Letters

Autumn 2006
Becoming Citizens . . .

To the editor:
The points that Steven Malanga makes in “How Unskilled Immigrants Hurt Our Economy” [Summer 2006] are all perfectly valid. However, the solutions he proposes—withdrawing or withholding benefits and limiting family-preference visas—ignore another critical necessity: stopping the automatic bestowal of U.S. citizenship upon anyone born in the U.S. This privilege should be extended only to children of those legally in the U.S., either citizens or permanent residents.

A. J. Shankar
Bloomington, MN

To the editor:
Here’s the title of an article I could write: “How the U.S. Made Immigration and Citizenship Almost Impossible for a British Engineer with an Advanced Degree in Mechanical Engineering.” During his naturalization process, which took about seven years to complete, he was required to return to the U.S. embassy in London to be interviewed, and he had to take citizenship classes and rigorous tests, risking the possible loss of resident status if he failed. He feels justified resentment against the U.S. government for its immigration policy. I share his resentment.

Bill Overton
Via e-mail

Steven Malanga responds:
Mr. Shankar’s letter anticipates the next step in the argument. In my story in this issue of City Journal [“The Right Immigration Policy,”], I point out that the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution—which, according to the Supreme Court’s interpretation, automatically grants citizenship to anyone born on American soil—was not designed for that purpose by its framers, who passed it to ensure that Southern states in the post–Civil War era did not deny citizenship to former slaves. Few developed countries grant automatic citizenship to anyone born on their soil; Ireland was the last of the 25 European Union members to do so, but it recently changed its constitution. Perhaps now, in an era in which our extensive social welfare programs make America a magnet for the world’s poor, it’s time to begin a debate on whether to continue granting this right.

Mr. Overton’s anecdote reminds us of how unfair the selective enforcement of our immigration laws is. By turning a blind eye toward waves of unskilled illegals who work here but forcing others through an exacting process, we undermine the rule of law and create cynicism among our newest citizens and permanent legal residents.

. . . and Unbecoming Ones

To the editor:
Heather Mac Donald is correct [“Seeing Today’s Immigrants Straight,” Summer 2006], and pro-immigrant conservatives are wrong. Immigrants today assimilate into the underclass of illegitimacy and welfare dependency, not the middle class. They may be socially conservative on some issues but easily fall prey to typical class-warfare socialist appeals, since they were so used to hearing and agreeing with those appeals in their home countries. Our immigration system is broken. We should end family (or chain) migration and instead focus on allowing only those with high levels of income, education, skills, and English-language ability to immigrate. America’s immigration policy should be based on what is best for America, not what is best for immigrants.

Jorge Amselle
Centreville, VA

To the editor:
I grew up in Orange County, California. We would move every few years as the Mexican gang territory expanded. As a young adult, I realized that I would never be able to afford a home where my children could be safe at school. I escaped to the Midwest, where, to my surprise, white and black Americans do those jobs that white and black Californians supposedly will not do. (I have always found that argument particularly offensive, since my dad and uncle made a living hanging drywall.)

Dustin Dingman
Via e-mail

To the editor:
I appreciate Heather Mac Donald’s citing the Migration Information Source and would like to clarify a couple of points. First, the analysis of incarceration among first- and second-generation young men should be attributed to Rubén G. Rumbaut, Roberto G. Gonzales, Golnaz Komaie, and Charlie V. Morgan, who are at the University of California, Irvine. The Migration Policy Institute publishes the Migration Information Source but neither conducted the research nor wrote the analysis. Second, it is a mischaracterization to refer to MPI as “pro-immigrant,” as we do not advocate on behalf of immigrants.

Colleen Coffey
Deputy Director of Communications
Migration Policy Institute

Weird Science

To the editor:
Sol Stern recently wrote an article claiming that schools focused on social justice do not sufficiently challenge students [“The Ed Schools’ Latest— and Worst—Humbug,” Summer 2006]. Before he wrote it, I spoke with him about the physics program here at the School for Democracy and Leadership, one of the social justice schools he criticizes, and he debated whether my students should, for example, use their knowledge of nuclear physics to consider nuclear proliferation in the world.

