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What my parents understood — that Trump doesn't — about the greatness of America

New York City and bridges from Brooklyn, circa 1913
Library of Congress
New York City and bridges from Brooklyn, circa 1913

With apologies in advance, this is probably the most personal post I’ve ever written for MinnPost. And if the first few paragraphs seem embarrassingly personal, I hope you’ll bear with me. I do have a point.

I’m 66 and starting to get forgetful, but not crotchety. In fact, as the years go by I’m getting sweeter and more grateful for the great life I’ve had (and am still having), far beyond my personal deserts.

My dad, Irving Black, would be 100 years old today if he hadn’t shuffled off this mortal coil back in 2001. I decided a while ago that on the centenary of his birth I would explain how he thought about things, which explains a lot about how I also think about things.

Irv wasn’t angry, pretty much ever, about pretty much anything. Like any good dad, he knew how to say no, and mean it. But I don’t remember hearing him yell, or even seriously complain about anything. He was lucky and he knew it — and he acted like he knew it. Believing this made him happy until the day he died.

We disagreed about something and the last thing he said to me was: “My son Eric is coming here later to see me. He’ll straighten you out.” He was happy. By morning, he was gone.

Irv was a first-generation American, the child of Jewish immigrants who grew up in Brooklyn in the apartment over his dad’s tailor shop. Because he was the oldest male child (and because the stereotype of Jews being obsessed with getting their kids educated is often true) he even got to go to college. But he lived at home and commuted to City College of New York on the subway. I think it cost about $25 a semester for New York residents who lived and ate at home. He grew up during the Great Depression, so maybe that helped him later to keep perspective on what tough times really looked like.

He enlisted in the Army after Pearl Harbor, and his college degree got him into Officer Candidate School. He saw action in the Pacific theater and left the service as a captain. He never talked about the war much, and when he made it back to New York, he met and married the woman of his dreams: my mom, Gladys Black, the warmest, kindest person I’ve ever known. They moved to a suburb of Boston, started a small family and a small family business, a clothing store where I had my first 10 jobs. During the busy season, the whole family was on call to wait on customers. Luckily for me, and maybe for Irv too, Massachusetts had “blue laws” that prevented the store from being open on Sundays.

Irv and Glad didn’t get wealthy, exactly. The word they always used was “comfortable,” if you can really get comfortable operating a family store that was open six days and one night a week (and Irv was pretty much there whenever it was open). I’ve never had to work as hard as he did, but I never heard him gripe about it.

Irv and Gladys put my brother and me through college. After that, I went into journalism. I started in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, then moved to Little Rock, then to Minneapolis. It’s a line of work that has given me immense satisfaction. The joke in my family was that if the kids were happy, then the folks were happy, except it wasn’t really a joke. I remember once asking my dad if he was disappointed that I had never shown any interest in taking over the business he started. He said no, he always hoped I would find something to do that interested me more, which I did, but he also gave me the gift of relieving any possible guilt for not following in his footsteps.

I eventually met and married the love of my life, and we have recently finished putting our two kids through college. They didn’t have to commute on the subway. And if they’re happy, we’re happy.

I’ve had, and am still having, a great life — one I have done relatively little to deserve. Yes, I think I worked fairly hard, though work isn’t so hard when you enjoy what you do. But I know how much of it flowed directly from my brilliant choice of parents and — maybe even more so —from the decision of all four of my grandparents to take the enormous risk of leaving “the old country” and getting this happy family established in a new country. They came here nearly penniless, without knowing the culture nor even the language.

Nothing that I’ve done or will ever do compares with that for courage or enterprise. But I have reaped the benefits from that courage and enterprise, and I was raised to understand and appreciate it. I know I deserve no credit for it.

I recall reading a column years ago, I think it was when Nelson Rockefeller died in the late 1970s. The columnist said of Rocky, the grandson of John D. Rockefeller who went on to become governor of New York and vice president of the United States: “He was dealt a pat hand, and he didn’t blow it.”

That’s mostly how I feel about my own life. We weren’t Rockefellers, but I was dealt a hand good enough that — if I didn’t blow it —I would have a satisfying, comfortable and fulfilling life. And I’ll give myself this much credit: I didn’t blow it. Maybe I could have done more with the opportunities made available to me, but I’ve had a great life.

And yet: I know people who appear to have had similar advantages — some a little more, some a little less — but are angry. Angry about how high their taxes are. Angry about that one bad break or bad investment if not for which they would be richer. I have trouble grasping how they can be so angry when they have been so fortunate. And I’m pretty sure that being angry and ignoring one’s blessings doesn’t contribute much to a happy life.

Because of my parents, if I do start to get annoyed over any small setback or challenge, I generally circle back to the fortunate circumstances of my birth, the great life I’m having, the friends and family I get to surround myself with. The annoyance blows over pretty quickly, kinda like Jimmy Stewart in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Can’t get much cornier than that.

Forgive me for boring you with my life story, because now I’ll circle back to my usual topic: politics. Let me state what regular readers of this space surely know, that I’m some kind of knee-jerk bleeding-heart liberal. I don’t particularly think of it, most of the time, as “knee-jerk,” or “bleeding heart” but you get the idea. I’m pretty supportive of efforts to tax the rich (including me) to help the poor and others with difficult life challenges in various ways.

All of which goes to explain why the Trump thing drives me pretty crazy. Here’s a rich guy, born so rich he can’t reasonably think it’s something he earned. (I’m not saying he doesn’t think it, I’m just saying he can’t reasonably think it.) But his domestic agenda seems to be mostly about things like reducing the number of Americans who are covered by health insurance, and trying to kick people out of the country because they weren’t born here or prevent others from coming here for a shot at the American dream.

And, to the degree that he won the election (despite losing the popular vote and possibly benefiting from foreign interference), he seems to have won it by harnessing a lot of pent-up anger in the electorate, perhaps especially among white working-class males. Many of these people, we are told, feel very aggrieved by their life circumstances and believe that their grievances are rooted in special unearned advantages that have been doled out to non-white, non-male, non-American-born cheaters and freeloaders who are somehow stealing the life to which the white working-class males who fit this category feel entitled.

Forgive me for the ridiculously broad brush with which I have just painted a group of people who I’m sure have much more complicated thoughts and feelings about such things. It’s not my place to tell anyone else what grievances they are allowed to have, or what they should do about them. But I do believe that counting blessings makes one happier than nursing grievances.

I’m sure every country enforces its borders more or less. I accept that every country is entitled to set some criteria regarding who is entitled to the benefits of residency and citizenship. I accept that many live here without full legal status, and I’m not endorsing lawlessness.

But my concern about those who live here without proper status is tempered by my knowledge that I didn’t do anything heroic to acquire the benefits of my own status. My grandparents did something along those lines. I don’t really know whether they may have cheated in any way, but in their day the path to citizenship pretty much consisted of a boat to America. So while I can understand the argument for tightening up the borders, I want the whole discussion to be salted heavily with compassion for the aspirations of everyone to have a better life.

Then there's health care. I don’t believe I’ve ever gone a minute without being covered by health insurance, although I’ve done little to really deserve it. Irv and Glad had insurance that covered me when I was young. Then I had a series of jobs that included health insurance as a benefit, which, by the way, is the result of government policy that provides an incentive through the tax code for employers to offer it. Now, unbelievably, I’m old enough for Medicare, which was only created in 1965, thanks to big government liberalism. I’ve been pretty healthy, too, but having health insurance relieved me of what otherwise would have been a lifelong worry.

So when I think about health care policy issues, I judge each idea on the basis of whether it extends insurance to more people and, hopefully, eventually, to our whole society. I’d like to think this is rational and maybe moral. But maybe it’s really just how liberals generally look at things.

I could (don’t worry, I won’t) go issue by issue, but you get my basic approach. Humbled by the knowledge that I didn’t do much to qualify for the good life in America, I can’t bring myself to devote top priority to denying the same opportunities to others. My blessings are large, and my grievances small — mostly thanks to my folks, Irv and Gladys Black, of blessed memory. 

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Comments (104)

Excellent Eric Black!My

Excellent Eric Black!
My sentiments exactly!
How lucky we are, we are thankful for what we have and acknowledge, “we all do better when we “all do better!”

Thank you for sharing such a personal account of your life.

It's a lovely article, well written. It explains a lot about the writer. Your grandparents would be proud of how well you have turned out. And yes, YES, counting blessings is WAY BETTER than nursing grievances. That's Biblical. God wants us to be grateful. Too many in this country are unappreciative of all they have been blessed with.

That being said, my husband and I have worked all our lives, and never been too well off. He lost his health insurance over two years ago, and now his health is poor (he's trying to get his SSA DIS, and he is indeed disabled) and my job does not come with health insurance, nor do I qualify for any health plans that I can afford at this point, so I am hoping for some type of health coverage for the little people like me who need health coverage, but I'm not hopeful from this present administration. Still, I love America and am grateful for the fact that I am a citizen of this country. I wouldn't wish to live anywhere else in the entire world. I choose to count my blessings, instead of nurse my grievances, and choose to pray to God and trust Him to supply my needs.

And I appreciate your article very much, Eric.

