“Washington’s Crossing”, by David H. Fischer, which is a fantastic, readable exposition of the planning and crossing of the half-frozen Delaware River on Christmas day in 1776, is so well done that when I finished the audio book I read the hardback edition. To give background to the story Fischer details the training of the Continental Army soldiers, the German Hessian mercenaries and the British regulars. Most of the European soldiers were in their army for a career, expecting to retire back in their own countries with a soldier’s pension.
Many did not return home.
As the British soldiers quartered themselves in and around New York after its capture in August of 1776, they noticed something different from their home country, and that was the prosperity of the colonies. On the average the American colonist was three times wealthier than the average Brit. After the war many Hessian and British POWs decided to stay in the USA. After WW 2, of the more than 400,000 German POWs who were interned in America and then shipped back to Germany, more than 5000 returned to the United States to become citizens and a greater number returned to visit.
For those of us who are well-traveled, we are forced to realize that America is exceptional among countries of the world.
Samuel Clements, aka Mark Twain, crossed the Atlantic in 1867 on a steamship whose sole purpose was to give Americans a tour of the Mediterranean countries. From this experience he wrote “Innocents Abroad”, the title based upon the naivete of the American passengers in their lack of sophistication of first-hand knowledge of the state of affairs of foreign countries. He writes of his utter surprise at the poverty and disease of the first Muslin country he sets foot on – Morocco. “Animated rags” is the term for the locals he used in describing the unwashed, those with flies landing on them in abundance, too used to them to shoosh them away. Blindness from eye infections was common, and the children who could see followed the tourists in masse yelling “Baksheesh!” (alms). He puts the blame on the culture.
It’s no surprise that foreigners rush our borders. We ARE the best country in the world, with an abundance of freedom and opportunity unlike anything ever seen.
So what do these economically afflicted people do once they get here – these refugees fleeing depressive cultures which provide and enhance corruption and chaos? For sure some do learn English, find work, abide by our laws and are overjoyed at the opportunity to better their previous situation. But some – and there seem to be no statistics available – find this freedom as opportunity to gain wealth in illegal ways. Coming from a country that has little, to one that has much, their behavior was controlled by the lack of available money or items to steal. When confronted with such abundance, and having no moral training in self-control, their obvious recourse is to get it any way they can (I say we have enough of our own of these types). Moreover, from those of a totally alien culture and not knowing the language, who have been told all their lives that their host country is “The Great Satan”, what else do we expect? And with so many social safety nets competing with each other to justify their existence, why are we surprised to find many immigrants taking advantage of them?
It’s true that we do need people with a strong work ethic to do the work white Americans refuse to do. But the great dilemma is this: Who do we invite and who do we send back? I guess we have to wait and see how they perform; are they assets or liabilities? At this time it’s impossible to tell. Meanwhile some are going to wreak havoc and murder. As some politicians tell us, this is the new order.
Feel helpless yet?
Ray Wolbrecht is a retired Kyle dentist.