Tom Friedman Disses Mexicans
February 15, 2009, 03:30 PM
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Tom Friedman, the Malcolm Gladwell of the New York Times, has a brainstorm in "The Open-Door Bailout:"

Leave it to a brainy Indian to come up with the cheapest and surest way to stimulate our economy: immigration.

�All you need to do is grant visas to two million Indians, Chinese and Koreans,� said Shekhar Gupta, editor of The Indian Express newspaper. �We will buy up all the subprime homes. We will work 18 hours a day to pay for them. We will immediately improve your savings rate — no Indian bank today has more than 2 percent nonperforming loans because not paying your mortgage is considered shameful here. And we will start new companies to create our own jobs and jobs for more Americans.� ...

Therefore, the centerpiece of our stimulus, the core driving principle, should be to stimulate everything that makes us smarter

Hmmhmmhmm ... "Indians, Chinese, and Koreans..." What's missing from this list of would-be immigrants?

At The American Scene, Dara Lind complains:

The bigger problem is that a lot of Americans really do believe that natives of East and South Asia who come to the United States are uniquely skilled and hardworking in a way that natives of Mexico or Guatemala who come to the United States aren’t. The United States has a long history of distinguishing �good� immigrants from �bad� immigrants ... At the moment, Mexican immigrants appear to be saddled in popular culture with the assumptions that they a) have entered illegally and b) are less intelligent or hardworking than their (particularly Asian) peers. Friedman’s invocation of a �culture� that requires fiscal responsibility helps reinforce the stereotype that an immigrant family from another region wouldn’t work 18 hours a day to pay off a mortgage. His complete omission of Latin America, when Mexico alone sent twice as many legal immigrants to the U.S. as China did from 2005-07, feeds into the assumption that such a family wouldn’t be able to get the mortgage to begin with.
Of course, Friedman actually is right about Mexicans not doing high tech: Mexican immigrants don't make the Top 20 list of source countries of immigrants getting American patents, even though there are far more immigrants from Mexico than any other source.