Why are they so angry?

JGFitzgerald -- April 5th, 2007

Why are these people so angry?

Obviously some of them think they’re losing jobs to immigrants. No reason to think so, but that doesn’t keep them from believing it. Some think immigrants are creating a crime wave, although any Latino criminal element is probably smaller than the native one and committing the same crimes. Some think too many signs in Spanish corrupt our language, although a language that uses a Yiddish word for meddle and a French phrase for putting ice cream on pie can only claim so much purity to begin with.

But there are those who seem even more angry. Those are the ones whose anger is not at the immigrants, but at those of us who don’t share a passionate, virulent anger about the issue of immigration.

Granted, part of this is the nature of blogs. Clothed in their precious anonymity, many bloggers compose their comments with all the maturity of a middle schooler scrawling graffiti on a bathroom wall. But in the case of immigration, people put their names on hateful, angry screeds aimed not at immigrants, but at any American who dares to disagree.

Surely some of them understand the demagogic principle that anger and hate get more people to the polls than commom sense. But others are free agents who accuse anyone who doesn’t fear Latino immigration of being stupid, ostrich-like, saggy-baggy liberals who are in for a rude awakening. Why is there no room for disagreement or even agnosticism in this topic?

I can foresee many responses to this post, beginning with the first America-Firster who sets out to prove immigrants are taking jobs. But I wonder how many replies there will be to the core question, and whether those replies will come from the people exhibiting the behaviour I wonder about.
What are these people so angry about, and what is it about their position that causes them to demonize or question the intelligence of those who don’t agree with them?

To paraphrase Tennyson, the world wonders.

40 Responses to “Why are they so angry?”

  1. Mountain says:

    You’ve voiced my feelings exactly. Thank you for putting this out there so elequently. I, too, am curious to hear the answers…

  2. finnegan says:

    When you consider that American history as cyclical, and look at laws like the 1924 Immigration Act which was aimed at southern Europeans, it’s really no surprise that this sentiment is prevalent today. Conceivably 100 years from now, Americans of Latino descent will be complaining about the influx of Africans or the newest wave of Asian immigrants.

    As far as speaking English is concerned, if you look at the ancestral makeup of the US, and base language on majority, the official language of the US should probably be German (15.2 percent German vs 8.7 percent English descent).

    Besides, the US has no official language.

  3. zen says:

    I would venture the idea that this anger comes from fear. As we know, perception is reality. So no matter what statistics or facts are involved, fear will trump reason everytime.
    I think you touch on an important point that manipulating this fear can be a useful political tool. Those who would generalize and use absolutes against even a civil disagreement on the issue, appear the most dangerous of all. It’s so counter-productive—talking louder and shouting down different views does nothing to support one’s cause.

  4. writergirl says:

    I agree with you Zen. I think most of the “bad” in our society today is largely born of fear.

  5. zen says:

    Comic relief?
    Language of the ghetto?

  6. Finnegan, Zen…so what’s your point with the videos? You disagree with Newt? And what is your point with the Bush clip? “Creepier”? Have either of you ever served in the military? I’m betting I know the answer to that question.

  7. JGFitzgerald says:

    It’s an interesting measure of accomplishment, and of the attainment of knowledge and wisdom, but I don’t need to have served in a military or paramilitary organization to know that Cheney hiding like a puppet-master in the bushes is creepy, or that Cheney and Bush, who dodged the draft in time of war, are blaming a bill passed two weeks ago for a practice of overtaxing the military that’s been going on for four years.

    As to Newt shooting off his mouth and then back-pedaling when he counts the votes — that’s just funny.

  8. I wanted to know what their point was. They just posted the clips and made no intelligible comments. Guess it’s just Liberal sarcasm. So, I take it that Joe has never served our country? Anyone else?

  9. Gxeremio says:

    Christa, have you ever served in the military? Is a military background what makes a comment worthy of respect or not? Have you ever been an immigrant?

    What qualifies someone to comment or have an opinion? I think having solid information and a reasoned worldview are the key elements, not having a resume that includes certain elements. I wonder if it would matter to you if an anti-immigrant, pro-Bush poster had never been in the military. Would that make their opinion less trustworthy in your eyes? Or is your rhetorical question just a way to dismiss someone’s opinions without interacting with them too deeply?

    Oh, and what does the military have to do with this thread on immigration anyway?

