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A Salute to Immigrants

The United States is a nation of immigrants.

The vast majority of you reading this are descended from immigrants (aside from those few who are Native American). I know I am. My paternal grandfather came over from Italy as a child. My maternal grandfather was Irish-American, a Brady whose own ancestors hailed from Oldcastle in County Meath. My paternal grandmother was half German and half Welsh. My maternal grandmother had French and English ancestry. I am a mongrel to the bone. In short, American.

Wherever they came from, and whenever they made the crossing, all of my immigrant ancestors faced hardships, poverty, and discrimination when they came here. They came looking for freedom, they came looking for a better life. And they found it, or made it... and in the process they stopped being Irish or Italian or German and became Americans.

The process is still going on today. Men and women dreaming of a better life still look to America, and cross oceans and deserts by whatever means they can to find that better life. They face hardships and discrimination as well. Not everyone welcomes them. Some talk of walls, of keeping people out, of sending them back. My ancestors faced the same sort of talk. So did yours. It's an old old story, as old as our republic. Millard Fillmore is dead and forgotten, but the Know Nothing Party is alive and well today, under other names. They still know nothing.

But some of us remember where we came from. Some of us remember that it was the immigrants, those tired poor huddled masses, who made America great to begin with.

From September 23 to September 30, the Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe will proudly be screening five great films about immigration and the immigrant experience. A mix of old films and new films, featuring a wide range of actors of all races, colors, and ethnicities, by some of cinema's finest writers and directors. Comedy, drama, terror; immigrants have known it all, and these movies will reflect that. Some are among my own favorite movies. Others I have yet to see.

Here are the trailers for the films we'll be screening:






Check the Jean Cocteau website for dates and showtimes.

In addition to the films themselves, we plan to feature some appearances by the actors, directors, and some of our local political figures, talking about the movies, their own families, the issues surrounding immigration, and the like. We'll have more details on that as the dates firm up. But I know I will be kicking things off myself on Friday, September 23.

And as a way of welcoming our newest Americans, during the entire week, admission to all shows will be FREE for anyone who can show us a green card.

(And while I cannot promise a taco truck on every corner, we do hope to have a wide variety of food trucks turning up in front of the JCC at peak times, offering all sorts of tasty treats).


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Vladimir Toranaga
Sep. 12th, 2016 09:44 pm (UTC)
A Nation of White Immigrants
Yes, a nation of immigrants - that is, up until the Immigration Act of 1965, white immigrants. Seven out of eight immigrants were European and over 80% of the country was white.

Prior to 1965, immigration came mainly from various parts of Europe and occurred in manageable phases (the Irish and Germans in the 1840s and 1850s, the Italians from 1890-1920, etc) which left plenty of time for mutual adjustment. Today, immigration comes mainly from the Third World and occurs at a non-stop pace.

The immigration over the past fifty years has been qualitatively and quantitatively different from the immigration which preceded it, and is, in fact, one of the largest mass-migrations in history (59 million people). As a result, nine out of ten immigrants are now non-European and the white percentage of the population hovers above 60% but is poised to sink below 50% in the 2040s.

For any other country, this would be seen as an existential crisis. For America, it's supposed to be an achievement.

Feel free to welcome demographic replacement and the Balkanization of America, but please, don't pretend like historical tradition is on your side.

Before being denounced as a "white supremacist," I'd like to add that I'm actually a "supremacist" of sorts for all races: I think they should all be free to determine their own destiny in their own nations. I'm not even against immigration in principle (my girlfriend's from the ex-USSR), just against mass-migration which displaces the native population.
Sep. 13th, 2016 06:31 pm (UTC)
Re: A Nation of White Immigrants
The only race our laws should recognize is the human race.

I grew up reading science fiction. Stories of humanity going out among the stars to meet alien species. "Humanity," I said. Not Americans, not Europeans, not Aryans or white people, but "Earthmen" or "Terrans" in all their infinite variety.

You speak of 'Balkanization.' The Balkans were never a melting pot, however, as the failed state called 'Yugoslavia' proved. America IS a melting pot, and that is its glory and its pride. Whatever their religion or the color of the skin, today's immigrants will become "us" in a generation or so, just as the previous waves did. That is, so long as they are allowed to take their place in our society. Efforts to build walls, slam doors, and define newcomers as "them" only delay that process.

The world has grown too small for racist and nationalist bullshit. A few hundred years from now, I hope, we will indeed all be "Terrans," if we don't destroy ourselves in the interim.
Re: A Nation of White Immigrants - redguardricky - Sep. 15th, 2016 11:13 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: A Nation of White Immigrants - grrm - Sep. 15th, 2016 05:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: A Nation of White Immigrants - redguardricky - Sep. 15th, 2016 09:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: A Nation of White Immigrants - slimdorian - Sep. 16th, 2016 12:06 am (UTC) - Expand
Morgane Walton
Sep. 13th, 2016 12:05 am (UTC)
Great post, George! I've got a green card myself; wish I could be there supporting your awesome program! Let's remember that we should all keep the Realms of Men, and not "of the men on our side of the Wall".
Sep. 13th, 2016 10:48 pm (UTC)
Recorded in music.
A favourite album is 'The man from god knows where' by Tom Russell. He takes his family tree featuring Irish and Norwegian immigrants and creates musical windows into their lives. The Norweigian cheated for his pay, the Irish 'picture bride', the orphan trains and homesickness.

