Thursday, October 27, 2016

Has the United States become "Balcanized?"

After much effort and planning, my father emigrated from Norway to the United States in the early 1920s.  He first had to arrange a sponsor, then get a written guarantee of a job, save money so that he would not be a burden on the government, show that he had a place to live when he arrived and finally, upon entry, go through a physical exam to show that he was not bringing with him any communicative disease(s).  He told me he never thought that these requirements were burdensome, wrong or illegal; they were good, common sense requirements to protect both the United States and him.

He spoke little English, but those he lived with and worked with immediately began teaching him English and he enrolled in Citizenship Classes to prepare him for the Citizenship Exam.  He...and all who attended those classes with him...came to America to become "Americans."  He honored his birth country, Norway, and taught me to do the same...but he emphasized that he hadn't come to America to make America into a "little Norway,"...he had come to become a true "American."  He wanted to, and believed in, assimilation.  He and all the other immigrants that he came to know were anxious to become a part of the the miracle that was the United States of America...a country where one found the freedom to try to succeed in ways not available to him in Europe...and understood that that freedom came with the possibility of consequences of failure, too.  That was the trade-off: freedom to strive came with no guarantees other than the right to "try."  And he found that if you failed, you had the opportunity to try again.  And he did.

Dad loved visiting Norway in later years, and being with old friends and acquaintances...but he never failed to exhibit a sigh of relief when he came home again to America and say, "it's so good to be home again"...he was an "American."  Not a "Norwegian-American."  And he was both proud and thankful for that.

As I was going through school I was surrounded by kids also born to immigrants...from many different countries.  We got to know and appreciate each other and each other's national backgrounds...but always there was the attitude that those backgrounds were nice, they were part of "us"...but they were incidental; we were Americans.  We appreciated and we abided by the rules and the laws of America...and expected everyone to do the same.  Those who broke the laws and the rules were outcasts...not by any command or written edict, but automatically by their disregard and disrespect for the essence of "America."

Sadly, my observations reveal that this "America" has largely disappeared and is well on its way to extinction.  First, I see multitudes (particularly in the Southwest) who have not come here "by the rules" or legally.  Second, I see many groups refusing to assimilate, keeping to groups from their country of origin continuing to speak the language of their country of origin and refusing to even make believe they are trying to learn English.  Third, a majority of today's immigrants still hold allegiance to their country of origin and not to the United States of America...and attempt to make America into a "mini" version of their country of origin, even to the point of disrespecting the American Flag and flying the flag of their birth country.

 Most importantly, I see the Federal Government of the United States of America actually supporting these activities, aiding and abetting this lack of assimilation.  And the result is that the United States of America has become increasingly "Balcanized."  As Europe originally did in areas of the Caribbean and South America, areas of the United States now seem less like America and more like small versions of other foreign countries...America has disappeared.

The Federal Government no longer truly protects our borders or control who comes to America...and then takes action against border states that attempt to fill the need for that protection and control, leaving the citizens of those states unprotected and at risk.  Add to that the actions of some major cities that put the welfare of those who surreptitiously and illegally cross into this country above that of lawful citizens.  Arguably, those elected officials in those cities are in abdication of their oaths of Office...but neither the citizens of those cities or the Federal Government seems to least not enough to demand that that be stopped.

America is losing its identity...and amazingly a great number of our citizens do not seem to mind or care.  Thankfully, my father has passed away...otherwise these actions would insure his dying of embarrassment for the country he adopted as his own and loved more than where he was born.  And I am embarrassed for my country's abdication of its character.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Why do we have Racial Unrest today? (#3 of 3)

There is a valid assertion that by providing government assistance that assures survivability and is available for virtually an unlimited period we cause the receiving group to not only become dependent on such support, but to train them to ignore all other potential efforts to be self-sufficient.

But given that such dependence now exists, to discuss whether or not it should have been done is a useless exercise.

To be "given" support over an extended period of time with no requirement or expectation of moving from that support to self-support creates a sense of shame (usually deeply buried) and compensatory attitudes to bolster a sense of self-worth.  For kids without fathers present in their daily lives, they substitute gangs and gang membership.  To support their self-worth, they develop their own sense of right and wrong that supports their own actions, regardless of what those actions are, as "right."  And they totally ignore efforts from "others" to change that view, because to change would necessitate that they acknowledge that their previous actions were not "good" or "right."  Oh, there are some that see the bigger picture, but not many.

It is this unwillingness to change, and the underlying anger that supports it, that creates the real problem for those kids, their neighborhoods, and ultimately for America as a nation.  What can or should be done?

I freely admit that I don't know.

But there are some ideas that might be worthy of at least talking about.

Supposing an organized effort was made to take every single child that did not have a father present and employed out of the neighborhood and put them in a proven, approved foster home that had access to a good school district with support to encourage achievement?

What if the rules on schooling provided not only for school choice, but for schools to be able to bar  disruptive kids from the campus, thus allowing students who wanted to learn the teacher time to enable that desire?

What if disruptive kids were required to be put in a military type, government organization where they were supervised and required to work each day for a menial wage until they came to recognize the advantages of learning?

