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One of the most overused clichés of contemporary journalism is that massive Mexican immigration will make American life more vibrant.This is especially true of Eastern Seaboard pundits, who have typically spent less time in a Mexican-American neighborhood in the U.S. than they have vacationing in Mexico.

After all, the plaza at the heart of an old colonial Mexican town like Veracruz can be a delightful place to while away an evening on holiday—sitting in a café under the arcade, listening to the brass band play in the park while watching pedestrians promenade.

Unfortunately, outside of perhaps San Antonio’s Riverwalk tourist zone, this experience has seldom been replicated in Mexicanneighborhoods in the U.S. They tend to be depressing, if not downright dismal—not as ominous and nightmarish as many black neighborhoods, but that’s setting a rather low standard.

One reason: the incompatibility between traditional Mexican lifestyles, which center around going down to the town square and hanging out,and sprawling American cities and suburbs, which seldom provide central focal points.

From the Mexican point of view, the problem with most American Sun Belt cities is the one noted by Gertrude Stein about Oakland:“There’s no there there.”

For example, Los Angeles notoriously lacks a central place to gather. There is, indeed, a tiny old plaza downtown, next to kitschy Olvera Street. But it is on a scale appropriate for the dusty pueblo that LA wasbefore 1848—not for the megalopolis of the 21st Century. So it is of negligible use.

Accordingly, therefore, Mexicans in Los Angeles take over public parks to picnic. For example, at the big Hansen Dam Recreation Center in the northeast San Fernando Valley last Sunday afternoon, a couple of thousand people were assembled. This was no special occasion, just a normal Sunday.

The crowd was virtually 100% Latino. Before I arrived with my family, a friendly African-American guy selling funnel cakes was the sole non-Hispanic.

Although we are constantly lectured about the wonders of “diversity,” the plain fact is that Mexicans seem to prefer ethnic homogeneity and monoculturalism. Indeed, the scene was identical to ones taking place a thousand miles to the south. And the picnickerscouldn’t be happier about that.

American-style parks aren’t designed for Mexican tastes. Ours tend to have too many open lawns and not enough trees. Mexicans discriminate against folks, which means nobody wants to tan. So everybody at Hansen Dam crowded together in the shade of the bordering trees, even though the temperature was only in the 80s.

Still, for all their American deficiencies, parks are the best gathering places available to Mexicans in LA.

Neoconservative commentators frequent assume that Mexican immigrants will automatically assimilate into American culture because our way of life is just so much more wonderful. In reality, however, Mexican culture is mature, stable, deeply-rooted, and highly appealing to Mexicans.

Granted, it’s not very effective at producing the kinds of things that, say, Ben Franklin most valued—such as scientific progress;technological inventiveness; a love of the printed word; civic cooperativeness; and an optimal mix of liberty, order, and equality.

But Mexicans have different values, which their culture caters to.

The Mexican intellectual Jorge Castaneda, who served as Foreign Secretary under Vicente Fox, delineated the disparity in values between American and Mexican cultures in a 1995 Atlantic Monthly essay withthe apt title Ferocious Differences. For example, according toCastaneda, Americans tend to focus upon the future, while Mexicans live for today and dwell mentally in the past. Hence the Mexican-American War of the 1840s matters a lot more to Mexicans than toAmericans.

The idea that Mexican immigrants will gladly give up Mexican culture wouldn’t make much sense to the people in Hansen Dam Park. They were having a lot more fun than gringos would have.

About a dozen small bands were blaring mariachi music, creating a festive (if clashing) sound track. Horseback riders wove in and out. Vendors sold South-of-the-Border specialties such as watermelonchunks covered with hot sauce.

Of course, the reason for much of the fun at Hansen Dam was that the LAPD has apparently given up trying, under sheer weight of numbers, to enforce any of those maricon American laws.

I’m not even talking about immigration laws, but about the kind of health, safety, and environment rules that are the pride of Americanliberalism. In contrast, Fred Reed, the curmudgeonly columnist who recently moved to Mexico because America has gotten too regulated for his rugged individualist tastes, would have had a great time.

