30 November 2007

Outer Mongolians Inside the Beltway

This may be old news to Beltwaytards, but it's new news to me, from the Washington Post of 3 July 2006:
The Mongolian Children's Festival, in its third year, highlights a little-known fact about life in Arlington County -- that the Mongolian community has become a force. After English and Spanish, the school system's most common language is Mongolian.

Mongolians in Arlington are a new phenomenon, most arriving in the past five years, and they seem to have an innate talent for fitting in. Within months, most Mongolian children prattle comfortably in English and embrace U.S. fashions, music and dance moves.

Traditionally a nomadic culture of horsemen, Mongolians lived for years as a Soviet satellite with no access to the west. In 1990, after a democratic revolution, Mongolia opened up, and its 2.5 million citizens were allowed outside the Iron Curtain.

Many went abroad in search of better-paying work and opportunities for their children, although it often meant doing jobs beneath their training (doctors might work as orderlies or sandwich vendors). An estimated 15,000 to 18,000 Mongolians live in the United States, with large enclaves in California, Colorado, Illinois and Arlington, which the Mongolian Embassy says is home to about 2,600.

Why Arlington? Community leaders say it was simply where the first arrivals happened to settle. More followed, coming on student and tourist visas, and they helped each other find jobs and apartments.

But the county's schools also played a role. Bolormaa Jugdersuren, a Mongolian who is an instructional assistant at Williamsburg Middle School in North Arlington, originally moved to Baltimore and enrolled her children in schools there -- until she compared their progress to that of Mongolian children in Arlington.

"I felt like my children were missing something," she said. After moving here, their English improved quickly. "That's why most Mongolian people come here," she said. "Because they choose first the education for their offspring."
via The Marmot's Hole

I wonder if Arlington High School or Washington-Lee High School has a sumo team. Instead of dividing the wrestlers into East and West teams for tournament matchups, they could divide them into North and South.

Tessaku Seikatsu: Mainland vs. Hawaii Internees

From Life behind Barbed Wire [鉄柵生活 Tessaku Seikatsu]: The World War II Internment Memoirs of a Hawai‘i Issei, by Yasutaro Soga [1873–1957] (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2008), pp. 81-83:
Internees from the Mainland were more rebellious than those from Hawaii. From the point of view of Americans, this kind of behavior was seen as extremely disloyal but, given the pitiful circumstances under which mainland Japanese were placed, it was to be expected. I would not be exaggerating if I said that part of the responsibility for the recalcitrance of these internees rested on the United States government. Japanese in Hawaii were very lucky in comparison. Throughout the war, most were allowed to live comfortably and keep their businesses. For this we must thank Lieutenant General Emmons, a fair and intelligent man, who was commander in Hawaii when the war broke out.

When the first and second Hawaii groups came into contact with internees from the Mainland, they were generally considered inferior. (By the time I arrived at Lordsburg [NM], this was no longer the case.) Japanese from Panama and South America were also held in low esteem, so they felt much closer to internees from Hawaii. Japanese resent being discriminated against, but they themselves are prone to "closing ranks" to exclude others. Few ethnic groups exhibit this kind of behavior: It is definitely one of the shortcomings of Japanese. Those from the Mainland had suffered greatly under anti-Japanese policies and regulations, so they tried, consciously or unconsciously, to gain satisfaction by excluding those whom they considered to be "outsiders"—Japanese from Hawaii, Panama, and South America.

After we had lived together for awhile, the Mainlanders began to think better of us. Hawaii people often took the lead in promoting events and participated in many camp activities: theatricals, exhibitions, and sports, including sumo and softball. They began to realize we were fairly strong in not only number but also character. We received monthly remittances of fixed amounts from home and were the best customers at the canteen (camp store), which gave us a certain amount of clout. What we hated most was being blamed by Mainlanders whenever something went wrong. But in general we were not reproached and maintained a good reputation in the camps. I think this was due to our strong willpower....

Among Mainland Japanese were quite a number of illegal immigrants who had jumped ship in the San Diego area in southern California to work as fishermen or had smuggled themselves into the United States from Mexico. Lured to this land of Canaan, where honey and milk were said to be flowing, hundreds of Japanese and Chinese attempted the crossing. All along the vast, barren border lie the bones of many adventurers who failed. Swindlers offering transport to the United States for several hundred dollars would open their cargo doors while flying and dump their "shipment" in the middle of the desert without a second thought. I heard all of this from a man who lived in Mexico.

29 November 2007

Tessaku Seikatsu, May 1942

From Life behind Barbed Wire [鉄柵生活 Tessaku Seikatsu]: The World War II Internment Memoirs of a Hawai‘i Issei, by Yasutaro Soga [1873–1957] (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2008), pp. 61-62
We all welcomed newcomers and anything they could tell us of the outside world, but we were also cautious. Many new arrivals held grudges, blaming their arrests on others and calling them "dogs" for collaborating with the FBI. We heard many such allegations. Those of us arrested on December 7, the day the war began, had no such complaints. From the outset we had been listed as persons to be interned if war broke out between the United States and Japan. Some people who should have been listed were not, which of course did not sit well with most of us. A colleague of mine from another island was in Honolulu on business when war was declared. Desperate to return home, he asked a prominent Japanese to speak to the military authorities. When he returned to his hotel, however, an FBI agent was there to arrest him. Both men were in newspaper-related work, so they were prime candidates for internment anyway, but the prominent one escaped incarceration. Similar examples of perceived discrepancies led to suspicion and malicious gossip.

Among the newer arrivals was a minister from Honolulu who joined us at Sand Island about six months later. He gave a lecture one evening, saying: "Quite a few of you who arrived here early on have grown timid. You must be strong! Japan is now waging a sacred war of hachigen ichi-u!" (The correct phrase is hakko ichi-u, meaning "the whole world under one roof.") Disgusted by his pretentious exhortation, a half-dozen listeners walked out. They ridiculed the priest, saying, "Humph—what nerve! He talks big now, but before his arrest he was running scared. He doesn't even know his Japanese!"

