Jun 112020
 

I’m a Polish immigrant. I’ve had certain experiences in my life that no native-born American will have because of this, and even a few that no non-Polish-immigrant will have. In addition, I’m eligible to join certain organizations in some major cities that accept only Polish immigrants as members.

I also have some very woke friends, because I don’t discriminate against people for having bad politics. :) It’s not uncommon to sometimes hear things like “Only Native Americans are true Americans, everyone else immigrated here!” or something similar. This is mainly used in arguements against racists or anti-immigration bigots.

But, in theory, such a friend could say to me “We’re all immigrants, only Native Americans are true Americans. You have no moral right to exclude me from your organization. Moreover, you have no right to claim I am not an immigrant! We are all immigrants! You are a racist bigot, and the world should know you deserve to be shunned.”

Would a person who was born in a different country not have a valid complaint here? That there are in fact some material differences between the two groups, and that conflating the word “immigrant” to such a degree erases my experience, and the shared background I have with other immigants?

To be fair, I came here so young that this barely effects me, but my parents would be extremely put out, and I would be strongly on their side. Or should my parents be required to sit quietly for fear of being called anti-immigration bigots?

  2 Responses to “A Polka walks into a bar”

  1. First off, I don’t think it really makes sense to use the word racist to describe prejudice that isn’t reinforced by the structures of power in society.

    Second I think groups are allowed whatever membership criteria they like until/unless they are controlling access to societal resources. So like bookclub yes, adoption agency no, with shades of grey in between those extremes.

    • I disagree with your first point in its entirety.

      As to the second, I agree 100%. Assuming that by “societal resources” we mean things like taxes that everyone must pay, or access to common goods, and not things like “the funds/resources that the group themselves raised/created.”

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