Letters to the Editor - Spring 1996

By
Volume 6, Number 3 (Spring 1996)
Issue theme: "Straight thinking on immigration"

Footnotes from Scottish history

Editor

I am grateful to Joseph Fallon for bringing the book, America's British Culture, to the attention of a wider audience (Book review, Winter 1995-96). I, for one, was unaware of this title.

May I, however, correct three historical errors in his otherwise excellent article. Mr. Fallon talks about Madison Grant's ancestors having come to America after 'the English defeated the second Jacobite rebellion of the Highland clans at Culloden Moor in 1745.'

The forces which defeated the Jacobites were not English but British since the Union of Crowns which created the United Kingdom of Great Britain was in 1603 and the Union of Parliaments which created the British political state was in 1707. In addition, there were four battalions of Scots fighting in the British forces and further militia of Scots (Source John Prebble, The Lion in the North, Penguin, 1981, 1971, p.307). The Church of Scotland, in particular, was opposed to the rising, not least because it threatened to put a Catholic on the British throne. Not a single minister of the Church of Scotland supported the rising and it is therefore misleading to suggest it was an English/Scots showdown.

It was also the third major rising after those of 1689 and 1715 and the fifth if one includes the failed attempts of Louis XIV in 1708 and Cardinal Alberoni's non-event of 1719. Finally, the battle was, of course, on 16th April 1746, and not 1745.

Alistair M. McConnachie

Edinburgh, Scotland

English language

and the workplace

Editor

I think your readers will be interested in this 'tale from the trenches.'

Recently, I received a summons to jury duty in Suffolk Superior Court, here in Boston. The case was perfectly illustrative of the problems created when unskilled, uneducated immigrants arrive here, 'ghettoize' themselves and do not endeavor to learn English or otherwise assimilate.

The immigrant, a 24-year old Guatemalan with a sixth-grade education, was working as a temporary worker in a fish-processing plant. He was cleaning a machine which breads fish patties, losing his right thumb and forefinger when he slipped, fell and caught them in a mechanism on the machine. The nature of the accident was itself dubious.

During sworn testimony, we learned that he spoke no English (he used an interpreter in his testimony) and had been given only rudimentary training in cleaning the machine by his supervisor, an Italian immigrant who spoke very little English (he needed an Italian interpreter to testify) and no Spanish. Primarily due to this rudimentary, inadequate 'look-see' training, unsafe working conditions and an accident were the result.

Moreover, the immigrant (plaintiff in the case), when cross-examined by the defendant's lawyer as to why he has not bothered to learn English during the three years he has spent in this country said, 'I was devoting myself to work.'

The reality, as discovered in testimony, was this he arrived in January 1992 (or March, which he said later under cross-examination), went to work at the factory in early April, was injured after barely a month on the job. Between three surgeries, he recuperated and received one hour of physical therapy three times a week. During occupational therapy, he was informed that he could make better progress if he learned English. With all the spare time he had on his hands, he still did not bother.

He is suing the makers of the machine (which we discovered had had only two such reported accidents in 22 years of otherwise safe operation within the Commonwealth Of Massachusetts, both involving immigrants who spoke no English and received rudimentary training in cleaning of the machine) for payment of his medical bills, and for an award for 'pain and suffering.'

The immigrant, plaintiff in this case, will receive a settlement of $135,000; appeals by the defendants are pending.

This is another result of the dubious 'immigration reform' introduced in 1965. The plaintiff had a sixth-grade education, had previously been farming on his father's 'postage stamp' farm in Guatemala, and had absolutely no other skills. He came to a country that allowed him to ghettoize himself without learning English or otherwise assimilating; one that, therefore, put him to work at a distinct disadvantage. Knowledge of English, as a condition of employment, would have enabled the plaintiff to get the training required to maintain his work space and do his job safely.

However, the corporation that makes the machine now must pay medical bills, lawyer's fees, and a 'pain and suffering' settlement. That cost will eventually be transferred to consumers - those who use the machine, and those of us who consume its final product.

I'm sure some of your readers have similar stories to tell. I'd like to see The Social Contract address the workplace-safety aspect of uncontrolled immigration issues, since this is another aspect of uncontrolled immigration's impact upon the economy.

William G. Johnson, Jr.

Dorchester, Massachusetts Affirmative Action

and the California Initiative

Editor

Regarding James Robb's "Affirmative Action for Immigrants" [The Social Contract, Winter 1995-96] and your own editorial what is surprising is that it took so long for Americans to make the connection between affirmative action programs, massive immi-gration, and income stagnation or decline for most Americans below the top quintile.

The two most important civil rights laws since the Civil War era were the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Immigration Act of 1965. During the 1970s federal agencies and courts developed affirmative-action procedures requiring preference in jobs and contracts for an expanding list of racial and ethnic minorities. At the same time family unification preferences and chain immigration strategies brought 20 million new arrivals to the U.S., three-fourths of them Hispanic or Asian, and hence qualifying for employment preferences over a majority of American citizens on the basis of ancestry alone - a bizarre outcome that confounds the intention of the Civil Rights Act.

Now that the civil rights initiative will be on the ballot in California in November, we can expect increased attention to the way affirmative-action preferences reward and accelerate immigration from Latin America and Asia while penalizing millions of native-born citizens for incorrect ancestry.

The theme of the Winter 1995-96 The Social Contract could scarcely have been more timely.

Hugh Davis Graham

Nashville, Tennessee

[Editors' note Dr. Graham, who is a professor of history at Vanderbilt University, is author of The Civil Rights Era Origins and Development of National Policy (New York Oxford University Press, 1990).]

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