Thank you for sharing

Like you, I had the same kind of cushy life, although my parents had similar lives, rather than struggling as yours did. Nonetheless, I appreciate what I've been given and I'm lucky enough to be covered not only by Medicare but, also the company from which I retired 13 years ago, provides me with funds to buy a Medigap policy. So, no matter what Trump decides, I'm fixed for life.

I've always leaned Republican, but Trump, for whom I didn't vote, has convinced me that I can't do that anymore. I may, in the future, vote for another Republican, but not while he is president. I don't want his selfish thinking to influence my vote in any way. My spouse and children all voted for Hillary, too. We are horrified by his thinking and only hope that the country can survive three plus more years of him.

Thank you for this article

Those of us fortunate enough to have had many blessings should at the very least be aware of and grateful for those blessings. Thanks so much for sharing your story, and for pointing out that we need to make sure others have the same opportunities to have the good life in America. I only wish more of our leaders understood this.

Pure Sentimentality

I give Mr. Black credit for recognizing the blessings of America that he has inherited; a large percentage of his ideological soulmates disdain or even outright loathe the United States, having the Howard Zinn belief that American history is little more than an endless series of injustices, unlike utopias such as Cuba, Venezuela, and the former Soviet Union which much of the academic and journalistic Left have swooned over for the last century.

But this essay is long on sentimentality and bereft of any hardheaded analysis. America cannot admit every impoverished person who wants to come here. Open up the borders without restriction, and within five years 100+ million mostly low-skilled, low-income people would be here. How would they be provided for? Where would the water resources be to sustain such a massive and rapid growth in population? Where would the required housing come from? How could the health care system care for all these people - we already have doctor and nurse shortages. How would the public education system handle such a huge influx of new students? How could already congested transportation systems deal with all those people? And much more.

Almost all people who read this blog regard Canada as vastly superior to the United States because of their single-payer health care system and other public assistance benefits. A big reason Canada can be more generous is that they have restricted immigration to a manageable number of true refugees and to other immigrants who won't be a financial burden on taxpayers. Ditto for Australia. (BTW, I favor universal health care, and if single-payer is the most efficient method to achieve that goal, so be it)

All of these points used to be said by many prominent liberals before it became politically incorrect to acknowledge the economic realities of massive low-skilled immigration - liberals such as Bill Clinton, Barbara Jordan, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, the NY Times editorial board, and many others. And there's a political reality that Minnpost's readers don't want to face up to: if the 2020 Democratic platform is pro-open borders, Trump will win the popular vote and the electoral college vote by landslides.

You capture perfectly the attitude of the Trump voter

Your argument is full of unsubstantiated claims. Most notable is your criticism of Canadian healthcare.

Canada is a country of American immigrants as much as the United States and their willingness to take immigrants and refugees continues to the present. One difference is that Canada did not use slaves and when they were freed and given full citizenship and equal rights, continue to subjugate them through segregation and racism. That along with how so many Americans accept the deadly violence from being awash in weapons are distinctively American choices that harm our nation and help explain why Canada's health outcomes are so much better, while spending a fraction of what we spend per capital and cover everyone.

Americans make excuses for their poor choices. The only metrics we are clearly "better" is on than Canada are waste and profit, neither which is justified.

If you want to talk facts, provide some rather than regurgitating Republican fairy tales.

Read Again

You refuted none of my points, and you didn't even pick up on my implicit praise of universal health care in Canada. Canada uses a points system whereby people with marketable skills are allowed in, along with some genuine refugees. Canada does NOT have millions of illegal/undocumented immigrants - they are quickly forced out of the country.

...a large percentage of his

...a large percentage of his ideological soulmates disdain or even outright loathe the United States...

Black's ideological soulmates DO NOT disdain or loath the US--instead they believe in the "more perfect union" that could be, as opposed to making a fetish of an imagined past.

Your biggest fear is hordes of unskilled immigrants.

Imagine a time, not so long ago, where a country was populated by unskilled immigrants who had left their former countries because they were so spectacularly poor and unable to create a worthwhile life in their home countries. Imagine all of those losers who had the gumption to get up and go to a land with opportunity and then within a generation or two make an even greater country.

But no, in the world of "hardheaded analysis", in the world of MAGA, that wasn't America. And the best was in the past.

Why Do You Hate America?

"[A] large percentage of his ideological soulmates disdain or even outright loathe the United States . . ." Disdain? Or outright loathe? That is an absurdity the likes of which I haven't heard in decades.

If you want to talk about disdain or loathing, let's talk about he people who resent the fact that America is increasingly less white than it was in the past, or that political and social power is no longer exclusively in the hands of white males. Let's talk about those who idealize some mythic past invoking the ideal of "Mayberry," a fictional town on an old television show in which there were no people of color and women stayed in the kitchen.

These are the people who "disdain or even outright loathe the United States." They loathe what the country is. They disdain the efforts of their fellow citizens (like it or not, BLM is largely made up of American citizens) to make the country a better place for all citizens, recognizing the racial and social injustice that holds us back. The people who want to "take their country back" are saying nothing more than they can't abide what the country really is.

"[H]aving the Howard Zinn belief that American history is little more than an endless series of injustices . . ." I'm at a disadvantage here, having actually read books by Professor Zinn rather than relying what someone tells me about them. I didn't get the idea that was what he was saying. In any event, are you saying we should ignore the historical injustices perpetrated in this country? Continue to honor the traitors who fought for slavery while ignoring the evils of their system that still haunt us? In other words, lie?

Historical Accuracy

The whitewashing of the dark spots on American history was very incomplete history and therefore bad history. So are Howard Zinn's books, which are disparaged by the vast majority of serious historians, including very left-wing historians.


As I recall, Professor Zinn rejected the idea that his books should be the only history texts used, or that they told the complete story. They told stories that were overlooked by mainstream histori

“the efforts of their fellow

“the efforts of their fellow citizens (like it or not, BLM is largely made up of American citizens) to make the country a better place for all citizens, recognizing the racial and social injustice that holds us back.” So where is that racial and social injustice?


Racial and social justice are works in progress. They aren't going to happen overnight.

Yes, I understand, justice

Yes, I understand, justice has been a work in progress… but now it is already here!

For Whom?

As humans, we are all fallible so anything we create is necessarily flawed. Thus, we can only strive towards justice, and make it an aspiration.

Great response: we are all

Great response: we are all imperfect - can’t argue with that…We just need to agree on where we should apply our efforts..

Pure Reason

Onto every parade of horribles, some dispersing rain must fall.

Mr. Webster makes up a parade of horribles he imagines some nefarious "liberals" wish to unleash upon America. Nowhere in Mr. Black's writings were any of these horribles actually unleashed, but let's imagine they were, just for fun.

"Open up the borders without restriction." Actually most conservatives should be in favor, as this would pair well with limited restrictions on the movement of goods and capital which conservatives strongly endorse. Liberals, friends of the laborer and the working man, would be expected to oppose.
Nonetheless, let's imagine the arrival of the hundred million.

First, why would we expect they would be "mostly low-skilled, low-income people? Thousands of high-skilled individuals come to the US to attend college on student visas, and thousands more highly skilled workers come through H1B and other skilled worker visa programs. Thousands more are turned away from these highly skilled channels because the quotas fill quickly (the annual caps are always hit within just a few days). Millions of the hundred plus would likely be highly skilled, rapidly valuable additions to the US economy, just as they are today.

Second, there is plenty of water for an extra 100 million. The US has about 9,000 cubic meters of water per person per year. We are the world leaders in water consumption. We could add 100MM residents, use no more water in total in the US, and still be the number 2 in the world in water use per capita, below Estonia and ahead of New Zealand. This is what hardheaded analysis looks like. It's also what a really quick Google search looks like.

Required housing could be added quickly, first by newcomers bunching up with families and friends. Just like people do today during crises, and just like many lower income immigrants already do. Conservatives' cherished free market would respond quickly, and the resulting housing boom would rapidly consume huge amounts of semi-skilled labor constructing new housing units.

The US built 1.5 million housing units per year in the post war era (1946 to 1960). The economy today is 6.5 times bigger than it was in 1953. A similar scale housing development effort would produce 9.75 million housing units per year. That would allow us to accommodate 39 million new residents per year at 4 occupants per housing unit or all 100 million immigrants in 31 months. Given that the "hardheaded analysis" presumed 5 years for the 100MM to arrive, an economy the size of ours could accommodate all of them more easily than we accommodated the returning WWII servicemen and women and the baby boom. Again, a little arithmetic and our good friend the Google lets us learn that pure sentimentality is actually more sound than "hardheaded analysis."

How could the health care system respond? Possibly by allowing the new immigrants with health care skills to use them. Immigrant physicians and nurses usually must start over, and re-attend medical school/nursing college when they immigrate to the US. If we allowed them to "test-in" and then complete a residency program, we could quickly attract many thousands of skilled health care providers.

Public education...same as health care. We could, within a few years, ramp up the educational system using the immigrants themselves to teach. Many of them are already bi-lingual, and English is the most commonly taught second language in the world...creating thousands of potential ESL teachers world-wide.

Transportation problem either. Just buy more buses, and encourage settlement in rural areas and in small cities. Plenty of room, plenty of roads, plenty of space.