Most internees worked inside the barbed-wire fence. Even the authorities could not force us to work beyond the fence. The vegetable gardens were located outside the camp, so only volunteers could work there. One Sunday, defense workers at a nearby site took the day off, so some internees were recruited to take their place. The camp authorities got into trouble when the labor union protested.

28 November 2007

Orlando Figes on Stalin's Collaborators

In the NYT Sunday Book Review, Joshua Rubenstein reviews The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia, by Orlando Figes (Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt, 2007).
For many years, Orlando Figes observes, the memoirs of intellectual dissidents, like Eugenia Ginzburg and Nadezhda Mandelstam, and the work of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, “were widely greeted as the ‘authentic voice’ of ‘the silenced,’” telling us “what it had ‘been like’ to live through the Stalin Terror as an ordinary citizen.” Their books did indeed reflect the experience of people like themselves, who were “strongly committed to ideals of freedom and individualism.” But they did not represent what happened to millions of other people who were not opponents of the regime and did not engage in any kind of substantial dissent, but were still dispatched to labor camps, to exile in remote settlements or to summary execution. As Figes, a leading historian of the Soviet period, concludes in “The Whisperers,” his extraordinary book about the impact of the gulag on “the inner world of ordinary citizens,” a great many victims “silently accepted and internalized the system’s basic values” and “conformed to its public rules.” Behind highly documented episodes of persecution, famine and war lie quieter, desperate stories of individuals and families who did what they could to survive, to find one another and to come to terms with the burden of being physically and psychologically broken. But it was not only repression that tore families apart. The regime’s reliance on “mutual surveillance” complicated their moral burden, instilling feelings of shame and guilt that endured long after years of imprisonment and exile.

The widespread use of communal apartments facilitated government oppression. Initially designed to address a severe housing crisis, the apartments turned into “a means of extending the state’s powers of surveillance into the private spaces of the family home.” Families could monitor one another, reporting any hint of disloyalty. Spouses and children could be sent away after an arrest or an execution. The age of criminal responsibility was lowered to 12 in order to reinforce pressure on adults to cooperate with interrogators and spare their children. A wife was expected to divorce her arrested husband....

The case of Aleksandr Tvardovsky exemplified the way families could be torn apart by moral degradation. Tvardovsky is remembered for being an accomplished poet and the courageous editor of Novy Mir (New World), a literary journal that, during the Khrushchev period in the late 1950s and early ’60s, published outspoken material about the Stalin years, including work by Solzhenitsyn and the memoirs of Ilya Ehrenburg.

But Tvardovsky had his own troubling background. His father and brothers had been arrested on political grounds in 1931, and Aleksandr, wanting to pursue a literary career, refused to maintain contact. As he wrote to them: “I am neither a barbarian nor an animal. I ask you to fortify yourselves, to be patient and to work. The liquidation of the kulaks as a class does not mean the liquidation of people, even less the liquidation of children.” He concluded by insisting they not communicate with him. Two months later, his father fled his place of exile to find his estranged son. Tvardovsky betrayed him to the police. Compelled “to choose between one’s family and the Revolution,” Tvardovsky, like many others, refused to give in to “abstract humanitarianism.”

Tessaku Seikatsu: German & Italian Internees

From Life behind Barbed Wire [鉄柵生活 Tessaku Seikatsu]: The World War II Internment Memoirs of a Hawai‘i Issei, by Yasutaro Soga [1873–1957] (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2008), pp. 49-50:
About seventy to eighty Germans and Italians were interned in one corner of Sand Island. Their living quarters were next to the Japanese mess hall, and beyond that stood the women's barracks. Among them were company men, brewing technicians, doctors, laborers, and a young engineer whom I knew from the Waikiki Rotary Club. I spoke occasionally with an old man who had been arrested on Molokai. There were also Dr. Zimmerman, who made news when a petition for a writ of habeas corpus was filed on his behalf, and the dashing young son of the minister of the interior of a northern European country who had cruised around the world in a speedboat. We were envious of those, like Professor Tower of the University of Hawaii, who were released early from Sand Island. Mr. Liebricht, a violinist, was paroled later.

Those in charge at the camps did not seem to discriminate in their treatment of Europeans and Japanese. Generally speaking, Germans and Italians gave them much more trouble than Japanese. They often quarreled among themselves, tattling to the authorities like children. In the end, they were ignored. As for cleanliness, Japanese were far superior. Apparently the toilets and bathrooms in the European barracks were very dirty.

At the beginning of 1942, Germans and Italians were also sent to the Mainland. Thirteen men who were American citizens returned to Sand Island on April 28, 1942; a new rule stipulated that citizens could no longer be sent to the Mainland. Those who returned reported on the conditions of various camps and on the Mainland in general, which led me to feel I would be better off going there as soon as possible. Around this time, Captain S became our commander at Sand Island. Once when I was talking to two or three Germans in violation of camp rules, Captain S approached us and asked, "What are you talking about?" I answered, "I was asking about friends who went to the Mainland." He said calmly, "It's against the rules, so you should avoid talking to one another." I replied courteously, "I understand." If it had been Captain E, I would have gotten a verbal thrashing.

Of the German prisoners, Mr. Otto Kuehn was the most famous. While he was imprisoned in a solitary cell, his wife and beautiful daughter (the wife of a U.S. army officer) were kept in a small cottage in front of the women's barracks. I do not know what Mr. Kuehn did for a living, but because he had an ongoing relationship with the Japanese Consulate he was indicted as a spy and sentenced to death. Later his sentence was reduced to fifty years imprisonment. After Mr. Kuehn was transferred to a prison on the Mainland his wife and daughter followed. He was the only spy arrested in Hawaii.