One of the conundrums of modern politics is that lax immigration enforcement is importing a vast class of people who hold many of the proudest accomplishments of the modern American liberals—who (theoretically) welcome them —in contempt…on those rare occasions when the illegal immigrants even notice them. Mexicans bring withthem a macho culture. It has its strengths and weaknesses, but the strengths aren’t anything that liberals admire when found in white Americans.

Most white progressives resolve this tension by simply refusing to pay attention to reality, while mouthing cant phrases like Diversity adds so much magic to our lives.”

Certainly, no white liberals were on hand at Hansen Dam.

So, say you’re sitting around in the park with your brand new cowboy hat on, pounding back a few cervezas, and it occurs to you that, since you have got the hat, you should get the horse to go with it. What could make more sense than going for a horseback ride through a crowded park full of little kids?

Well, at Hansen Dam, you’re in luck!

In the American part of America, renting a horse has gotten expensive and time-consuming because liability insurance is so steep. Riding is dangerous, as the sad examples of Christopher Reeve and Cole Porter attest.

But at Hansen Dam on weekends, there are horse-owners around everywhere who will rent you a horse, few questions asked. They don’t have signs advertising their business because what they are doing is illegal. So you have to ask. (In Spanish, of course.)

If one of the many small children about happens to stumble under the hooves of your mount and get trampled, well, that’s tragic. But who could have foreseen such bad luck?

About 50 feet from where we were sitting, two young men started punching each other as hard as their state of inebriation would allow. Their friends swarmed in and separated them, trying to get the hotheads to calm down. But every few minutes, one would slip free from the restraining hands and attack his rival again.

This was quite entertaining. But the fourth time the fight flared up, I got concerned that eventually somebody might pull out a gun.

So, we took off, gingerly dodging the drunk drivers in the parking lot.

Sunday at Hansen Dam Park is reminiscent of the charming and depressing Mexican imprudence and fatalism that are a major theme in Stones for Ibarra, a minor classic of an autobiographical novel written by a starchy, logical-minded San Francisco lady named Harriet Doerr (played, appropriately enough, by Glenn Close in the 1988 movie version).

Around 1960, Doerr and her husband moved to a small Mexican village named Ibarra, where her husband had inherited a copper mine that an American ancestor had abandoned during the Mexican Revolution.

The American couple was invited to the village’s frequent fiestas, where a good time was had by all until, routinely, one of the partiers would lose an eye or a limb in a fireworks accident or brawl. Each year, the same celebrations would roll around again. And the same sort of catastrophes would re-occur, like clockwork.

The book’s title refers to the small piles of stones that commemorate where somebody was killed.

There are many such stone memorials in Ibarra.

The aftermath of Sunday in the Park with Jorge isn’t quite aspicturesque. Seth Shteir of the Audubon Society wrote in the local LA Daily News:

“The ground is littered with hypodermic needles, plastic garbage bags, diapers and soda cans. Human and dog excrement attracts flies in hardening piles. … The blackened vegetation suggests that someone built a fire that later raged out of control. … Hansen Dam also suffers illegal incursions by all-terrain vehicles.”

The environmental damage can be serious. Shteir notes:

“The May 13 brush fire at Hansen Dam… which almostcertainly had human origins, destroyed 80 acres of willow forest, including the territories of four endangered least Bell’s vireos.” [Park misuse hurts beauty and beasts, June 13, 2007]

Shteir, clearly a gringo killjoy, points out:

“We need to increase resource-management efforts and law enforcement patrols.”

But a lack of law enforcement is the sine qua non of a Mexican day of fun in the sun.

In summary, there’s much about Mexican culture I like. Ultimately, though, while Mexico is a nice place to visit, I wouldn’t want to live there.

I shouldn’t have to. That’s what having separate countries is for.

[Steve Sailer [email him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and movie critic for The American Conservative. His website www.iSteve.blogspot.com features his daily blog.]

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Los Angeles 
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[VDARE.com note: The secession issue is heating up – today the Los Angeles Times published the second of two vast stories [I, II FREE ACCESS, REGISTRATION REQUIRED], highlighting its ownopposition/ignorance and the emergence of the Valley-based

Los Angles Daily News as secession’s standard-bearer.]

