The New Know-Nothings

cactusBirthright Provision of the 14th Amendment

Since the end of the Cold War, which deprived them of the Red Menace, right-wing Republicans have been looking for a replacement bogeyman to frighten people into voting for them.

They tried humanism, then gay rights. Both were scary enough for Christians of the homophobic, Jesus-loves-me-but-He-can’t-stand you persuasion. But most Americans didn’t seem to get too worked up over the humanist-gay “threat” to the republic.

Finally, the GOP has gone back in history and found the tried and true bugaboo: immigrants.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham is suggesting repeal of part of the 14th Amendment that makes anybody born in the USA a citizen.

Graham says his targets are undocumented immigrants and their offspring. He means Latinos, of course. I’d bet the senator is cool with automatic citizenship for the babes of paperless white Canadians born on this side of the border.

Anyway, Graham’s boss, GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wants hearings on the amendment’s birthright provision. Other Republicans are hopping on the demagogue bandwagon.

Meanwhile, just about everybody agrees that our immigration laws need reforming.

But the hue and cry over the 14th Amendment is pure electioneering. It is part of a grander GOP strategy. The Republicans are pandering to a rising tide of anti-immigrant anger among white folks who hate it that Mr. and Mrs. USA are looking a lot less like Ward and June Cleaver.

Anyway, prejudice against immigrants has been around for a long time.

It took off in the late 1840s when large numbers of German and Irish Catholics moved to America. Many many native-born Protestants wigged out. In the 1850s, fanatical Protestant white men of British stock formed the American or “Know Nothing” Party. They claimed the Catholic newcomers were in cahoots with the pope – who some of the xenophobes took for the anti-Christ — to wrest America from the “true Christians.”

After the Civil War, many Catholic, Orthodox and Jewish people arrived from eastern and southern Europe . Buddhist Chinese and Japanese also made America their new home.

Nativism came roaring back. Many “Old Immigrant” Anglo-Saxon Protestants loathed and feared the “New Immigrants,” describing them as the “scum of Europe ” and the “yellow peril.”

“Refuse the refuse!” became the anti-immigrant cry. This was about the time the Statue of Liberty went up in New York harbor inviting the world’s “tired,” “poor” and “huddled masses” to join us.

No matter, vote-hungry politicians — Republicans and Democrats — eagerly embraced the xenophobia. Congress stopped immigration from Asia and sharply curbed the number of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe.

Anti-immigrant bigotry — bigotry, period — grew anew after the 20th century turned. The Ku Klux Klan re-emerged in the 1920s, claiming it stood for “100 Percent Americanism.”

The Klan stuck foreigners — again mostly southern and Eastern European Catholics, Jews and members of Orthodox churches — just below African Americans on its expanded hate list. At the same time, many politicians of both big parties ranted against the “foreign wretches,” claiming they were “polluting” the country and helping spread Soviet-style communism to America.

Of course, the Republicans – and even the Tea Baggers – would have us believe that their beef is with “illegal” immigrants. But they’re not fooling anybody. Most of these neo-Know Nothings are white people who have a problem with Latinos north of the border, period.

Check out signs at Tea Party rallies: “SEAL OUR BORDERS,” “Go Trash Your Father’s Crappy Country. Don’t Trash My Father’s Great Country! God Bless America/Damn Obama” and “America Help Us Boycott Mexico/Respect Are-[sic]Country/Speak English,” and “Make English America’s offical [sic] Language” are pretty typical (So are the misspellings.).

Better yet, watch the videos.

It’s funny that the Republicans and the GOP-tilting Tea Party white folks who yell and wave “I want my country back!” signs don’t see the irony in their protestations. Illegal immigrants – some of the Tea Bagger ancestors — started this country. The Indians didn’t invite the Europeans over.

And I wonder what the Tea Baggers would think if Native Americans started showing up at Tea Party rallies with their own “I want my country back!” signs.

This just in: Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, has made the call for hearings on the 14th Amendment bipartisan. “…I agree with Senator McConnell,” he wrote on The Huffington Post. “We absolutely should hold hearings as soon as possible to discuss whether we should amend the U.S. Constitution to make newborns deportable. We need a high-level national discussion in both Houses of Congress on the issue of whether to station federal ICE agents in every maternity ward and delivery room right between the OB-GYN and the expectant father.

