Mario Obledo - Co-founder of MALDEF
"California is going to become a Hispanic state........"
"Eventually we will take over all the political institutions of California...." [Tom Leykis Show]
Listen to Obledo's rants
Ethnic strife is not a geographically distant phenomenon
Ling-Ling is executive director of the Diversity Alliance for A Sustainable America, a Berkeley-based population-control advocacy group.
Ethnic strife in the former Yugoslavia was translating into tragic mass killings. Although the United States is no Yugoslavia, Americans can ill afford to ignore disturbing signs of rising racial and ethnic tensions at home.
The Birth of a Nation
At the Ford Foundation ethnicity is always job 1
By Craig L. Hymowitz
....Over the next three decades Ford and other liberal institutions, such as the Rockefeller and Carnegie Foundations, would seek to expand the rights of Hispanics in a variety of ways. One report by the Latino Institute found that in 1977-78, "the Ford Foundation, provided over half (54 percent) of the support for Hispanic needs and concerns. The Ford grants were nine times greater in value than the foundation providing the next highest amount." The survey also revealed that MALDEF alone received almost one-third of all funds given to Hispanic-controlled organizations. To date, Ford has given more than $18.9 million to MALDEF, and $12.9 million to the National Council of La Raza.
This past February, Norman Bernstein, principal of a predominantly Latino school in San Fernando Valley, told the Los Angeles Times that he was "beaten unconscious by two men, at least one a Latino . . . " Those assailants said to him:
"We don't want you here anymore, principal. Do you understand that, white principal?"
Last year, The Cupertino Courier reported that the heavy influx of Chinese immigrants into the once almost-all-white Cupertino was ill-accepted by many natives. The latter were angry that the newcomers made little efforts to learn English. As a recent example, after the Cupertino Unified School District Board of Education considered offering a Mandarin-immersion kindergarten class, Barry Chang, its vice president, was greeted with hostile mail and phone calls. Chang said he "was at the point of thinking of buying a gun" and carrying it.
On June 16, 1998, Mario Obledo, former California Secretary of Health and Welfare and co-founder of Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, was interviewed by the Southern California-based radio station KIEV. He affirmed his position that California is going to become a Hispanic state, and that anyone who does not like it should leave.
In his 1997 San Francisco Examiner opinion page article, "Let's Bring Back `Separate but Equal'," U.S. history teacher Thai A. Nguyen-Khoa wrote: "[The U.S Department of Housing and Development] cannot expect to achieve a harmonious racial mix by throwing these few Vietnamese-American families into the Alice Griffith housing complex, a predominantly African-American project. . . . Cultural differences can be accepted as diversity, but at other levels they too often result in conflict."
Unfortunately, racial and ethnic conflicts have also occurred in recent years in other states:
Last year, The Detroit Free Press reported that "a lunchroom food fight pitting Arab and non-Arab students turned into an all-out brawl" at a local high school. This prompted the Dearborn school board to "address racial tension in the city that often has been divided along Arab and non-Arab lines."
Recently, The Record in New Jersey wrote that deep-rooted tensions between Korean immigrants and natives in a New Jersey suburb "extends beyond the main street and into schools and everyday life." While the head of a local homeowners' association said that he felt like a stranger in his own town, a local Korean-American commented, "This is like Korea. . . . "
The Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader has noted that the rapid Hispanic population growth there has created frictions between local Hispanics and natives, including black Americans. According to a local Hispanic, the town's newcomers "are trying to have their own lifestyle like they had in Mexico."
As early as in 1992, Jack Miles, then an editorial writer for the Los Angeles Times, warned in his Atlantic Monthly article, "Blacks vs. Browns," that the Rodney King riots were carried out against Latino and Asian immigrants by poor native blacks who felt out-competed politically and economically.
A recent headline in The New York Times also stated: "Many Florida blacks, tossed by population shifts, say they feel `Left Out'."
Racial and ethnic conflicts have always been part of the U.S. experience. However, this country is now experiencing the greatest sustained inflow of immigrants in its history, over 1.2 million per year on the average, plus hundreds of thousands of "temporary" workers.
Recent newcomers have come from over 100 countries and are not assimilating. How fragmented could America become if we added more than 200 million people to our population within the lifetimes of today's teen-agers, a possibility according to the U.S. Census Bureau?
Although the United States did absorb close to 1 million immigrants per year at the turn of the last century, most of them eventually assimilated, thanks in part to a quasi-moratorium in immigration between 1925 and 1965.
At present, acculturation is nearly impossible due to many factors: progress in telecommunications and transportation that can link most immigrants easily and continuously to their home countries; an explosion of foreign-language media that deprive immigrants of both the incentive to learn English and the experience of hearing it spoken; activists promoting bilingual education and multiculturalism; and most importantly, an absence of some sort of "time-out" from mass immigration.
Many individual immigrants have good qualities and many problems in America are not caused by immigration. However, competition for resources and differences in culture and ethnicity are often the main dividing forces in multiethnic societies, as illustrated by the mass killings in the former Yugoslavia and recent atrocities committed against ethnic Chinese in Indonesia.
If the United States has not been able to address existing problems, should we admit over a million newcomers every year to add more pressure to our infrastructure and social fabric?
Po Wong, while directing the Chinese Newcomers Service based in San Francisco, has said: "I don't think our community is equipped to welcome this large number. . . . "
Racial and ethnic harmony can still be achieved in the U.S. if effective measures are taken to prevent present conflicts from escalating. Immigration is a very difficult and complex issue. But it is a time-bomb that must be addressed. A necessary and urgent step is for Washington to lower annual immigration to no more than the traditional level of approximately 200,000 a year.
Ling-Ling is executive director of the Diversity Alliance for A Sustainable America, a Berkeley-based population-control advocacy group. She can be reached at via e-mail at email@example.com