At the School for Democracy and Leadership, 100 percent of students enroll in physics, far better than the national average of 25 percent. Students’ daily attendance and pass rates (above 90 percent and 80 percent, respectively) greatly exceed the average numbers for the city. Students enroll in advanced-placement courses, and they participate in internships researching cancer treatments and the origins of the universe through cosmology. Based on what data and analysis techniques has Stern come to the conclusion that schools focused on social justice do not promote a quality education?

Jhumki Basu
Physics Teacher
School for Democracy and Leadership

Sol Stern responds:
Contrary to the impression given in Ms. Basu’s letter, I did not utter a word of criticism in the three paragraphs that I wrote about her school. I merely reported what she and Principal Nancy Gannon told me: that they were followers of Marxist educator Paolo Freire and that his “liberation pedagogy” guided them in creating their school. I do believe, as I stated in the article, that such schools violate the trust of taxpayers, who finance the public schools and who do not expect them to indoctrinate children into the partisan political ideology that Basu euphemistically calls “social justice.” As for her statistics “proving” that her students are doing well: surely a scientist should realize that they hardly constitute robust evidence of academic achievement. How about waiting until we see the results of the AP and Regents exams?

Aging Gracefully

To the editor:
Thank you for Kay S. Hymowitz’s honest depiction of reality in a time of mass delusions on the part of many older women [“Desperate Grandmas,” Summer 2006]. I am 59 and have been married for 37 years, with two grown children. Growing old is no picnic, but the compensations are many, most notably the enjoyment of my children’s company, a wonderful shared life with my husband, and a rich and varied group of friends of all ages.

I’ve had my day in the sun, and I get so much joy from the younger generation. I love the fact that they’re still interested in my point of view, but it’s their world now, and there’s a certain relief in letting them take over while I enjoy the freedom of reading, writing, learning, and discussing ideas with friends over a glass or two of red wine.

I think I look okay for an old broad, but you can’t compete with youth, however good your surgeon is, so I’m not going to try. These days, when I look in the mirror, I see my mother, and that makes me happy. She was a fantastic woman, a true grown-up who knew how to live, loved her grandchildren, and made the world a better place to be in.

Kate Gilderdale
Stouffville, Ontario, Canada

To the editor:
Talk about double standards. I’m an aging male baby boomer, and for as long as I can remember, old men have refused to grow old, buying sports cars and chasing after young women. Old men making fools of themselves over very young women was already a stock comic turn when Chaucer used it in “The Miller’s Tale.” Almost every famous man who didn’t die young lived to act the fool over very young women. Now that older women are refusing to lie down and die at 60, their refusal is rampant individualism and a threat to the social fabric. Is your next article going to claim that men over 60 who buy sports cars are destroying the country?

John Mize
Via e-mail

To the editor:
Thank you for mentioning my book, Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex after Sixty. It, and the trend of boomer books about sexuality, are not a display of narcissism—they evolve from a desire to be truthful to ourselves and to others, to acknowledge our own journey straightforwardly. That isn’t narcissism; it’s healing, assertiveness, and opening up a previously taboo subject—elder sexuality—to dialogue.

Joan Price
Via e-mail

The Working Poor?

To the editor:
In “Is There a New York Housing Crisis?” [Summer 2006], Nicole Gelinas mentions the Abyssinian Development Corporation’s affordable housing, and writes: “[W]hen I asked ADC’s Zanetta Addams-Pilgrim if it was important that ADC’s tenants work, she told me that ‘if a woman is pregnant or if she has five children, working is not something she’s going to be doing.’ ” This quotation was taken out of context. We were discussing ADC’s constituents who live in Abyssinian House, a homeless shelter, not the tenants of our affordable-housing initiatives.

