The only good reason to celebrate Columbus Day; or, US immigration history in a nutshell

by Pollyanna Sunshine

The only good reason to celebrate Columbus Day is to remember and honor the fact that, when the first Italian immigrant arrived in the Western Hemisphere by way of Spain and migrated variously around the Bahamas, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, etc. in search of prosperity for his people back home, nobody here even asked to see his papers.

Not that Christoffa Corombo/Christophorus Columbus/Cristoforo Colombo/Cristobal Colon would have had any that would have passed muster today. As far as I can tell, the locals seem to have welcomed him with open arms and offered those tired, hungry (though not particularly poor) bastards from the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria some food and clean water and helped them figure out how to survive in this unfamiliar land.

And it is worth noting that it was not until the 1880s or so that ANYBODY coming to the USA had to show any papers at all, until the government tightened up the rules specifically in order to keep out short, swarthy un-American folks from places like Italy and Poland and Russia and Greece and the swarthier parts of Ireland who kept washing over the Atlantic like a tidal wave of gene-pool pollutants, diluting the sturdy Nordic blood of the current ruling class by such monstrous fecundity that the uptight upper-middle-class white Protestant folks had a very hard time keeping up. And even then, all the “standing in line” or “showing their papers” any of them had to do until well into the 20th century was to show up in Ellis Island and get picked up by some friend or relative or employer who was willing to vouchsafe that they were not criminals or prostitutes and had somebody who could help them find housing and work so they wouldn’t be a burden on the state.

And do we even need to mention those terrifying little yellow people who had been brought over by the boatloads to work the mines and build the Transcontinental Railroad and then had the NERVE to want to stick around and use their considerable skills to get better employment than they could in the poverty-stricken, politically repressive homelands, and then had the even greater chutzpah to want to send for their wives and children and occasionally even their parents and cousins.

I mean, what the hell would we want with the descendants of the folks who gave birth to the Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian foundations of Western Civilization or those who crossed over some landbridge from Asia and spread down all across two continents?

Um, except Polly, who is a naturalized citizen of Texas and has lived in AZ long enough to qualify for permanent resident status years ago. Polly quite adores all those brown folks with their American flags and peace signs and war stories from the 1960s civil rights movements. And can assure her readers that every single one of them she has ever met are much nicer and a hell of a lot more law-abiding than any of the Tea Partying assholes who migrated here over the past 5-20 years in search of better jobs and cheaper housing and nicer weather, or who continue to flock in droves of snowbirds every freaking autumn and drive like maniacs all over the freeways, and muck up the desert landscape with all those RVs, and pollute our air with non-native trees that give everyone sudden onset hay fever their first couple of years here, and never EVER bother to learn the local language or culture.

And Polly must confess that almost every single one of her Polish and Irish and French Canuck and English and Miq’maq ancestors seems to have crossed into the USA via the then-and-now much less carefully patrolled northern border. And although she is not certain what kind of papers any of them had, she is pretty certain that almost none of them would have been asked to show any.

But hey man, all those Navajos and Hopis and O’odham and Yaqui folks look just as illegal as those little brown folks from Chiapas and Guatemala, and you know any short brown person wearing huaraches has got to be illegal, unless of course they have recognizably Minnesotan or Canadian accents (and, I mean, who the hell can tell the difference between those, eh?) So you are just going to have to excuse the masked stormtroopers–er, I mean, nice deputies–for yanking that Yaqui lady out of her car and hauling her away to the county jail in handcuffs, in front of her screaming children. I mean, she was kind of brown, and had a busted taillight. And the deputies always carry little teddy bears in their trunks to comfort the children.