I guess we knew there was going to be some kind of problem when aging former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz was seen walking around the Republican National Convention last week with his own, large bottle of Crown Royal whiskey.
Did he drink the stuff? Who knows? Lots of folks joked that he must have imbibed at least a little, because that might explain some of the crazy things he had to say about immigrants.
But the person who really has to worry is Donald Trump. Why?
We know how Trump supporters feel about immigrants. And where does Crown Royal come from but that filthy foreign outpost to the north we call Canada!
All kidding aside, you’ve simply got to love that Holtz went on an anti-immigrant rant. Speaking directly to immigrants, he said, “I don’t want to become you. I don’t want to speak your language, I don’t want to celebrate your holidays, I sure as hell don’t want to cheer for your soccer team!”
Holtz also reportedly spoke of immigrants coming to the U.S. as an “invasion” and said immigrants need to “become us.”
Which makes it kind of funny that this guy became rich and famous coaching for a school which calls its athletic clubs the “Fighting Irish.” That is pretty much a textbook case of refusing to assimilate.
Holtz’s teams, for all of those years, were symbols of this kind of un-American-ness Holtz seems to have such a big problem with.
Holtz, of course, has since issued the standard non-apology that passes for an apology these days.
He was later quoted as saying, "I like to joke. I wished I hadn’t said, ‘I don’t want to celebrate your holidays, and cheer for your soccer teams.’ It was said in jest. But I stand by the rest of what I said about coming to America to become us.”
Holtz deftly managed to cram two gigantic myths about immigration into his comments.
The first is that today’s immigrants want absolutely nothing to do with assimilating into America’s mainstream. Never mind the work of researchers like Mary C. Waters, who have found that today’s immigrants are assimilating at least as fast as previous immigrants, if not faster.
Summarizing Waters’ work, The New York Times noted last September, “The newest generations of immigrants are assimilating into American society as fast and broadly as the previous ones, with their integration increasing over time ‘across all measurable outcomes,’” according to a report published on Monday by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.”
Waters, a sociologist at Harvard who led the panel of 18 immigration scholars, told the Times, “The force of integration is strong. However we do it, we are good at it.”
The other myth Holtz -- and many others -- perpetuate is that bygone immigrants were somehow models of integration.
Of course they were not. Catholic immigrants angered many by resisting the dominant Protestant culture in the U.S. They were viewed as permanent outsiders who refused to become truly American, and not just way back in the time of the Irish Famine. The supporters of Al Smith in 1928 – heck, even some of JFK’s supporters -- still had to listen to this garbage.
Speaking of JFK, he has been cited as Governor Mike Pence’s hero. Pence, of course, is Donald Trump’s running mate.
Pence has been admirable, at least by Republican standards, because he has spoken of the important role immigration has played in his own life as well as American history. Pence’s grandparents came to the U.S. from Ireland and he has spoken lovingly of how they influenced him. This is all well and good.
But the bottom line is this: Pence’s running mate, and many of Trump’s supporters in the Republican Party, have no interest in a rational discussion about the positives and negatives of America’s immigration policy. They are merely interested in creating scapegoats, and Pence has not said much of anything -- at least not yet -- to correct that.
That the proud grandchild of Irish immigrants and the coach of the “Fighting Irish” would so closely associate themselves with the anti-immigrant Republican Party is simply a shame.