Finally, wrong on Canada. Immigrants make up over 20 percent of the Canadian population. (20.7 percent to be exact). It's 14.3 percent in the United states. Maybe Canada can afford to be more generous because they have a more progressive taxation system? Or, maybe it's simply because Canada is "vastly superior to the United States."

So, you are wrong, Mr. Webster, in almost every way. Even if your parade of horribles were to come true, America either easily has the resources in hand to accommodate your worst case scenario, has already faced and handled such a "crisis," or has neighbors who have already exceeded what seems to you to be an untenable situation here and perform better than we do under even more demanding circumstances.

Mr. Black nailed it.


All of your proposals - if they're even feasible (doubtful) - would require hundreds of billions/trillions of dollars to subsidize the new immigrants. America can't be the world's policeman, and we can't be the world's welfare department.

So then

You've established what you want the country NOT to be, how's about you regale us with your vision of a conservative utopia.

Immigrants work

They wouldn't all be on the dole. They would be working and paying taxes which would fund those social programs.

There is a balance in the middle between closed borders with high walls and totally open borders. Only straw men imagine either side wants those extremes.


A few months ago my husband and I stopped by a St Paul pizza place. The guy at the counter had a bright red tee shirt on, with white lettering that looked familiar. My distance vision isn't great, so when we finally placed our order I could read the text on the shirt. It was "Make America Grateful Again." Looked just like the ubiquitous red hats that I see from time to time, but I loved the play on words and the way it completely deflated the original message.

Oh, and the pizza was was delicious.


By a longer and more circuitous route, I arrive at pretty much the same place as Eric.

Far, far too many people ascribe whatever degree of success or affluence they enjoy to their own, single-handed efforts rather than some combination of their efforts as well as inheritance, dumb luck, and good fortune. One’s own efforts are (and should be) part of the mix, but the key word there is “mix.” I know plenty of people who were born with certain advantages of race, class, income, genetics, etc., for whom the possibility that those factors may have influenced their outcome in life either hasn’t occurred to them, or they’re in a lengthy, perhaps life-long, process of denial.

As I’ve tried to tell relatives more than once, my “wants” are infinite, but I don’t really **need** more than what I have. I lack for nothing material, and even on a teacher’s pension, am able to live in modest comfort. I’m not a world traveler (I can’t afford to be), but I read a lot, and based on what I’ve read, it strikes me that my “modest comfort” gives me a standard of living far above that of most of the people on the planet, including many of my fellow citizens. Gratitude for my good fortune seems to me the most appropriate response.

And when you acknowledge gratitude

Things are better.

We all should indeed

We all should indeed recognize that we are lucky to be born in, or have come to, America. To certain degree, one can say that it is already an injustice that we are here and others are in Zimbabwe or Syria. Does it mean that we have to let anyone in to fix this injustice? On the other hand, as Mr. Schoch noticed, we are all the result of our genes so literally, we are not created equal. In America, a free and fair country, we are all equal under the law but that does not guarantee the same result for everyone because the start conditions (genes) are different (and no, I am not talking about racial differences but about individual differences)

I would guess that people who

I would guess that people who have the gumption to get up and go from a failed situation and try a new life have the "genes" that make them more like the people who made America great, rather than those who stayed at home and griped about how they wish things were like the way they were in the "good old days".

"people who have the gumption

"people who have the gumption to get up and go from a failed situation and try a new life have the "genes" that make them more like the people who made America great.” Absolutely, so long as they don’t break the law.

A beautiful story

"of blessed memory" indeed!
As a grandchild of poor Jewish immigrants myself, I share your memories.
Yes it is a sentimental story, but those who lack sentiments lack part of what makes us human.
What John Webster is saying is what Congress said in 1922 when it drastically limited immigration from all places except north western Europe. Nothing new about the arguments, or the Grinches who make them.

Eric's essay speaks for a lot

Eric's essay speaks for a lot of us, lucky and grateful and wanting to share America's bounty and its positive values with the others who live here.

It's hard for liberals to understand why so many Americans believe that other people here should not have health care, good educations, support in their old age or when disaster hits them (we don't care if the disaster is personal or a hurricane's effects, or whether they're Puerto Ricans or Texans or New Yorkers). We don't resent paying taxes so that all parts of our society function, because we believe that we're all in this together, and should help each other.

What has struck me: Not all those millions of Americans who voted for Donald Trump are "working-class white males." Not by a long shot. Millions of them are as comfortable, even much, much more comfortable economically than Eric or me. But they seem both angry and afraid of something.

Economically Secure Liberals

All the responses to my original comment were no doubt written by economically secure people who never read anything other than reliably left-wing information sources. The dreaminess in Mr.Walters' comment is especially laughable. No economist in America - other than those who are paid by the open borders lobby - believes that we can absorb 100+ million people quickly. The Sierra Club used to say that massive population increases via immigration would destroy the environment; in the mid-1990's wealthy donors vowed to cut off future donations unless the Sierra Club became pro-open borders, which they now are.

The responses here are, of course, 95+% based in sentimentality. No wonder - if all you read are left-wing polemical outlets you would hardly know that any other opinions on immigration exist. Much more could be said, but for starters you all can explain why the NY Times changed sides from controlled immigration in 2000 to pro-open borders today. Were the NYT editors in 2000 racist, xenophobic, hateful, and deplorable?

Who reads only left-wing

Who reads only left-wing polemics? Not I nor anyone I know. In fact, we on the left end of the spectrum tend to be more familiar with right-wing arguments "from the horse's mouth" than people on the right end are of what leftists really believe. Their characterizations seem to be based on AM radio stereotypes, such as the idea that we are all "swooning over Cuba, Venezuela, and the former Soviet Union."

(My personal opinion of Cuba, which I visited with a church group--and therefore was off the tourist circuit--in 2011 is that it's not as bad as right-wingers say it is nor as good as hardcore Marxists say it is. I was no fan of the Soviet Union, and I hear conflicting reports about Venezuela, so I remain agnostic on its internal conditions, although I do not see it as a threat to the U.S.)

But on the whole, I don't divide countries into good guys and bad guys. Look at any country, and you will find things to love and to hate. It frustrates me that so many right-wing Americans seem unable to see the merits of things that other countries have done, simply because these ideas did not originate here.

It is worth noting that China, once the world's most advanced civilization, began to decline when its rulers decided they were so all-fired advanced that no other country had anything to teach them.

Like Mr. Black, whose generation I am part of, I am the grandchild and great-grandchild of immigrants and know the stories of how my ancestors arrived in America and made their way into society. I'm sure that all descendants of Jewish immigrants have it in the back of their minds deep gratitude for their ancestors' decisions to move to America before World War II, and there are branches of my own Gentile family for whom emigration meant survival.

I wonder if Mr. Webster actually knows any recent immigrants or simply has a notion of what one Internet meme calls "Schrödinger's Immigrant: Coming here both to mooch off welfare and to steal your job."

Left-Wing Isolation

The Left (moderate liberal to far Left) controls almost all of the mainstream media, K-college education, popular culture, and Hollywood. It's impossible for any sentient person not to be familiar with left-of-center opinions. Conservatives who pay attention can't help coming across left-leaning opinions; on the contrary, if you don't access right-leaning opinion sources you will have only a caricatured idea of what most conservatives actually believe. Even for issues where I take the more liberal side, I almost always find conservative writers to be the stronger debaters: they're used to being challenged, and are therefore much more factual and less sentimental and morally preening. From the first day of college (and even before), most liberals can float through life never having to face differing viewpoints to any meaningful degree.

Admit it: you mostly swooned over Cuba. All the "free" health care that your guards allowed you to see, not the miserable reality of shortages and substandard care. You're indifferent to - maybe in favor of - the lack of free speech because you oppose the opinions that are repressed. And you're "agnostic" to the terrible conditions in Venezuela, which even the NYT has reported on. Just another political pilgrim who saw what she wanted to see, exactly like her ideological ancestors who found Utopias in the Soviet Union ("I have seen the future and it works!), Maoist China, North Vietnam, Cuba, and most recently Venezuela. Rapturous enthusiasm, all from the safe distance of living in a free country with civil liberties that the Utopias vigorously suppress.


If you really believe what you said in this post, and you hold similar beliefs to many other on the "right" it sure explains some things. If you want to debate what *I* think, you're going to lose every time because you can't speak for me, or anyone else, no matter how persuasive you think you are. The problem, it seems, is that you believe you know what is in other peoples' heads. While I can't speak for all liberals (I'm not even all that liberal in a lot of ways), I can tell you that, for the liberals I know, you're waaaay off base. Most American liberal thinking doesn't have the same foundation as what is considered politically "leftist" elsewhere around the world. Although I might be wandering into deep waters here, the use of the word "left" when putting Eastern Communism and American Liberalism (even *gasp* socialism) in the same group is like putting airplanes and chickens in the same group because they have wings.

When a posting starts with invective

it's usually from the Right.

Perhaps you don't know that a

Perhaps you don't know that a great proportion of people really want to stay near to where they were raised.

However, the world is in constant flux and because of many different factors, areas of the world become less hospitable, and then people migrate. That's how America became what it is.

You imagine a future where America is hermetically sealed against the hordes and their pollution. It doesn't work that way in the modern world, where swathes of the world are affected by disaster and people move.