Zanetta Addams-Pilgrim
Vice President, External Affairs
Abyssinian Development Corporation

Nicole Gelinas responds:
In fact, I asked Ms. Addams-Pilgrim what ADC’s work requirements were for tenants in its affordable-housing developments, and reported the answer that I received.

Boy Crazy

To the editor:
Gerry Garibaldi’s perception of the radical feminist contribution to the situation of boys in grade school [“How the Schools Shortchange Boys,” Summer 2006] is barely the tip of the iceberg. Radical feminists espouse a philosophy of hatred that targets males of all ages. They are driven by rage, malice, envy, and spite, the intensity of which is by no means grasped by the extra-academic world. I spent a quarter of a century cheek-by-jowl with academic feminists when I was an active professor, and it took me considerable time to fathom the depths of the rage and hatred that drove them. I have concluded that being a feminist may well be a form of pathology or constitute a symptom of pathology.

Male children should be systematically removed from feminist teachers in grade school, while feminist teachers in high school need to be monitored by parents’ groups regarding the amount of anti-male hate rhetoric and literature they disseminate. Universities need to be hit hard with hostile-environment sexual-harassment suits targeting feminist professors—and specifically women’s studies programs and departments, from which radiates the anti-male hate teaching that ultimately filters down to the grade school where Garibaldi teaches.

Michael McCanles
Professor Emeritus of English
Marquette University

To the editor:
Like Gerry Garibaldi, I came to teaching later in life—in my case, after 26 years as a police officer. Teaching history gives me a leg up with boys because of their love of military history. What is frustrating is that military history is being de-emphasized in favor of more politically correct material. Students know about the Holocaust and the Japanese internment but know little about the decisive battles of any of the nation’s wars. These are important also.

I have no problem with Individualized Educational Programs for children with disabilities, but I too think they are overused, especially on boys. And the degradation of the role of the white European male in history is enforced by standardized tests that are more concerned with political correctness than with historical accuracy. Until this bias is corrected, more boys will become disenchanted and frustrated with school and we will con- tinue to lose them.

Oh, well: as Judge Smails said in the movie Caddyshack, “The world needs ditchdiggers, too.”

Steve Flickinger
Miamisburg, OH

To the editor:
As a teacher in an all-girls’ school, I see all the behaviors that Gerry Garibaldi implies are only found in boys. I once had a student stand up in the middle of a test and loudly ask why all the true-and-false answers were false—behavior similar to what Brandon did in Garibaldi’s account. There are also students diagnosed with learning disabilities, which he claims are not seen in girl students. And I wish my students would all eagerly take out their pencils when I tell them to! Feminists often like girls’ schools because the editors, club presidents, and so on are all female. There’s a downside, though: all the troublemakers and failures are female as well.

Kimberly Weiss
Bayonne, NJ

Make Compstat Universal

To the editor:
I’m glad that Heather Mac Donald is still writing about cops—the great, visible suc- cess of public-safety programs that lead to order, prosperity, and real social improvement. And I’m very glad for her mention of the NYPD’s refinements to its Compstat system. This comprehensive, monitored, feedback-laden approach should be used in evaluating and directing many more—all?—government services.

Tom Sullivan
Via e-mail

A Time Immemorial

To the editor:
I want to let you know how touching I found Steven Malanga’s “The Last Full Measure” [Summer 2006], about suburban tributes to the murdered souls of 9/11. Hardly a day passes that I don’t think of those people and wonder why the memorial site at Ground Zero has been so botched. It’s heartening, though bittersweet, to read about the beautiful memorials put up elsewhere.

Carol Kelley
Sugar Land, TX

To the editor:
Perhaps it’s time to revisit City Journal’s recommendations for Ground Zero [see “What Should Rise from the Ashes?,” Autumn 2001]. The neoclassical elements in the memorial and buildings that you proposed were reminiscent of an era when New York represented American greatness. It’s sad that the job of creating so important a memorial and rebuilding the center of the financial district fell to us at a time when we had weak and unimaginative leadership in Albany, and a city of men without chests.

Mark Alesse
Via e-mail