History lesson

I don’t normally discuss politics on my blog, but an acquaintance has picked up an unfortunate habit of copying me in on his mass distribution list for snotty diatribes denigrating Mexican immigrants, and his most recent offering touched on one of my pet peeves.

Without getting into a long, complicated, and potentially divisive discussion about immigration laws, I want to point out a historical fact that seems to escape most of the anti-immigration crowd:

English is not this country’s native language.

Nothing irritates me any faster than to hear somebody start beating the “welcome to America — now speak English” drum.

English is no more native to this country than Spanish — and both languages found their way to North America through European immigrants who certainly didn’t have green cards.

Anybody who’s worried about immigrants from some other country coming in and mucking up the status quo would do well to remember that if such a thing happened, it certainly wouldn’t be unprecedented. I’ve yet to meet anyone who can explain to me why it was OK for Europeans to come in with guns and smallpox and take over an entire continent, brutalizing its inhabitants, stealing their land, and forcing them to speak a language that was not their own, but it’s not OK for Mexican immigrants to come to the United States with empty hands and ask for nothing more than a job — and perhaps a little patience with the fact that they are speaking a language that was imposed on their country by one group of European settlers, while we are speaking a language that was imposed on our country by a different group of European settlers.

Unless you are a full-blooded American Indian, at least some of your ancestors were immigrants who did NOT speak the native language when they came to this country. 

Welcome to America. Now speak Cherokee.


New rules

This isn’t the world’s most exciting blog post, but one function of a blog is to serve as a substitute for mass e-mailings. With that in mind, I would like to make a brief announcement concerning my e-mail habits:

Things have been nuts around here for the past five months or so. They are about to get nuttier.

To preserve my own sanity and ensure that I have time to fulfill all my responsibilities and commitments at work, at home, and in my personal life, I am going to be limiting the amount of time I spend online, particularly where e-mail is concerned. Specifically, I am going to set aside 30 minutes a day to check and reply to e-mail. To make the most of that time, I am no longer replying to messages that do not require a response. I am no longer mediating disputes. I am no longer entertaining requests for help doing things that the sender could do himself with minimal effort. And I am no longer reading messages that start with “Fw:Fw:Fw:Fw.”

Please do not take this personally. I am not upset with anyone. I am just busy, and I am trying to prioritize my schedule, exercise a little self-discipline, and give my full attention to those matters that need — and deserve — it.

Thank you in advance for your understanding.