Normally when we get a new post from Fjordman, it arrives in email form and the Baron formats it for the blog, finds an illustration, and then posts it. Once it’s up, I read it and follow the discussion in the comments.
This last time, however, when I saw the subject line on the email that would become his most recent post — “Gang Mayhem Grips Los Angeles” — I was intrigued. For personal reasons (discussed in an earlier post in which I described the gang beating my son recently experienced) the issue was on my mind.
Thus, I opened the email draft from Fjordman to see his take on this phenomenon of American gangs. As usual, his essay was perceptive. However, several ideas of my own floated by and I realized that, even as cogent as his interpretations were, I nonetheless had a few quibbles with parts of his argument. Such a reaction is unusual for me; normally I find myself nodding in agreement, or wondering how in the world he manages to dig up so much material.
As my differences of opinion so quickly bubbled up, I hit “reply” to Fjordman, giving my point of view. And now I find I’ve been thinking about gangs ever since. This thought process has been reinforced by speaking with some teenagers in Li’l Kumquat (a.k.a. Charlottesville, Virginia) who had some intriguing (if somewhat dramatic and garbled) information about gang membership as it is evolving there — three thousand miles from Los Angeles in a small Virginia town noted for its quality of life… or so the magazine articles and polls devoted to that kind of information claim.
Here is what I dashed off to Fjordman in my reply. This original response is then followed by further elaborations and ruminations on a disturbing phenomenon.
Yes, you will get much resistance to this idea, just as we have — and our congressional representative has — on the idea of establishing and maintaining a firm border…
In a way that I can’t articulate yet, though your ideas have helped me here, the problems of sovereignty in this country are similar to the ones the EU created. But ours differ in several respects:
- The illegal immigrants are at least nominally Christian, and some of them are actually practicing Christians;
- We never made a conscious decision, complete with a “Constitution” to let the floodgates open;
- Our history of being able to absorb huge numbers of immigrants in successive waves lulled us into thinking this was similar;
- In our previous experience, diversity and hatred of America were not part of the orthodox belief system of those in charge. “Victim” had a rare and specific application;
- Also in our previous experience, immigrants were anxious to settle into their own enclaves and work out the process of assimilation — and when financially successful, sometimes to return home to the old country.
There are similarities between the murderous Mexican gangs now and the Mafia of the ‘20’s and ‘30’s. Same rules, just way more vicious and public. We have the same problem, though on a much smaller scale, with Russian immigrants. I think they will eventually assimilate however. Or most of them.
And of course there is added to the mix an unknown but sizeable number of Islamic terrorists who hope to bring us down, either through physical or economic destruction. The flight of money out of this country through m-phone wireless deposits is taking place at a fast and increasing pace.
The problem is not limited to LA, unfortunately. …[In a nearby town] the police watch for groups of three or more [boys or men], wearing large white t-shirts. That’s one of their costumes, or so I’m told. Readers from South Carolina tell us that the situation is even worse.
But nothing is as bad as California; it is lost. And there’s a saying here in the US: “as California goes, so goes the country.”
I think I may try to interview a few policemen in the town, and the sheriff in our county, just to see what they have to say. If the ship is sinking, I’d like to know on what part of the deck I’m standing.
Reaction to your post tomorrow should be interesting.
So that is more or less my dashed off note to the Fjordman. I’ve been thinking ever since about his post, and how the situation appears to me. When I sent my note, my ideas were not in any order, I simply wrote them as they occurred to me. Now, though, I’d like to revisit those ideas and expand upon them.
I deliberately didn’t look at the comment section of Fjordman’s post: I wanted these impressions to be my own (though I certainly plan to see what others think once this is up on our blog).
– – – – – – – – – –
At any rate, here is my expanded version of those initial thoughts:
|1.||The illegal immigrants here are at least nominally Christian, and some of them are actually practicing Christians;|
|I know this to be true since I see the signs on Catholic churches offering Mass in Spanish. And I’ve read about the attraction that evangelical Christianity has for some Hispanics. It cannot be gainsaid that these waves of illegal immigrants at the very least emerge from a Christian tradition. That similarity gives them and us a cultural bridge that is not available with immigrants from other traditions such as Muslims. Their ethno-religious subgroup — Latin American Catholicism — differs is some respects from the European roots (Irish, Italian, Polish, etc.) of North American Catholicism in general. But the substrate has unbroken commonalities.|
|An Episcopal priest I knew has a doctorate on the history of religion in America. He told me that upon completion of his dissertation he was going to head to the Southwest to see about helping to set up Christian schools in the barrios. He had done some research in the San Antonio area and found Hispanic parents more open to private, parochial education for their children than were local African American parents.|
|His ideas stayed with me, though I can no longer locate his email to ask how things turned out. I was encouraged, though, that the Episcopal Church might be returning to one of its early missions: education of the poor. Should the Presiding Bishop ever decide to focus on this overwhelming need, rather than the au courant causes of the day, ECUSA (the Episcopal Church in the USA) might begin to flourish again. I’m not holding my breath, though.|
|It’s still good to know that someone has seen this need as his calling. And it is intriguing to know that not all poor Hispanic parents are in reality as they are portrayed by the drama-driven MSM.|
|2.||We never made a conscious decision, complete with a “Constitution” to let the floodgates open;|
|In other words, unlike Eurabia, there were few people working behind the scenes to create the Mexifornia we have now. Certainly there were and are greedy agribusinesses, or short-sighted individuals who want cheap labor for their households, or construction companies looking to cut costs that welcome and encourage the rising tide of illegal immigrants. They don’t have to face the reality of the Mexican Wave. But this flood was never the carefully arranged plan — or series of plans — that Bat Ye’or has described so well in her explanations of Eurabia’s carefully orchestrated evolution.|