After WWII, the San Fernando Valley was the nirvana of the common man, the Promised Land where the average Joe could afford to buy his place in the sun. Now The Valley might once again become a leader. If it manages to secede from Los Angeles and become an independent city of 1.35 million, it could confirm a national trend toward downsizing America’s big cities.

I take Valley secession personally. I am an old Valley … uh, what’s the male equivalent of a Valley Girl? … I am an old Valley Dude. A couple ofyears ago I moved back from Chicago to my hometown of StudioCity, which is in the southeastern Valley, just over the Hollywood Hills from Beverly Hills.

Growing up, I’d always thought of “Studio City” as a perfectly normalname for a hometown. Then I went off to Rice U., where the Houstonians found me disappointing. They felt that as a Studio Citizen, I should be calling my agent while paddling around in one of those inflatable pool chairs.

There was a good reason for my naiveté. When I left for college in 1976, Studio City was a transition zone between two radically different spheres of influence: Hollywood and the military-industrial complex. Sure, a few screen gods lorded it above us in the Hills. But the flatlands of Studio City were middle-middle class. My father, for example, worked for 41 years for the nearby Lockheed Aircraft Corporation as a stress engineer. The prevailing ethos of hard work, sobriety, and moderate frugality reflected the kind of personality demanded by the aerospace industry.

Much has changed in The Valley. The weather has grown even lovelier. The smog has radically diminished, thanks to the kind of environmental laws that establishment “conservatives” constantly disparage, much to their electoral detriment.

Due in no small measure to the local aerospace firms, the good guys won the Cold War. Since 1991, the aerospace firms have mostly moved to the high desert north of The Valley. Some of the engineers and skilled machinists who built the SR-71, the fastest jet of all time, out of titanium have moved to the Pacific Coast north of San Diego.There, they fashion that tricky metal into golf clubs, a modern version of beating your swords into plowshares.

The expert metalworkers have gone with them – or decamped for Utah, Oregon, or other states where millions of immigrants don’t yet drive wages down and housing costs up. On the site of the old Lockheed Skunk Works, Disney now makes animated features.

To somebody with a fondness for the middle-class egalitarianism of my youth, many of the changes are disquieting. Verbalists like me have filtered into Studio City to replace the engineers. At the local Kinko’s,screenwriters photocopy their scripts all night long. The new generation of school kids can’t tell a P-38 from an F-117, but can offer well-informed opinions on whether Attack of the Clones will open evenbigger than Spider-Man.

The old Valley, with its abundance of skinflint machinists and engineers, was one of the do-it-yourself capitols of America. But the local screenwriters, lawyers, dealmakers, and character actors who now live along the Hollywood Hills in the affluent white southern tier of The Valley tend to have better verbal than visual intelligence. So they rely on an enormous number of Spanish-speaking immigrants for anything that would require getting their hands dirty. Wages for Hispanics are kept low by the constant pressure of the “reserve army of theunemployed” arriving daily from south of the border. A Guatemalan gardener makes about 10% as much per hour as a white personal trainer.

Beyond the fifth grade level, the public schools are a mess, due in part to immigration-driven overcrowding and language problems. An abundance of private schools with annual costs in the $12,000 to $19,200 range have taken up the slack for the wealthy.

In contrast to the lush neighborhoods south of the Ventura Freeway, the northeast and central sections of the Valley look like Tijuana. People on both sides of the secession fight cite this constantly. Anti-secessionists in West L.A. suggest that any place that looks as dreary as The Valley needs the guidance of the enlightened Westside.Secessionists argue that the scruffiness is because Los Angeles has treated The Valley like a redheaded stepchild.

Municipal government can only do so much about this problem. Much of The Valley looks like Tijuana for the simple reason that many of its inhabitants used to live in Tijuana. That’s the direct responsibility of Washington D.C.

The San Fernando Valley secession movement has gained momentum this year. Today, 59% of Valleyites say they’d vote to leave LosAngeles, even though L.A. is asking for a $61 million annual alimony payment for ten years, or roughly $1,800 per family of four.