Occasionally haunting, I find refrains are embedded in my mind.
If you have an hour, I recommend letting it find you.
Sep. 14th, 2016 12:41 am (UTC)
American History
I just finished Jean Edward Smith's biography on George W. Bush; I found it thorough and well-researched, my favorite kind of history.

Are there any historians or biographies covering US History that you'd recommend?
Sep. 14th, 2016 05:32 am (UTC)
Re: American History
I read more ancient and medieval history than the modern US stuff.
Jeff Johnson
Sep. 14th, 2016 01:10 am (UTC)
I am in full support of LEGAL immigration.Illegal,though causes many to lose their lives trying to sneak in,anyone from any where can come in with anything and criminals take advantage of the people.I know many fine people who came from Mexico and they will assimilate.I worry more abour fanatics who are entering from Islamic countries.They do not assimilate,they want Islam to rule the world.My Cherokee ancestors would have been better off if they had ran my other ancestors off when they came,we should be wary of any religious fanatics who think their God demands converting or killing everyone else and separate fanatics from people who can adapt to the freedoms we have.We don`t need people sneaking in with a canister of Ricin or vx,but it`s probably going to happen.
Sep. 16th, 2016 12:05 am (UTC)
LEGAL Immigration
There has no problem with LEGAL immigration, as long as you respect the laws of the country. Any restrictions on legal immigration will only be for economic [supply, demand, and price laws, etc] reasons, or for safety reasons - which the US already does by screening for Communists and Nazis.

Better luck next time!
Sep. 22nd, 2016 10:45 pm (UTC)
Re: LEGAL Immigration
Historically, most restrictions on immigration have been for racial reasons, not economic. The first immigration law ever passed was the Chinese Exclusion Act.
Andrea Ciappi
Sep. 17th, 2016 10:11 pm (UTC)
A question...
If your paternal grandfather came from Italy, how is that your last name is not Italian?

Just curious...
Sep. 18th, 2016 12:38 am (UTC)
RE: A question...
Ellis Island.
Re: A question... - gman109 - Sep. 23rd, 2016 08:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 18th, 2016 08:06 am (UTC)
It's hard to blame the people that they are looking for a better life. Each of us dreams of making life better. America is a multicultural country. And many people believe that America is a paradise on Earth.
I think so too. Sometimes))))
Sep. 18th, 2016 02:02 pm (UTC)
Bravo. Your work and immigration issues
Thank you for this timely post. Tonight I join others at a vigil at the UN with UNICEF to ask for more to be done to help refugee children. I am a law professor in NY who writes about immigration law.

I thank you for your comments here. I also note that I think in the Songe of Ice and Fire you illustrate the dangerous allure of "walls" as border controls. When we begin and first learn of the Wall we see it as a magical, strong protection of the 7 kingdoms. Yet as the books progress we learn how the wall breeds barriers, ignorance and violence between the free people of the North and those on the other side. We see the enormous cost of maintaining border controls. When those North of wall are fleeing climate change and real danger, what response of the people maintaining the wall...confusiong and claims of traitors for letting in refugees.

As you can see I enjoy how your work illuminates many issues of law and justice. I am writing separately today to your agent and will send a copy to you inviting you to come to speak at a symposium on how your saga explores issues of war, law, and justice. Thank you again for this effort for immigrants.

Lenni Benson,
Professor at New York Law School
Founder Safe Passage Project www.safepassagproject.org
Sep. 18th, 2016 08:53 pm (UTC)
As someone who immigrated to this country when I was 11 and struggled quite a bit to adjust to the American culture, I appreciate this post - and the pretty cool movie selection. As you yourself wrote elsewhere in the comments, it seems like, whenever a new group of immigrants arrives on these shores, everybody says that they don't want to learn English, that they have strange customs and that they will surely never, ever assimilate/become part of the American society. And even though that never turned out to be true, people keep repeating it.

I live in Edgewater (I believe it was still considered part of Uptown when you lived in Chicago), that, for all the gentification and redevelopment, remains a fairly diverse community. And I quite like it this way (the fact that there's a grocery store when I can buy food from my own native country not that far from my building doesn't hurt, either)
Sep. 22nd, 2016 08:15 pm (UTC)
God Grew Tired of Us
God Grew Tired of Us is another great documentary about immigration. It covers the Lost Boys of the Sudan.

Much of it is filmed in my hometown and in my old neighborhood.

Certainly worth the watch as well as these other great films.

I wish I was there to attend.

Jean Philippe Coeurlion
Sep. 23rd, 2016 08:26 pm (UTC)
Hi, I own a little indie game company. And I wonder if I can get a license to make a strategy game based on A Song of Ice and Fire, the game will take place under the civil war, Dance of the Dragons. And not use any content created by the HBO TV-series team. Only happen in the same universe, I will create own designs on the sigils and so on.

Jean Philippe Coeurlion
Sep. 23rd, 2016 09:45 pm (UTC)
Re: License
Sorry, no can do. All game rights have already been licensed.
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George R.R. Martin
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