Niagara Gazette —
All this constituted a big difference from immigration of earlier eras, when many of our forbears came over and wanted badly to join an admired mainstream, changing names and so on.
According to Louis Halle (Out of Chaos) and in a biological take, Lewis Thomas (Lives of a Cell), the healthy periods of history are ones where outsiders pull to enriching centers–and thereby, pull together. Think of Periclean Athens, Elizabethan England, or for that matter, Churchill’s Britain of 1940.
But when too many live primarily for self-indulgence, we are in a frankly decadent time period. In sum, I believe these two horrid brothers did feel superior to today’s America and its culture, as do many other incomers today. Such people, hypocrites, if you will, manage to take the goodies which have come down to us from great innovators like Edison, Ford, and Gates; but they don’t really assimilate.
Of course the problem here was emphatically theirs–and both brothers, including the dead one, are to be loathed for what they thought, and much moreso, for what they did. But at the same time, one cannot and should not discount the problems in our culture, particularly, the way it has evolved since the all-important watershed of the late ‘60s. Failure to address these central historical trends, and failure really to call on the indigenous to pull up national/cultural socks now, not later, is a crucial, background part of this extremely sad tragedy.
One final, local note: certain Western New York politicians vigorously oppose the idea of charging those who cross into the States; but I believe that several bucks would be a very small price to pay, and should emphatically be levied, except perhaps on those who would suffer business-wise. The reason? Because America is a privilege, and should be treated as such, both by those who come here, and just as much, by its own denizens.
B. B. Singer has taught at several colleges in the area, including Niagara University.