citizen at that time because of healthcare and other benefits that my crappy student status couldn’t confer. A vast majority of people on student visas stay here eventually and get naturalized. But then you have someone like my visiting student who ended up behaving like an extended-stay birth tourist.

                Perhaps you are right and something should be done with the offspring of those folks who enter the US on a tourist visa, ready to pop. But between the tourist visa and the green card there are several possible immigration statuses (F, J, H, etc.) that all mean a person is in the US for a while and possibly, but not necessarily forever. But there will always be those who take advantage of whatever the rules are.

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      3. It’s in the fourteenth amendment. The very first section:

        “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

        Birth tourism does exist in the US (children are called “anchor babies”), and there’s been a lot of debate lately about whether the fourteenth amendment should be amended based on the parentage of the child, not the birthplace.

        Pointing out these facts doesn’t mean I support birth tourism. I think it’s taking advantage of an existing system. But these aren’t new arguments. United States v. Wong Kim Ark upheld the citizenship clause of the fourteenth amendment in 1898 (holding that a child born in the US is, in fact, a US citizen, regardless of the nationality or ethnicity of the parents).

        Arguments as to whether this should be changed date as far back as the 1990’s. Congress has proposed several bills that would limit birthright citizenship to children of citizens and legal residents, but none of them have passed.

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        1. The 1898 case upheld citizenship for children of legal immigrants. And debates about this issue started in 1990s because it wasn’t until Plyler vs Doe in 1982 that Justice Brennan wrote the famous footnote about there being “no plausible distinction” between legal immigrants and everybody else. As a result, the 14th amendment that was originally created to grant citizenship to freed slaves is used to, as Democrat Harry Reid passionately argued, “to offer a reward for being an illegal immigrant. No sane country would do that, right? Guess again. If you break our laws by entering this country without permission, and give birth to a child, we reward that child with U.S. citizenship and guarantee full access to all public and social services this society provides—and that’s a lot of services.” Again, that’s not Donald Trump. That’s Harry Reid back when Democrats were not a party of big business. Everything I say was utterly uncontroversial among Democrats until 15 minutes ago and constituted one of the defenses Democrats used against the Republican libertarianism.

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          1. And I agree. If someone’s in the country illegally and they have a kid, the kid should not have citizenship. Other countries have revised their citizenship laws to include these provisos, and there is no reason the US can’t. But it’s more complicated than passing a law or executive order because birthright citizenship is clearly written into the Constitution. And the Elastic Clause allows the amendment that granted citizenship to slaves (and, later, indigenous tribes and citizens of US territories) is by its wording valid for all people born in the US or its territories. The Elastic Clause was put in place specifically to avoid arguments of original intent, because the people who wrote it couldn’t possibly have known all the potential cases.

            Constitutional changes require a two-thirds majority in both Congressional houses — which is unlikely to happen, since people don’t like to agree with the “other side,” and politicians in the US don’t know how to stick to a single issue without getting caught up in fifty more of them, because everything seems to turn into a childish competition. Another option is a constitutional convention, which needs to be approved by a three-quarters majority of state legislatures. There are two other options, but they are mixtures of the two — and the chances of state legislatures and both Congressional houses is, especially in this current climate, very, very low.

            Another problem is at what age you cut things off at. Do you revoke citizenship of people already born here, or is it just for newcomers? How do you punish somebody whose only crime was being born with deportation to a country they’ve never lived, whose language they don’t necessarily speak (depending on the culture of the parents), and whose family no longer lives there? What do you do with those children? Do you deport them and their families? Or does it only apply to newborns born after a certain date?

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            1. Birth tourism is legal, though. And with all the barriers to legal migration there are undocumented people who’ve been here decades. Yes their kids should be citizens.

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    1. I’m really not convinced that blanket birthright citizenship is optimal anymore (given the realities of the modern world) but it’s a sacred cow for some people so there’s no realistic chance of changing it in a rational way…

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      1. The point is not that it is a “sacred cow” it is what is in the documents and is part of the whole ethos. It’s all over the hemisphere, too, and traditionally part of what people like about being hete.

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  5. I will preface my comment with the remark that I am just an Australian observer of American events, an interested observer to be sure.

    I have reached the point that I strongly expect Trump to win in 2020, and it’s because Democrats cannot be trusted to not open the borders. America surely needs or deserves a lot of changes, and people like Sanders, Gabbard, Yang, Warren had plenty to contribute, but it will all come to nothing because with Democrats in the White House, you never know whether there might be a Merkel-2015 kind of event.

    Also, it is about race, culture, and civilization. The white majority are afraid that mass immigration from outside the white world will create permanently hostile subcultures, and a more divided, violent, and poorly governed society. From what I can see, East Asians and Hindus are tolerated on this score, it’s the Muslims and Central Americans who are considered a problem.

    Maybe I am stating the obvious, but mass media propaganda and social media vitriol can distort one’s thinking or distract from the obvious. So… am I getting it right? Is this how things are?

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    1. Yeah, I think that’s the feeling. But as I keep saying, I also think it’s that we have a large, complex country and economy that has always depended on having all these low-wage not-really-citizens working in it, and giving that up means massive changes — not in the cost of services to people, because the undocumented do pay taxes etc. already, but in the cost of higher wages and less “flexibility.” Even if we all decided we wanted to face that (I will but how many will?), actually getting it done is a huge and nebulous project. So the current fight is really about how poorly do we want to treat these people — less poorly or more poorly?

