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Thursday, May 26, 2005

Vicente Fox Was Wrong?

Mexican president Vicente Fox was forced to “apologize” for his recent comment regarding Mexican immigrants (legal and illegal). Fox said, “There is no doubt that Mexicans, filled with dignity, willingness and ability to work are doing jobs that not even blacks want to do there in the United States.”

Lee Harris wrote an interesting essay in Tech Central Station discussing how Fox was stating a fact that held no racial insult. As a group moves up the hierarchy, Harris writes:

“there is what might be called a flight from hard labor, until the point is reached where a person automatically prefers even a low-paying white collar job to a higher paying blue collar one.”

The plantation labor conditions in America were brutal. Originally, Indians were sought to do the work but they either died or escaped. Africans blacks who were part of an existing Muslim slave trade were chosen as they next likely labor source. The hearty African who survived the trip from interior Africa to the coast, survived the trans-Atlantic crossing and survived the initiation to the brutal Southern heat of South Carolina and Georgia (and many died at each juncture) were superior workers.

Harris writes:

“Hence it was no wonder that they were able to succeed where the Indians failed, and no wonder that, even after the abolition of the slave trade and of slavery, African blacks continued to do the hard labor tasks that others would not touch. For example, at the end of the Civil War, plantation owners in the former Confederacy tried to get Europeans to work in the cotton fields; but, at best, the Germans or the Swedes hired for such jobs simply lacked the stamina to perform them, and would walk off after only a few days -- the heat, the backbreaking work, they were all too much for them. Indeed, the African blacks could and would do work that even the much despised Irish refused to touch.”

Thomas Sowell discusses the history of cultures in “Race and Culture” . When a people reach a certain level of wealth, they tend to pursue easier careers. For instance, the first few generations build up the family wealth so the young ones can get college educations. They then study the humanities and get government jobs while the country must then get immigrants to build the bridges and do the hard engineering work. Today in America, citizens of even the poorest level, white and black, will choose the softer modes of earning money because, relative to Mexican immigrants, they are wealthy and do not need to work in the brutal agriculture jobs. (Actually, America’s “poor” do as well materially as Europe’s middle class).

It is, therefore, no surprise that hard labor is refused by Americans. The option of remaining in Mexico with no job or sneaking into America at incredible peril for back-breaking but well-paid jobs is an easy choice. How the comment by Fox can be deemed an insult is difficult to fathom. But, today in America, merely mentioning an ethnic group or race by name warrants an apology. As such, I apologize for everything I have written in this post.

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