About That Whole “Land of Immigrants” Thing

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So, it is common for people to talk about the United States as a “Land of Immigrants.” This is usually well intentioned, often said in the context of defending the rights and value of recent immigrants. The message is, “Our ancestors were immigrants once, too, so we should have empathy for these new immigrants.”

That’s great, but it is always worth remembering that there are two groups in this country who are not descended from immigrants – at least not in the conventional sense of the word: Native Americans and African American descendants of slaves.

Why bring this up now? Well, the administration has been ramping up its assault on immigrants, with ICE’s horrifying series of raids and deportations, and, today, with the issuance of the revised Muslim Ban. Also, Ben Carson, the man who singlehandedly changed the meaning of the phrase “It’s not brain surgery,” did this:

Here’s the thing. the first Native Americans were technically immigrants in much the same way that a tomato is technically a fruit. Yes, maybe their ancestors “immigrated” across Beringia twelve or thirteen thousand years ago, but you and I both know damn well that’s not what people mean when they use the word.

Referring to African slaves as immigrants is more like putting tomatoes in fruit salad. It requires a complete disregard for linguistic convention and cultural history. Plus, it’s disgusting.

Carry on.

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