Category Archives: Immigration

Italian Town Offers 2k to Immigrants

From Italy’s Corriere della Sera:

The city council of Spresiano, under influence of La Lega Nord (the Northern League) proposed a bonus of two thousand dollars to legal immigrants who move away. Budget strapped towns are grappling with how to cope with the economic crisis; having to support out-of-work foreign workers, in addition to their own, has turned sentiment against immigrants, legal or otherwise.

Explained Assessor Manola Spolverato, “We are willing to give two thousand euros per family provided they go live elsewhere. It costs us less than guaranteeing support to families in difficulty. It is not possible that the municipality is forced to maintain at its own expense, immigrants who, despite having lost their jobs, continue to have a valid residence permit.” His proposal comes just after another initiative, which would have reserved support for families where both spouses speak Italian.

Criticism that Sticks

Headscarf

 

While living in Italy, at least early on, I bristled at the European accusation that we, the U.S., were always minding other countries’ affairs. Meddling. Interfering. But it didn’t take long before I realized they had a point. The long and growing list of examples of America’s nosing into other people’s business includes our recent push to gain EU membership for Turkey. Just last month after a meeting with the President of Turkey, Bush argued, “It’s in the interest of peace that Turkey be admitted into the EU.”

 

I wonder how Europeans, more specifically Germans, feel about Bush’s hyperbolic assertion. I certainly know how many Italians feel about the growing Islamic influence in Europe. I wrote about it extensively in my book, The Absentee Ballot. 

 

Speaking Tuesday before Turkish Parliament, Prime Minister Erdogan referred to Germany’s practice of assimilating Turkish immigrants into German society as a “crime against humanity,” after just last week proposing that Germany should begin creating Turkish language high-schools…in Germany.

Just three percent of the German population is of Turkish descent, yet the headscarf aficionado, with a straight face, is lobbying Germany for the creation of new high-schools, hiring teachers from Turkey and instructing students in Turkish. How outraged would we be if the Mexican President came to the United States and demanded Spanish only high-schools? Spanish speakers make up nine percent of the U.S. population. At least President Calderón, would have a better argument.

A journalist for the German newspaper Der Spiegel called the Turkish language high-school suggestion “a novel idea,” but I’m not sure the German population shares that multicultural outlook. Conservative politicians most certainly don’t. The governor of Bavaria Gunther Beckstein spoke to Germany’s N24 TV and had this to say (from Der Spiegel):

      “The task (for Turks) is to be good citizens in Germany, to learn German, to speak German in their families.”  Erdogan’s remarks are   “nationalistic” and “highly displeasing.”

Conservative German newspaper Die Walt opined:

“This is the message that will stick: The Germans don’t want integration; they want to rob the Turks of their Turkishness, of their culture. That is grist for the mill of the not especially small number of Turks or Turkish descendants who aren’t very interested in integrating and who try to blame the Germans for that.”

 “Integration also involves assimilation. A person who grows into another culture changes by doing so. He leaves much of the culture he descends from behind. He gives up the old to become someone new. It’s a beautiful, painful process. In the long run it makes no sense to refuse to accept that.”

Maybe it would be in America’s best interest for Turkey to gain EU membership, but would it really benefit our partners in NATO? Europeans, not Americans, are the ones forced to confront the radical change occurring within their societies. Setting cars ablaze, threatening newspapers, inciting hate at radical mosques and murdering artists don’t exactly reflect the enlightenment values of their adopted nations.  

When Europeans tell us to mind our own beeswax, well, maybe we should.

Are Republicans after the Anti-Bush?

John McCain Hangry

Lost in the analysis of the ever-changing complexion of the Republican primary—more specifically the ascension of John McCain—is why conservatives seem to be bucking conventional wisdom by gravitating toward someone who hasn’t simply bucked party principles but has been the party maverick, the one most likely to appear first under results of a ‘Republican outcast’ Google search.    

Some pundits cite a less than stellar field as a rationale for McCain’s popularity, and perhaps they’re right. Others believe it’s his electability, in so much as he might be the only one that can knock off Hillary Clinton. But there is one motivation for the McCain surge not making the editorial roundtables—Bush fatigue. Usually mentioned in connection with Democratic frustration and voter turnout, it’s rarely mentioned as an explanation for McCain’s emergence.

Republicans haven’t forgotten McCain-Feingold or his roguish ‘gang of 14’. They also don’t share his view on immigration. From Zogby:

“An overwhelming majority of American adults say a candidate’s stance on immigration is important to their voting decisions, a new Zogby Interactive poll shows. More than 76 % of the online poll respondents said a candidate’s position on immigration is a “very important” or “somewhat important” factor in their decision on who to vote for in the presidential elections of 2008”

So obviously, many Republicans are ignoring recent history with regards to McCain, his amnesty proposal and his forever needling of conservatives. Maybe they too want change and are looking for the anti-Bush.

Who better than that Republican who has been most openly critical?

Hillary’s freefall; Is Barack the man to beat?

Living in Italy gave me an opportunity to learn about European politics, but it also gave me an education on American politics, only from their perspective, not The New York Times. For political geeks like me, election year entertainment is wall to wall TV coverage and site to site web reportage. But until I moved to Italy and had lived there for a while, I didn’t realize Europe’s level of interest in U.S. politics, and how significant American elections are and were abroad.

Headlining Italy’s Corriere della Sera is Hillary Clinton’s freefall from favored status. Another major Italian magazine, Panorama, calls Barack “the man to beat in New Hampshire.”  France’s Le Figaro leads with “Hillary Clinton in turmoil” and goes on to say (with Google translator’s help):

“The campaign of the former first lady, long time favorite of the Democratic primaries, seems mired in disarray. Officially, her staff ensures that the setback in Iowa hasn’t influenced its plans and that there is no need to change strategy. The emphasis is always on “experience” and to “swallow” the hope embodied by Barack Obama to the rank of perilous adventure”.

Germany’s Der Spiegel explores how populism and fears of a recession have factored into the success of Obama and Edwards—the angry crowd rouser who “speaks with rage” against the existence of  the “two Americas.”

I wonder though.

Are these European writers sympathetic to an electorate driven to the polls by 4% unemployment and $3 dollar gas? As mentioned in my book, The Absentee Ballot, as of last year, Italians were paying almost $6 per gallon for unleaded gas. European journalists and their readers suffer taxes, gas-prices and employment rates much higher than populism enthusiasts. American voters who are attracted to the message du jour see a nation filled with problems, while many others around the world see a paradise full of opportunities.  

 This election is closely followed, not just in the U.S, and is paramount, not only to the American people. It’ll be interesting to watch their reactions to Hillary’s fall, Obama’s rise and whichever Republican gets the nod.

Huckabee, the Presidency and the Pope

I haven’t met an actual Huck-backer since he began skyrocketing in the polls and shaking up the pundits’ election score-card. I just don’t get the fascination with him. Sure, he’s shown many positions, but are those positions really in line with the GOP? He’s a prolific pardoner, he’s disinterested in closing the borders, and I’ve learned that he not only can lead the congregation in sermons, but also in song. Only, instead of “Old Rugged Cross”, it’s more like “Kumbaya” and “Kyrie.”

So what is the reason for his surprising frontrunner status in Iowa and South Carolina? I gather it’s his ministerial background as opposed to his gubernatorial one. Apparently, Republicans are electing a Pope, not a President.

But how would some of the world’s greatest leaders have fared under this relatively new, yet narrow criterion? Carter vs Reagan in 1980. I have no doubt: if the more dedicated Christian had won, we would have missed out on perhaps the most prosperous decade of the 20th Century, not to mention one of its best Presidents. What about a sinner like Sarkozy who dared to divorce his first wife, and, gasp, is in the middle of his second separation? Would he be elected in the U.S.?

I don’t know, the preoccupation with faith in politics has me bewildered and depressed. In this election cycle at least, the candidates’ dedication to Christianity appears essential to their viability.

Maybe it’s not too late to persuade one of my parents to run; after all, they’re both Southern Baptist Sunday school teachers.

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