We may not be Mayberry any more, but the sun keeps coming up every morning. Right here in the heart of the Confederacy. The South survived the change.
Now we're faced with another change -- a demographic shift of historic proportions.
I saw signs of this change years ago, when I took my son to the Outer Banks for our first North Carolina vacation. We stopped for gas in one of those classically Southern towns east of Rocky Mount, where tobacco plants hug the two-lane on the way to the beach. As I leaned against the car watching 99-cent gas fill the tank, I noticed a group of Latinos walking together across the street. Then I saw another group coming up a side street. Then a car of Latinos pulled up to the pump beside me.
"Toto," I said, "this doesn't look like North Carolina anymore."
Mind you, this was 1996. Which is to say that today's front-page stories about illegal immigration are documenting a change that has already taken place.
Bank of America's move to offer credit cards to folks without Social Security numbers isn't driven by a concern for social justice, or by some leftist plot to destroy this country. It's simply good business -- a practical move to deal with the reality on the ground.
Progress: Managing change
As a community, we can deny that reality. We can erect fences on the border, ban the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish, claim that illegal immigrants are taking over the country. This is throwing stones into the Catawba River to try to dam the flow.
That flow is a globalized economy. We like it when we can get our TVs cheap, when we can buy beer from around the world at Harris Teeter, when we send Valentine's Day flowers that come from South America. Most of us participate eagerly in that part of the change.
But that change, along with our Sony flat-screens and Bass Ale and long-stemmed roses, brings an evolving workforce. The question no longer is whether we stop that change or not. The question is how we will manage it. If we manage that change to benefit all North Carolinians, we'll call it progress.
So yeah, Mayberry is gone. Wishing for it to come back is wishing for Pillowtex to reopen. Is it the end of civilization?
Only if our response is uncivilized.''
The last sentence is very telling: opposing immigration is 'uncivilized' according to the writer, Mike Warner, who is apparently the self-appointed arbiter of such matters.
Mr. Warner, let me tell you what is 'uncivilized', since we are being openly judgmental here. (Hey, if you liberals who constantly denounce 'judgmentalism' can indulge in it, then so can I, without apology. Conservatives are vilified for making judgments, while liberals do so with impunity. So I'll take advantage of being labeled judgmental, and judge you, Mike, and all apologists for wide-open borders and willy-nilly change.)
'Uncivilized'? What I call 'uncivilized', first of all, involves masses of people invading a neighboring country in a stealthy, sneaky manner. Uncivilized means not only sneaking into another country like a common thief, then brazenly demanding things: loudly demanding the right to stay, in defiance of the laws of the land and of that land's rightful occupants. That's uncivilized. Uncivilized is demanding all the benefits which accrue to the rightful citizens and taxpayers of that country you have invaded and squatted in. Uncivilized is lying, stealing others' identities, defrauding with those stolen identities. Uncivilized is availing oneself of 'free' medical care in emergency rooms to the extent of bankrupting hundreds of hospitals in border states. Uncivilized is driving drunk, in defiance of more laws, and killing many Americans, injuring and maiming many others. Uncivilized is committing many crimes of violence in the country you have illegally entered. Uncivilized is making your hosts speak your language, while refusing to learn theirs. Uncivilized is spreading many exotic (and unnecessary, because preventable by civilized hygiene) diseases in the country you are illegally occupying. Uncivilized is loudly demanding your 'rights' from the very people you denounce and disdain.
I could continue, but I think I ought to point out some civilized attributes with which to contrast the uncivilized ones. Civilized peoples (and societies) do not passively allow far-reaching changes to overthrow what they have so carefully and diligently built and defended for centuries. Only uncivilized societies are passive and resigned to sitting inert and letting change wash over them. Warner and other liberals counsel passivity and resignation.
Such qualities are not historically characteristic of the West. In fact, what has set the West apart from the non-Western nations is that they/we are actors rather than acted upon, historically. The non-Western countries in many cases had an attitude of passivity, and were thus transformed without their active participation. There is a Hindu saying that it is easier to straighten out the crooked tail of a dog than to change the world. Often Eastern religions counseled this kind of resignation, whereas the people of the West set about trying to improve things. This is not to say that every effort at improvement was successful; sometimes Westerners overreached and sometimes there were unintended consequences. But whatever their shortcomings, Western peoples saw themselves as actors, not as passive pawns in somebody else's game. Now, modern liberals preach the inevitability of certain trends, like the all-powerful Globalization, and the implication is always that it is a force of nature; it is predestined, and to resist it is foolish and backward. Of course, with this magic Globalization comes mass movement of peoples; we can't expect to remain isolated, can we? After all, it's just one big global village, and We Are All One People. Who are we to fight the unstoppable forces of Nature, which demands that all barriers be dropped? Who are we to fight the tide of mass immigration? After all, the wretched of the earth are entitled to their fair share of our prosperity. So we cannot stop this tide, any more than King Canute could order the waves to retreat. So say the liberals among us.