Sometimes, I unfavorably contrast those American people who think it is their right to remain, say in an economically depressed little southern town with no jobs and beset by cycles of drug addiction and alcohol who think that the rest of the US should send them payments to allow them to live in their futureless area and nurture their anger at 'gubmint--as opposed to those who left their home and family to start a new life in a new country.

Actually, the best parts of America are from those that DID get up and go--instead of sitting idle and angry at who they blame for their ills.


There was nothing particularly sentimental about Eric's post. Nor was there anything about immigration. Eric's post only happened to mention his immigrant ancestry, not immigration. Immigration was not on the table until your post raised it.

Your gripe seems to be with "leftists", not immigrants or immigration policy. The only reason I consider myself to be any sort of leftist is because it takes too much time to describe my own thoughts to those who are more interested in pigeonholing me into their bipolar partisan framework. One of the issues I'm least interested in hearing about is immigration, which is only an issue because the right has decided to make it an issue because it is a useful distraction. Which is to say, like most everything from the right, raises phony issues and complaints while offering no constructive solutions. (like building a wall). This is from people who at the same time want to continue to enjoy the benefits brought by "illegal immigrants" in terms of getting goods and services from people working for sub-living wages often in substandard working conditions. (I'm sure Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin is asking the Trump Administration ICE to exempt Wisconsin's dairy farms from widespread deportations because he has no concern those jobs will be filled by other Wisconsin residents). I don't know of anyone seriously advocating "open borders". That sounds to me like a "straw man."

Still, while there's no reason to criticize Eric for asking a reasonable question about why so many people seem to so angry, I can suggest some reasons why they might be and consider that some of that anger is directed toward "leftists" who are the frequent scapegoats for the right's failure or refusal to deal with real problems. Generally, people in America (the USA) are deeply afraid. A colleague of mine reminded me of the number of beggars on the corners in St. Paul and Minneapolis. Poverty and squalor are everywhere. Only 25% of Americans have enough savings to retire on. I dare say most Americans face the prospect of a bleak economic future of poverty. Little wonder people are afraid. Fear is most often expressed as anger.

I'm concerned about this. I gather from the discussions I read here many people are concerned about these problems. But what to do? I don't get the feeling that the right is at all serious about it. The GOP blames the "left" for all of the country's woes while pretending the real problems facing people do not even exist. That makes people angrier. It's much easier to keep people distracted with phony issues about "illegal immigrants", or "taking away your guns", or abortion, or gays, or kneeling versus standing for the National Anthem, or etc., etc. , than confronting them and dealing with them.

“immigration, which is only

“immigration, which is only an issue because the right has decided to make it an issue because it is a useful distraction.” Actually, the left made it an issue when they started advocating allowing all illegal immigrants to stay… which is the same as “seriously advocating "open borders," because if anyone who came illegally may stay there is no logical reason to ban others from coming.

Not really

Last time I checked, trainloads of people are being deported by ICE every month. Immigration laws are still in place and they are being ruthlessly enforced. To call the present immigration law and policy an "open border" one is a "straw man" like I said.

The "left" as you call it, consist of those who've proposed a sane, compassionate and practical solution to a problem which is fundamentally about imbalance of wealth and economics. The right, for partian political gain, has rejected these proposals, like President Obama's invitation to the Republicans in Congress and the Senate to work with him in fashioning a workable solution to the undocumented immigrants who've established lives and families in this country. Often large for political and economic reasons to escape conditions in their own country created b y US policies. (E.g. El Salvador, Guatemala, death squads).

Americans want cheap labor, the cheaper the better and despite efforts to curtail hiring of undocumented workers, the practice persists. See e.g. Wisconsin dairy farming as one example which has surfaced. A few years ago, it was an open secret that nearly any company doing roofing work in Minnesota (and probably elsewhere in the country) employed undocumented Latino laborers. Why" Because they were cheap.

Talking about the "immigration problem" is a phony issue because the right rejects any sane, compassionate and practical solution and demands pie-in-the-sky solutions, like building wall or deporting millions of people with established lives and communities. These "solutions" if they are even tried will simply not work and will generate new problems, some of them worse. We've only begun to hear of the feelings of injustice and grievance Trump's DACA repeal has generated. Implementing these will only be the US shooting itself in the foot once again. Something the right is always in favor of it seems.

You are correct – people are

You are correct – people are being deported, but I didn’t say that the current law is an equivalent of an open border policy; said that the left started to advocate for that…

So the left has “proposed a sane, compassionate and practical solution to a problem which is fundamentally about imbalance of wealth and economics.” Do you mean to allow everyone here to stay? Who should be deported? Sanctuary cities give sanctuary to everyone… And if we allow everyone here to stay, more will follow – Reagan already tried that approach.

“a workable solution to the undocumented immigrants who've established lives and families in this country. Often large for political and economic reasons to escape conditions in their own country created b y US policies. (E.g. El Salvador, Guatemala, death squads).” Chile? Mexico?

“Americans want cheap labor, the cheaper the better and despite efforts to curtail hiring of undocumented workers, the practice persists.” Here I totally agree with you – e-Verify must be mandatory for everyone, even for people trying to hire a maid or a handyman. And fines should be tremendous. We will all pay more for that but it is worth it.

“We've only begun to hear of the feelings of injustice and grievance Trump's DACA repeal has generated.” So you think it is an injustice to deport people who are here illegally? Why is building a wall and deporting millions “pie-in-the-sky solution?” What will illegal immigrants do when e-verify is fully implemented?


I guess I'm the 5% that actually worked hard to be comfortable (oh, come on! Really?). I know the taste of "government cheese" and potted meat, "free lunches" and hand-me-downs. Yes, I have earned my comfort. Bachelors degree, then PhD. With significant help from taxpayers. (Pretty sure I've paid that back, and then some.) I'm not being sentimental when I say that your original post was based on a view filtered through a lens that doesn't actually exist. No one ever said our borders should be open. Not even rich people with the money to force the Sierra Club to its knees. And NYT isn't a bastion of liberal thought. Let's start out on more solid ground, shall we?

First thing's first--America was not founded by Americans. So, let's not get all hoity toity about our Americanness, unless you can claim pretty strong heritage to one of the indigenous tribes. Also, I'm pretty sure said indigenous tribes can speak to the destruction immigrants can cause (where are the bison? Replaced with pipelines), so let's also not use that as an excuse for pulling up the ladder behind us.

Second, the only real barriers to doubling our population with immigrants are of our own making. After all, we're NUMBER 1! In food waste. At the same time there are people in the US--yes, here--who don't know when their next meal will come. We don't have enough doctors because we bottleneck the system so many ways, not because we don't have the talent available or the money. I mean, 80% of the people own only 7% of the wealth, and not because they don't work hard enough. And we have a housing crisis caused by building out instead of up, so we have to maintain an increasingly unmanageable infrastructure, and building expensive rather than affordable.

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of only letting "skilled workers" into the US because, honestly, we have skilled workers here, but companies would rather pay less for them so importing skill holds costs down (H1B visa holders can't just up and change jobs if they're treated badly). And we also have low skilled workers here such that we shouldn't need to ignore how businesses import and treat undocumented workers. But, Americans don't want to be paid slave wages even if they want the benefit of cheap labor.

We have plenty to fix here, but it's not the fault of immigrants. Well, not NEW immigrants. We can wreck the environment and the economy without any outside help. But perhaps we could be reasonable in letting people in, and then treat them like the valuable people that they are, both in culture and in the economy. After all, my great-grandparents brought both poverty and potential to this country, with potential winning out. Given the ambition and ingenuity of many immigrants then, as now, it's no wonder that many large and successful American companies were started and/or are run by immigrants or first-generation Americans (

Sntimentality is better than distortion.

Mr. Webster jumps to the conclusion that 100 million immigrants are going to flood the country if Eric's position on immigration is instituted. Problem with that is that Eric simply states, "I accept that every country is entitled to set some criteria regarding who is entitled to the benefits of residency and citizenship. I accept that many live here without full legal status, and I’m not endorsing lawlessness." We can accuse others of sentimentality, but exaggeration and fear-mongering are okay if it obscures the basic lack of empathy many conservatives possess.

Refuted point by point, his defense becomes, well, these responses are written by, "Economically secure people," who have been brain-washed by left-wing information sources. Okay to be brain-washed by right-wing media. Sure Mr. Webster pulled that N.Y. Times article up all by himself with absolutely no connection to right-wing think tanks filled with people churning out their own propaganda.

US Citizens, Immigrants, nor I are the problem - Politicians are

I grew up in a one income family of seven fully supported by a bartender, not of his choosing but of his circumstance. When we had a car, it was a used car. Our education was in the Minneapolis public-school system. We didn’t inherit any money or name of stature. As a young man I was in the US Navy and I got to see the cultures of six other countries. I’ve been to nearly all the states. Each country and each state provided some eye-opening experiences. Through comparative story swapping with others I learned how good we had it at home. I learned early on to appreciate what America has to offer. I worked productively for the same company for 46 years. There is no place on earth I would rather live. I didn’t blow it. I have a fulfilling life.

