Mark Krikorian, the leader of the anti-immigrant lobby’s “think tank,” the Center for Immigration Studies, wrote last night that black people worldwide need the influence of a colonizing culture in order to thrive. No joke.
My guess is that Haiti’s so screwed up because it wasn’t colonized long enough…But, unlike Jamaicans and Bajans and Guadeloupeans, et al., after experiencing the worst of tropical colonial slavery, the Haitians didn’t stick around long enough to benefit from it. (Haiti became independent in 1804). And by benefit I mean develop a local culture significantly shaped by the more-advanced civilization of the colonizers. Sure, their creole language is influenced by French, but they never became black Frenchmen, like the Martiniquais, or “Afro-Saxons,” like the Barbadians. Where a similar creolization took place in Africa, you saw a similar thing — the Cape Coloureds, who are basically black Afrikaaners, and even the Swahili peoples of the east African coast, who are Arabized blacks. A major indicator of how superficial is the overlay of French culture in Haiti is the strength of paganism, in the form of voodoo — the French just weren’t around long enough to suppress it, to the detriment of Haitians.
In attempting to make some pseudo-intellectual observation about the Haitian tragedy, Krikorian once again let his true colors show. Andrea Nill summed it up at ThinkProgress today:
Ultimately, Krikorian’s assessment of what’s wrong with Haiti is based in the same perception of the relative cultural inferiority of non-Western nations that guides many of CIS’ immigration positions. In his book, Krikorian argues that modern-day immigration “weakens our common national identity, limits opportunities for upward mobility, threatens our security and sovereignty, strains resources for social programs, and disrupts middle-class norms of behavior.” Earlier this year, Krikorian admitted that he believes there isn’t enough pressure for “Anglo-conformity .”
You might remember Krikorian from when he was named Worst Person in the World by Keith Olbermann for trying to push some of that “Anglo-conformity” on Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor for pronouncing her name too ethnically: “Deferring to people’s own pronunciation of their names should obviously be our first inclination, but there ought to be limits. Putting the emphasis on the final syllable of Sotomayor is unnatural in English…”
But Krikorian isn’t the only leader of the anti-immigrant movement who’s felt the need to weigh in on the Haitian tragedy. After President Obama and a bipartisan group of Members of Congress granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitian immigrants living in the United States, Congressman Steve King (R-IA) argued that Haitian immigrants in the U.S. should be deported (in order to “help with the relief effort”). And, right on cue, the anti-immigrant website V-Dare (named after Virginia Dare, supposedly the first white child born in the Americas), posts an article with data to back up Rep. King’s statement entitled: “Haitian Immigrants Pretty Useless—But Haiti Still Needs Them More Than We Do.”
Here’s one of the reasons all of this is so important: for years the anti-immigrant movement has spent countless hours and dollars to counter charges of racism by spinning their extreme agenda as being in the best interests of black people. Krikorian’s own website features a whole section called “Black Americans,” and Krikorian’s partner organizations have created front groups and bought advertising to bolster their claims.
But try as Krikorian and his anti-immigrant network might to reach out to African Americans, degrading people of color seems to be a habit that’s hard to break.
Cheryl Contee aka "Jill Tubman", Baratunde Thurston aka "Jack Turner", rikyrah, Leutisha Stills aka "The Christian Progressive Liberal", B-Serious, Casey Gane-McCalla, Jonathan Pitts-Wiley aka "Marcus Toussaint," Fredric Mitchell
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