As I've said before, when people pronounce the inevitability of the transformation of our country, they are telling us that we are really no more than insignificant ants in this far-reaching scenario, which is beyond our control. We are in essence the rape victim, being told to 'lie back and enjoy it, if you can't stop it.' And further, Warner does not just say that the change is inevitable, but that it is already an accomplished fact. So there. Give in and give up, is the message.
Interestingly, here is somebody else who believes in the inevitability of mass immigration:
Mr Gaddafi told ministers gathered for a conference on migration from Africa to the EU that resisting migration "is like rowing against the stream".
[...]He told the delegates in Tripoli that migration had complex historical and social roots and was a force of nature that could not easily be ignored.''
Hmm. He even uses similar metaphors: 'rowing against the stream' vs. 'throwing stones in the Catawba River to try to dam the flow.'
Regardless of who is saying it, this is a message meant to discourage action, and to encourage resignation.
How is this message of helplessness and hopelessness, this gospel of submission, consistent with all our deepest beliefs as Americans? Our traditional beliefs include the sovereignty of the people, the right of the majority to determine the fate of our nation. And yet we are supposed to meekly accept that we no longer have a say in the fate of our country, or its future? That we no longer have any right to say who enters our country, our national home, and who is allowed to stay here?
Mike Warner, and all others like him, are solidly outside the American tradition. He is preaching that America is no longer a Republic in which we, the People, are sovereign. He is saying that millions of Mexicans, El Salvadoreans, and whoever crosses our border in the dead of night, has more of a vote, more of a voice, than we do. He is saying that they, the immigrants, alone can determine the makeup of our country. They self-select, and we don't even have a veto, the right to say, no; you cannot enter or stay here. Even our 'government' has not exercised the right to keep the illegals out, giving them, the invaders, the final say in who is allowed here.
In effect, Warner is saying 'hey, it isn't your country anymore, so get used to the changes, because you can't do a thing about it.'
A more anti-American message could scarcely be conceived.
Civilized people do not submit readily to chaos, which is what our open borders and our promiscuous immigration policy amount to. Chaos and anarchy cannot stand in a civilized country. No; the 'civilized' response is to assume control of our country and our future as a people, by enforcing our laws, and reasserting our rights.
Civilized people would not welcome millions of people from one of the most chaotic, crime-ridden, corrupt parts of the world, to enter and stay.
The 'uncivilized' response is actually the response that our government is offering now; our government is passive and inert in the face of an invasion, and history has shown us what happens when change is allowed to run unchecked, out-of-control. Only an effete, decadent society responds as our present government is doing.
Shades of ancient Rome before the fall; the analogy has been made many times, and with justification.
Warner in his article gives some details about his family history, indicating that he is a non-Southerner, and a Catholic. Between the lines, I very much sense that he is not friendly to traditional Southern culture, probably from a religious viewpoint, as he makes reference to the small numbers of Catholics in the old South. He seems to glory in the changes to the traditional South. I would wager that he identifies more strongly with the immigrants because they share his religion. And being a Yankee, I think he is just as glad to see the traditional South, which he likens to the fictitious Mayberry, disappear. The traditional South was too Anglo-Celtic, too Protestant, too homogeneous, for people like Warner. So the new Hispanicized South (which will really be the North of Latin America, not the Southern U.S.) suits him just fine.
As a liberal, he probably puts immigrants on a pedestal as being humble, colorful, authentic people, noble savages of a sort, far superior to the redneck old stock people.
And why is it almost always a certainty that descendants of later-wave immigrants identify with immigrants more than they do with old-stock Americans? Maybe that should give us pause about the assimilability of some of the later immigrants, and maybe we should have been more exclusive in our policies, not less.
But the South is not Warner's to give away; he doesn't speak for the real people of the South. The South for a long time was the area least touched by immigration. For that reason, partly, a distinct and vigorous regional culture developed there, without the disrupting influences of mass influxes of immigrants. To me, the South represented the last of a strongly American way of life, and this is now undermined by the ravages of mass immigration.
Maybe Mike Warner is happy to bid farewell to Mayberry, and all it symbolizes. Mayberry, it's true, was a fictitious place, and it was never a completely faithful image of a small Southern town, but it did capture something that people across the country could relate to. It was emblematic of all that was good, decent, honest, and worth preserving about small-town America. And most of us, unlike the elitist liberals, are not happy to see Mayberry vanish, to be replaced by a polyglot, balkanized, crime-ridden America, where people neither know nor trust their neighbors. Robert Putnam's study showed how diversity fostered distrust. The homogeneity, the commonality that the liberals despise -- or fear, actually -- was the cement, the bond that held people together, just as in the fictitious Mayberry. If we throw away the common culture in favor of the false gods of diversity, we are losing the America we knew and loved, in favor of what? In favor of some yet-to-be revealed Babel, full of cheap, shoddy goods, strip malls, rising crime, and increasing division, along racial and ethnic lines as well as class lines. Warner and the immigration cheerleaders may get their anti-Mayberry, but the rest of us will have lost something that can never be restored.