27 November 2007

Tessaku Seikatsu, December 1941

From Life behind Barbed Wire [鉄柵生活 Tessaku Seikatsu]: The World War II Internment Memoirs of a Hawai‘i Issei, by Yasutaro Soga [1873–1957] (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2008), pp. 34-35:
On December 24, our first Christmas Eve since our arrest, Mr. Masaji Marumoto arrived at the camp accompanied by an FBI agent. This was the first time someone from the outside (other than military personnel) had visited us. Mr. Marumoto, a lawyer, had come to write powers of attorney, and I asked to meet with him. We were allowed to speak in Japanese, but of course the FBI agent present was fluent in Japanese. Upon his arrival, Mr. Marumoto's face became deathly pale, perhaps because he saw our surroundings and old friends badly in need of a shave and a change of clothes. I asked Mr. Marumoto to contact my wife about sending me some clothes. Half a month had passed since our arrival at the camp, and Mr. Daizo Sumida, Dr. Takahashi, and I had yet to receive a letter or parcel. We later found out that our letters had crossed with those from home, but at the time we felt somewhat frustrated and suffered from a lack of spare underwear. The day after Mr. Marumoto's visit, all three of us received parcels of clothes from home.

For Christmas, we were treated to turkey at lunch. The Germans and Italians hastily put up a simple Christmas tree in the mess hall. That night one of the German detainees, a lecturer at the University of Hawaii, gave a talk, and many Japanese attended. He said that he would pray for a quick end to the war and everyone's good health and that we be reunited with our families for Christmas next year....

On the first day of 1942, our first New Year's Day since our arrest, we did not get even a piece of mochi (rice cake) and did not feel festive at all. We were filled with anxiety, frustration, and hopelessness—not only for ourselves, but also for the families we had left behind. Unless a man was extremely confident and optimistic, it was to be expected that here he might develop "nerves" or begin to display odd behavior. I noticed that men who had been fond of "talking big" outside were now depressed, turning into shadows of their former selves. Still others, refusing to face reality, clung to their prewar social status, which created problems for everyone.

When we are reduced to living at the most basic level, our good and bad points are clearly exposed. On the whole, educators and priests showed themselves to be the worst of the lot. I was not the only one who felt this way. Of course there are always exceptions: There are many respectable teachers and priests. I regret to say, however, that in the camp I was disappointed in most of them.

26 November 2007

Ogasawara Mixed Language: English in Japanese

From English on the Bonin (Ogasawara) Islands, by Daniel Long (Duke U. Press, 2007; Publication of the American Dialect Society, no. 91; Supplement to American Speech, vol. 81), chap. 10:

At the end of the Pacific War, the U.S. Navy occupied the Ogasawara Islands and permitted only the families of Western descent to return, along with their spouses and children, whether Japanese, Western, or mixed. These families were all bilingual and mixed Japanese and English in their speech. Before the war, monolingual Japanese officials stigmatized the mixed language as "English," but after the war, monolingual American officials stigmatized it as "Japanese." However, the islanders took pride in their bilingual heritage, and some of this "Navy generation" of Ogasawara Islands claim they purposely created Ogasawara Mixed Language (OML). Here are some examples from interviews recorded with some of these baby boomers during the 1990s.

  • Me no sponsor no, anō, nan to yū no? Sono French door, anō glass door ga warete, water ga up to the knee datta. ‘My sponsor’s—that, what do you call it? Their French door, that glass door broke and water was up to the knee.’

  • Uchi no Mama was no leg man mo mita-zutta zo. Anoo, heitai no clothes kite. You no ojiisan, too, he had lots of stories. ‘My mama said she even saw a one-legged man, uh, wearing army clothes. Your grandpa too, he had lots of stories.’
Temporal expressions
  • I remember I was only about twelve da kedo. Kinky tachi saa, Kinky to ka aretachi. Guam kara kaette kita ja, sugu. Sou darou? May, May no twentieth da to omou n da yo ne. May twentieth ka May twenty-fourth gurai da to omou. ‘I remember I was only about twelve, but Kinky and them, um, Kinky and all of them had come back from Guam, you know. About May twentieth or May twenty-fourth, I think.’

  • Every year. Mada aru yo, decorations, sukoshi. Twelve years old gurai no toki, chotto Christmas tree kazari hazimete. ‘Every year—I still have them, the decorations, a few. When I was about twelve years old, we started Christmas tree decorating a bit.’
Wraparound structures
  • It’s about three times gurai yatta ne. ‘It did it about three times, huh?’

  • We bought about two pounds gurai katte kita no. ‘We bought about two pounds.’
Basic vocabulary
  • Dakara face to name ga chigau kara. ‘It’s because the face and name don’t match up.’
Phrases as well as words
  • Aa, tsunami no toki? Me to mama wa last one to get out of there, yama ni nobotte. ‘The time of the tsunami? Me and Mama were the last ones to get out of there, climbing up the hill.’
OML versus code-mixing
OML differs in many significant ways from normal code-mixing or code-switching between English and Japanese. When Japanese code-mix, for example, they generally do NOT: (a) ignore honorifics (keigo), (b) ignore polite forms (teineigo), (c) use English pronouns, (d) incorporate English whole phrase structure, (e) use English phonology, or (f) use English counters. These are all significant features of OML.
Passing of a transient language
Since the reversion of the islands to Japan in 1968 and the subsequent incursion of ethnic-Japanese (now outnumbering the Westerners ten fold), OML has fallen deeper and deeper into disuse. For elderly (those raised before the war) and middle-aged (raised in the Navy Era) Westerners, the decreasing usage of OML seems to correspond to a decreasing desire to distinguish themselves from their new and returned ethnic-Japanese neighbors. Even when they do wish to assert their uniqueness, there is less need to rely on language to accomplish that. The Westerners had many things in common with the Navy personnel, but they relied on OML (or on Japanese) to distinguish themselves from the Americans. These days, they have many nonlinguistic aspects which they can employ. These include their non-Japanese given and family names, their participation in the Christian church, their non-Asian physical appearances, and their common heritage and shared experiences.

