But something else has been in the air recently too, more or less under the radar screen. I've been thinking a lot in recent years about racism and the US policies on immigration. There's frequent mention on Conservative talk radio (whenever I can stomach listening to it) about the need for much stronger immigration controls. The argument is that immigrants tax the welfare system, tax our economy. I don't exactly buy that, because immigrants usually work hard. The US benefits from having them work. A more trendy argument is that terrorists are free to slip in with the illegal immigrants.
I tend to think that the paranoia over immigration has more to do with the American notion of Anglo-Saxon white supremacy, in other words, with racism. Somewhere just under the radar screen, white Americans tend to be racist. Despite good effort, I have not been able to completely escape this.
Just a few days ago I remembered something that had been drilled into my mind almost subliminally practically from the day I was born, or at the very least, since I became an adult. We English Americans have a strong, unconfessed fear of some day having to live as a minority in our own country. I can recall many times thinking about this with a sense of fear and dread. And this is from a person who, to the best of his ability, has for his whole life avoided being racist. Growing up in a part of the country where I almost never saw a person of another race till I joined the military, it was easy to avoid racism, but it wasn't so easy to socialize with people of other races when I finally did get out in the world. I do remember, though, despising true white racism when I did encounter it in the military. But I still had this deep fear of being in the minority racially in my own country.
Strangely enough, I came across something today that actually combined those two fears, the fear of old age and retirement, and the fear of being in the racial minority in America. It's a liberal/conservative issue, in fact, and here is a good little example of the debate: