White panic over a browning America

White panic over a browning America

Rockwell's Freedom from Want

Norman Rockwell is dead. So is his America.If you find that declaration sad, or possibly slanderous, you probably have fond memories of “the way we were” during a supposedly kinder and gentler time before the civil rights movement, women’s lib and cell phones. If you don’t shed tears over that America, you may have grown up as I did — oppressed by the strictures of a social and political system that didn’t show much respect to those who were not white male Christians.
Either way, the overwhelmingly white nation that Rockwell depicted in his sentimental paintings is gone. (I intend no disrespect to Rockwell, whose portrait of 6-year-old Ruby Bridges integrating a New Orleans school stands out in civil rights iconography.) Just last week, new data from the U.S. Census Bureau confirmed a trend long in evidence: The nation continues, inexorably, to grow darker.
For the year ending July 1, 2012, deaths among non-Hispanic whites exceeded births, the Census Bureau reported. The majority of births in this country are now to blacks, Asians and Latinas.
That development helps to explain the discomfort among older conservative voters with immigration, which has been the driver of the nation’s increasing diversity. They see the country in which they grew up, in which they held the political, social and economic power, slipping away, becoming a place with which they are unfamiliar. Their anxiety boils down to a misplaced fear that they will be strangers in their own land.
Their misapprehensions are stoked and amplified by the rightwing media axis, which has spent years defining undocumented workers as barbarians at the gate and all people of color as suspect. Even as support grows in mainstream America for legalizing undocumented immigrants, the pitbulls of the right continue to denounce any attempt at comprehensive immigration reform as an unjustified “amnesty” to lawbreakers.
Rich Lowry — editor of National Review, the magazine founded by William Buckley — says so. So does former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, now head of the conservative Heritage Foundation.
Rush Limbaugh, as usual, doesn’t attempt subtlety as he argues that conservative voters would lose all political clout if undocumented immigrants gain citizenship: “There are legitimate fears that …Republicans/conservatives are gonna end up .. outnumbered.”
If Limbaugh conflates conservatives with his listeners, he’s right. But they are dwindling, anyway. The Limbaugh audience — like the GOP primary voter — skews older. Looking toward voting patterns ten to 20 years from now, Republican strategists have fretted over the party’s failure to appeal to younger voters.
One of the ways in which the GOP alienates younger Americans is with its harsh rhetoric and unwelcoming policies toward those who crossed the border illegally. According to a 2009 Washington Post/ABC News poll, 73 percent of Americans ages 18-29 support giving those immigrants a path toward legal status.
Younger Americans have grown up in a more diverse nation, so they are far less likely to see those with darker skin and different accents as a threat. But there are good reasons for older white Americans to welcome immigrants, too — whether or not they entered the country with legal documents.
Without them, the United States would be doomed to the kind of demographic “bust” that countries from Japan to Russia are experiencing, with birthrates so low that the population is not reproducing itself. That has all sorts of dire economic consequences.
For one thing, there aren’t enough younger workers to support all the retirees. Japan’s long-running economic malaise has several causes, but its aging population — exacerbated by its hostility to immigrants — is surely one of them.
Whatever the long-term problems with our Social Security and Medicare programs, they’d be far worse without the Latinos, Asians and Africans who have revitalized rundown neighborhoods, invigorated popular culture and shared in the American Dream. As Brookings Institution demographer William Frey told The New York Times, the new Census figures make “more vivid than ever the fact that we will be reliant on younger minorities and immigrants for our future demographic and economic growth.”
Their vitality ought to be welcomed.

8 Responses

  1. jon towle says:

    Not in shock, you are not white. Of course you will write something like that. You make me laugh you angry little zit on my ass.

    • ctucker says:

      I’m guessing you didn’t actually read the column. Please ask someone to read it to you.

  2. Funny, I don’t feel panicky. I just feel like it’s a beautiful day in New England, a day filled with the scenery and people that inspired Norman Rockwell. He’s not as dead as you think.
    My poetry celebrates what you see as the old America: a place of beauty, dignity and peace (although not without its conflicts). I share it with about 1,000 new friends a week, and I’m happy to add you to the list.
    Best wishes,
    Ellin Anderson

  3. 6/17/13
    Dear Cynthia,

    You state that one of the reasons we need immigrants is because of our increasing reliance on younger minorities and immigrants for our economic growth. Why? Because we are on the same path as Russia and Japan and not replacing our population.