|One motivation she mentioned was hatred of America, especially by the French. By making alliances with oil-rich Arabia, France hoped to pin America to the wall. Was a similar hatred one of the motivations for the Mexican government? Or was that border to their north simply an irresistible short-cut for corrupt politicians? Did America’s presence allow them to avoid the results of population pressure and citizen unrest in the face of repression? Was illegal immigration their pressure valve, the one which prevented revolution and governmental accountability? And was there, in the Mexican government’s assistance to those wishing to cross illegally, a desire for the revenge of old wounds?|
|Probably. But even with that in mind, how many Mexican illegals were planning to return home? And where did the tipping point occur — that is, the point at which those crossing the border were more and more dysfunctional and unprepared for life in a huge urban ghetto? When did escape from the barrios begin to seem an impossible dream? When did the tide turn against assimilation?|
|3.||Our history of being able to absorb huge numbers of immigrants in successive waves lulled us into thinking this was similar;|
|When you look back at the waves of immigration in the 19th and early 20th centuries, it is amazing to contemplate how successfully that polyglot assimilated (all except the French, anyway. In certain parts of New England, they clung to their religion and culture through successive generations. In fact, my anthropology professor in college [mid-1970s], who was in her late twenties when I met her, said she didn’t learn English until she was a teenager). How could we have predicted that this wave was actually a tsunami? Were we complacent because our cultural history proved we were good at welcoming in foreigners?|
|4.||In our previous experience, diversity and hatred of America were not part of the orthodox belief system of those in charge. “Victim” had a rare and specific application;|
|We have been slow in catching on to the deleterious effects of the multi-culti program, both for illiterate immigrants and for ourselves. It simply never occurred to the average American that the elitist elements in our midst hated all things American, that they were too sophisticated for something as jingoistic as patriotism or a profound sense of place. Don’t forget, the elitists were upwardly mobile — with the emphasis on mobility. Their allegiance was to themselves and to their careers. Generations of families were separated by thousands of miles as the boomers moved in search of tenure, promotion and affluence. Networks of efficacy replaced bonds of loyalty. In fact, “networking” became crucial without intergenerational safety nets.|
|5.||Also in our previous experience, immigrants were anxious to settle into their own enclaves and work out the process of assimilation — and when financially successful, sometimes to return home to the old country.|
|When that spirit changed, we were simply not paying attention. It did not seem credible that groups of people could wrenchingly uproot themselves and land in this country while also despising it and refusing assimilation. Left to their own devices, this process might not have happened. However, with the academic de rigueur theory of cultural equivalence and victimology — not to mention the encroaching entitlement programs — immigrants weren’t given the opportunity to meld. Children weren’t taught English. Adolescents, illiterate and with no marketable skills became estranged from both their families of origin and their new environment. They began to band together, sometimes in emulation of gangs in their native countries. It was safer to belong to a gang than to fend for oneself. Again, at some point, the gang culture reached critical mass. Like a cancer it is now metastasizing well past the initial tumor of Los Angeles. It is making inroads everywhere there is a market for recreational drugs, or a lack of male mentoring for young men. How many of these deprived, depraved, and violent men boys actually grew up in the predictable presence of their fathers? That doesn’t make them victims, it merely traces the likely trajectory of life lived horizontally.|
The endless history of mass immigrations, driven by hunger, or the desire for freedom, or the need to escape persecution, or simply cultural pressures is as old as man himself. We can no more change this restless tide than we can sternly tell gravity to stop letting things drop.
Needless to say, many of those groups were and will be Vandals, or people much like them. The satisfied have no need to move, do they?
The friction which results from rubbing two strangers together often produces enough sparks to start a conflagration…or a new ethnic group. It could be natural selection at work: the strong and the restless move on, seeking change. The settled and satisfied stay by the hearth and hope the Vandals pass them by.
It will be a long haul, making Americans out of Vandals. The Romans eventually failed in their excellent adventure — and their enemies didn’t even have cell phones.
Will America make it? Probably. But what and who we will be when this has peaked and receded is hard to imagine. I was going to say “when this is over” but we’ve all read enough history to know it’s never over. There is simply a new and frightening world change to contemplate. Or maybe we are simply determined to stay frightened.
We thought the changes rung in by the last century were truly radical. Enough to bring history to an end. But are they all that revolutionary, really? Last night I was reading a 1907 edition of O. Henry’s short stories. Holding the book in my hand, I though of all that had transpired since O. Henry wrote those stories. And all the journeys that book had been on since the Baron’s grandfather first owned it. The characters O. Henry created — the Americans, the politicians, the city folk, the men and women — all dreamed the same dreams we do, if on a smaller stage.
But I do not think that those generations not yet born, those living in 2107, picking up a book of this year’s fiction will find the stories nearly as comprehensible, congenial or diverting as the characters O. Henry observed and patched together a hundred years ago. After all when he wrote his novelties World War I had not yet occurred, much less Dachau, the gulags, or Rwanda.
In a hundred years whatever is going to happen will be a part of the past. Whatever civil wars that may transpire will be over and some sort of new order will be in place, however tenuously. No doubt we will seem much more sullen and constrained and fearful to the generations who follow us and the coming conflagrations of the 21st century.
Meanwhile, some advice for the interregnum from Robert Hunter:
Out of ninety-nine people all running around
Not one in a hundred got his feet on the ground.
You find one in a thousand holding some in reserve
For when the real true action comes around the curve.
Take care of your people, get some of them fed,
Hide the ones in trouble out under your bed.
Keep an eye to the future, an ear to the past
After thinking it over, notice nothing much lasts…