Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Maybe We’re Afraid Hispanic Immigrants Will Treat Us The Way We Treated Native Americans & Others

I’ve been reading A Different Mirror—A History Of Multicultural America by Ronald Takaki.

This book is an account of the different races and ethnic groups that have lived in America.

In detaling grievous British abuse of the Irish in the 15th and 16th centuries, portrayed in Different Mirror as a precursor for the mistreatment of blacks and native Americans by British colonists , Takaki uses the following poem from the period written by Angus O’Daly

O body which I see without a head,

It is the sight of thee which has withered up my strength.

Divided and impaled in Ath-cliath,

The learned of Banba will feel its loss.

Who will relive the wants of the poor?

Who will bestow cattle on the learned?

O body, since thou are without a head,

It is not life we care to choose after thee.

Takaki also uses the following quote from a Sioux tribesman named Luther Standing Bear—

The white man does not understand the Indian for the same reason he does not understand America…Continuing to troubled with primitive fears (he has) in his consciousness the perils of this frontier continent…The man from Europe is still a foreigner and an alien. And he still hates the man who questioned his path across the continent.”

Maybe the hostility some feel towards rising numbers of immigrants in the United States, reflects an awareness of the brutality of our forefathers. We know what we did to conquer the United States and we know that this violence has a history that goes back even before the settlement of the Americas.

Maybe what some are afraid of is being treated the same way.

Or maybe the fear is  we will somehow over the years be erased from the collective memory, just as was attempted with Native Americans.

In any case, many new people are coming to the United States. Nothing is going to stop that process.

We can find ways to live with these new folks. Or we can operate from fear and anger.

The choice is ours collectively. 

January 16, 2008 - Posted by | Books, History, Immigration, Poetry | , , , , , , , , ,


  1. I think that americans want equal justice, i think that if you are white hispanic african american the american people should pay taxes, have equal justice for all crimes, personal responsibility for all that live here. Not free school, free health care, free trip back to the border, eliminate white collar prisons, replace the non violent offenders with rehabs, mental health clinics, the media spins part of the problems and than part are real and expensive and unfair to all. I think we should register and make them all legal that have not commited crimes and let them pay taxes and make minimum wage.

    Comment by bill brady | January 17, 2008

  2. To some extent the premise is sound. I use the phrase “Ask a Native American how he feels about uncontrolled immigration” quite often is debates on the issue.

    Americans are already flooded with examples of the destruction of their own culture by immigrants. Language seems be at the heart of it. “Press 1 for English” – often after some spate of Spanish – is offensive to many of us. Various firms in CA and the southwest requiring Americans to learn Spanish is even more so.

    So yes, many of us are concerned about going the way of the Native Americans…

    Comment by jonolan | January 18, 2008

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