America is a true melting pot made up of immigrants from other nations. That is how America became great. Why don’t we want to keep America great through the same process? Who am I to tell someone else, who lives on the same earth I do, they can’t have that same experience I’ve had because of where they currently live or what they believe? Of course, there must be immigration restrictions as there always have been, but not for entire religions or countries. Of course, there are bad individuals in every society. That is why we have rules and laws to live by.

I believe our biggest problem lies in our politicians. The corruption that exists in politics continues because politicians must surrender their souls at the doorway of their political party. How many times do you get a truthful answer from a politician? Only when they have had a life altering experience that directly impacts them or when they announce they will not be going to run again. Then they can speak truthfully and shed the party dogma. Latest examples John McCain and Bob Corker are unencumbered truthful speakers - now. Career politicians get so entrenched that they are hard to dislodge them once they get name recognition, because most voters vote via name recognition, not accomplishments. There needs to be term limits because long time politicians don’t have new ideas and they carry debilitating baggage. Our problems are not our people or those we let in. Our problems are our politicians. Most are millionaires making decisions only for millionaires, not the everyday citizen. Most are obligated to their political sugar daddies, big money donors, corporations, and lobbyists.

Eric, I’m one of those conservatives that is very

happy. I was born on the Range to a father who also fought in WWII, was a miner, conservative and unbelievably happy. I never get upset if an investment goes bad, it was my money and my choice to invest it. Now when the Govt wastes my money, it boggles my mind how stupid they are and how they don’t understand basic economics. I don’t get mad about my taxes, I just feel I’m way more entitled to the money I make than the Government is. I can’t understand the “woe is me”todays liberals seems to embrace and truly don’t understand how rich people are holding down the poor? Bill Gates making billions doesn’t affect me one bit, you either. It was choice to b3 a writer, no one forced you, so you will make writer type money, that is your choice. I’m glad you are happy and content with your life, much easier to enjoy our time here if you are happy.

Thanks Mr Black...

for having the class to be thankful and filled with graditude. Although my life as second generation was not blessed as yours being the son of a range iron miner enduring seasonal layoffs and strikes for better benefits. That was the luck of the draw. I got to college at a time when the debt was not as collossal as for today’s post high school education spender. Things have worked out. But somehow the collective nation does not see it that way. Plenty engage as I can read at Minnpost daily in bashing those who wish get passed being three,five,ten steps behind in trying to come to life stability. Invariably the opinion is to see a much narrower margin for opportunity for others as these positions are taken to restrict and minimize opportunity. Stark inequities that still exist in this nation. Some see them,others ingnore them and still others twist the grievances of those who are steps behind into political advantage by stirring ups the disadvantage into anger and blame using race coding. Statistics bare out the fact of who is living in the underclass in the greatest numbers. And yet these same people are the most generous with their pittance when there are those in need. None of what there is is the property of others as much as we would like to engage in that myth. To grip what one has so tightly as to never let it go is eventually self destructive. It does no good for the nation to be on that path. And yet our course seems to going in that direction. I will remain apart from that.

Your hypothesis, not mine.

100 MM people was your hypothesis, not mine. My point remains that even if your fever dream of Armageddon like immigration occurs, the U.S. could absorb it. It actually wouldn't be that big a deal, in fact. That's how huge this country is, and how amazingly blessed with natural resources we are. In fact, I was astonished to see how easy it would be to achieve when I did a little research.

Which, of course, as the comfortable liberal that I am, I see as imposing a moral obligation on all of us as Americans to do even more to accept those less fortunate, who have simply by the accident of their birth been condemned to starvation, thirst, danger, and destitution. While we through no action or merit are lucky enough to have an abundance of food, clean fresh water, clean air, space, and opportunity.

I was always wondering why

I was always wondering why affluent and educated people tend to be liberal and I think this Mr. Black’s column confirms what I thought all along. Middle aged and older, educated, well-to-do, and nice people are generally happy and want everyone else to be as happy as they are and think that if they share their knowledge and wealth it will happen. So, as I suspected, despite all their experience and education, it is a purely emotional approach: I feel great and I want others to feel great, too.

Mr. Black’s grandparents came when having a ticket to cross Atlantic was the only requirement to come to America. Of course, they had to stay at Ellis Island where government officials made sure that all the sick were sent back but that is irrelevant because the main thing is that his grandparents came here in a manner that was legal at that time. After they came, they learned English, they worked hard, stayed together, and then had children and gave them education. His parents did the same: worked hard, stayed together, had children and gave them education. I never really subscribe to the motion “I had it tough so now it’s your turn,” but no one gave Mr. Black’s grandparents and parents welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, ESL classes, etc. and they never demanded anything or felt that they had a right for anything… They were grateful just for being in America and thought more about what they have to do than about what others have to do. And remember, anti-Semitism was pretty bad in America then (not many people know or want to remember it)… Of course, it was also easier to have a small business then due to fewer regulations and no one considered small business owners wealthy capitalists and demanded that they pay their workers more than those workers were worth.

As their parents and grandparents, most modern day older liberals also worked hard and feel grateful to the country. Now they feel that they should help other people, which will make them feel even better, forgetting that excessive help spoils. Unfortunately, this desire ignores the reality of human nature: not all people are good, not all people are hardworking, not all people deserve to be helped, and not all people can even benefit from help (poverty level has not budged since 1960’s despite ever increasing number of poverty fighting programs and amount of money). It may be upsetting but it is real life…

Please don’t tell us that

Please don’t tell us that liberals are not angry. Listen to Clinton, Perez, Warren, Sanders. Read comments here. Read any paper. Anger is everywhere: at Trump, at Comey, at Russians, at conservatives, at Republicans, at rednecks, at Trump voters, at white men, at women who didn’t vote for Clinton… even at each other. So maybe instead of accusing people for being angry at high taxes or blaming Trump for trying to kick people out of the country, it would be more productive to analyze those things more in depth and try to understand another point of view?

Anger? Trump trumps everyone including liberals. Lol.

You need to get a clue. President Trump's anger is on almost daily display on Twitter. He is clearly the angriest person in politics today.

He has viciously attacked John McCain's military service record and heroism while enjoying the privilege of 5 deferments for himself. Several attacks on women and Gold Star families. Angry at NFL players kneeling for a few minutes before a game, but can't take a clear stand agaist white supremacists with weapons while marching and chanting anti Semitic slurs against Jewish people and then killing a young woman in Charlottesville.

However, I am not hyper partisan and tone deaf and appreciate the recent comments by Republicans Corker, Flake and McCain in opposing Trump's reckless behavior and actions. Mueller and his team may have even more damaging information to bring to his attention and the nation's soon. The Niger scandal and his reprehensible statements to a Gold Star widow is another headache for him. Self inflicted!

I do believe in our nation's immigration laws and their enforcement. Don't think a wall is practical though and doubt that Trump is really serious about building it. It is mainly rhetoric to keep his base intact IMO.

Finally, thanks Eric for sharing your positive, optimistic story about your appreciation for your parents' values, your values and the nation!

I didn’t say Trump’s

I didn’t say Trump’s supporters aren’t not angry; I just said that liberals are angry…

Mr. Black’s grandparents came

Mr. Black’s grandparents came to America legally and then learned English (on their own, without ESL classes), worked hard, didn’t get much help (and didn’t demand anything), and were grateful to America just for being permitted to come. On the other hand, in those times, America needed unskilled labor force to grow. People keep forgetting that immigration is not a charitable organization and is supposed to benefit the country, not the immigrants who shouldn’t demand anything. Yes, immigration, if designed well (which changes as times change) benefits the country, but not any immigration and definitely not illegal immigration. And please think how angry it makes people who advocate for stopping illegal immigration and who are portrayed as opponents of any immigration (in fact, referring to “immigrants’ in context that requires reference to “illegal immigrants” is standard trick of all the media).

Liberals like to point to other countries. So let’s start with Canada: - as we can see its system is designed to benefit the country. On the other hand, let’s look at Europe. It attempted to remove any limits on immigration in 2015 and results were disastrous: security worsened, crime increased, economy stressed out… As a result, the right wing parties are surging and left wing parties are forced to back pedal. Can we learn from them?

"[C]ame to America legally . . ."

Up until 1921, virtually all immigrants to the US were legal. If you weren't Chinese, and weren't a criminal, anarchist, or afflicted with an infectious disease, you were allowed in. There was no pre-arrival screening, unless a US Counsel did it on his own initiative (Fiorello LaGuardia in Genoa).

"[L]earned English (on their own, without ESL classes) . . ." Neither of us knows that for sure, but there have long been English classes for newly arrived immigrants. Look up settlement houses, or, on the lighter side, Milt Gross or "The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N."

“Up until 1921, virtually all

“Up until 1921, virtually all immigrants to the US were legal.” Exactly… and now it’s not…

“there have long been English classes for newly arrived immigrants.” But not government provided.

"Not Government Provided"

Except for public schools, which pretty much how we do it now.

When were the first ESL

When were the first ESL classes introduced in public school?


Probably around the time of WWI or before, when there was a push for Americanization of immigrants.

We have had one President who did not speak English as his first language.