Secession is the inevitable result of 1] population growth and 2]developing diversity. As Los Angeles has become more crowded—largely due to immigration, in recent decades – local government has gotten bigger and thus less responsive. There are now a quarter million L.A. residents per city councilman. Further, the emotional ties binding L.A. residents have loosened. Freeway traffic has gotten so bad that residents of The Valley and The Basin visit each other less and less.

Until recently, nobody thought Los Angeles would vote to let The Valleygo. But black politicians in South-Central are now warming to the idea. The Valley is about evenly split between whites and Hispanics, with few blacks. Thus, jettisoning The Valley would destroy what’s left of the Republican Party in L.A. and postpone the Hispanic takeover of the city’s Democratic Party. Secession might make basketball legend and inner city entrepreneur Magic Johnson the Mayor of Los Angeles.

The term “local government” has become an oxymoron in Los Angeles, with its 3.7 million residents. Joel Kotkin, my levelheaded neighbor here in The Valley, endorsed secession on OpinionJournal.com:

“This issue—the right-sizing of local governance—could well turn this largely middle-class uprising into a successful revolution.”

The problem with Valley secession, however, is not that The Valley is too small to survive on its own—it would be the sixth biggest city in America. Instead, it would still be too big—and too divided.

The chief advantages of suburban independence are 1] fostering competition among municipalities; 2] providing demographichomogeneity so that government services can more precisely meet citizens’ needs.

I lived for many years in Chicago, which is surrounded by a multitude of suburbs that compete fiercely for taxpayers by offering first-rate schools, playgrounds, municipal golf courses and the like. For example,Wilmette is a North Shore suburb whose market niche is attracting affluent young families with extraordinary public services. (Even its massive taxes benefit property values, since they serve to keep out the riff-raff.) Wilmette’s high school, New Trier, is one of the most famous in the U.S. It even has its own FM radio station. Similarly,Wilmette’s latest fieldhouse looks like a Palm Springs health spa, with 94,000 sq. feet of recreation area spread across 75 posh rooms.

In contrast, The Valley has notoriously bad public schools and otherfacilities because it’s part of the vast City of Los Angeles. Government agencies don’t have many neighboring cities to keep them alert.

For years, Republicans have been committing political suicide bybacking state-level voucher plans, such as the recent crashing and burning of Wall Street Journal Edit Page’s favorite Bret Schundler in the New Jersey gubernatorial race. What GOP ideologues don’t grasp is that affluent homeowners don’t want slum kids using vouchers to get into their local schools. The high test scores of their schools translate directly into property value. People who live in exclusive suburbs want to keep them that way.

Perhaps no large urban area in the United States appears more intended by nature to be self-governing than the mountain-ringed SanFernando Valley. Unfortunately, what might once have been the most homogenous middle class area in America is no more. The Valley’s increasingly Latin American level of inequality negates many of the advantages of breaking free from L.A. Next, the Valley itself may break up: the affluent South; the middle class white North West; the Hispanic North East. You read it here first.

[Steve Sailer [email him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and

movie critic for The American Conservative. His website www.iSteve.blogspot.com features his daily blog.]

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Los Angeles 
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Community: Angelenos are among the least trusting, according to a national survey by a Harvard researcher.