25 November 2007

Mongolians, Estonian Dominate Sumo Tourney

In the absence of Asashoryu, who has been under suspension, the junior and better-behaved Mongolian yokozuna, Hakuho (12-3), won his 5th Grand Sumo Tournament, while the smallest Mongolian, Ama (10-5), won his 2nd Outstanding Performance Award; the giant Estonian, Baruto (11-4), won his 2nd Fighting Spirit Award; and Fukuoka native Kotoshogiku (9-6) won his 2nd Technique Prize. I think they should hold the Natsu Basho (in May) in Ulan Bator instead of Tokyo each year. There are now seven Mongolians in the Makuuchi ranks and five in the Juryo ranks.

24 November 2007

How Civil Society Returned to South Gate

From Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream: True Tales of Mexican Migration, by Sam Quinones (U. New Mexico Press, 2007), pp. 107-110:
Like the PRI in Mexico, Albert and his allies had seemed invincible. But in the end, like the PRI, they folded because there wasn't much left to hold them up. South Gate voted by an eight to one margin to recall Albert Robles and his allies. Some eight thousand voters turned out—small compared to the twenty-six thousand registered voters in town, but four times more than usual. People formed lines twenty deep to vote.

Albert Robles was recalled, along with Moriel, Ruvalcaba and silent Maria Benavides. Elected in their places were Steve Gutierrez, Greg Martinez, and Maria Davila. Rudy Navarro was elected treasurer.

Remarkably, though, the battle still wasn't over. Albert and his allies had succeeded in postponing the recall so that it was held only a few weeks before the regularly scheduled election in March 2003. Six weeks after the January recall, everyone had to run again. It was the fifth South Gate election in five years.

By now, though, Albert Robles's name stained anyone near it. The coffee klatches, Community In Action, the press coverage, and the D.A. investigations combined to arouse the people of South Gate. Neither Albert nor his allies campaigned.

Instead, in their last week in office, Robles and his managers wrote city checks for $2.1 million, mostly to lawyers. South Gate's assistant finance director told the Los Angeles Times that he was forced to take much of the money from the city's rainy-day reserve fund, while Albert, City Manager Jesse Marez, and several attorneys stood over him....

In the weeks that followed the March 2003 election, South Gate showed signs of returning to normalcy. At the first council meeting, Fr. John Provenza declared the first council meeting after the recall to be "a great day for the city of South Gate, a day when we can rejoice in the hope for democracy." Community In Action started up again. The new city council addressed issues like street-sweeping fees and declared one week to be "Always Buckle Children in the Back Seat Week." People who got up to speak at council meetings were not ejected. The council chambers were packed. The high attendance probably wouldn't last long, but I thought it was nice to see nonetheless.

After the election, I dropped by the office of Rudy Navarro, who'd just been elected city treasurer. Rudy was twenty-three. He said he'd just graduated from San Diego State University with degrees in finance and political science. He wanted to go to law school, but for the moment he was the treasurer of a nearly bankrupt city. State auditors were coming to inspect South Gate's books.

"We gave away a house!" he began, still incredulous. "The day after they left office, we stopped a half a million dollars from going out."

The city's payroll had risen from 340 employees to 570 in two years, he said. Contractual landmines were everywhere, and the city would be paying for them for years. The new police uniforms. The attorneys. The police badges. The loans to George Garrido. The $3.2-million Community Services Department that did nothing. South Gate looked like a dictatorship after the dictator had fled.

Still, Navarro had a healthy attitude toward it all. "To me, it's a golden opportunity," he said. "It's tough on six hundred dollars a month, but ... I have this opportunity to do something great, and you can't beat that."

22 November 2007

How Caudillismo Came to South Gate

From Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream: True Tales of Mexican Migration, by Sam Quinones (U. New Mexico Press, 2007), pp. 77-79:
Albert [Robles] had arrived in 1991 as a young Latino eager to get involved, someone people wanted to help. But by 2000, folks active in city politics saw him as a Latino Joe McCarthy, a bully unacquainted with scruples....

Albert showed himself willing to fully use the perks of elected office. As treasurer, he hired a staff of four for what had always been a one-person job. He ran for the water-district job promising to abolish the district that "sucked money out of the pockets of people." Yet as board member, he charged the district more than sixteen thousand dollars for classes in acting, finance, flight simulation, and seminars by inspirational speaker Tony Robbins. Robbins held particular fascination for Albert, and he often attended the speaker's seminars, rising to hold a platinum membership in Robbins's business.

People routinely began to describe Albert as "evil," with no hyperbole intended. Later, Mexican immigrants would call him the cucuy—the boogeyman. People watched him with the same awe and horror as they might a passing hurricane. They spent hours thinking about him, analyzing his tactics and motives, sputtering at his audacity.

"He's the best villain ever," said Frank Rivera, a leader in South Gate's police union. "He's a short, fat little guy who gets all the money, all the women, all the cars, and he doesn't go away until the end of the movie. And even at the end of the movie there's still a chance for him to come back and grab you. That's Albert Robles. He is the cucuy. You can't even mention his name without fearing that he might have somebody listening. If he were a pinata, I could honestly get people to line up for some stick time on him."

Albert's life attracted bizarre rumors. It was hard to know what was true. Still I took the rumors as at least a sign of how people thought of him and, after a while, of what they were willing to believe. He was said to be a great follower of Sen. Huey Long, the populist from Louisiana. He was said to have photos of John F. Kennedy and Adolf Hider on his wall. He was obsessed with guns and owned many. People said he ate bread and sweets to excess and that this was one reason his moods swung so wildly and why he never quite won the battle with his paunch. His mother was supposed to have cared for comedian Richard Pryor after Pryor lighted himself on fire smoking cocaine. Robles's father was supposed to have once been a Roman Catholic priest, leaving the priesthood to marry Robles's mother. His father had an affinity for great philosophers. Robles's brother was an ex-convict named Mahatma Gandhi Robles.

What was undeniable was that by 2000, Albert had assembled an impressive array of enemies: city unions and business owners, white seniors, and a good many Latino politicians; and soon, the editorial board of every newspaper in the area. Pastors at South Gate churches usually avoided politics. But Fr. John Provenza, the local Roman Catholic priest, eventually blessed a campaign kickoff of a Robles opponent. He noted in a bulletin to his congregation that three Robles opponents regularly attended mass. Provenza and Lutheran minister Chuck Brady spoke at a rally of Robles's opponents.

