July 3, 2007


The Founding Immigrants (KENNETH C. DAVIS, 7/03/07, NY Times)

A PROMINENT American once said, about immigrants, “Few of their children in the country learn English... The signs in our streets have inscriptions in both languages ... Unless the stream of their importation could be turned they will soon so outnumber us that all the advantages we have will not be able to preserve our language, and even our government will become precarious.”

This sentiment did not emerge from the rancorous debate over the immigration bill defeated last week in the Senate. It was not the lament of some guest of Lou Dobbs or a Republican candidate intent on wooing bedrock conservative votes. Guess again.

Voicing this grievance was Benjamin Franklin. And the language so vexing to him was the German spoken by new arrivals to Pennsylvania in the 1750s, a wave of immigrants whom Franklin viewed as the “most stupid of their nation.”

We all have a tremendous need to believe our racism uniquely justified ands distinct from that of our fathers, but the most notable feature of nativism is its sameness from generation to generation.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 3, 2007 8:11 AM

Hmmm, Franklin then follows up with this:

I say I am not against the Admission of Germans in general, for they have their Virtues, their industry and frugality is exemplary; They are excellent husbandmen and contribute greatly to the improvement of a Country.

The American sense of decency is aptly expressed when we complain about immigration in general but feel obliged to be welcoming towards individual immigrants in particular, as long as they are good people.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at July 3, 2007 9:18 AM

OJ is trying to muddy the waters, a la the rest of the sophicated set. For most of us unwashed "racist wahoos," the issue is merely border security, after which we'd welcome them that'd breed and church their children -- one and all, by the hundred, by the thousands, by the millions and the tens of millions: bring 'em all.

Posted by: Palmcroft at July 3, 2007 1:07 PM

The fact that people have cried "Wolf!" when there were no wolves does not prove there will never be any wolves.

Posted by: PapayaSF at July 3, 2007 2:31 PM

Not related to above; you should comment on this piece:


Posted by: John at July 3, 2007 2:35 PM


No, that's the few. Ask the wahoos if they support just lifting immigration quotas and you'll disabuse yourself of that notion.

Posted by: oj at July 3, 2007 2:45 PM