“….While we are at it, I think we should subpoena prominent Republicans like Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and former Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico to explain how they have ruined our country with their automatic U.S. citizenship. Under at least some of the legislative proposals supported by the Republicans, neither one would be citizens because one or more of their parents were not permanent legal residents of the U.S. at the time of their birth.

“Let’s get Olympic Gold Medalist Henry Cejudo and NASA Astronaut Jose ‘Astro Jose’ Hernandez on the witness stand to defend all that they have robbed from the United States by usurping U.S. citizenship. At long last, the GOP has come up with the legislative strategy to guarantee that no man or woman can rise from humble origins, with a father who is legally present on a student visa, to sit in the Oval Office as President of the United States .

“I really want to hear the Republican argument. Let’s hear why the 14th Amendment, which guarantees citizenship and equal protection under the law regardless of the race or nationality of your parents, is a law whose time has come and gone. Please explain to the American people how the 14th amendment that resolved the issue of African-American citizenship after emancipation and was the critical underpinning of the civil rights movement in the United States, ought to be cast off now because the parchment paper it is written on has grown yellow and curled. Just the expressions on the faces of my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus during such a hearing would make the whole exercise worth it to me.

“….I think the Senate and the House ought to call immediate hearings as soon as we reconvene in September to put the Republican’s immigration proposals up against Democratic ones and see which side is serious about rules, enforcement, legality and cracking down on employers. Which side is for immigrants taking personal responsibility and getting right with the law and which side is just blowing smoke in an election year.”

Berry Craig


  1. Annette says

    Graham says his targets are undocumented immigrants and their offspring. He means Latinos, of course. I’d bet the senator is cool with automatic citizenship for the babes of paperless white Canadians born on this side of the border.

    This is a classic response to people who believe we should limit immigration to those who abide by the rules. If you’re against open borders, if you believe there should be restrictions on who gets to come to our country and use our resources, then you must be racist.
    This is why the left wing can’t get anything done. Juvenile name-calling instead of an honest conversation about the validity of restricting immigration. Liberals feel sorry for people in other countries, so they think it’s a great solution for all those people to just come here and make our country look like theirs (economically speaking, of course). Mexico has a class system where the very few super rich “Masters of the Universe” ride on the backs of the millions of poor people desperately trying to survive while working for a pittance. That’s what our country would look like if we opened the borders. By even allowing illegal immigration, we’re supporting those rich thieves by cleaning up the mess they make in their own countries.

    Has it occurred to you that it’s not fair to our Hispanic immigrants when illegal aliens steal our resources?

    Finally, you can always find some examples on both side of a debate:

    Let’s get Olympic Gold Medalist Henry Cejudo and NASA Astronaut Jose ‘Astro Jose’ Hernandez on the witness stand to defend all that they have robbed from the United States by usurping U.S. Citizenship…

    Obviously those people have not robbed us, they’ve added to our nations great heritage. But the millions of children of illegal aliens absolutely DO rob us, because their parents can break the law, sneak over the border, have a baby, and viola! Their instant citizen kid will be their ticket to jump to the head of the immigration line ahead of those who abide by the rules and wait their turn for citizenship. Even if their parents never worked in our country, the babies claiming citizenship via the Fourteenth Amendment can access all the US social service programs that US taxpayers fund, including welfare, foster care, Section 8 housing subsidies, and Social Security. (Even if their parents never paid a dime into the Social Security system, children of illegal aliens can receive SS benefits for their whole life.)

    BTW, no one wants to get rid of the entire Fourteenth Amendment. It’s got a lot more in it besides instant citizenship for the children of lawbreakers. All we need to do is eliminate the part that acts as an enticement for women to come here either legally or illegally to give birth. Birthright citizenship is just another way foreigners can jump ahead of the immigration line because all those babies and kids are automatically a priority over potential adult workers who could come here and actually help our country instead of just cost us money. And each one of those “instant citizens” can sponsor the immigration of all of their family members, helping them jump ahead of other potential immigrants on the waiting list. Birthright citizenship and amnesty for illegal immigration is simply not fair to those immigrants who abided by the laws, nor is it fair to those who are still waiting to come here.
    The left needs to start being honest about this issue and stop acting like you’re racist if you want to protect our country by preventing unlimited immigration.

  2. says

    Actually the middle class members of the RepubliKLAN party dislike Mestizos.

    If these idiot klanservatives ever saw the white skinned Bronson Arroyo who pitches for the Cinncinatti Reds, they would never recognize his Spanish heritage until they heard his name.

    No these idiot klanservatives hate brown skinned Spanish people North of the border.

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