    Why are we not replacing our population? What about the 58,000,000 Americans that have been aborted since 1973? If just half of those were alive today, our economy would be booming with Americans needing cars, clothing, goods, etc. There would be plenty of jobs with the people paying taxes to cover the government’s expenses and to support our elderly or handicapped on Social Security.

    In 1973 when abortion was legalized, I knew that my life was also in danger. I was 33 in 1973 and I knew then that there would not be enough younger people to support the older people in 30-40 years, especially since the baby-boomers would be senior citizens then. If a culture can destroy babies – cute and cuddly babies – because they are “inconvenient”, then how would a culture react to older, infirm, drooling people in wheelchairs?

    Then when Obama was running for President in 2008, he gave a talk saying that he would solve the Social Security budget problems through Medicare. I knew what he meant: that Medicare would determine the worthiness of senior citizens to receive medicine or surgical procedures, and that if the person did not meet certain requirements, they would be given “pain medicine” and sent home.

    So, I had been right back in 1973. I am now a senior citizen with physical problems and I definitely fear that the “death panels” will decide I am not worthy of treatment and I will die earlier than my time.

    Why didn’t people know this would be the ultimate outcome of abortion? We are now reaping the results of the evil brought about by abortion. And all of us will pay.

    • Why aren’t we replacing our population? Why do we need younger workers to support our retirees? Could it have anything to do with our killing off 58,000,000 Americans since 1973 through abortion? We are now paying the price for our greed and selfishness.

  4. Absolutely, Ms. Tucker: Norman Rockwell is dead. But ironically, another Norman Rockwell has been trying to take first breath since 1936, and THAT Norman Rockwell is all about multiculturalism and people of color. But a whitewash has been going on.

    Norman Rockwell’s America was not all white. As early as 1936, for example in his painting Love Ouanga, Rockwell was portraying people of color with empathy and a dignity often denied them at the time. And he created these portraits from live models.

    My book, “Hidden in Plain Sight: The Other People in Norman Rockwell’s America” unfolds, for the first time, the stories of the Asian, African, and Native Americans who modeled for Norman Rockwell. These people of color, though often hidden in plain sight, are present throughout Rockwell’s more than 4000 illustrations. People like the John Lane family, Navajos poignantly depicted in the virtually unknown Norman Rockwell painting, “Glen Canyon Dam.” People like Isaac Crawford, a ten year old African-American Boy Scout who helped Norman Rockwell finally integrate the Boy Scout calendar.

    No one has ever spoken to or about these folks before. In fact, in her book, “Norman Rockwell’s People”, Susan E. Meyer cataloged over one hundred and twenty Rockwell models, including two dogs, Bozo and Spot. Not one model of color is named in the book. The message was clear: all of Norman Rockwell’s people were white.

    My research also explored what motivated Norman Rockwell to slip people of color “into the picture” in the first place (even when the Saturday Evening Post and the Boy Scouts expressly told him not to.) And in so doing, I set out to document the famous illustrator’s deep commitment to and pointed portrayals of ethnic tolerance, portrayals that up to now have been, as Norman Rockwell biographer Laura Claridge so clearly put it, “bizarrely neglected”.

    Hidden in Plain Sight: The Other People in Norman Rockwell’s America” is an eye opener for everyone who loves Norman Rockwell, everyone who hates Norman Rockwell and for all those people in between who never thought much about Norman Rockwell because they believed Norman Rockwell never thought much about them. It may, Ms. Tucker, expand the way you think about Norman Rockwell, and the way you think about Norman Rockwell’s America. I would be happy to send you a copy, and would warmly welcome your comments and thoughts.

  5. Robin Thomas says:

    You are a hate filled anti-white bigot.

  6. America Gone says:

    It was a beautiful and kind, cultured society where people felt they belonged to a common cause, America.

    Now it is a balkanized mess where every race thinks about themself, upholding their language and culture and not assimilating, and mainly making a mess of things.

    Yeah, I do miss the way it was. It was a fine form of living and now its been destroyed by too rapid globalization. A nation divided…falls.

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