Quoting Richard Trumka’s “Who Are You Calling Names?”

As part of my partial quotes habit, this time it is US Union-boss Richard Trumka  of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, commonly known as the AFL-CIO.   I chose this very well written piece from Huffington Post called “Who Are You calling Names?”  not because I am from the Left (because I am from the Centre-Right) or that I am a Unionist (I tend to argue with them actually), but simply because those words I quoted fits well into my theme of radicalism and context abuse.  Trumka’s words, simply put, are absolutely correct and the item is a perfect example of scapegoating minorities for various reasons, sinister or not.  Not just the normal xenophobia or bigotry but how it is also pushed by media, interest groups and dangerous political elements.  Though an American story, it hits home for us here in The Netherlands for current political trends and I am certain the story itself is mimmicked in countless western (and non-western countries to various levels).   As per my habit, I recommend that everyone reads the entire item and I give full aknowledgement and appreciation to the author:

“Wop.” “Hunkie.” “Polack.” “Kike.”

When I was a kid growing up in Nemacolin, Pa., those are some of the slurs people used for us.

Why? Because our parents or grandparents came to this country from somewhere else, fleeing poverty and war, seeking opportunity and hope. As a kid, every person I knew who was older than 50 spoke broken English.

Those names hurt. But they also determined almost everything about us — where we would live, where we would worship, where we would go to school, where we could work.

It wasn’t easy. We were the last hired and first fired, the people who did the hardest and most dangerous work, the people accused of taking jobs away from others who had been here longer, the people whose pay got shorted because we didn’t know the language and were afraid to complain.

But from the mines and the mills, the immigrants of my parents’ and grandparents’ generation built America.

Today, we have a new generation of immigrants. And the names and accusations are just as ugly. I hear it all the time. I even hear it from people close to me. “Those immigrants are taking our jobs. They can’t speak English. They’re taking over the country.”

I couldn’t disagree more, but I know where they’re coming from — an American economy in tatters, rampant unemployment, foreclosures, disappearance of health and retirement benefits.

They’re anxious and angry. I’m angry, too.

There’s justifiable anger at seeing our economy, our way of life, our security trashed. And it’s being used by people who have a real stake in maintaining our economic disaster to turn working people against one another.

Many working men and women — including union members — were pretty confused that I would be speaking out on behalf of today’s immigrant workers, as I did last week at the Cleveland City Club. But I can honestly say to them: An immigrant worker did not move your plant overseas. An immigrant did not take away your pension. A Mexican or Salvadoran or Guatemalan worker did not cut off your health care. His wife didn’t foreclose your home. Her children did not crash our financial system.

Blaming immigrant workers for our economic catastrophe is like blaming shrimpers for the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

About donny2811
Trots Nederlands, goed gereist en een begerige politieke centrist met een speciale afkeer voor basissen.

5 Responses to Quoting Richard Trumka’s “Who Are You Calling Names?”

  1. Kenny says:

    I would disagree with your assessment here my friend. This country (America) was definitely built by the immigrant community. Actually everyone here (except the Indians) are immigrants. What we are grumbling about is the illegal immigrants that are working harder to superimpose their culture over the American culture. There have been times throughout our history where we have allowed and even welcomed immigration to our country. An, even today, we still have a very robust immigration policy. The difference is we welcome those that come in through “the front door”; loosely translated to “legally”. Those that pledge their allegiance to America and strive to assimilate to our culture and to learn the English language are the only requirements we place on these immigrants. However, the illegal immigration problem is the exact opposite and frankly brazen. The illegals in the US are indeed taking away jobs from Americans by way of wage depression. As you mentioned money is not discussed in fear of the person getting into trouble over it so they accept substantially lower wages for the job… basically out pricing American workers (namely kids and minorities). Illegals simply refuse to assimilate to our culture and learn our language. Actually there is a saying here (well South Florida) stating that the last American to leave South Florida should bring the flag. You can not enter many places in South Florida and find someone that speaks English – or refuses to speak English to you. This is what we are grumbling about… come to our country but come legally and follow the criteria that we lay out for that privilege.

    • donny2811 says:

      Interesting comments there Kenny and I see how your getting to that opinion. I still will agree with the general comments of Trumka because there is no evdidence of “sumerimposing their culture” over the existing American one. You mention “assimilation” which I will assume you mean “integration” as there is a big difference. The Italian, Irish, Northern European, Eastern European and Jewish immigrants never assimilated but integrated and to a degree the flavour of America is the sum total of its population, history and these immigrants.

      I will agree that there are some serious issues, I am never a supporter of uncontrolled mass immigration because of the disruptions it makes on social and economic factors. From what I see and understand, the problem with most of the illegals in America (which are mostly Latinos from Mexico and its southern neighbours, is that they are illegal. The country actually needs and thrives on them, they are there because there is work available. There is a strong argument that if anything is needed is to identify those that are fully working and make their employees sponser their immigration and pay the right rates. That the wages needs to be worked on at a government level, it is unsastainable to have a “black cheap labour” economy.

      Most of the issues that make my posting such items is that there is a simple basic and somewhat ugly assumption that it is the immigrants that are always to blame. History of most nations have always scapegoated the minorities and immigrants (whom are minorities) and blamed them not only for being a minority (ie different) but anything and everything that those with an agenda can get their hands on. Nothing has changed and the core issues – such as social and employement practices – are being ignored.

      Good discussion here, very thought provoking.


  2. Kenny says:

    Well I stand correct on the assimilation term and than you for setting me straight. Also, you are correct in other immigrants adding to the flavor of America. Nevertheless, I have seen far too many times where the latino population have made it clear that the American culture is the last thing that they will have anything to do with and to that end I stand by what I stated. When people carry signs and make videos stating their true intentions (of which I can not post in this comment); burning American flags, saying this land will be taken back for Mexico, saying Americans stole the land initially, etc … it is a direct relation to their not intending to integrate in the American culture and that is wrong by any definition. But, as we both have stated, the root problem is that they are illegal and because the Federal government has done nothing to prevent it and many employers only perpetuate the problem by offering employment to them along with so many other benefits there is plenty of blame to go around. But that doesn’t mean that it is in any right nor does it mean that tackling the issue head on now is wrong. My idea to resolve the issue is seal-the border, use stringent enforcement and fines for employers that hire illegals and basically take away all incentives. At that point those here illegally will leave and then our legal immigration system will prevail. I enjoy our conversations… very intriguing

  3. Observer says:

    There is almost no section of the United States that I haven’t traveled to several times, and I strongly believe Kenny is greatly overstating the case when he asserts that latino immigrants (both legal and illegal) do not want to integrate or learn our language. I am around the migrant workers almost every day. Nearly all of their children speak English. Their parents try, albeit with varying success. I’ve been all over south Florida and not encountered the problems Kenny describes. You can certainly find people who don’t speak English, but not most of them. And you’d be hard pressed to find people who actively discourage learning English. There may be a few, but it’s even close to a majority opinion among latinos.

    I am by no means advocating for open borders, and Kenny makes some good points about the problems with illegal immigration. But the ‘reconquista’ sentiment that he seems to believe defines the latino immigrant community is extremely small and in no way representative of the whole. I would submit that they exist in large measure as a reaction against xenophobia. If that xenophobia were tempered somewhat we could tackle the serious problems of illegal immigration much more effectively.

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