• Last modified 68 days ago (April 11, 2024)


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Let’s have a conversation

To the editor:

It’s sad that we as a people seem to have lost the ability to have plain ol’ conversation.

It seems as if you’re Red or Blue or Rainbow or whatever, opinions are so definite now: “The country is going to hell in a handbasket,” “our leaders have failed us,” “the police are corrupt,” “schools are indoctrinating our kids,” “people who support MAGA issues are all crazy,” “people who don’t support Trump are traitors,” “people don’t want to work anymore,” “Washington is just a swamp.”

Why don’t we calm down and look into the issues intelligently and discuss possible answers like adults?

If we were all part of a business, with different positions filled by our friends, neighbors, and us, how would we approach an everyday problem or an emergency?

Would we start by pointing fingers at each other, shouting each other down, and retreating to our respective corners? We would fail if we did.

Why can’t we discuss various problems in a more respectful and intelligent way?

Take immigration. Our nation’s immigration laws have not been updated in roughly 40 to 50 years. Our economy depends on immigration, and people who hire immigrants rely on that labor force.

The tide of immigration has increased not because of policies but because of the strength of the U.S. economy and because of issues in home countries that are worse.

Immigration has become inflamed in recent years by politicians and cable news. 

The rise of cable news in the early ’90s was the start of our national divide. It was amplified by the Internet.

Remember when the news came on and you would watch it, then go on about your business? Remember when you would log on to the Internet when you needed something specific, then log off and go about your business? Those days seem as quaint as Grandma baking a pie with Crisco. 

I’m not saying immigration doesn’t have to be managed and legislation enacted to reflect current, modern-day issues. But let’s be honest. People have been immigrating here since the Pilgrims. My ancestors immigrated here, and so did yours. Each wave thinks they are the only true Americans. Let’s ask the Kansa tribe what they think about that. 

My grandpa worked on the railroad. He used to say Irish workers looked down on Chinese workers, but they all were there, working. The Chinese were steady and reliable. They weren’t sick as much. They didn’t drink and fight like the others. They contributed greatly to completion of the transcontinental railroad. They just did it their own way. 

In Branson, there is a story about job openings going unanswered, so hotel and casino companies advertised in Puerto Rico. Many answered the call and moved to Branson, where they proudly worked, put their kids in school, and took their place in society.

What happened next? Even though Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, they were called “wetbacks” and subjected to wide-ranging discrimination.

That’s sad. Locals could have taken the jobs. If you say it’s because immigrants accepted lower wages, then why aren’t you blaming the owners and executives of the companies that hired them?

I’m not saying anybody is all good or all bad. I’m just saying issues are more complex than “Build the Wall.”

Read about the Bracero Program in 1942. The U.S. and Mexico allowed Mexican agricultural laborers to work in our fields during World War II.

Many stayed and built lives and families here. Is that bad? I don’t think so, but some may disagree. Our disagreement doesn’t mean we are any less patriotic. It just means we disagree about that one thing.

I traveled in rural Australia in the early 1980s. I ran into some Aussies who gave me a hard time for being a Yank. Those people judged me simply because I came from America. That opened my eyes. I wanted to come back home to live!

I have been mugged. I have been cheated out of money. I have suffered indignities at work and faced layoffs. But not one immigrant did any of that to me.

I’m not saying some immigrants don’t commit crimes. But crime is a separate issue. And crime comes in many forms. Who has read about Heartland Tri-State Bank in Elkhart? And you thought “pig butchering” was only at Allen Meat Processing! Some will rob you with a six-gun;
some with a fountain pen. 

I’m proud to say I hail from Kansas. I say it all the time. Life and circumstance have moved me away. But I still care about the place and its people.

It grieves me to read ugly comments from one person about another, either an individual or an entire class. We are better than that! Let’s try to prove it.

Doug Gambrell
Bay Village, Ohio

Last modified April 11, 2024