The current term is ELL, but no matter.
When Mr. Black's (and my) great grandparents came here there were English language courses taught by Jewish organizations for 'greenhorns' (new arrivals). Whether this was charity or enlightened self interest I will leave for history and the readers to judge.
And this sort of 'life coaching' extended to customs as well as language.

See some of the history of Settlement Houses:

...and Trump doesn't

Very nice piece. I am with you on this. Mostly.

I'm always amused when open

I'm always amused when open borders advocates distort US history.

In 1917, when the author's father was born, the population of the US was 100 million...>1/3 of today. Their labor was desperately needed to fuel the industrial revolution underway.

Immigrants were offered $0 relocation benefits from the government. They built their own schools, and relied on friends and relatives for support.

After WW1, most immigrants came from Europe, and many, if not most had a skilled trade. If you've ever admired the brick and masonry work of buildings in Eastern US cities, you're admiring the skill of Polish and Czech tradesmen.

Most of the people immigrating today, legally and illegally, are uneducated and unskilled; many are illiterate in their native languages. Large influxes have strained already struggling public schools, and social services. They have undeniably lowered wages for low skill work, even as leftists demand an arbitrary and unsustainable $15 an hour minimum.

Most countries use a point system that prioritizes people that bring skills or financing that will benefit the country. Canada has recently asked the US to vet visas more carefully to stop the influx of people that use US visas to allow them proximity to cross their border.

Virtue signaling leftists would have us ignore reality to enhance their voter base, to the detriment of the country. It's imperative that thoughtful, logical immigration law prevent them from succeeding.

The best way to express our gratitude as Americans is to secure a bright future for our American children.

I wonder

How long your fortress will withstand the apparently limitless throngs of undesirables at our door. Particularly when we continually antagonize, provoke, and impoverish said undesirables through questionable foreign policy interventions. Bright future? All you create for your children is an ever weakening prison wall...

More Liberals Speak

You Can Stop Now

What do these articles prove? There are liberals who are not in favor of unrestricted immigration. What does that have to do with anything? All you have done is show, yet again, that there is no such thing as unanimity in any human endeavor.

I think we all agree on that.

On the other hand

It's the intentions

This is just a new method of Mr. Black trying to smear the president. Our current president is not the best role model but when you see the constant untrue statements, our current president actually gets more sympathy from the voters. Mr. Black's story is many of the masses that make the American Experiment the best country on Earth. But the continuation of that the current president wants to eliminate everything is just plain false. If you listen, he wants immigration standards set - we have gone through an Obama presidency where we had record numbers of illegal immigrants have come in, many to better themselves but hordes that have committed nothing but crime and been a hamper on our society. And it's liberal dominated locations that protect these people by creating safe havens yet spitting at federal laws. Our president wants healthcare for as many people as possible, but is doing things because Congress cannot or will not change the monstrosity that the Democrats created when they had the House, Senate, and presidency. The Democrats alone created a problem beyond anyone's dream. And the health care systems that other countries use that liberals promote are nothing but a have-or have not systems. The well to do have private insurance to get them in the front of the line. Ask those that use those systems and they hate it. They wait for even basic needs. I have friends in Canada who all say it's a joke and they come here on their own dime. Then there is just the taxation piece. We have a spending problem. Obama, who said as a Senator that it is unpatriotic to run deficits, doubled the national debt. Our government takes in record amounts of revenue each and every year. We can't pay for everything yet liberals think we should because 'it's the right thing to do.' Or it's heartless or unconscionable to even reduce increases in programs. We have a president that understands that either you cut or you grow to get out of that problem. He's run businesses unlike many other presidents. Yes, some failed, but most businesses fail within 3 years anyway. But he knows the risks that it takes and that it is the growth of business that creates jobs and that means more opportunities for everyone. Someone is going to reply with this is a typical Trump supporter response. Trump is not a conservative but is so much closer to the mark than the pie in the sky rhetoric above. If you want to see more given to the needy, you will be much more effective in doing it yourself than having the government waste away, let alone having the government forcibly take more from people of all economic means.

What are Republicans doing with their total control on DC?

You talked about the spending that President Obama did. You are right he did it to save the US economy from the results of the Republicans being in control. If you remember George W. Bush, that very conservative Republican President, bled the country of jobs and put a war that was based on a lie, on a credit card. I guess that was conservatism at work for the masses. More proof the word conservative doesn’t belong next to the word Republican. I know some Republicans dislike Obamacare, which is now Trumpcare, but some Republicans like the ACA. That’s understandable as it has some good features and some that need to be fixed. The Republicans chased the Obamacare car for seven years, caught the car, and then didn’t have a clue what to do with it. After seven years I thought for sure they would have had a viable plan. I remind you that Republicans have total control in Washington. What are they doing about all the problems the Republicans complain about? Total Republican control, and I haven’t noticed any positive changes. I have however noticed Republicans starting to bail out of congress even though they are in the controlling party. That seems odd to me, in total control, and bailing. I wonder what the message is there? Republicans say it creates jobs by giving money to the already wealthy. That is one of those pants on fire statements that’s in the Republican dogma, so it must be true, but isn’t, because it is DEMAND that creates jobs, not give aways to the already wealthy.

Just an idle thought or two…

Perhaps I missed something. Where in Eric’s essay, or where in serious public policy proposals by anyone, much less people I’ll presume to be to the left of Mr. Webster, has anyone proposed to open our borders without restriction? Who has suggested that the United States admit every impoverished person who wants to come here? Mr. Webster (and Mr. Gutman, as well) has raised up a straw man to be attacked, since no one in the policy arena is suggesting that we do anything of the kind. I’m not aware of any official candidates for the presidency in 2020 beyond the Current Occupant, but no one who’s currently being considered a possibility has ever advanced “open borders” as a policy proposal. We already limit legal immigration, including the admission of those who claim to be refugees.

As others have pointed out, Mr. Webster’s suggestion that "[A] large percentage of his ideological soulmates disdain or even outright loathe the United States . . .” is using the propaganda technique of stereotyping in one of its purest displays I’ve seen in years. Demagogues in many cultures, including this one, have used that technique for a long, long time. What percentage, exactly, of our fellow citizens are guilty of this "loathing" of our country? Where did that “information” about the percentage of “liberals” who loathe their own country come from? In other words, is it a reliable source, or the propaganda arm of a political or policy organization with an axe to grind?

Mr. Webster’s assumption that responses to what he has written come from people who’ve never read anything other than “reliably left-wing sources” is itself laughable, as is the assertion that a reader (or viewer) will only encounter leftist views in the mainstream media. There’s a whole television network devoted to an explicitly “conservative” viewpoint. The other networks are large, multinational corporations. Multinational capitalist enterprises are not where those labeled "liberal" would go for support, and especially for advocacy. Over the years, I’ve found right-wing debaters to be considerably more **aggressive** than people with more moderate views, but not necessarily more accurate or truthful, and in this context, I’m inclined to go with Paul Brandon: comments, at least in this MinnPost forum, beginning with invective are far more often from people leaning to the right than from those on the opposite side of the spectrum.

Hi Ray,Seems to me that if

Hi Ray,

Seems to me that if you are advocating people that violated our immigration laws be allowed to stay, you are advocating an open border.

In 1986, President Reagan granted amnesty to 3 million people who entered the country illegally.

Now we have 12 million illegals, many openly protesting, demanding their "right" to citizenship. It's nuts.

In 2001, President Obama signed the DACA order. It spurred a flood of unescorted minors to cross the border in the mistaken belief they would be allowed to stay.

The record is clear. If you do not enforce the law, you encourage people to break it.

Read Peter Beinart

Read the Peter Beinart essay from the Atlantic that I linked to above. Beinart explicitly mentions that almost no Democratic politicians or other prominent liberals will publicly advocate for tighter border security or deporting people here illegally. That's effectively an open borders policy.

The former President knocks down your straw man

Obama was very much in favor of deporting criminals and deported more people than any other president.

Why are sanctuary cities

Why are sanctuary cities against deporting criminals? And Obama deported so many people because his numbers include those caught at the border and sent back right away.

Mr. Black doesn't need to smear the president.

Trump smears himself everyday or do his defenders make up things like his appeal to racists, his fights with Gold Star families, his feuds with Republicans, his lies about health care, his casualness about nuclear war, his insecurity driven scores of "10" he gives himself, and I could go on and on. The man is a buffoon who has no understanding of what really made America great relying largely on resentments to keep going.

My parents were DP's, former slave laborers, who came to the United States with a 5 year old (me) and 1 year old twins after living 5 years in a refuge camp. Between them, they had a few years of elementary education in Poland and the Ukraine and spoke no English. But all 4 of their children graduated from the University of Minnesota, and that was their second proudest accomplishment, next to becoming United States citizens. We didn't get welfare as such, but the congregation of the church in northwest Minnesota that sponsored us provided housing, clothing, and food for us upon our arrival. They also lined up jobs, and it wasn't that long before we were totally on our own. We went to a public school, but I trust our careers returned that investment. Mom and Dad both worked manual labor. Have no idea whether they suppressed the wages of others in the town, but people weren't exactly lining up for those jobs. Immigrants today are no different than we were if given a chance. No, you don't totally open the borders. But you also don't close them as tightly as those living in fear want. You especially don't close them based on race and religion, and the ugly truth is that this is what is driving a lot of the resentment on the right. "Sentimentality" deals with individual stories. That's much more valuable in understanding what makes America great than exaggerations and fear-mongering used to justify selfishness.