  10. What did Zen’s or Finnegan’s comments have to do with immigration? I was merely asking questions about their point.Don’t be so defensive Gxeremio. I asked the military question out of curiosity. Some of you have much different views than I do on the war. And men who have not been in the military have a more critical view of the war on terror. I am new here, so I may ask some questions so that I can get a clearer view. And I would never dismiss someones views. I respect all views. And no, I have never served. My father and grandfather did and my son is a Marine. And..aren’t we all immigrants in the US?

  11. I meant to say what did Zen’s clip have to do with immigration, sorry. Long week.

  12. doubletree dan says:

    Christa, that is an opinion that will get you lots of flack here These young “American” writers like to tell you that all is well and things in this world should be more peaceful, but us in reality know what is what. Having served during peacetime, I am not ever going to NOT support the troops. That is something else that is lacking here.
    The organization globalgoodneighbor.com might as well been formed here. We, as a country are in big trouble when we think we can go back in time to a peacefull existance in the world. If you sit back and beleive the youth of this bard, then you are willing to die just like the minions that sit on their hands and protest without the knowledge of what is protecting us,

    Just wait and see how they attack this rant as well.

    While the majority of the bloggers here sleep in their comfy little beds, an American soldier faces another day of non-respect.

  13. JGFitzgerald says:

    Am I to take that as an apology, Christa?

  14. I don’t think I said anything to warrent an apology, did I? If I offended you, it was not my intention….

  15. JGFitzgerald says:

    It’s I who owe you an apology. Irony is lost on some people, and I should not visit it upon them so lightly.

    By the way, I take it you have never served your city?

    (Just trying to get things going again.)

  16. Dan,
    The more I am on these blogs….and like I said, this is new to me….the more fearful I become. I guess it was the point someone was trying to make. Yes, I live in fear for our country, my children and my grandson. 911 was not the beginning of terror, but an eye opener….supposedly. How can anyone believe that our nation will ever be able safe again?

  17. Joe,
    I have not served the city….except that I pay a hell of a lot of taxes!! I would never run for a public office in this town. Don’t get me wrong…I love it here, I just don’t want to be publicly humiliated and have my life flashed before everyones eyes. I have made some bad choices in my life….then I grew up. :)

  18. I should really be in bed, but I wanted to actually comment on the original post of immigration. Sharon Cox was on here I believe not long ago… I read her comments and was making the sign of the cross at the computer. This woman is angry, no doubt. She made some good points…points that would have been taken better had her anger not been so evident. I don’t have a real problem with LEGAL immigration. I know that most Mexicans think they have no other choice than to cross that border illegally. If I were a Mexican and I had a family to feed….would I cross that border illegally to try and make a better life for them. damn right I would. I have had many dealing with Hispanics in my business. Weddings, Quiencineros, passports. What I have seen is that MOST, not all, are good hard working people that love their families and their church. They want very much to be accepted by us, yet we are so blinded that they might take something from us. I say let the ones that are here, stay here and GET legal.let them pay taxes and do the jobs that us lazy Americans won’t do. Then keep the border closed like Cananda. If you have children…look into their little eyes and tell me you would not break the law to feed them. I would. And that’sall I have to say about that.

  19. republitarian says:

    Christa, you will soon realize, if you haven’t already, that it is pointless to try to argue with these “well-intentioned poeple”………

  20. Marci says:

    I just need to respond to the “lazy Americans” comment. It just makes my blood boil when I hear that. Americans can’t afford to take on the minimum wage jobs that illegals will take. Americans don’t sneak 10 to 15 members of their families into one apartment and split all the bills evenly. There are fire codes against it and “most” Americans won’t risk it. And yes, I have experienced this first hand. Also, we lazy Americans feel the need to provide health insurance for our families through payroll deductions. The illegals just go to the ER and never pay their bills or they use free health care facilities. Auto insurance is another bill we pay that illegals don’t bother with. I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve heard from that have been involved in an accident with a Spanish speaking individual who not only had no insurance but they also had no license.

    You could also add childcare into the equation. With everyone living together, there’s always someone home to watch the kids. And speaking of the kids. I get tired of having to send extra school supplies with my child because the illegals don’t/won’t contribute to the classroom.

    So, take the minimum wage, deduct FICA, FED, STATE, SS, Health Insurance, 401K, rent/house payment, electric, phone, car insurance, copay on medical office visits, personal property taxes, decals, stickers, and childcare and see what’s left.

    I’m sure there are some people out there who just don’t want to work, but please don’t justify illegals in our country by saying that Americans are lazy. Uneducated or unskilled maybe.

    But illegal is still illegal. If you will break the law getting into this country, what’s to stop you from breaking the law once you’re in our country?