By PETER Y. HONG, L.A. Times Staff Writer

Want a neighbor you can count on? Move to Montana. That’s one conclusion you might draw from a Harvard University study releasedtoday, which finds that Los Angeles residents trust each other less than most other Americans. The study is billed as the largest-ever survey on “civic engagement”–activities such as joining social or community groups, voting and simply making friends. It also found that the civic engagement of Los Angeles residents is more likely to be determined by education and income levels than in any other place. And it links L.A.’s low standing to the area’s ethnic diversity. Those who live in more homogeneous places, such as New Hampshire, Montana or Lewiston, Maine, do more with friends and are moreinvolved in community affairs or politics than residents of more cosmopolitan areas, the study said. Los Angeles residents are among the least trusting of people such as neighbors, co-workers, shop clerks and police, the study said. L.A. tied with Boston, Chicago and eastern Tennessee. Only north Minneapolis scored worse. Angelenos also trust people of other races less than residents of just abouteverywhere else. San Diego tied Los Angeles’ dismal “inter-racial trust” score. The only cities that did worse were Phoenix and Charlotte, N.C. The best places, in terms of trusting others and thoseof other races, were Bismarck, N.D., and rural South Dakota, the study said. In other categories, L.A. was 16th in joining associations, 16th in diversity of friendships, 17th in volunteering, 21st inparticipating in political protests or activist groups, 23rd in joining groups devoted to school or local government, 23rd in “faith-basedengagement,” 33rd in informal socializing, 36th in voting, interest in politics and newspaper reading, and last in “social capital equality”–the gap between civic participation of rich and poor. The survey of 30,000Americans in 40 communities was led by Harvard political scientist Robert D. Putnam. It was a task right up Putnam’s alley. He has been a favorite of pundits and politicians since the publication six years ago of a journal article titled “Bowling Alone,” which found Americans were not only voting less, but also joining fewer bowling leagues, skipping PTA meetings and even dining together as families less often. Putnam’s popularity led to a “Bowling Alone” book elaborating his ideas for building “social capital.” It also brought a windfall of moretangible capital: more than $1 million in foundation grants to pay for projects such as the survey. Putnam calls the study a “communityphysical” from which prescriptions can be drawn to cure the nation’s participatory palsy. He wants Americans to spend more time with one another, and less on things such as watching television or surfing theInternet. (Putnam’s assistant said he was too busy to talk to a reporter, and suggested the reporter send him an e-mail.) Some criticism has followed Putnam’s success. He has been accused at times of blaming social malaise for problems with more than onecause. Putnam’s catchy book title comes from his observation that while more Americans are bowling today than ever, fewer do so in organized leagues. That fact may well be a sign of declining trust and community. But it could also be the result of technological leaps that have made league bowling a far costlier hobby than it was in the 1970s. For example, competitive bowlers today often keep an arsenal of several different bowling balls to match various lane surfaces, aswell as other equipment that can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Authors of the civic engagement survey said they weretroubled by the fact that ethnically diverse communities had the lowest level of involvement and were the most divided by wealth and education levels. They found, for example, that in diverse places such as Los Angeles, Houston or Yakima, Wash., college graduates were four or five times more likely to be involved in politics than those who did not complete high school. In more homogeneous Montana andNew Hampshire, by contrast, the class gaps were half as large. Two other variables could lower civic engagement–a higher number of noncitizens (who cannot vote), and the sheer size of a community. The study said it had adjusted its findings with both variables in mind, but did not explain its methodology.

The low civic engagement attributed to ethnically diverse places could in many cases may also be a consequence of their size: People in larger cities are often more isolated from government and each other. With a few exceptions, the communities identified as ethnically diverse are also the largest. The exceptions were Baton Rouge, La.,Birmingham, Ala., Greensboro, N.C., and Yakima. They are identified as ethnically diverse because their proportion of minority residents puts them in the top third of the 40 communities surveyed. But theycontain nowhere near the variety of ethnic and religious groups present in a place like Los Angeles. Large and diverse cities like New York, Miami and the Washington, D.C. area–places likely to provide some ofthe most meaningful comparisons to Los Angeles–were not included in the study. Such omissions were a consequence of the way the study was conducted. Individual surveys were taken by philanthropic foundations in each community. Allan Parachini, a consultant who is promoting the survey, said the study was proposed by Putnam at anational gathering of community foundation representatives, and the first foundations to sign up took part in the study. Eleanor Brown, aPomona College economist who is an advisor to the study, acknowledges that the lack of data from New York and other big cities makes the data less complete. “There may be questions about the nature of big-city America we can’t answer with this survey,” she said. In her analysis of the survey’s Los Angeles results, Brown found that Los Angeles residents become more trusting the longer they live in the area. Among those who have lived in Los Angeles five years or less, only 29% feel people can generally be trusted. That figure jumps to 46% for those who have lived here longer. Thus, the high levels of mistrust in Los Angeles could be based at least partly on the area’s high proportion of newcomers. Forty percent of Angelenos surveyed had lived in their communities less than five years, compared to 29% of the national sample.

NOTE: Article taken from the LA Times.

March 09, 2001

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Diversity, Los Angeles 
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Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, VDARE.com columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.


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