“his appeal to racists,” In

“his appeal to racists,” In which way?
”his fights with Gold Star families,” He called them which is one of the most difficult things for a president to do – it was one family and one representative who started the fight.
“his lies about health care,” Do you mean “if you like your doctor..?”
“his casualness about nuclear war” What do you mean?

“…But all 4 of their children graduated from the University of Minnesota, and that was their second proudest accomplishment, next to becoming United States citizens…” So they were exactly the immigrants America needs and very few people are complaining about: came legally, worked hard, gave children education, respect and love this country… Please understand the difference between your parents and those who came illegally, wave other country flags, and demand citizenship…


Apart from regarding "some" of the white supremacist protesters as "fine people," there was his reluctance to condemn David Duke, or his cosseting of Steve Bannon. We can also recall his history in New York (housing discrimination, Central Park Five), or his birtherism.

"[H]is fights with Gold Star families . . ." The whole episode shows how abysmally stupid the man is to continue a fight like this. Why can't he just shut his mouth and move on? Of course, the man who mocked the family of the late Captain Humayn Khan really can't be said to have much regard for the sacrifices of others, can he?

There are hard-working people in other countries who want to come here to educate their children, and to become citizens. The difference between many of them and the immigrants who came before is that they are not white, and may not profess Christianity.

"There are hard-working

"There are hard-working people in other countries who want to come here to educate their children, and to become citizens."

Sure there are. But what is our motivation for accommodating them? What unique thing do they bring with them in exchange for educating their children and bestowing the gigantic gift of American citizenship?

"The difference between many of them and the immigrants who came before is that they are not white, and may not profess Christianity."

Yeah, tell that to the Chinese Buddhists who built the Transcontinental Railroad, or poured into the gold fields during the rush of 1849.

Chinese Buddhists

"Yeah, tell that to the Chinese Buddhists who built the Transcontinental Railroad, or poured into the gold fields during the rush of 1849." Who were thereafter systematically excluded from any immigration whatever. In fact, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was the first significant restriction on immigration into the US. The law was not repealed until WWII.

Once those "Chinese Buddhists" came here, they were denied the right to own land or practice professions. The Chinese were also ineligible to apply for citizenship. It engendered bitter and enduring controversy when the Supreme Court ruled that their children born here were, in fact, citizens. (U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 US 649 (1898)).

Do you still want me to tell them?

"Once those "Chinese

"Once those "Chinese Buddhists" came here, they were denied the right to own land or practice professions. The Chinese were also ineligible to apply for citizenship."

And yet, despite all that, still they came; and continue to come to this day.

Imagine their wonderment at the bounty extended to those that follow their path today. We had something they were willing to sacrifice anything and everything to gain.

No protests, no demands for us to acknowledge their right to violate our laws.

There's the difference for you, friend.


How could Chinese immigrants "still" come during the time they were excluded from entry for 60 years?

"No protests, no demands for us to acknowledge their right to violate our laws." Happy little people, weren't they? Those plucky little fellows just let themselves be brutalized by race riots and massacred. If only certain other types would take a page from their book (note: there is nothing racial to be inferred from that attitude. It's pure coincidence)! The Chinese, of course, had to litigate for basic rights to be acknowledged. I'm sure the prevailing attitude of the Acceptable Americans then was "Good for them for standing up for their legitimate constitutional rights!"

:"There's the difference for you, friend." Yes, suck it up, marginalized races of America.

“Apart from regarding "some"

“Apart from regarding "some" of the white supremacist protesters as "fine people," Your statement already assumes that they were all “white supremacists,” which is not necessarily the case. And where is the proof that Bannon is a neo-Nazi? Trump’s “history in New York (housing discrimination” I think we already talked about it: Lawsuits do not prove any wrongdoing and in this case even a judgment against him will not (re: recent lawsuit in Minnesota against a bank in Chaska, if I remember correctly) – those are all business decisions. And “birtherism” has nothing to do with racism – it was purely political, just like Clinton’s impeachment, for example.

“The whole episode shows how abysmally stupid the man is to continue a fight like this.” Who started the fight? No matter what Trump said, it was under duress of a very difficult call when no one knows what to say, and it should have been appreciated rather than condemned.

“There are hard-working people in other countries who want to come here to educate their children, and to become citizens.” Of course there are – probably a quarter of the Earth population but so what? America has no obligation to let them in. Color and religion have no relevance to this – American needs do. America needed cheap unskilled labor at some time but not anymore, whether they are from South America or Europe. Immigration to America is supposed to benefit America, not the immigrants.


"Your statement already assumes that they were all “white supremacists,” which is not necessarily the case." It's strange that one might get that impression from protesters carrying COnfederate flags and using Nazi symbolism.

"And where is the proof that Bannon is a neo-Nazi?" I don't recall saying that he was. Whatever his opinions might be, he has built his career on enabling the worst elements of the American right (and I know full well that the conservatives here are too noble ever to have read, or even heard of Breitbart. You'll just have to look it up yourself).

"I think we already talked about it: Lawsuits do not prove any wrongdoing . . ." Donald Trump is known for fighting even relatively small lawsuits for years, and refusing to pay judgments entered against him. Why would he settle, even without admitting liability, housing discrimination suits if he thought he had a snowball's chance of winning? In any event, read his ad about the Central Park Five.

"And “birtherism” has nothing to do with racism – it was purely political, just like Clinton’s impeachment, for example." Yes, Clinton's impeachment was a lowbrow political farce staged by some of the most reckless office holders int eh history of the Republic. As far as birtherism "having nothing to do with racism," all I will say is that there is a fine line between naivete and willful blindness.

"Who started the fight?" I learned that was not a defense to anything when I was about seven. The Law of Holes would seem to apply here.

"Immigration to America is supposed to benefit America, not the immigrants." Where do you get that idea? Why is it a zero-sum game?

Carrying a Confederate flag

Carrying a Confederate flag is not necessarily a sign of being a “white supremacist.” On the other hand, the stated goal of the demonstration was to defend a statue and I believe that majority of Americans are against taking down any statues which does not make them racist or white supremacist but history preservationists.

“I don't recall saying that he was.” Correct but you used Trump’s association with Bannon as a proof of Trump’s racism.

“Donald Trump is known for fighting even relatively small lawsuits for years” You mean against the Justice Department? He knew he didn’t have a chance, no matter what.

“read his ad about the Central Park Five.” I did. Does it mention race?

“As far as birtherism "having nothing to do with racism," all I will say is that there is a fine line between naivete and willful blindness.” I would ask for a little bit more proof…

“"Who started the fight?" I learned that was not a defense to anything when I was about seven.” OK, but why don’t you condemn the other side?

“"Immigration to America is supposed to benefit America, not the immigrants." Where do you get that idea? Why is it a zero-sum game?” I never said that this is a zero-sum game or that immigrants are not benefiting from immigration to America (which would be ridiculous since the reason they want to come is because they know they would benefit). All I say is that the immigration laws should be written in a way to benefit America and Americans and the immigrants’ gains are just a by-product.

What it Means

"Carrying a Confederate flag is not necessarily a sign of being a 'white supremacist.'” It sure isn't a plea for better race relations.

Language matters in politics. You need to look into the concept of the "dog whistle." For example, when President Reagan talked about the "strapping young buck" who received welfare, his listeners knew the race of said buck. No, he didn't say what race he was (and never mind that most welfare recipients are/were white), but it was pretty clearly implied.

Here is what Republican hatchetman Lee Atwater had to say about the strategy:

You start out in 1954 by saying, “N****, n****, n****.” By 1968 you can’t say “n****”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “N****, n****.”

That Atwater interview has

That Atwater interview has been debunked so often, only the most desperate ever bring it up any longer.

That quote which you have cited was taken from an interview where Atwater was describing how and why HE DID NOT use race in Reagan's campaign.

He went on to explain:

"In 1968, the whole southern strategy that Harry and those put together, the Voting Rights Act would have been a central part of keeping the south. Now they don’t have to do that. All you have to do to keep the south is for Reagan to run in place on the issues he’s campaigned on since 1964. And that’s fiscal conservatism, balancing the budget, cutting taxes, you know, the whole cluster, and being tough on national defense."

"In 1980, I think the crucial thing in 1980 is, the two dominant issues in southern politics, which had been race and party–you had to be a Democrat to win–are pretty well resolved. And the main issues became the economy and national defense."

So there you have it. In 1980 you didn't have to be a Democrat, or use racist Democrat strategies to win in the South.

Glad I could clear it up for you.

That Atwater interview has

That Atwater interview has been debunked so often, only the most desperate ever bring it up any longer.

That quote which you have cited was taken from an interview where Atwater was describing how and why HE DID NOT use race in Reagan's campaign.

He went on to explain:

"In 1968, the whole southern strategy that Harry and those put together, the Voting Rights Act would have been a central part of keeping the south. Now they don’t have to do that. All you have to do to keep the south is for Reagan to run in place on the issues he’s campaigned on since 1964. And that’s fiscal conservatism, balancing the budget, cutting taxes, you know, the whole cluster, and being tough on national defense."

