[Previously by Marcus Epstein: The Conservative Best-Seller That National Review Won't, Well, Review]
[VDARE.COM note: Breaking news! Congressman Tom Tancredo has been forced to cancel the speech discussed here, which was to be given at the Miami Rotary Club, [send them mail] because of bomb threats received and the danger from protesters:
"Both the club and the restaurant were taken off guard by the reaction to Tancredo's scheduled visit, said club president Richard Tonkinson. [send him mail] "More than half of the club's members are foreign born, Tonkinson said, and they were looking forward to grilling Tancredo about his Miami comments." [Miami Rotary decides to nix invite to Colorado congressman, by Casey Woods, Miami Herald, December 13, 2006]Also the staff at the Rusty Pelican restaurant, site of the Miami Rotary Club's regular lunches, revolted—apparently as a result of some form of bigotry on their part. [Tancredo's Miami speech canceled | Restaurant cites bomb threats, worker gripes, by Anne C. Mulkern, Denver Post, December 13, 2006]
Michael Kinsley once said that a gaffe is when a politician accidentally tells the truth. Typically, after the unintentional truth-telling, the media, other politicians and assorted shakedown artists respond with righteous indignation, demanding not only an apology but also some sort of ritual discussion about What We Can Learn from this unpleasantness. The gaff-er apologizes and offers politically-correct legislation to show how caring he can be with other people's money. Sometimes, if the gaff-er squirms and grovels enough, he can keep his job. But he is almost always in a weaker position than he was pre-gaffe.
Congressman Tom Tancredo doesn't make gaffes—because he always intends to tell the truth. During the last few years, he has been accused of racism, xenophobia and all the other usual smear words whenever he criticizes mass immigration and multiculturalism. But, unlike most politicians, he has stood by his convictions, never backed down, and ends up more popular after each controversy.
The latest non-gaffe made by Tancredo occurred at David Horowitz's Restoration Weekend in South Florida. Tancredo made a number of important points attacking globalization and the 'proposition nation,' and then made a quick aside that,
'Look at what has happened to Miami. It has become a Third World country. You just pick it up and take it and move it someplace. You would never know you're in the United States of America. You would certainly say you're in a Third World country.' [Congressman calls Miami a 'Third World country, By Lesley Clark, Miami Herald, Nov. 27, 2006]Following the script, congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Cuba) called Tancredo ''flat-out wrong'' and invited him to take a trip to Miami. Miami Mayor Carlos Alvarez [send him mail] and called the remarks ''outrageous'' and similarly invited Tancredo to visit and ''see what a vibrant community we have.''
Republican Governor Jeb Bush was less charitable: he reportedly called Tancredo a 'nut.' [Send him mail] He went on to send a patronizing and clichéd letter. [ PDF] informing Tancredo of how many great schools and how few ethnic enclaves there are in Miami, ending (of course) with a postscript encouraging Tancredo to come visit.
At this point, the story diverges from the gaffe script. Tancredo responded with an open letter [ PDF] to Governor Bush. He noted that contrary to Bush's claims of great academic achievement, only 45% of Miami's public school students graduate high school. In contrast to all the claims about diversity being Miami's and America's greatest strength, he noted that
'the tolerance of cultural diversity in a city or a nation is admirable up to a point, but when diversity is worshipped to the detriment of assimilation, it becomes a serious problem that undermines the civic culture that forms the basis for our democratic institutions and the rule of law.'Usually after a gaffe, the bien pensants claim that they want a real dialogue about the underlying issue brought about by the gaffe. Of course, what they really want is a monologue about why there are certain points of view that people aren't allowed to have. Tancredo did not accept this. He concluded his letter to Jeb Bush: 'We should encourage the discussion of this issue rather than castigate those who attempt to bring it to light.'
In addition, Tancredo has appeared on numerous talk shows. And he is taking the advice of Bush, Alvarez, and Ros-Lehtinen, and is coming down to Miami on Thursday to give a speech in Miami on the important issues this controversy brings. [VDARE.COM note: Speech cancelled on account of the threats—see above—but it's available on VDARE.com]
If we're going (finally) to be able to discuss the issue of diversity, as Tancredo has urged, I would like to go a bit further.
Diversity can be good in moderation—if what is being brought in is desirable. Most Americans don't mind a little ethnic food, some Asian math whizzes, or a few Mariachi dancers—as long as these trends do not overwhelm the dominant culture.
A few examples from Florida:
Of course, there are many different parts of Miami that are quite nice. There are plenty of beautiful gated communities. In fact the wealthiest community in the country is there (Fisher Island, where Oprah lives). Similarly, there are fabulously wealthy areas in Mexico City and in Rio de Janeiro. [ There's Trouble—Lots Of It—in Paradise | Restless locals call Miami a corrupt, exorbitant mess, and many are leaving, by Tim Padgett , Time Magazine, Nov. 19, 2006]
In Miami today, the Spanish-language channel Univision is more popular than any other station. In 2002, Governor Bush ran a campaign ad [ watch it on Youtube] that started off by displaying seven Latin American flags. Nowhere in the ad was an American flag, any mention of the United States (or even Los Estados Unidos) or a word of English.
A number of Miami's boosters, including Time Magazine, have dubbed it "The Capital of Latin America."
But why are Americans supposed to like this?
Even the Cuban immigrants, still preponderantly white, law-abiding, Republican-voting, affable people are not desirable if they don't assimilate. Perhaps a few Little Havanas are manageable in a huge country, just as many Americans may see a few isolated Chinatowns as an exotic novelty. The problem is when the Little Havanas become Big Havanas and the Chinatowns become Chinacities or even Chinastates.
The Miami Herald, editorializing against Tancredo, engaged in typical immigration-enthusiast triumphalism: 'Call us what you will, Miami is the future that already has arrived throughout this welcoming nation.'
If current mass immigration policies continue, this statement is indisputable…except for the 'welcoming' part.
Miamians should have been allowed to have a say about whether they wanted their city to turn into the 'capital of Latin America.'
And Americans should have a say about whether we want our future to look like Miami.
Thanks to patriots like Tom Tancredo, we may get it.