There are days when it’s kind of mortifying to be a white person. June 14 was one of those days.
Thursday was when a grainy 50-second videotape surfaced of Arizona legislator David Stringer, R-Confederacy, expounding on immigration to the Yavapai County Republican Men’s Forum. Per Stringer, a Prescott conservative, immigration represents “an existential threat” to the United States, because America’s current wave of immigrants refuses to “assimilate” to his satisfaction.
That they don’t, Stringer explained in the video, tracks back to our public schools.
“Sixty percent of public school children in the state of Arizona today are minorities,” he told the crowd. “That complicates racial integration because” – wait for it – “there aren’t enough white kids to go around.”
Yep. Like I said, not exactly a shining moment for us white folks. Mostly because Stringer’s perspective on immigration frequently appears to be the white perspective when it comes to what America is and what it is not.
Let me explain.
At the heart of Stringer’s speech – and his various half-assed follow-up explanations – resides the notion that being American requires following in the footsteps of this nation’s white Founding Fathers and subsequent white generations.
Rather than immigrants changing America, America must change – and whiten – its immigrants. We must all speak the same language. We must all share the same values. We must all worship the same deity. And we must all strive for the same American Dream.
America, Stringer hypothesized to Howie Fischer of Capitol Media Services, has long been “a melting pot for people of European descent.”
“If you’re a Swede, a Norwegian, an Irishman and a Frenchman, after the second or third generation, your kids are all alike,” Stringer said. “They don’t have any accents. They’re indistinguishable.”
Indistinguishable. The same. White. Or, at worst, a light shade of beige.
Consider Stringer’s words and their implications when it comes to public schools. In his view, the role of white kids in an integrated school is to rub off on non-white kids, to provide an appropriate example of how Americans look and behave and what Americans value.
I don’t think I’m paraphrasing wildly to suggest that Stringer believes public schools exist to white-ify non-white Americans – or else the country will face the “political implications of massive demographic change and displacement.”
Meaning there will soon come a time when Americans won’t look like David Stringer wants them to look, and they won’t believe what David Stringer believes we all should believe.
As the great grandchild of European immigrants who came to this country through Ellis Island during the great migration of the 20th century, I’d like to point out the flaw in Stringer’s logic.
America, a nation literally founded by immigrants, has never been set in stone. For 242 years and counting, there has never been one correct way to be an American.
Literally, our Declaration of Independence cites a few self-evident truths: “That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
America has always been bigger than David Stringer’s small mind would have it, more capable of embrace than his shrunken heart will allow.
Elected to represent all the people, Stringer seems to believe his mandate is to protect those who resemble him from anyone darker than him. And if he fails? Then America will crumble before our eyes.
Stringer warns: “We could be facing national dissolution in a decade or two if we don’t get control of the immigration issue.”
David Stringer fears his days are numbered. To which I say, let’s hope so. Let’s really hope so.
David Leibowitz has called the Valley home since 1995. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.