"In 1980, I think the crucial thing in 1980 is, the two dominant issues in southern politics, which had been race and party–you had to be a Democrat to win–are pretty well resolved. And the main issues became the economy and national defense."

So there you have it. In 1980 you didn't have to be a Democrat, or use racist Democrat strategies to win in the South.

Glad I could clear it up for you.

Clearing this Up

No kidding.

What you apparently missed was the reason I brought up the quote in the first place: to make the point that 1. language matters in political discourse; and 2. what is said explicitly is not always the way the speaker wants his words to be taken, nor is it always the way the listener will hear it.

That's an entirely different point from yet another post about which party is good, and which is bad. Sorry if it tripped you up.

I am glad you agreed with me

I am glad you agreed with me on the rest of the things I brought up so let’s address these two remaining items.

For most people, Confederate flag is a neutral historical symbol, just like a flag of Texas Republic. Is a red flag symbol of hate?

Language does matter in politics but it’s up to us to read what is said and assign meaning to it. If we are biased, we will see one thing, if we are not, - another. Let’s try to get rid of our biases… And Mr. Senker seemed to explain Lee Atwater’s quote…

Last Thoughts

My opinions on immigration are largely based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an agency of the U.S. Government. Here is some BLS and other data that's relevant to this debate.

(1) At most 4% of illegal immigrant workers are employed in agriculture. Farm labor is the only job that Americans won't do in sufficient numbers. In every other occupation, citizens and others here legally are a majority or a near majority of the employees. You know, Americans doing jobs that "Americans won't do."

(2) The left-wing economist and NYT columnist Paul Krugman used to admit that massive low-skilled immigration hurts the earnings and job prospects of lower-skilled Americans. He now contorts himself every which way to avoid stating that reality because it is politically incorrect to say so.

(3) The H-1B visa program has been used by employers to displace American IT employees with much cheaper, more compliant foreign labor. The Disney Corp. laid off 250 citizens and replaced them with mostly Indian workers - at much lower pay - and required the displaced employees to train their replacements as a condition of receiving any severance benefits (source: June 3, 2015 New York Times). Hundreds of other IT employers have done likewise.

(4) Illegal immigrants collectively receive far more in public benefits than they pay in taxes (emergency room care, public education, food stamps (which many receive illegally), and more. This conclusion is quite logical in view of several analyses which found that a family of four on average needs a yearly income of about $60,000 before the taxes they pay exceed the public benefits they receive, i.e. the taxes they consume. Few illegal immigrants have family incomes anywhere near $60,000.

(5) A few years ago, the Star Tribune (amazingly) published a letter to the editor from a retired roofer. He noted that in the early 1980's residential roofing in the Twin Cities was almost all done by union workers, with hourly pay of around $26 (inflation adjusted in 2017 dollars) plus excellent benefits. Illegal immigrants began arriving here and were willing to work for a third of union scale. Roofing wages inevitably fell to the much lower level and union workers were displaced. In the eyes of all politically correct people - you know, the ones who claim to support working people - residential roofing became a "job Americans won't do."

(6) Increasing automation is predicted to displace tens of millions of lower-skilled (and some higher-skilled) workers. If that's the case, why does the American economy need a massive amount of additional low-skilled labor?

I in fact did pull up that 2000 NYT editorial all by myself because I've seen it many times before . In any case, it's irrelevant who originally brought that editorial to my attention - it speaks for itself. I guess I'm fortunate to be a political moderate whose views are a mix of liberal and conservative; I can tolerate differing opinions..

P.S. For another liberal's perspective on this issue, read the link below from The New Republic.

Just wondering

…in light of Mr. Webster's "final thoughts," why the blame, for example, for the fall in wages and benefits in the roofing industry is placed on the immigrant workers. Shouldn't it fall, logically and ethically, on the people who employed those workers?

I'm absolutely on board with Mr. Webster's point #6. The American economy does not need an influx of low-skilled labor, especially illegal, low-skilled labor. Not only could we deport those illegal immigrants, we could also put their employers in jail for hiring them in the first place. If I were a betting man, based on recent examples with meat-packing and other low-skill industries, I'd say the former is much more likely to happen than the latter. The worker gets tossed across the border, the employer who advertised for workers in that worker's home town will, if anything, be slapped with a small fine.

i've read some of the same stories as Mr. Webster regarding his point #3, as well. Once again, it's not the immigrant who has earned punishment. S/he is simply responding as any good Republican would want her/him to do when presented with an opportunity. It's the IT company that bears the responsibility for making the offer in the first place, yet I've not come across any stories detailing the punishments inflicted on those same IT companies for their behavior. That loathsome behavior surely crosses party lines, and there are plenty of IT executives who call themselves Democrats, and plenty more who call themselves Republicans. Either way, they ought to be ashamed, but corporate culture usually has no place for either ethics or shame. Quarterly earnings rule everything. Overall, I'm inclined to think that point #6 pretty much will render much of this argument moot.

In absolute numbers, point #4 is sort of correct, but leaves the impression that illegals, and immigrants generally, are sucking money out of the society without putting their fair share (or anything, according to some on the right) back into it. If they live in Colorado, they pay very high sales taxes, even higher than in Minnesota in some instances (when local taxes are added into the mix). If they live in Minnesota, they pay sales taxes and social security taxes just like everyone else, and if they don't, not only should we be irate at the immigrants, we should be even more irate at the employer who's operating on a strictly-cash, no documentation needed, basis. He **knows** he's being a crook. The immigrant may not.

Finally, I'm willing to be persuaded, but my admittedly small sample of observations suggests that there are other job areas largely populated by immigrants, though I can't speak to their legal status. I don't claim expertise in every area of employment—or any, for that matter, but a few years back I embarked on a research trip to the National Archives in Washington, D.C. that involved a 5,000-mile loop through nearly a dozen states by automobile. I stayed in 10 different motels in 10 different cities, and in every one of those motels, the housekeeping personnel were exclusively immigrant. That's been the case when I've traveled west, as well.

It's a complicated issue, and every society wants to be able to control its borders (Ask the Ojibwe and the Sioux how they feel about unrestricted immigration…), but on the whole, I'm inclined to support Eric's sentiments. I'm not advocating unrestricted immigration or open borders, I'm advocating something beyond the Ayn Rand "I've got mine, screw you" mind set that seems to characterize so much of the political discourse from the right.

We Agree

I wholeheartedly agree with sanctioning employers who hire illegal labor. My proposal: for every illegal worker, the business owners pay $5000 per day. Cheap Labor Factory employs 200 illegals? $1,000,000 per day - even Walmart will flinch at that size of penalty. To top things off, do as Germany does: jail employers who deliberately hire illegal labor. No wall needed, just enforce e-verify with stringent penalties for lawbreaking. Republicans will then decide where their loyalties lie - with cheap labor loving employers or with American workers who will see their wages rise per the law of supply and demand in labor markets, an economic law which not even political correctness can repeal.

"S/he is simply responding as

"S/he is simply responding as any good Republican would want her/him to do when presented with an opportunity."

None of the good Republicans I know are willing to violate the borders of another country to take a job from a citizen of that country.

If the hotels you stayed at had to pay a wage commensurate with an American's expectations, do you not see you might not have to be demanding the government attempt to legislate minimum pay? Why do we need to import housekeeping staff?

And again, if you advocate against enforcing our immigration laws, and that means deporting people that violate them, you are advocating open borders. There really is no way around that truth.

Most interesting

None of the good Republicans I know are willing to violate the borders of another country to take a job from a citizen of that country.

Are you suggesting that "Republicans" don't work outside the boundaries of the USA? Like all those folks working on Oil wells/platforms, foreign subsidiaries, offshore offices, foreign companies, embassies, etc.etc. out side American territory are all democrats? Having been there, many-most of these jobs could be handled by locals. Or are those all bad republicans?

"And again, if you advocate against enforcing our immigration laws, and that means deporting people that violate them, you are advocating open borders. There really is no way around that truth."

You know this sounds very similar to the fascist movement of the 30's. The counter to the claim: If you care not a wit for those folks that have been here for years, 5-10 if not 20-30 years etc, most just looking for a better life, you are advocating for no-humanity or compassion to your fellow man/women/child. "There really is no way around that truth." It worked really well for the Nazi's, not so well for the Jews and those they singled out as unacceptable in their society.

So in your mind there is

So in your mind there is nothing in between fascism and advocating for all 11 million illegal immigrants to stay? And if you, out of compassion, want all of them to be able to stay, the same compassion will require that you advocate for every poor person in the world to be able to come to America, which is advocating for open borders.

Your answer

The point of the response.was, there is a middle ground, The original post was: "And again, if you advocate against enforcing our immigration laws, and that means deporting people that violate them, you are advocating open borders. There really is no way around that truth" Setting up an either or, black/white situation. A simple opposing logical conclusion, if this is true, than this must also be true, If as you concluded, my response appears false, than the original premise must also be false. That was the point, looking at the illegal immigration situation, we should consider more than 1 solution, This follows Erik's article, In the old days our parents worked together to find good workable solutions, not politically pointed ones. Amplifying the point we are all in this together, something we don't see so much of today.