"We pray for Albert," said Brady. Robles, in turn, called himself David confronting the establishment's Goliath. He was a friend of the little guy whom the political elite had ignored. "Competition in these small cities was nonexistent. Now there's competition," he told me. "That's why you see people trying to knock down the Albert Robleses of the world. Albert came to fill a need for leadership within the Latino community."

As I spent time in South Gate, it seemed to me that Albert was an essay in the contravention of small-town political customs. In most small towns, councilmen have lives and full-time jobs outside city hall. In California, they receive only $600 a month in salary to ensure that politics remain community service. Indeed, everyone in South Gate politics had outside jobs and families. Only Albert did not. He lived from income derived from his jobs as city treasurer ($75,000 a year, until a referendum reduced it to $600 a month) and water-district board member ($40,000 a year). Later, when he was running the entire city government, his council created the job of deputy city manager, at $111,000 a year, and hired Albert. Thus he had the time, desire, and eventually the money to devote to politics.

20 November 2007

Overview of Southern Immigration

The latest issue of Southern Culture (vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 24-44; Project Muse subscription required) contains an article by Carl L. Bankston entitled New People in the New South: An Overview of Southern Immigration (voluntary immigrants only; not slaves). Here are a few excerpts that caught my eye.

Old South
In 1850 Louisiana had the largest concentration of immigrants in the South, about 75,000 people and approximately one-quarter of Louisiana's free population. New Orleans, the largest port in the South and the second largest in the nation after New York, was a natural point of entry for people from other countries. Between 1820 and 1860, over half a million immigrants arrived in Louisiana. Given Louisiana's French history and the large French-speaking population in the state during the nineteenth century, it is easy to assume that France would be the place of origin for most of the state's foreign-born residents. Many immigrants to Louisiana were, in fact, from France. About 15,000 people in Louisiana in 1850, or one out of five immigrants in the state, gave France as their birthplace. The largest immigrant group in Louisiana, though, came from Ireland. An estimated 26,580 Louisianans, or nearly 38 percent of the state's immigrants, were born in Ireland in 1850. The Irish are generally described as having arrived in Louisiana in two waves. Those known as the "Old Irish" came primarily from the northern part of Ireland between 1803 and 1830. These earlier immigrants became part of the middle classes of New Orleans. The "New Irish," consisting mainly of peasants, left their homes because of poverty and famine, particularly after the potato blight, which hit Ireland about 1845 and lasted into the following decade, leaving Ireland devastated. They settled in the area known as the City of Lafayette, which was later incorporated into New Orleans and is still identified as the Irish Channel. The New Irish provided much of New Orleans's low-paying manual labor.

Germans made up the second largest immigrant nationality in antebellum Louisiana. Over 20,000 people in the state in 1850, or 28 percent of all immigrants, had been born in Germany. Germans first arrived at the port of New Orleans when Louisiana was a French colony. Many settled just north of New Orleans in the Parishes of St. John and St. Charles, in an area known as the Côte des Allemands, or German Coast. A second wave of peasant German workers followed the first wave of German settlers between 1820 and 1850.
New South
As a consequence of geographic access, Texas's main immigrant population is Hispanic or Latino, yet Texas also has a substantial Asian minority (see Table 1), attributable to some extent to the general rise in Asian migration around the United States and to the booming economy in Texas cities such as Houston. In 2000 the Vietnamese were Texas's single largest Asian immigrant group, accounting for one out of every four foreign-born Asian Texans, and the state had the second largest Vietnamese population in the United States, after California, with 12 percent of all Vietnamese in the United States.

The case of the Vietnamese illustrates the importance of Texas as a point of access even for members of these more distant national-origin groups. Initial U.S. government resettlement efforts in 1975 had planted Vietnamese communities in the cities of Dallas and Houston. Additional Vietnamese Americans were drawn to Texas by the existing ethnic communities, combined with the availability of jobs in that state. Shrimping became something of an ethnic specialty for Vietnamese Americans along the Gulf Coast of Texas and other states....

As a world center, Atlanta has attracted a diverse Asian population. The largest grouping of Atlanta's Asians in 2000 consisted of people from the South Asian subcontinent, with just under 36,000 Asian Indians, over 1,000 Bangladeshis, and well over 3,000 Pakistanis. At that time, Atlanta was also home to nearly 25,000 Vietnamese, close to 22,000 Koreans, and just under 21,500 Chinese. Largely members of an educated work force, the South Asian migrants were drawn to this international-airport-hub city by its professional, white-collar opportunities in professional, scientific, and technical industries, which in 2000 employed one in five of the Asian Indians in the metropolis.

As in Texas, the Vietnamese first came to Atlanta as part of government resettlement efforts, and the initial Vietnamese communities provided bases for secondary migration from other parts of the country while Vietnamese job seekers looked for work. They found it in the blue-collar sector, with nearly one-third of Atlanta Vietnamese occupied in the city's manufacturing industry in 2000. Koreans, as in New York and Los Angeles, became the small shopkeepers of Greater Atlanta, with about 22 percent of Koreans in retail trade. Chinese, like the South Asians, had often come with educational credentials to seek jobs in professional, scientific, and technical fields, which held 17 percent of the area's Chinese workers. Other Chinese migrants tended to go in to restaurant and related work, as accommodations and food services held 16 percent of the city's Chinese workers. A diversified metropolitan economy with global connections had pulled in workers from all over the world into a mosaic of national-origin specializations.

