*from David Bowie’s “Changes”
Keith Harbaugh recently posed the following question as a comment to my old post where, a few months ago, I confessed to being a latent SJW.
TTG, since you are
a) a native New Englander,
b) a Catholic, and
c) have said in the past, I believe, words to the effect "I see no problem with immigration as long as it does not exceed the capacity of America to assimilate the incoming migrants", I invite you, if you are reading this comment made three months after your post above, to read and if you care to comment on, two articles discussing efforts, and results, of something called "Catholic Charities" (whose mission statement seems to epitomize the POV of the SJW) to increase the flow of immigrants to Portland, Maine:
In particular, do you think the authors of these articles have a point in the concerns they express? Or are they expressing concerns that deserve no respect, in your view? Or perhaps some intermediate position. BTW, I sympathize with the concerns expressed. But as the saying goes "Your mileage may vary".
Kieth also posed another cogent question. “The issue, IMO, is: Should that culture be preserved or replaced (in the name of "progress", of course)?”
Well Keith, since you took the time to ask, I’ll take the time to answer. In general, I can find articles expressing support for the rapid influx of immigrants to Portland as easily as finding article expressing alarm such as the two you noted. The two you found do express valid concerns about real challenges. The influx of so many immigrants so fast is taxing social services in Portland and across Maine. Portland’s elected leaders acknowledge this cost and are addressing it. If the people of Portland disagree, they will vote in new leadership. A lot of Portland residents themselves stepped up to help as do private groups like Catholic Charities. Catholic Charities USA is a national network which does SJW work across the country. It helps poor and needy long term local residents as well as recent immigrants.
Another factor is that Portland is not a quaint New England seaside town. Most Mainiacs don’t even consider Portland to be a Maine city anymore, almost an extension of Boston. It is a liberal city, a historically liberal city. The non-immigrant professionals who moved into Portland made it even more liberal. It is also these professional newcomers who are raising the rent in Portland, not the immigrants from Africa.
So, does Portland gain anything by taking in all these immigrants? Without these overwhelmingly young immigrants, the population of Portland and all Maine would be on the road to extinction. They are aging out. The money spent educating and supporting these new arrivals is an investment in the future of Maine. These immigrant families are initially content with a far lower standard of living as they take their place in the existing society. That’s how immigrants have always moved into our society. Of course they do change that society in the process of integrating into the society. And that’s the crux of the controversy.
New England has changed dramatically over its long history, but there is a continuity. The Puritans of the 17th century slowly gave way to the abrasive and insular New England Yankee. Although a caricature, the Yankees of the “Bert and I” stories did exist and, in rare corners of Maine, still do. Portland is not one of those corners. Today’s New Englanders are as different from those Down East Yankees as the Yankees are from their ancestral Puritan forefathers. Time and immigrants do that to a society. Both sides change and the way things were are no more.
I saw that in my Connecticut hometown. The old community of rural Congregationalists more than doubled in size with the influx of Catholic immigrants from eastern and southern Europe. Those immigrants largely worked in the mills in nearby Waterbury. The character and culture of my town changed forever. One factor that eased the cultural transition was what I saw as an outsized effort to educate the newcomers (my family included) as citizens of Prospect, Connecticut. In our grammar school, we were infused with countless lessons in history, literature and citizenship. The Saint Anthony’s RC Church and the Prospect Congregational Church played an important part in this education. Tolerance, mutual courtesy and the imperative duties of citizens and Christians were common lessons from the pulpits. Through those efforts, Prospect became something new rather than a hilltop littered with abandoned houses, barns and fields. We newcomers were not totally assimilated, nor did the older residents remain unchanged. Since the attitude and actions of the people of Portland seem to mirror the attitude and actions of the original population of my hometown, I think Portland will enjoy (or suffer) a similar future.
There are a lot of communities in the US that are in much worse condition than Portland ever was. The native people are aging out and what kids there are are moving out. They are becoming ghost towns. Refugees and immigrants might be a shot in the arm to those towns, but only if those townspeople are open to give it a try and SJWs like Catholic Charities USA pitch in. I guarantee a lot of the old timers will grouse about the newcomers and their strange ways. They will long for the old days. I guarantee there will be troublemakers among the kids. There always are. But as both sides change willingly or unwittingly, those dying towns may metamorphize into something new.
OTOH, there is a chance that an influx of immigrants could be so large that the older population is simply driven to extinction. I see no reason to hasten that kind of outcome.