Here and Now

Multigrain, Please

I have no craving for white bread; it’s too plain, predictable and tasteless for me. I hunger for a chunk of multigrain or rye, maybe even a good-sized piece of pumpernickel raisin, with a schmear of cream cheese on the side.

I have no appetite for bland, clean-cut, middle-of-the-road, isolationist politics. And I find unsettling the cultural sameness, gross consumerism and incurious mindset of too many in this neck of the woods. 

I’m careless about landscaping. I don’t have a dog. My political views are anything but conservative and I’d rather have a pour of cabernet than a mug of beer. I’d also like to see a greater amalgam of people when I walk out my door and drive into town. 

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According to the 2010 U.S. census, 90 percent of the residents of Putnam County identify as white; 91 percent of the residents of the town of Carmel identify as white. More than 95 percent of both the town and county are American citizens. Given the growing diversity in this country, these statistics are troubling. More people of color and immigrants would bolster our economic future.  

A recent opinion column in The New York Times, by David Brooks, focuses on the impact of restrictive immigration and antagonism toward racial diversity. 
“If you get in your car and drive through rural New England, Appalachia and across into the Upper Midwest,” Brooks states, “you’ll be making your way through county after county with few immigrants, rural places that are often 95 percent white. Their lack of diversity is straining the social fabric.

“Are these counties marked by high social cohesion, economic dynamism, surging wages and healthy family values?” Brooks asks. “No,” he answers. “Quite the opposite. They are often marked by economic stagnation, social isolation, family breakdown and high opioid addiction.

“It is a blunt fact of life,” Brooks continues, “that immigrants, these days, show more virtues than the native-born. It’s not genetic. The process of immigration demands and nurtures these virtues. America is suffering from a loss of dynamism. New business formation is down. Interstate mobility is down. Americans switch jobs less frequently, and more Americans go through the day without ever leaving the house. [Immigrants] start new businesses at twice the rate of nonimmigrants. Roughly 70 percent of immigrants express confidence in the American dream, compared with only 50 percent of the native-born.”

Brooks also cites dynamic research conducted by Robert Putnam, author of “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community.”

“Immigrants have much more traditional views on family structure than the native-born and much lower rates of out-of-wedlock births,” he writes. “They commit much less crime than the native-born. Roughly 1.6 percent of immigrant males between 18 and 39 wind up incarcerated compared with 3.3 percent of the native-born.”

Regarding assimilation, Brooks offers further data to consider. A survey of literature from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine finds that immigrants [in a relatively short period of time] stop identifying with their ancestral homelands and simply think of themselves as white [and American]. In the 2010 census, 53 percent of Latinos identified as white, as did a similar percentage of Asian-Americans with mixed parentage.

Brooks also discusses pointed research, conducted between 2014 and 2016, which shows that towns and counties that have embraced diversity account for 72 percent of the nation’s increased economic output and two-thirds of the new jobs. The approximately 85 percent of counties that attempt to restrict immigration and isolate people of color account for a meager 28 percent of the growth.

Too often, I hear the hateful rhetoric regarding immigration and racial diversity that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth repeated in private conversations with neighbors, business owners and respected members of this community. Disappointingly, too many share this president’s views on matters of politics, foreign affairs, race and immigration. 

They laugh when our president disparages immigrants and people of color in vulgar terms. They admire his leadership when he brags about his ability to push a button and incinerate North Korea. They support his demand for $25 billion to build a useless wall between the United States and Mexico.   

Deporting 200,000 Salvadoran war-torn refugees living peacefully in this country for the past 20 years; rounding up, in the middle of the night, innocent Latino mothers and fathers who have been living peacefully and productively in this country for decades; and using as a bargaining chip the threat to deport more than one-and-a-half million children brought to this country at a very young age. 

Yes, there are many in this community who willingly tolerate Trump’s sinister desire to appease his base at any cost, no matter the hurt and hardship it causes. 

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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