Visions of the Past Juxtaposed with the Future
One of the dangers of the illegal immigration crisis, with its relatively slow, constant pace over the last few decades, is that we are inclined to forget what it was like before, and how bad it is getting today. There was a time, lest we all forget, when California was a middle-America utopia, as Daniel Sheehy writes in his book, Fighting Immigration Anarchy:
In 1964, southern California was paradise for many people, including me. That was the year I moved to the Golden State from Maryland with my parents and brother. I was 12 years old. It also was the year before Congress decided to open its door to mass immigration.
My dad had been transferred to a new aerospace company in Canoga Park, which is located at the western end of the sprawling San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles County. The Valley was mostly middle-class Americans at that time.
We bought a house in a new development in Canoga Park near the rocky Santa Susanna Mountains and just a few miles from the pass leading into the Simi Valley. Many Hollywood westerns were shot on those locations. Our small development was nearly surrounded by orange groves, open spaces, and movie ranches, where TV series such as “Lassie” were filmed.
Canoga Park was so peaceful we didn’t lock our house or car doors. California schools, including my junior high, were the envy of the nation. I remember learning to ride horses with my dad at a ranch in nearby Chatsworth, a mostly rural area back then. I remember our family driving on surface streets and freeways, where there was no gridlock, to Hollywood to see movies at famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. And I remember us driving up to central California to vacation at one of our nation’s natural wonders, the Sequoia National Park. Those are some of my memories.
And what about the California I remember from my youth? It no longer exists. The once golden state is many billions of dollars in debt. Most of the Los Angeles region has gone from paradise to Third World and become a Mexican colony surrounded by affluent gated communities. Much of this cultural transformation has occurred since 1988, two years after the federal government’s ill-advised amnesty triggered a nonstop flood of people mostly from Mexico.
In the 1960s, there were six million residents in Los Angeles County. Today that number has climbed to a staggering and unmanageable 10 million. California’s population jumped by more than five million people between 1994 and 2004 to more than 36 million. Virtually 100 percent of the population growth for both California and L.A. is from illegal aliens, legal immigrants, and children born to them.
While local TV news anchors eagerly report on the latest celebrity trial, cosmetic surgery procedure, or movie blockbuster, the Los Angeles area is crumbling under the immigration-driven population explosion and importation of massive poverty. The region has officially become America’s poverty capital and has the worst traffic in the nation. Housing costs are the least affordable in the U.S. The area has officially become the gang capital of the world, with at least 80,000 members. Illegal-alien gangsters terrorize neighborhoods and commit virtually all of the murders in the region. Up to two-thirds of all fugitive felony warrants are for illegal aliens. Public schools, hospitals, and jails are overwhelmed, thus draining taxpayer resources. Schools have gone from best to worst in the nation, with more than 60 percent of Hispanic students dropping out of high school, the highest of any group. Nevertheless, dozens of schools are being built, at a cost of billions of dollars to taxpayers, to accommodate illegal aliens and their children. Violence between Hispanics and American citizens occurs regularly in the schools. Hospitals become bankrupt and close every few months because countless uninsured illegals use emergency rooms for everything from primary care to birthing services and actual emergencies. More than two-thirds of the births are to illegal aliens, mostly Mexicans. Fifty-three percent of Los Angeles County workers aged 16 and older can barely read, write, or speak English. Thousands of aliens loiter on street corners and in parking lots every day hoping for employers to pick them up and take them to work sites.
Dozens of languages are spoken in the L.A. region, but Spanish is the predominant foreign language. Signs in stores, gas stations, restaurants, hospitals, and government offices are printed in Spanish as well as English. Many highway billboards and ads on mass transit buses are completely in Spanish. Voter ballots and state driving manuals are printed in multiple languages at taxpayer expense. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find English-speaking stations on the radio dial among the many foreign-language stations, mostly Spanish. Employers increasingly require job applicants to speak Spanish in addition to English.
Los Angeles looks more like Mexico every day. In many areas of the region, discarded furniture and trash are piled up in front of houses and apartment buildings. Mexicans push carts on sidewalks selling food. Teenage Mexican mothers push baby carriages, sometimes with one or more toddlers trotting alongside. Houses and storefronts look like the ramshackle ones in Tijuana. Dozens of aliens are crammed into single-family homes and apartments. The Mexican flag hangs from the front porches of many properties. Canoga Park, where I lived safely as a teenager, is now home to some of the San Fernando Valley’s most notorious Mexican gangs. My junior high has mostly Hispanic students. Chatsworth, the rural area where I learned to ride horses with my dad, is now swallowed by the Los Angeles sprawl, like the rest of the region. Hollywood is no longer an American city. In the once pristine Sequoia National Park, where I vacationed in the 1960s, international drug cartels have taken over large remote areas. The criminal gangs grow marijuana and protect their fields with AK-47s, handguns, and machetes, using illegal aliens from Mexico.