First English Usages of 'Barbecue'

The latest issue of Southern Culture (vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 138-146; Project Muse subscription required) contains an article by John Shelton Reed entitled There's a Word for It—The Origins of "Barbecue" that contains this little gem.
The earliest use of the English word that I've encountered comes from 1661, when Edmund Hickeringill's Jamaica Viewed reported that animals "are slain, And their flesh forthwith Barbacu'd and eat," but by 1689 in a play called THE Widdow Ranter OR, The HISTORY of Bacon in Virginia, "the rabble" fixing to lynch one Colonel Wellman cry, "Let's barbicu this fat rogue." That the word could be used casually on the stage shows that by then it must have been familiar to London audiences. (The play was written by the remarkable Aphra Behn, the first Englishwoman to be a professional writer, and "Bacon" in the title refers to the leader of Bacon's Rebellion of 1676, not to side meat.) About the same time, the Boston Puritan Cotton Mather used the word in the same gruesome sense when he reported that several hundred Narragansetts slaughtered by New England troops in 1675 (among them women, children, and elders burned in their lodges) had been "terribly Barbikew'd."

19 November 2007

Kosovars Sick of U.N. Occupation

Sunday's Washington Post reports on the frustrations of Kosovars under occupation by the U.N.
PRISTINA, Kosovo   My cabby curses at the white Nissan Patrol blocking a teeming intersection in Pristina. The SUV's driver, a Pakistani U.N. worker, desperately jerks the gearshift while angry hooting builds from the cars behind him. Something inside my cabby snaps, and he roars with laughter: "First the Turks. Then the Serbs. And now? We are invaded by Pakistan!"

That's right, he called the U.N. worker an invader. But you can hardly blame him. The man driving the Nissan Patrol is part of the most extensive U.N. operation in history, one that wore out its welcome long ago....

To understand this resentment, consider the case of a 70-year-old Kosovar widow who awoke one morning in December 2000 to find her telephone disconnected because of an unpaid bill. The bill wasn't hers, she protested -- it belonged to the international manager of Kosovo's power company named Joe Trutschler who rented her home in Pristina. When the telephone company contacted him about the bill, he denied responsibility for the calls, even though they were made to his home phone number in Germany.

The widow didn't give up. She didn't have much choice: The bill was for the equivalent of $5,100, a year and a half's salary in Kosovo. But when she appealed to U.N. officials, they claimed no responsibility for an employee's private activities, she said. She filed a complaint at the local court in Pristina, only to learn that, as a U.N. employee, Trutschler enjoyed immunity in Kosovo.

Trutschler, who got his job with a bogus résumé that was never checked by U.N. officials, didn't just bilk his landlady. In 2003, he was convicted in Germany of embezzling the equivalent of $4.3 million from the Kosovo power company, and he was recently named in newspaper reports as one of 11 suspects being investigated for bilking $10 million from the water company. Meanwhile, the widow's phone is still dead.

Only 30 percent of Kosovars have faith in the United Nations, according to a U.N. bulletin in fall 2006 -- half the number that believed in the international administration four years ago. Fifty percent of the population is prepared to participate in organized protests against the world community, U.N. reports say. It's easy to see why. Kosovars have watched fraudsters use U.N. immunity to escape justice and seen foreign companies pocket millions of dollars in aid without delivering meaningful results....

Kosovo's gross domestic product is scandalously low. Kosovars use soap from Bulgaria and wear T-shirts from Taiwan. Their flour comes from the Czech Republic and their drinking water from Hungary. As long as Kosovo remains a U.N. protectorate, a non-country, outside business investments will never come.

But what investments do you need to grow cucumber? While their own fields lie fallow, Kosovars eat tomatoes from Turkey and lettuce from Italy. It pays better to sell chewing gum to internationals than to toil in the fields. And eight years after the war, the local courts appointed and supervised by the United Nations still have not sorted out who owns the fields.

The United Nations could argue that it lacks the funds to pay judges. But then why does it pay an employee from Sierra Leone more than $11,000 per month to teach Kosovars how to run their railroads? The Kosovar railroad workers, who survive on just over $200 per month, were more than a little offended to learn that Sierra Leone's last trains stopped running in 1975. Their teacher was an expert on harbors.

U.N. top brass knows full well that Kosovars are losing patience. Last year Inga-Britt Ahlenius, U.N. undersecretary general for internal oversight services, warned if the administration continued to ignore corruption, the whole mission could be jeopardized. "[T]he reluctance by senior Mission management to address fraud and corruption will have a devastating impact on public perception inside and outside of Kosovo," she wrote.
via LaurenceJarvikOnline

UPDATE: Doug Muir at A Fistful of Euros wonders whether Kosovo is destined to become a Balkan Taiwan.

Rakes Muck Best From the Top

Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass manages to tie together three prominent scandals and special investigations.
I love baseball, and I loathe Bonds. But baseball isn't the Oval Office and Democratic excuses for being sexually satisfied by an intern while you're on the phone with a congressman talking about sending American troops to the Balkans. Baseball isn't a list of names of foreign operatives that can be linked to a CIA officer outed only because the Republican Bush administration didn't like her husband's politics. Baseball isn't sacred. It's a professional sport. Bookies make a living on it.

This is what happens when we abandon the principle that no one is above the law, and exchange it for the warm comforts of partisanship. It's something many Democrats did years ago for the Clintons. They prattled on that lying under oath was OK as long as it involved sex. It wasn't. It was lying under oath.

It's something many Republicans did recently for the Bush administration, saying it was OK for "Scooter" Libby to lie under oath because he wasn't the original leaker in the Valerie Plame affair. It wasn't OK. It was lying under oath.

So, by rights, and by their own words, or by their slick avoidance of the issue, every Democratic and Republican candidate for president should join a Save Barry Bonds news conference, a bipartisan gathering, on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court, flanked by their eager media jesters....

Democratic and Republican candidates should stand at the Barry Bonds rally in front of a banner with a simple slogan:

"Barry Bonds was only lying about baseball."
Okay, I see the parallels, but I would add another set: Why single out the President, among all the philanderers in public office? Why single out the Vice President's office, among all the leakers in public office? Why single out Barry Bonds, among all the steroid users in major league baseball? Pentru că peştele se împute de la cap and rakes muck best from the top, perhaps?

