Montana Politics

Conrad’s Racist Codewords on Immigration

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Our esteemed leader on the issues, Conrad Burns, hasn’t made up his mind about the Immigration reform bill, but he sure knows the language of the right:

Burns said he may support a temporary guest worker program if it includes “a move toward citizenship,” such as learning American history and English…Understanding who we are, where we come from, a sense of history, as a country is vitally important, to know the language, that’s vitally important so that they can be part of this country.”

Because being an American mandates the use of English, of course. I imagine that might come as a surprise to the first European immigrants to the American colonies, many of whom kept their native language for generations.

“But there has to be a way that the sense of this country has to be retained if we’re going to stay a country.”

You know, a sense of country that is predominantly white and of European descent. The language might be less offensive than that of the Tancredos of the world, but the message is the same: America can only be America if we preserve the cultural traditions of the privileged, European elite. It’s a flawed argument that couches racism in less overt language. The example of Canada is a model for the U.S.–there is nothing to fear from the development of a multicultural identity, and given the inevitability of world demographics, it’s something that lily-white, English Only Americans are going to have to accept soon.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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