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The Lords of Ireland

When the members of the clans McGlone and McCrystal disembarked in New York in the middle 1870s, they strode through the front door like Irish emperors.

They had come packed jowl to flank in the belly of a sailing steamer. They carried their pride inside them, clutched to their souls, for they all had come from lives they would never seek to reprise and from which escape seemed the only sane course.

They chose that particular method of entry because swimming from Ireland would have been far less efficient and they were more or less legal.

That is, they had papers from Victoria's government not only granting, but pretty much catapulting, their exit from The Sod.

American laws and regulations had no apparent argument against it.

And so they were here.

Eventually, they met with the Rutters of southern Indiana and previously the shores of Maryland and before that, the burgs of southern Germany

Thence, through many begettings, to me. My family begat a lot.

I am proud that not a man or woman among them laid claim to airs or honors above their station.

The only real problems started in this country when we began to think of ourselves as something other than fugitive but honorable riffraff.

The only person of any public note in either family was a long ago Rutter apprehended for assuming possession of a fine horse for which he had no bill of sale. It happened, my family informed me, late in the night, as was often the case when he carried out his equine adoptions.

But it was OK after brief but intense negotiations. They hung him for it.

This preamble merely states my pedigree as a great-great-grandson of immigrants who mostly played by the rules and produced sons and daughters who did likewise.

The pedigree gives all of us with it some degree of latitude about the current immigration debate.

It's a nasty piece of business couched in legalisms and high-talking hooey.

If I were an immigrant who skittered over the border from Mexico, I'd be mighty peeved that this country is not nearly as hospitable to immigrants as its self-image portrays. Our spin seems better than our reality.

But the truth is, America's image as a beacon of welcome is mostly public relations blarney cooked up by generations of immigrant descendants who don't remember much of what their great-greats experienced.

The mythmakers don't remember the misery that drove immigrants here or the rude indifference and hostility that often greeted the arrivals. Most of what we know about immigrant life - as with the Wild West - comes from movies, and not much of it is true.

America gave them a chance, and did that with grudging reluctance.

So, the first lesson for all 11 million Spanish-speaking illegal immigrants is that the nation of your dreams is not mistreating you more than it has most previous arrivals. It mistreats almost everyone this way in the beginning.

And don't feel so guilty violating immigration law, though I'm certainly not encouraging lawlessness.

American law tends to punish those most easily caught - and those with no money. That's you.

Washington hasn't figured out how to manage a porous border, but that's not your problem to bear. It's ours to fix.

My great-great-greats had barely enough for a steamer ticket. But if the only path to a new life had been across a muddy river near El Paso without proper papers, they still would have come.

And stood like emperors after the swim.

-

Previously by David Rutter:
* Blago's Kingdom For A Lawyer.
* Blago's Cursing Gets An "F".
* The Political Dictionary.
* The Super Bowl's Five Worst Moments.
* Roland's Racial Door Prize.
* Santo's Sad Saga.



Permalink

Posted on March 17, 2009


MUSIC - School Of Rock Realizes How White It Is.
TV - A Plea To Matt Nagy.
POLITICS - Social Media Platforms Remove War Crimes Evidence.
SPORTS - 100 Choices Better Than La Russa.

BOOKS - Maps For Migrants And Ghosts.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Doing Philosophy At UIC.


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