  21. Gxeremio says:

    Christa, thanks for bringing us back on topic. Your thoughts are really interesting and certainly understandable. I think an amnesty may be the only way to move forward, painful though it would be.

    Dan, there is a HUGE difference between respecting and loving U.S. soldiers (many of my family and friends among them) and thinking we have to support every conflict or war our government wants to become involved in. We can and should strive for a peaceful world, with strong moral leadership from our country. Don’t let fear blind you to solutions and long-range planning.

    Republitarian, if you have a factual point to make, please do. I doubt any of us who already have formed our opinions are going to be swayed by a blog post, but we can at least present new information and let facts guide our debate. It’s also helpful for the “agnostics” among us to hear from several sides of the issues. I am glad that hburgnews has contributors and commenters from across the political spectrum.

  22. Gxeremio says:

    Marci, you raise a good point about the need for a higher minimum wage. Rising housing costs, auto insurance, child care, and the most expensive health care system in the world take their toll on low wage earners. So I agree with you when you say Americans can’t afford to take low-wage jobs – though I wonder what those Americans you say would take low-wage jobs but can’t are currently doing for work. Are they mooching off of welfare (which by the way is not available to undocumented immigrants)? Also good to remember that many jobs commonly filled by undocumented workers, such as construction and in the poultry industry, are not minimum-wage jobs but pay $8-$12 or more an hour. Still low-wage, but not minimum wage.

    I disagree with the common belief that undocumented workers don’t pay taxes, Social Security, or Medicare. Check out this link.

    Families of undocumented workers have the same strains as other low-income families.

    As for the “illegal is illegal” comment – I learned recently that for many unskilled workers, there actually is no legal way to enter the US. Visas simply are NOT granted to poor, unskilled workers. So yes, they break the law coming in but they have no other option, and I don’t think that crime rates among undocumented workers are disproportionate to any other groups in their socioeconomic class. I would love to see some data on this.

  23. Marci says:

    I guess I wasn’t very clear in my previous post, but I do realize that everyone is subject to tax deductions.

    And to clarify the crime issue, I’m speaking of the illegal entry, overcrowding of their residence, not carrying auto insurance, not having a driver’s license, and falsifying documents to gain citizenship. At the risk of sounding heartless, if you can’t get a Visa, don’t come here. If I apply for a VISA credit card and get denied, I don’t steal one from someone else.

    I also think people need to become more informed about the welfare system. If you don’t have a job, you have to find one. If you can’t find a job, you have to take classes to get the skills to get a job or your benefits are cut off. In my opinion, the only people who really don’t want to work are the ones on the street and living in shelters. They can go to Social Services and get help to get them back on their feet. I believe that the job skills training classes are free.

    I also believe that the employers have a lot to do with Americans not getting the jobs that the illegals get. I’ve heard an employer admit that he could hire an immigrant cheaper than he can an American. And isn’t there some kind of tax break for a company that hires an immigrant??? There are also the employers who will pay cash. No paper trail.

    As for a higher minimum wage, I’m against that also. It’s a vicious cycle. Raise minimum wage, the cost of living goes up and we’re right back in the same situation.

    And thanks for not “yelling” at me or calling me names!!! I’ve read several posts that sounded pretty heated. I hope Christa knows that I wasn’t “yelling” at her.

  24. Daytonres says:

    I think Marci unintentionally proved the “lazy American” theory. Having 15 people in one apartment as you put it, is the means to an end. Those that come here legally and illegally are here for a better life and somehow I think four to five people to a bedroom isn’t all that much better than what they had before. What it is however is a way to eventually build a better life. Lots of “American” young people get roommates so that they can save up cash and get a place of their own…this is just to the extreme. It’s to the extreme because the situation calls for such measures to be taken. What you will find is that very few people that grew up in the US will go backwards so they can go forward. Perhaps American’s are not lazy, they just lack foresight.

    There was a time in my life that I had three jobs, none that paid particularly well. The hours were terrible and I was still only barely able to pay the bills. I guess that I could have just had one job and lived off food stamps and other similar programs, but to me that didn’t seem like the right thing to do. Who knew that I was doing things the “Mexican” way and not the “American” way those many years ago.

    I guess much of this is about attitude. Those that were born here feel a sense of entitlement and those that immigrated here feel a sense of opportunity.

    All of that said…I do believe in defending our borders and in a major immigration policy overhaul. However, I do not care for faulty logic being used in any discussion.

