Welcome, Hispanic residents -- and tough luck to the rest

May 05, 2004|By GREGORY KANE

LET'S PUT some signs up at Baltimore's city limits: Asian, African, European and black Caribbean immigrants not welcome.

If members of those particular groups didn't know that before, they know it now. Baltimore's political honchos made it perfectly clear which immigrants they want to attract to the city: Hispanics. All others need not apply.

So keen are Mayor Martin O'Malley and his crew about attracting Hispanic immigrants that they don't even mind doing something flagrantly illegal to do it. In an article by The Sun's Laura Vozzella that ran Monday, we learned Baltimore has set aside 15 grants of $3,000 each for Hispanics who want to buy homes in Charm City. Apparently our nonexistent crime rate and across-the-board academically superior schools don't have them rushing to move here.

There's only one problem: It ain't legal. The phrase "without regard to race or ethnic origin," so prominent in the civil rights legislation favored by Democrats of the 1960s, seems unfathomable to Democrats in 2004. It's not because the language is particularly difficult. We're not talking quantum physics or three-variable calculus here. It's just that Democrats today can't resist the urge to pander to "underrepresented" minorities.

For those of you who haven't descended into the Orwellian doublespeak world our politicians spend way too much time in, an explanation is appropriate. "Underrepresented minorities" are blacks, American Indians and Hispanics. Asians - who would be the Pakistanis and Indians from South Asia as well as the Koreans, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Cambodians, Burmese and Thais from East and Southeast Asia - are a minority, but they're not classified as underrepresented. They're just, as a group, wealthier and better-educated than the underrepresented minorities, and hence unwelcome in these parts.

You would think that black immigrants from the English-speaking Caribbean nations and Africa would also be in the "underrepresented" category, but not in the eyes of our city leaders. The only immigrants worthy of being urged to come to Baltimore must speak Spanish. And, our jefes make clear, anyone finding fault with the flagrant discrimination espoused in the policy has a problem.

That was the suggestion proffered by O'Malley spokesman Stephen Kearney in Vozzella's article. After acknowledging that the blatant and illegal discrimination occurred back in September - meaning his boss has not only been wrong, but he has been wrong for about seven months now - Kearney claimed this story is "driven by the press, not actual people."

That's an interesting if somewhat blighted worldview, since I've looked around the newsroom and seen Sun staffers who look very much like actual people. (The three characters who inhabit the Maryland section's columnist row are the exception.) But the quote reveals an attitude among today's liberal Democrats about how civil rights laws are to be perceived. The laws don't say what they say, these folks tell us. They say whatever liberal Democrats mean for them to say.

People like this stay in power only because they get Democratic party apparatchiks to reflexively vote them into office every election. And that may be why local Democrats want a Hispanics-only policy in attracting immigrants: It's perceived that this particular ethnic group is more than likely to vote Democratic. Those Asians really can't be trusted. Some of them have Republican and conservative tendencies. If enough of them take up residence in Baltimore, Democrats might be voted out of office.

And that's the better, nobler - and legal - reason we should invite immigrants of all nations to Baltimore. If I thought for a second that an influx of only Hispanic immigrants would result in Democrats being voted out of power in this town, I'd be packing them into my house. Not because I'm a Republican, but because Baltimore needs a change.

A Republican mayor or several Republican City Council members might shake things up around here. Heck, I'd even welcome a couple of Green Party City Council members. At least it would break the monotony - and the monopoly.

Folks wondering why Baltimore's schools are in such a mess might also wonder why Baltimoreans always vote for the same candidates - liberal Democrats - and expect different results.

So let's have an alternate criterion for inviting immigrants to Baltimore. If they're inclined to vote Democratic, tell them to go elsewhere. But if they have a vote-for-anybody-but-a-Democrat philosophy, let's bring 'em on in.

Grace Chiou, an Asian-American senior at the Johns Hopkins University from Los Angeles, traditionally votes Republican. Although she supports the Hispanic grant plan - she figures Baltimore already has enough Asians - she'd be just the kind of new blood we need in Baltimore. Alas, she'll be headed to Mexico when she graduates.

Darn the luck.

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