We don’t care if you don’t

Off and on throughout the arrest and trial of Rod Blagojevich, there have been various media reports about how the Serbs in the area (Blags is of Serbian extraction) are reacting.  Apparently they’re concerned because of the “bad reputation” they have as a result of the Bosnian war in the 1990’s: if Blags is convicted of anything, is that a slam on all of them?  (And of course, most of the interviewees agree that because Blags has Serbian blood, he is being wrongly accused and has never done one bad thing in his life; more damningly, that’s the way things are back home and if Americans arrest Blags for that kind of stuff they’re racist.)

Welcome to reverse racism, 2000’s style.  I guess the game is to declare that you’re being discriminated against before anyone gets a chance to say anything, even if that is unlikely to happen.

Here’s a reality check for this latest group of would-be victims: widespread discrimination against Serbs is EXTREMELY unlikely because most people here don’t even know where Serbia is, let alone that something bad was attributed to it; our news coverage sucked so bad that most of us don’t even know why that war happened in the first place.

To us, Serbs are just another brand of eastern European, almost indistinguishable from the rest.  Yes, we know the Russians as sullen eternal adolescents always scheming to beg, borrow or most likely steal the latest fashionable bauble in any way possible, and the Poles as incredibly unfriendly and hilariously arrogant.  But we only know this because there are so many of them here, possibly millions more than there are Serbs, and we are also keenly aware of them because both of these groups of recently-arrived have little or no respect for this country’s history.  For instance, I am of eastern European extraction — Polish and Russian — and have met with shock and disbelief in recent immigrants from those countries over the fact that my parents were born here and my father’s parents were born here to at least one parent who was born here, and I don’t know any of my distant relatives in Poland or Russia.   To put it briefly, they seem to assume that I’m an immigrant just because I’m in the U.S., which is weird and makes one wonder just what they’re teaching in the schools and saying in the media over there.

Fact is, I am from the U.S.  I am American.  I am nothing else. And please don’t assume that I speak Polish.  Or Russian.  Yes, this has happened — quite often, in fact.

For example, if anyone asks me how I feel about the death earlier this year of the Polish President, I say that I am deeply sorry for the loss to his family and country, but I have no particular feeling about it otherwise.  You will not see me flying a Polish flag on the radio antenna of my car.  That’s because I am not from Poland.

So what am I getting at?  Not blustering Teabagger faux patriotism — let’s not go there.  What I am getting at is the notion that if you move to a country, the first generation of your family will always feel lost and be, at best, hyphenated.  But beyond that, you have to assimilate.  A-s-s-i-m-i-l-a-t-e.  It is not a dirty word.  It is not racist.  It is just common sense for the common good.

Moreover, you’ll save yourself a lot of grief.  Among former generations of immigrants, there were lots of attempts to create things like “little Italy” and “New England;” currently, some Mexicans are jabbering about “reconquista,” even of places they never occupied in the first place.  All these attempts failed eventually, as will “reconquista.”  And as will yours.  Accept this.

And when it is done, you will be no longer worried about how people will view you if a crooked politician who shares your ancestry gets convicted.  Blags will fade into being what he is — just an annoying gnat to be swatted away.  That’s the price and reward of assimilation, and you can’t have it both ways.

The fact is, we don’t care if you don’t.  So quit the whining.

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