  25. Marci, you made great points. And no, I didn’t feel yelled at. I was actually thinking as I went to bed last night that someone was going to use some of the examples that you did. I don’t want to come here to argue…just do as anyone else does…speak my opinion and then move on. Bothers me not in the least that some people don’t like what I have to say. And as faulty logic goes….most of what I see on these blogs from some people…is just that. I take it for what it’s worth.

  26. writergirl says:

    I think Christa made some excellent points. I look into the eyes of my children and know that I would do ANYTHING to feed and protect them. I would even break the law if it meant that they had food on the table. Daytonres also made an excellent point that in that the life that they left and the life that they came to really isn’t that much better. In this area the jobs are pretty good, but when you go closer to the border the jobs are downright dangerous. The conditions in meat packing plants are subhuman. Almost everyone who has ever immigrated here came in search of something better. We all strive to better our lives and that’s what this country was founded on. We need better security, we need reform, but we also need to realize that we’ve created a need for this and we have to reform those areas that need these workers before we’ll see any improvement. I also think that as Christa said, we need to realize that they are people too. Most of them are hard-working and kind. We have these glasses on that see anyone who looks Hispanic as illegal and we have to remember that isn’t always the case.

  27. JGFitzgerald says:

    Have you ever served in the military? That’s the “just-curious” question from someone who admits avoiding public service because of fear of humiliation. I knew people 35 years ago who didn’t want to join the military because they didn’t want to be shot. Guess it’s not the same thing.

    I mention this not to pick on the writer — well, no, that’s a lie — but mostly to point out the extreme nature of immigration conversations. And to review.

    The original question was, Why the anger? And why is that anger directed not just at immigrants and their perceived wrongs, but also at those who don’t fear immigrants and are purely agnostic on the topic? What, other than my liberal glibness and left-wing smugness, have I done to offend those with whom I disagree on the failure of U.S. immigration policy?

    But then, maybe that’s enough.

    My thanks to the writer who consistently attacked those with whom he disagreed for their youth. In his other comments, he exhibited my point without explaining it, but for that moment he called me young. How cool is that?

    I don’t agree with your premise, to the writer who complained that you can’t argue with “these ‘well-intentioned people.'” Is the point here to argue, or to exchange information and ideas? Ever been in a courtroom? (Please, it’s rhetorical!) The part they never show on TV is when the judge is telling the jury that opinion is not fact, that the attorneys are being advocates and not testifying, and all the other logistical details. Opinion is not fact, and with an assumption that scores of people besides the posters are reading any given blog, you’d think there’d be more emphasis on persuasion, and less on interpersonal chit-chat. Instead any group of bloggers becomes like the joke-writers convention where all the jokes are numbered because they’ve heard them so many times before.

    One poor guy yells out, “82,” and everyone just stares at him. “He never could tell a joke,” someone mutters.

    But I digress. Another writer complains of the number (she can’t say how many) of people she knows who’ve been in wrecks with uninsured illegal immigrants. Odd that all these wrecks happen to anti-immigrant types and I’ve not heard of any, but then I don’t get out much. You’d think the Latino underground would tell their uninsured members to only go after smug liberals. Or maybe the wrecks are what made them anti-immigrant. That seems unreasonable to me. I was once injured in a head-on collision with a drunk redneck who was going the wrong way on an exit ramp. That didn’t turn me against rednecks, although I’m not as confident as most drivers about the one-way nature of exit ramps.

    So there’s at least four people whom I’ve re-angered, and to them I say, “82.” Also, “17,” “38,” and “9.” We’ve had all these arguments before.

    But I’d be interested in their, or anyone else’s take on the following questions:

    Why the insistence that the rest of us should not only agree with you, but also be as intense as you, on this issue?

    Why should we be concerned with this issue, which many of us find narrow bordering on trivial, when the increasing level of demand for government services by average Americans, and the continuing crusade against taxes as not just vexing but evil, pushes us every year closer to a crisis worthy of a banana republic?

    Just curious.

  28. writergirl says:

    I wonder if a large amount of the fear and anger that people have is due to the stories that get passed around about the accidents with the uninsured or other similar stories. Are there really that many of these incidents? Or are we playing a grown up game of telephone.

  29. This isn’t about immigration, but it touches on the anger part of this thread.

    Perhaps the best thing about blogs is the conversation that sometimes results.

    It’s imperative, in these polarized times, that people who disagree still TALK and LISTEN to each other, SHARE viewpoints and ASK questions — not for the point of tedious debate, but for the point of understanding. If we don’t understand each other, we can’t work together to come up with solutions that serve the greater good.

    From what I read on other sites, through their blogs Myron and Megan Rhodes (Republitarian and Whackette) have met people from elsewhere in the state who strongly disagree with them on several issues and yet have become their friends. How beautiful is that?

