White “Christian” nationalists are fighting a rear-guard action. And if against all odds, they should change America to their liking, they’re going to have a hard time getting a taxi or having a meal in a restaurant or enjoying professional classical music or getting a website designed. And they sure better not get sick.

Twenty-six percent of American doctors are foreign born and educated.

Thirty-nine percent of medical residents are foreign born. If they are hospitalized, there is a good chance that howling midnight pain will be relieved by a foreign-born stranger.

The doctors who keep me going are mostly what white “Christian” nationalists would view as foreign or otherwise objectionably different. They include two Indian Americans (one a Sikh), a Chinese American, a second-generation Iranian, an African American, and several Jews. In the past, I’ve been seen by an Arab hospitalist, had back surgery by a Sri Lankan American, been treated by an Israeli American dermatologist, and been cared for by Filipina nurses. I was given an MRI exam by a Pashtun man who grew up near the Khyber Pass. I’ve had blood drawn by a native of Nepal. My butt has been wiped and my vomit cleaned up by Hispanics.

Of course, ethnic variety is more pronounced in New York City, where I live, than it is elsewhere, but foreign-born doctors and medical personnel are to be found everywhere in America, including in towns too small to have a hospital or more than one or two doctors.

Like it or not, this is who we are. I like it.

I can’t prove it, but I’m pretty sure that broader life experience makes doctors better doctors; it gives them perspective and perhaps an extra dollop of empathy. Not only that, I find that growing up abroad makes them interesting to talk with (if they have time for a little conversation).

 To be clear – liberal though I am – I favor restriction on numbers of immigrants. Without that, we will become destructively overcrowded. Never mind the seemingly inarguable view that since native Americans are not reproducing fast enough, large numbers of tax-paying young immigrants are required in order to keep Medicare and Social Security from going broke. It is usually overlooked that the Brookings Institution and the World Economic Forum are having some success in finding alternatives to ever-expanding population. But that’s a discussion for another time.

Here’s another position that liberals like me usually oppose. The many new Americans who are here – legally or not – must be subject to a certain amount of acculturation. E pluribus unum cannot exist absent some uniformity of values, notably belief in the rule of law, even though a certain prominent native-born you-know-who and his followers have no use for it.

In addition, American citizenship must require facility with English – not just rudimentary English either. It is a great mystery that so many people, including doctors’ office workers, get paid to speak into telephones making sounds that are largely unintelligible to most people who have American English as their first language.

This is not  to say that America is weakened by having many speakers of foreign languages. Quite the opposite. It lets us be a part of a bigger world. This was recognized as far back as 1958 when the National Defense Education Act was passed to encourage, among other subjects, area studies and foreign languages, particularly non-European varieties. Having people who can read and write languages such as Arabic, Farsi, Mandarin, and Yoruba was rightly thought to be in the interest of national security. It still is.

The fact is, we are a polyglot, multicultural, multiethnic people. No amount of anger and resentment is going to change that.


9 thoughts on “BREAKING NEWS!!!

  1. John Watson

    A recent Texas Monthly article ( details one of the fracking billionaires behind the move of the Texas GOP toward Christian nationalism/dominionism, Tim Dunn. Along with the Wilks brothers he has become the biggest funder of the most radical sector of the Texas Republicans. His money was behind Paxton, and provided the $3 million spiff to Lt. Gov. Patrick days before he presided over a rigged Senate trial in Paxton’s impeachment. Looks as though the party is tearing itself apart and this is playing a part. They are even going after the Speaker of the House in the primary on March 5. Crazy time is getting even weirder.

  2. Ellen Rienstra

    You’ve hit the proverbial nail right where it’ll go right in. Although I also believe in regulating immigration numbers and the necessity of some acculturation, the vast majority of my doctors, for example, are Indian. Two med techs in my life are from Rumania. And my Uber driver last week was from Cuba. Contrary to the Christian nationalists, I, like you, CELEBRATE the diversity of this country, and Houston, where I now live. Thanks for articulating this view so beautifully.

  3. Miles Van Nortwick

    I have seen multi ethnic medical professionals at HSS with whom I have been extremely impressed. I totally agree with your post.

  4. Mary Jane Wilkie

    What’s not usually addressed in the immigrant question is that they’re not coming here because they love us, but because life is hard in their own countries. And the Western “developed” world bears some responsibility for that. The U.S. has been imperialists in Latin America for a long time, de-stabilizing governments, supporting dictators and the like.

  5. Fred

    The Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed in 1943, overcoming significant nativist opposition that was rampant in the 1930’s (An entertaining introduction to this might be viewing The Black Legion, starring Humphrey Bogart). The great waves of Hispanic migration were triggered by the acquisition of Puerto Rico and the Philippines before 1900, and again by tumultuous events in the Caribbean and elsewhere during the 1960’s. Etc. Candidate Trump in 2016, sensing political paydirt among those equally oblivious to history, decided re-litigate this issue, pretending that the admission of such people as citizens of the US was somehow a contemporary issue rather than a long-standing fait d’accompli. It’s cheap politics, but easier than actually trying to develop substantive positions on important matters of public policy.


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