17 November 2007

Tijuana's Cultural Evolution, 1920-2000

From Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream: True Tales of Mexican Migration, by Sam Quinones (U. New Mexico Press, 2007), pp. 171-172:
In 1920, Tijuana had been a village of eleven hundred. Eighty years later city officials could only guess the population neared two million people. There were entire neighborhoods populated by people from different Mexican states—Oaxaca, Sinaloa, Sonora, Mexico City. Yet the federal government in Mexico City kept Tijuana's budget minuscule. So the city could neither control growth nor provide services for the newcomers. Shantytowns popped up on the ever-extending edge of town. "Cartonlandia"—Cardboardland, an awesome shantytown on the bed of the Tijuana River near the border—was almost a tourist attraction itself.

To the bureaucrats in Mexico City, and to most of Mexico, Tijuana was an ugly embarrassment, a virtually American city, and hardly Mexican at all. Government bureaucrats required extra salary to come staff federal agencies in Tijuana. In one sense, they were right. Tijuana resembled the global economy it depended on—an assault of random noises and images. "A modern-art painting" is how one Tijuanan described the city.

Yet Tijuana had a beauty that none of the country's exquisite colonial towns possessed. Young and far from Mexico City, Tijuana was free of history and tradition. It was close to California, the wealthiest U.S. state. This created better jobs and educational opportunities in Tijuana than elsewhere in Mexico. As a crossroads, its people were open to new ideas. To Tijuana came the hardworking poor escaping the limits and decaying economies of their hometowns. Many of these folks intended to sneak into the United States; but they found lives in Tijuana and stayed.

"A more egalitarian society formed here. It's part of what makes Baja California different," said David Pinera, who is a professor of Tijuana history. "It was a society in the process of forming, a society in which the culture of hard work predominates and less the culture of privilege. There aren't the closed social circles. The rich man here is someone who came from the bottom. His father didn't give him any leg up. He was a waiter or street vendor and made it according to his own efforts."

Thus a relatively large middle class could form. In the 1980s, banks, insurance companies, and auto dealers began to arrive to serve the middle classes. Tijuana then got its first supermarkets and shopping malls. Moreover, middle-class denizens naturally didn't want their children exposed to strippers, shantytowns, drunk gringos, and naked-lady playing cards. They wanted music lessons, ballet, and art classes for their children. So a constituency for a more evolved city was born.
The quirky cast of characters in this chapter include:
  • Enrique Fuentes, who almost single-handedly nurtured a constituency for opera in Tijuana and who in 2001 opened an Internet cafe, El Café de la Ópera, with computers named Aida, Carmen, Madame Butterfly, and La Traviata, linked to a server named Turandot

  • Mercedes Quiñónes, who spent years in a cultural wilderness, volunteering as a choir director and supporting family as a hardware wholesaler, before finding a professional voice teacher and becoming, at age 51, Tijuana's premier soprano when Pagliacci opened there in 2003

  • The Russian emigré musicians who during the 1990s formed Baja California's first state orchestra, then its first state music conservatory, teaching a new generation of Mexican music students

15 November 2007

A Grim Backgrounder on Waziristan

In the forthcoming issue of the Claremont Review of Books, Stanley Kurtz reviews three books by Akbar S. Ahmed, a social anthropologist who once served as Pakistan's appointed "king" of Waziristan. Here are some excerpts about its grim political culture.
The British solution in Waziristan was to rule indirectly, through sympathetic tribal maliks (elders), who received preferred treatment and financial support. By treaty and tradition, the laws of what was then British India governed only 100 yards on either side of Waziristan's main roads. Beyond that, the maliks and tribal custom ruled. Yet Britain did post a representative in Waziristan, a "political agent" or "P.A.," whose headquarters was protected by an elite military force, and who enjoyed extraordinary powers to reward cooperative maliks and to punish offenders. The political agent was authorized to arrest and jail the male kin of miscreants on the run (particularly important given the organization of Waziristan's tribes around male descent groups). And in special cases, the political agent could blockade and even destroy entire settlements. After achieving independence in 1947, Pakistan followed this British scheme, indirectly governing its many tribal "agencies" and posting P.A.s who enjoyed the same extraordinary powers as under the British.

Akbar Ahmed, a British-trained social anthropologist, served as Pakistan's P.A. in South Waziristan from 1978 through 1980. Drawing on his academic background and political experience, he has written a fascinating book about his days as "king" (as the tribesmen used to call the political agent). First published in 1983 under the title Religion and Politics in Muslim Society, the book was reissued in 1991, and revised and released again in 2004, each time under the title Resistance and Control in Pakistan. Its obscure title and conventional academic introductory chapters explain why it has been neglected....

The first thing that strikes the reader of Resistance and Control in Pakistan is the pervasive nature of political violence in South Waziristan. And here, in contrast to his later work, Ahmed himself is at pains to emphasize the point. A popular novelist of the British Raj called Waziristan tribesmen "physically the hardest people on earth." British officers considered them among the finest fighters in the world. During the 1930's Waziristan's troublesome tribesmen forced the British to station more troops in that agency than in the remainder of the Indian subcontinent. In more settled agricultural areas of Pakistan's tribal Northwest Frontier Province, Ahmed says, adults, children, and soldiers mill about comfortably in the open, while women help their men in the fields. No guns are visible. But arid Waziristan is a collection of silent, fortress-like settlements. Women are invisible, men carry guns, and desolation rules the countryside.

Even in ordinary times, from the British era through the present, the political agent's headquarters at Wana in South Waziristan wears the air of a fortress under perpetual siege. Five British political agents died in Waziristan. Ahmed reports that during a visit to Wana by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1976, the entourage of Pakistan's Prime Minister was kept nervously awake most of the night by machine gun and rifle fire from the surrounding hills. In short, the Wana encampment in South Waziristan seems like nothing so much as a century-old version of Baghdad's Green Zone.

Politics in Waziristan is inseparable from violence. A British official once called firing on government officers the local "equivalent for presenting a petition." Sniping, explosions on government property, and kidnappings are common enough to necessitate continuous military protection for political officials. And the forms of routinized political violence extend well beyond direct attacks on government personnel.

