So far I've been able to stay on the perimeter of the debate surrounding this whole immigration bill debaucle. I'm not a particular fan of the legislation as proposed, and I hope it goes down in flames (figuratively speaking, of course). At the same time, I have a small bone to pick with the entire community of people who feel that disrupting life in this country is somehow justified by their opposition to this bill.
Here's the bottom line, folks. If you choose to live in this country, for whatever reason, you choose to become Americans. It's that simple. I know there's this whole "cultural identity" thing that sociologists want everyone to cling to, but we're not asking you to abandon your culture. If you really want to live in this country, what we're asking you to do is become Americans. At least if you choose to stay here.
Now, you can be Latino; you can be African; you can be Hindi or even Moslem. But if you want to be a citizen, that makes you an American by definition. If you don't want to be an American, or if you don't want to be identified as an American, then get used to the idea that you are temporary.
We make people who want to become citizens pass a test. We ask them a few relatively simple questions (unless, of course, you're a high school student in this country, in which case it's not so simple), then ask them to take an oath. We even encourage them to (gasp!) learn English. If you're not willing to do that, you are temporary.
Many of you have ancestors who sacrificed everything they had to live in this country and give people like you a chance at a better life. Perhaps the work they found was menial, but many of them felt that it was at least better than what they faced "back home." If you don't appreciate that sentiment, you are temporary.
If you are temporary and have decided to remain so, you really have no say in how this country is run. Only voters have that say and that right. Voters can only be citizens of this country. Period.
So, forgive those of us who had ancestors who decided to come to this country and make it their own. If they came a little late to the party, they at least decided at some point to cherish the freedoms that come with citizenship. They had trials, to be sure, and many of them faced unspeakable hardships in accepting this citizenship, but they still cherished it. The moment they decided to be permanent citizens, they adopted the moniker of "American." And they did so with pride. We, too, feel that pride.
Protest, if you must. Voice your displeasure, or stamp your feet and throw a tantrum. But don't for a moment expect me to be sympathetic if you decide that my patriotism is in any way inconvenient to you. That just defines you as temporary.
UPDATE: Apparently we misinterpret their intent. I am less than convinced.
"Nobody gets upset with the Irish on St. Patrick's Day," said Gabriela Lemus, director of policy and legislation at the Washington, D.C.- based League of United Latin American Citizens, the group that organized most of the recent protests and is heading the dozens of marches and rallies scheduled across the nation Monday.
Yes, but the Irish aren't shutting down major commerce centers with their temper tantrums. Nor are they insulting the American flag on St. Paddy's Day.
Expressing your displeasure is one thing. Angering your "fellow citizens" isn't helping your cause.