The Corner

No One Cares About Your Grandpa

Derb: Rest assured, I weep not — you need to be pretty phlegmatic to stay sane in my business, so Novak’s sentimentalist horseflop doesn’t surprise me at all. But the reference to his grandfather at the end does raise an issue — are people whose grandparents weren’t immigrants allowed to have views on immigration? I’m sick of hearing about Arlen Specter’s grandpa from Odessa (or wherever), Domenici ranting on the Senate floor Monday about his immigrant parents, Spencer Abraham, then the open-borders senator from Michigan, talking about his Lebanese grandparents as he gutted the 1996 immigration bill. It’s a kind of moral blackmail, saying to all in earshot, “You must defer to my views on immigration because my (fill in relative) came here from somewhere else, and people were mean to him.” Or, maybe just as bad, “I know all I need to now about contemporary immigration policy because my (fill in relative) came here 150 years ago, and everything is the same as it was then.”

Do they think no one else has immigrant family members? OK — my paternal grandfather came from outside Smyrna, spent eight years in seminary in Jerusalem, then, having had his fill of religion for a lifetime, went to Alexandria and rolled cigars, then hooked up with a couple other young Armenian men and came to America, joined the Army in WWI, got shot in the butt in a training accident in upstate New York, opened a pharmacy in Watertown, Mass., and never saw his family again because they were all killed by the Turks. Satisfied? I’ve got more if you want it. Can I have an opinion about immigration now?

And what of those whose roots in this country are deeper? Are people whose ancestors died at Valley Forge or Gettysburg or on the Oregon Trail supposed to apologize for having views on one of the most important issues facing our nation? The moral preening of this perspective is disgusting, and wouldn’t be tolerated by conservatives on any other issue.

Well, maybe I’m not so phlegmatic after all.