As a result of these cataclysmic changes, I feel like a stranger in my own country. California has become Mexifornia and Los Angeles has become its capital.
Heather Mac Donald, posting at The Immigration Blog, describes the situation in LA from another angle:
Looking for an insider’s view of the “Hispanicization” of the United States? Pick up the recently-released Translation Nation, by journalist Hector Tobar. Tobar’s celebratory account of what the Hispanic influx means for the U.S. is more troubling than the most xenophobic ravings that a close-the-border extremist could ever come up with.
Tobar leaves no doubt that immigrants are having a greater impact on American culture than American culture is having on them. The ubiquitous Che Guevara graffiti stenciled throughout Los Angeles symbolizes the new “anti-WASP republic,” he says, a republic which values “the dissembling force of rebellion and the idea of strength in collectivity.”
Tobar’s revelations about the 1992 Los Angeles riots are worth the price of the book alone. The riots are celebrated in the city’s Mexican enclaves as the quemazones, “the great burning,” revenge for the U.S. conquest of California more than two centuries earlier. The 1992 riots, though triggered by the acquittal of the LAPD officers in the Rodney King beating, did not follow the usual black-white script, Tobar says: they “evolved into a parallel immigrant looting festival that would in a matter of hours become much bigger in breadth and scope than its African-American twin.” The “frenzied spectacles of running crowds and exploding glass” were the first “Latin-American-style class uprising in United States history, the same kind of visceral expression of rage that over the centuries had led peons to burn down the hacendado’s home.”
Finally, Steve Miller's article at FrontPage examines the situation at the Santa Monica High School, where we can look at the attitudes and inclinations of the future generation:
The social experiment that Santa Monica High School has become is yet one more example of the dismal failure of leftism and the delusions and paranoia of its architects. Once a beacon of public education to which families and their kids flocked, this beachside high school has in recent years become a center of political indoctrination.
I have spoken with a number of minority students during my time at SamoHi who claimed that they thought of themselves as Mexican, or Honduran, or Guatemalan first, and American second. De La Torre describes the successes of the Left in instituting ever more multiculturalism over the years; yet, the result has been the development of an anti-Americanism that also contributes mightily to racial tensions. A scientific poll I conducted while at SamoHi revealed that nearly one in every two students felt that America was an unjust nation, and more than one-third of the student body was not proud to be American. In turn, the vast majority of students wanted to reduce military spending, increase gun control, redistribute the nation's wealth, and expand government. At this one high school alone, the Left has trained thousands to continue building its failed utopia.
If you have read though all of the above material, you probably are quite depressed, and naturally so. What is the lesson to all this? Maybe there is none. Perhaps people get what they deserve in the end. If nothing else though, the problems that California face are valuable to the extent that they put a spotlight on the problem.
As I wrote on another post a while back:
One of the results of a politically correct, multicultural society is to radically reinvent society into a form of bondage or coerced association between a collection of productive individuals on one hand, and parasitic individuals or groups on the other. In every society there have always been children, the elderly, handicapped, and others who could not fully support themselves. However, this new coerced association is marked by the degree to which fully capable adults and feral youths do not contribute, and by the presence of an underclass which is disproportionally costly to society or even anti-social. One of the results of a highly developed, highly educated, yet redistributive society is that even individuals who do some form of minimum-wage work may still be a net-loss to society due to the degree to which they are subsidized, directly or indirectly (consider health care, or driving without auto-insurance as examples).
The above certainly seems to represent what the situation has become. Living in America or being a citizen is no longer a special privilege or honor. Anyone who can make it to Mexico (or for that matter, Canada) has practically become an "American"; all that remains is crossing a small fence and avoiding the understaffed border patrol. None of this seems to reduce the obligations of the middle-American taxpayer however. The situation also relates closely to the previous post, where I defined the ideas of "anti-patriotism" and "neo-nationalism". Rather than our country being a nation with a people, it is increasing becoming a legal construct for extorting and redistributing wealth between different groups.
Is this what our founders had in mind when they created the nation? Is it moral or just to allow individuals to misuse the founder's system to destroy it? Somehow, I don't think that it is.