How about city officials discussing with gangs the possibility of them becoming screening groups for calling in regular Police forces, making them officially responsible for the safety of their community?  That would give them status but also make them responsible...a good pairing for learning to live a useful life.

Are these answers?  Probably not...but it is time we all recognized the very real and difficult problems that our citizens who live in the inner cities have and work to provide good and beneficial options for those there who want improvement.

Unfortunately I don't see our government, at any level, having any real interest in solving the situation.  They just want it to be quiet: quiet summers, quiet desperation, quiet unhappiness.  And that is just an abdication of their respective oath's of office.  Until we demand and see that that attitude changes, we will have to look to private organizations to move forward.  And I hope that all of them, both civic and religious groups, step up...and soon.  Each of us, as citizens of a great nation, should have available to us a path to success.  That path isn't free, and it isn't easy, but it should exist so that every citizen with purpose and motivation can travel forward...and upward.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Why do we have Racial Unrest today? (#2 of 3)

It is essential to understand three things, before looking at the root cause of today's challenges:

First, having a reason...even a valid reason...for doing something does NOT eliminate the consequences for what is done.  When civil disobedience was first used, the actions taken were against the law.  Those who broke the law fully expected to be arrested and jailed; they understood (unlike so many today) that in order to bring attention to their position that the laws were unjust, they would be put into jail.  They accepted that that would happen but were convinced that by so doing they would bring more publicity and more support to change laws they were convinced were unjust, unfair and just wrong.  They understood and accepted the concept of "consequences."

The riots, looting, injuring and killing people in response to perceived injustice are wrong.  While in varying degrees the response is understood, it is NOT excusable and those who so act should be arrested, prosecuted and jailed for their crimes...and they ARE crimes.

Second, those in the minority community who talk about hating whites are NOT racists.  They have had experiences that have taught them that most whites with whom they have interacted are not nice people, that they disrespect and mistreat...and cheat...them.  Their attitudes are the result of experience, not of un-supported assumptions.

Third, the majority community (usually white) that interact with the minority (usually black) community are NOT racists either.  Their experience has been that they are disrespected, called names and have things thrown at them and are lied to by the minority community.  Their attitude is experience-based, not the result of un-supported assumptions.

So...could we all stop with the accusations of Racism or being Racist?  It is wrong and it is not productive.

With all that in mind, what is at the root of today's challenges?

I would suggest that there are two main causes: Failure of Education, and Failure of Government.

Education in this country is based on the Prussian model, designed to create good citizens.  "Good" citizens was defined as those with sufficient educational skills (writing, math, spelling, ability to read, and an appreciation for a nation's "rightness" in history) and the training to obey basic laws and orders from the "powers that be."  It was, as best I can estimate, about 50% education and 50% indoctrination.  When established in America, initially the indoctrination part of the equation did not work; students went home to a family life that required hard work, independent thinking to survive, and parents that had no problem at all in dismissing anything they deemed "faulty" in the teaching...and in dismissing any teacher that didn't teach as the "families" (making up the school) wanted.  So that period of education worked for as long as the family unit remained the prime trainer of children.

This all changed after the Great Depression and World War II.  "Modern" parenting became permissive (and parents wanted to avoid their children suffering from the depredations that they suffered during the depression) and absent as the march to acquire "stuff" and the movement toward "women's equality" saw many mothers now working outside the family home.  Children no longer experienced their parents checking not only their homework, but what they were being taught each day.  Teachers' Unions came into existence and parents no longer controlled what their children were taught...of even if the were being taught.  Today's parents who care about such things often find themselves banned from even entering their children's' schools, much less determining what they are taught.Today's schools seem to be 90% indoctrination, with failure to pass in the remaining teaching elements no obstacle to being given a High School Diploma.

This failure is clear throughout the United States, but is particularly disabling to young, poor, minority youth in our inner cities.  Even those with a H.S.Diploma find it hard to find a job.  And most are the product of broken homes where there is often only one parent, and that parent has to work multiple jobs to survive, even as they get some benefit from so-called "safety-net" social programs.

The first generation to suffer this kind of existence is embarrassed by it and want desperately to get out of the dependency.  The second generation is less embarrassed and less motivated.  By the advent of the third generation, the dependent life-style has become the norm and they know nothing else.  However...all people who are "given" stuff, eventually come to hate and despise the givers because the very dependency on "unearned" anything is disrespectful.  So they grow angry and simmer...until some action becomes the "hair that brakes the camel's back" and all of that resentment explodes in violence...violence that hurts themselves, their neighbors and friends more than it moves toward a correction or solution to the underlying causes.

Government, of course, serves those who contribute the money.  That means that government want the peace kept.  Instead of identifying the educational needs of the poor and the minority citizenry, the government simply works to wall-up the poor.  Then, they give enough money to keep the poor from starving in an effort to keep them quiet.  Even those who claim to want to improve the plight of the poor only do enough to secure the votes of the poor so those elected officials can stay in office, often speaking disrespectfully of those of their own race in the privacy of their offices.

So...what, if any, are the solutions?  We'll look at that in my next (and last) entry.