We have reached the time
of the year when I used to say "Happy holidays" to people I didn't
know, just in case they weren't Christian, but now I say "Merry
Christmas" to everyone even if I know they are atheist, or Jewish,
or, especially, if their religion would require them to be offended.
Hey, Mr. Scrooge and Tiny
Tim: Tell those you meet on Christmas morn, "We must banish the
Spirit of Political Correctness!"
So Merry Christmas,
reader. I have a gift for you, the funniest thing I have ever seen ,
that I hope will make you laugh as it did me.
You know that the Obama
administration wants to bring Syrian refugees into the country and
has promised to thoroughly vet them. So, what questions do
applicants have to answer?
According to various news
outlets, the application paperwork includes questions about
terrorist activity, such as, "Do you seek to engage in terrorist
activity while in the United States, or have you ever engaged in
terrorist activity?" and "Are you a member or representative of a
Seriously. We have
descended from serious news, to satire on ourselves, to the level of
comic books. And, not so funny, a senior State Department official
told CNN on Wednesday that the woman who killed Americans in San
Bernardino was not asked about jihadist leanings during her
interview in Pakistan last year. However, she posted about them on
Facebook, which Homeland Security didn't think it should check.
One other thing that
inspired this column was a segment on WGBH's "Beat the Press" last
Friday, when panelists were trying to understand why Americans are
"freaking out" this year. Trying to be helpful as always, I sent an
email, "People are 'freaked out' because they have finally realized
that our president, the community organizer, is way in over his head
relative to international issues and, therefore, American public
safety; add to this top-down incompetence the latest assault on the
police in general, and who would feel their family is safe?"
The whole happy holiday
(Merry Christmas) truth is, though, that most of us are not
"freaking out." Watching the Thanksgiving Day Macy's parade in New
York, I saw the usual floats, giant balloons, crowds packed into
streets as they were during the Boston Marathon bombing, and yet
people cheering, laughing, holding their kids high to see the
marching bands. We are shopping in stores, not just online: we are
planning to fly or take a train. I think we are also aware that some
public safety people in our government have been doing their job
since 9/11, or there would have been many more attacks on American
soil by now.
Most of us have always
known that life is dangerous, that so much can go wrong, and yet we
are resilient. Many of us enjoy our lives, which is one reason the
terrorists hate us; they have nothing to enjoy but their plans to
establish some caliphate thing, which I can't understand because
this is, after all, the 21st century, not the 7th, and we live in a
country with a Constitution that includes a First Amendment that
lets us all to worship, or not, as we please. Merry Christmas!
On the presidential
candidate front, I have a new issue inspired by Donald Trump
attacking Ted Cruz in Iowa for not supporting ethanol subsidies, to
use land to grow corn that runs cars instead of feeding people, many
of them poor. Ethanol fuel: one of the dumbest ideas our
policy-makers have had in a world of dumb ideas. So bravo to Cruz
for not pandering to Iowa, and shame on Trump. I am going to "vet"
some more candidates on this issue before I decide.
But this does not detract
from my interest in the question of the day: Are Trump and his
supporters "deranged, xenophobic, un-American racists" for wanting
to keep all Muslims from coming into the U.S. until we have a better
understanding of what is going on? Of course, as usual, Trump didn't
think it through, relative to Muslim NATO allies like the Turks, and
some heads of state and, I suppose, some innocent refugees who can
honestly answer no to the above silly questions and are properly
But our president lectures
us, "This is not who we are" and it made me think, who are we now,
exactly? Making me ask, what if we broadened the issue to say, le's
have a hold on all immigration to the United States until we have a
serious discussion about the immigration policy that our own
ancestors used to settle in a country that I for one barely
recognize from that of my own youth (which is one reason some of us
might be "freaking out" toward the end of the Obama Administration).
A few years ago, I started
but never finished a 2008 book by Mark Krikorian of the Center for
Immigration Studies, "The
New Case Against Immigration, both Legal and Illegal." It seemed
over the top at the time, when I was still happy to see legal
immigrants coming from Mexico, which I loved as an exchange student,
or my beloved Greece, where I lived from 1969-71, and of course from
my grandparents' countries of origin, Croatia, Ireland, Germany.
Wasn't giving much thought to Middle East immigration then.
But now I am getting
Krikorian's message, which has nothing to do with hopeful immigrants
and everything to do with us, with we who are already here, voting,
making big mistakes when we do. I'll just give you this from the
"Before the upheavals of
the 1960s, the United States expected immigrants from around the
world to earn a living, learn English, and become patriotic
Americans. But since the rise of identity politics, political
correctness, and Great Society programs, we no longer make these
demands. Even the positive changes of the last few decades, such as
the Internet and cheap international phone service, hinder the
assimilation of immigrants by making it easier for them to lead
'transnational lives.' Although mass immigration once served our
national interests, in today's America it threatens to destroy our
common national identity, limit opportunities for upward mobility,
strain resources for social programs, and disrupt middle-class norms
Something to think about
as we trim the tree and, hey, this book might make a useful gift
under it this year! Merry Christmas.