    From reading this blog, I learn that Frank Wilt believes this and Christa Gitchell believes that and, though I don’t know either personally, I wouldn’t hestitate to introduce myself to them on the street and thank them for contributing to the dialogue.

    For years now we have let the media and politicans divide us. Look, I may not agree with Person A about Issue C, but I don’t want to consider that person any lesser than I am and certainly not as my enemy. It is so helpful to continue talking to, and learning from, all kinds of people. Civil conversation lets us realize that hey, there are fellow humans with good intentions on all sides of most issues.

    The angry people Joe writes about, yes, it’s hard to listen to them, no matter what position they take. I agree that most anger is based in fear, and fear can be paralyzing. It’s important that the less angry among us stay in the conversation.

  30. Deona, Well said, thank you
    Joe, I don’t know which people you have angered, but I hope you know one of them was not me. It’s really pretty hard to get me angry about anything, but thanks for trying!

  31. zen says:

    JGF, thanks for bringing the topic back to your point. Of course my commont of what was creepy was off topic, and led to much wondering, again sorry.
    Very well said Deona. Thank you.

    What I’m seeing in terms of the anger around debate seems not limited to the issue of immigration. But looking at the comments above, the generalizations and absolutes paint an very distorted picture. As JGF notes, there are facts and then there are opinions. Pinning the responsibility of crime (or any other problem) on one segment of the community is just plain disingenuous. To project one’s fears and irrational anger to someone that disagrees or doesn’t share the same view is juvenile.

    It reminds me of the times when I’ve been somewhere in public and have some white person make a racial comment, or joke about someone else assuming confidence that because I’m also white, that I’m somehow in on the joke. When I explain that I don’t share the racist viewpoint, sometimes it results in then being attacked myself. Sort of the same mentaility.

  32. finnegan says:

    I echo Deona’s sentiments: thanks to everyone for being civil and respectful here. Online conversations on hot topics can turn into flame wars of misinformation and hate rather quickly, so I’m glad to see this dialog taking place.

    You all are the reason hburgnews somehow ended up on BlogNetNews as the “19th most influential blog in Virginia” this week, based on which blogs are “most powerfully influencing the direction of the Virginia political blogosphere.” It’s gotta be the comments.

  33. I’m glad to see that the state is going to study the crime to immigration ratio. I hope that it sheds light on the issue one way or the other. I, for one, have been subject to crime by undocumented residents that had been deported and then returned just to commit the same crime again and again. That’s just a simple fact. However, does that mean an entire population should be targeted?

    I’d encourage people to go to Fox News and check out Bill O’Reily and Geraldo going at it regarding the issue. It will certainly highlight the anger that exists. Bill may not be popular here but he provides a side that should not be ignored.

    Just my thoughts on an issue that becomes more complex by the day, hour, minute…..

  34. zen says:

    Watch Billo’s head explode here

    The basis of their debate is worthy, but it’s like watching a couple of finger-pointing children scream at each other…which is apparently the Billo/Fox model for framing debates.

  35. finnegan says:

    Good grief, you weren’t kidding. Is that what passes for civil debate these days?

    No thanks.

  36. writergirl says:

    Sad thing is, they both had good points, but you couldn’t hear them.

  37. JGFitzgerald says:

    Somebody tell me the Bill/Geraldo thing was a parody of a Colbert Report skit. Please. I don’t care if it’s true, just tell me anyway. Tell me this was on Comedy Central, or even HBO. Lie to me, and be convincing.

  38. A similar debate happened the next day on “The Junkies” radio prgram out of DC, and they’re not even a political talk-show by any stretch of the imagination. Yet, 3 of the 4 hosts exploded in a way similar to both Rivera and O’Reilly.

    What that proves is that this story out of Virginia Beach leads to a much deeper problem.

    I’m all for legal immigration. I’m a first-born American citizen on my mother’s side, she immigrated to this country from Brazil, she did it the old-fashioned, legal way. Nothing stopped her, or my grandparents, from simply filling out the proper paperwork, coming to America, and making a better life for themselves. This, my friends, was not too long ago…1971, to be exact.

    In fact, one of the things that attracted them to this country, besides the vast opportunities available to make a better life, was the image of unbridled and undaunted patriotism and love for this country.

    I guess that’s why, no matter how much I sympathize with those wanting a better life, I can’t support illegal immigrants…it’s dumping on my own family’s history and legacy, and the legacies left behind by all those families who came through places like Ellis Island, among others.

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