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  6. The point is not that it is a “sacred cow” it is what is in the documents and is part of the whole ethos. It’s all over the hemisphere, too, and traditionally part of what people like about being hete.

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  7. Commenting on Clarissa’s original post:
    Trump is effectively saying that people who look like they came from “shithole” countries cannot ever be real Americans.

    I think the main thing the people who you criticize are trying to say is that those congresswomen are just as American as Trump himself. The point that 3 of them were born here is raised as proof of that. How do you define being American? Thinking you are or pledging allegiance to the flag is not enough. Being born and raised here and speaking English is more like it. But to Trump, the only real Americans are the supporters at his rallies.

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    1. I don’t know what they are trying to say but what they end up saying is that they see a Clear difference between people born here and not. I’m not begrudging them the right to see this difference but I’m pointing out how close they are to the position they strenuously deny.

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      1. I also want to add that I’m not interested in endlessly demonstrating how appalling I find Trump. It’s a boring activity that has been done to death. I have no idea how people don’t get tired of it. After three years of this, let’s talk about something else.

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      2. I think their response cannot be considered without the context it’s made in – that is, as a response to someone (Trump, but mostly his supporters) for whom being born in America is very important and someone (Trump and supporters) who thinks immigrants have no right to complain about anything about this country, or at least immigrants who came from poorer countries don’t.

        Ignoring the context is like saying that “black lives matter” means only black lives should, as opposed to meaning that black lives should matter just as much as white ones. I don’t want to get into details of BLM – the activists behind it are not perfect, I’m just talking about the slogan.

        I wasn’t asking you to demonstrate you find Trump appalling. I was simply stating what the subtext of the conversation was as I saw it.

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      3. It’s just rejecting them in their terms, it’s the simplest retort and it puts the ball back in their court. A variation of it I go through a lot is:

        Person: You should just leave the country if you do not like it. You have no right to disagree with any of the conservatism here because you cannot possibly understand how terrible it is to have lost your slaves, given the nice relationship you had with them, and to have people now saying you weren’t right to have slaves. [People actually tell me this.]
        Me: How many slaves did your family actually lose? Mine had over 1,000 and I can show you all the documents, and copies of deeds to all four plantations. Lost them, and I’m glad.

        That tends to shut them up fast, which is why I use this retort. If I didn’t have it to use, I could still respond, but I’d need more words.

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        1. “[People actually tell me this.]”

          “People” — as in plural, more than one person — actually argue that position??

          I’m in my seventies, grew up in the American South, and have NEVER in my long life heard anyone anywhere seriously offer a pro-slavery rationale.

          You must live in a strange neighborhood!

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          1. I do! But you’ve got to realize: people who have had a lot of sharecroppers on their land within their lifetimes, people who have had a lot of household “help,” etc., can feel pretty defensive — esp. if they grew up thinking this was OK and now have doubts or have heard they should have. One of my colleagues even made an academic keynote speech about Reconstruction having destroyed “the friendships that had been made,” etc. Remember the American South is a large country & not everyone thinks the same way. People from Mississippi are SUPER sensitive on these points in my experience, and you should see how slavery nostalgic people are around the area of my family’s main plantation in Eastern shore MD. [A polarized zone to be sure, as F. Douglass and H. Tubman are from there, also F. Douglass’ sister who was also part of resistance.]

            Anyway, where I live is really reactionary and I do socialize with all types of people so I hear things I would not if I just kept to my group. And we’ve got a charter school that teaches that the Loch Ness monster is real and is a dinosaur, citing this as evidence for the young earth (dinosaurs and humans do exist at the same time)!

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            1. “We’ve got a charter school that teaches that the Loch Ness…”

              Well, I’ve definitely heard the “young earth, only 5,000 years old” nonsense. When I was growing up as a child in Tennessee, it was actually a state crime to teach evolution in public schools. But the sharecroppers = slavery comparison is a new one to me.

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              1. Oh, sharecroppers are former slaves or descendants of them, often on the same land. It’s a form of reenslavement really and my mother’s family managed this in MS after Reconstruction was over. If you read the classic Coming of Age in Mississippi (Anne Moody) you get to find out about living in a cabin behind the house of the people you’re working for, and walking up to peoples’ houses looking for work. The people I’m talking about are white and have been the white people in these scenes and they know perfectly well that this is a just-this-side-of-slavery situation. It’s like Brazil, you’d have generations of people working on your land and in your house, and they’d have been slaves before abolition and now you’re paying them somewhat, but they’re still living in the cabins and whatnot. It’s quite shocking to see, as in, I thought I had somehow gotten into a time machine the first time I observed it, I really didn’t think it existed any more – yet it did.

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  8. Clarissa, about birth tourism, I’m 100% with you.

    About this Trump racist tweet, there’s nothing new about it, especially coming out from the leader of the Obama birtherism conspiracy theory. This is a great re-election strategy by Trump, because this appeals to his racist radicals aisle and that puts those socialist congresswomen is the position of real leaders of the Democratic party.

    Clearly, Democrats are raving hypocrites about their sudden interest for the place of birth, but anybody who defends what Trump is saying right now « just because I wanna cut my taxes and Trump is so funny » deserves all my contempt.

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