Because government allowances are directed to tribal elders who control violent trouble-makers in their own ranks, ambitious maliks have reason to insure that such outlaws do in fact emerge. Waziristan's many "Robin Hoods," who make careers out of kidnapping even non-government officials and holding them for ransom, are simultaneously encouraged and controlled by local maliks. This double game allows the clans to profit from their own capacity for causing trouble, while also establishing a violence valve, so to speak, through which they can periodically convey displeasure with the administration. "To create a problem, control it, and terminate it is an acknowledged and highly regarded yardstick of political skill," writes Ahmed. For the most part, income in Waziristan is derived from "political activity such as raiding settled districts" and "allowances from the administration for good behavior." Unfortunately, a people who petitions by sniper fire seems poorly suited to democratic citizenship....

South Waziristan is populated by two major tribes, the Wazirs and the Mahsuds. (A century ago the Mahsuds were part of the Wazirs, but have since split off and gained their own identity.) The Mahsuds traditionally outnumbered the Wazirs and were at least relatively more integrated into modern society. After Pakistan gained independence in 1947, a few Mahsuds moved to "settled areas" and entered school. Many of these made their way into government service, thus connecting the Mahsuds to influential bureaucratic networks. Others started businesses, which brought a modern source of wealth to the tribe....

Following the oil boom of the 1970s, Wazirs and Mahsuds alike migrated to the Persian Gulf to work the oil fields and send their remittances back home. Maliks from the most prestigious tribal lineages initially resisted the call of migration. So the oil boom created an opening that "depressed lineages" happily filled. By the time the maliks began to send their sons to the Gulf, intra-tribal disparities of wealth and influence were disappearing.

So while the Mahsuds had outpaced the Wazirs, the power of maliks was waning among the Wazirs themselves. Now the Wazirs could afford to throw off those pliant elders who had taken and distributed British and later the Pakistan government's pelf; and by supporting a radical mullah, the restive tribe could feed its resentment of both the government and the Mahsuds.

As Ahmed notes, and in pointed contrast to the "poverty theory" of Islamism, modern education and wealth seem to have sparked this early Islamist rebellion. Instead of spurring further development, economic opportunities have fed the traditionalist reaction. Waziristan's tribesmen understand full well that their rulers mean to transform their way of life, thereby "taming" them through the seductions of education and modern forms of wealth. While some have accepted the trade, the majority consciously reject it. During the colonial period, education was despised as an infidel plot. In the 1970s conservative tribesmen systematically destroyed electrical poles, which were seen as a threat to Waziristan's isolation and therefore to the survival of traditional Pushtun culture. Economic development might well "tame" these tribesmen, yet poverty is less the cause of their warlike ways than the result of a deliberate decision to preserve their traditional way of life—their Pushtun honor—even at material cost.
If only the Mahsuds and Wazirs could achieve the lasting peace with each other and the modern world that the Hatfields and McCoys of Pike County, Kentucky, have achieved.

14 November 2007

Learning to Trade Envidia for Unity in Chicago

From Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream: True Tales of Mexican Migration, by Sam Quinones (U. New Mexico Press, 2007), pp. 210-212:
They [immigrants from Atolinga in Zacatecas, Mexico] became part of a Chicago ecosystem of immigrant nonfranchised fast-food restaurants that included Chinese food, Greek gyros, Italian hot-dog stands, and sandwich and donut shops owned by Indians. Several Atolingan taquerías replaced Polish and Italian hot-dog stands that went out of business.

Atolingans pooled knowledge, shared experiences, aided those in need. For a while, they formed an informal cooperative to buy vegetables and supplies. When one of Salinas's taquerías burned down in 1998, he reopened two weeks later using equipment from other Atolingan restaurateurs.

This kind of cooperation was a radical concept for men from an isolated Mexican village. Back home, anyone who wedged his way into a small business wasn't about to help or cooperate with the competition. Envidia was rife and pernicious. Envidia means "envy," but it also implies backbiting and in commerce, even sabotage. Envidia is behind the common Mexican proverb "Pueblo chico, infierno grande" (Small town, big hell). When discussing envidia, particularly as it relates to business, many Mexicans tell the story of crabs in a pot of boiling water. When one crab tries to get out of the pot, the others pull him back down; if they can't get out, why should he?

Chon Salinas came to view envidia as a devastating force. He felt it was behind the drug-smuggling rumors with which he'd had to contend.

A significant cause of Mexican poverty in small villages, he believed, was the way people not only wouldn't cooperate in business, but at times actively tore each other apart. He told the story of Urbano Garcia, a great carpenter in Atolinga years ago, who so feared competition that he refused to teach the trade to his own sons. As Salinas went out on his own and then helped others do the same, he railed often against envidia.

"The loans we eventually gave each other weren't that important," he said. "What was important was to recognize the strength of unity, this support, backing each other up, this confidence that we all need. It's what I learned at John Barleycorn's and what other people taught me there. I'd tell those who were starting restaurants that we have to break the pattern of those famous crabs."

Chicago was a huge market that offered opportunity for everyone. The new immigrants found themselves together in the same strange land, facing the same challenges: the English language, U.S.-born children, business permits, leases, taxes, snow. The envidia impulse withered, and unity came easier.

13 November 2007

How Meat Factories, Mexicans, and Futbol Came to W. Kansas

From Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream: True Tales of Mexican Migration, by Sam Quinones (U. New Mexico Press, 2007), pp. 230-232:
In the 1950s, the invention of the turbine water pump allowed [people in western Kansas] finally to suck water from the massive Oglalla Acquifer, a sea of underground freshwater that stretches under the High Plains from South Dakota to Texas and New Mexico. New irrigation systems let them spread that water across wide swaths of land and decreased the threat of drought. Farmers could grow huge amounts of grain-corn, milo, and alfalfa—which could be fed to cattle. With that came the cattle feed yard.

In 1951, a Garden City farmer named Earl Brookover built the first cattle feed yard in Kansas, with large pens in which cattle ate locally grown grain from a trough. Cattle fattened faster and more efficiently—on high-protein milo, corn, and alfalfa—than when they grazed aimlessly on the range. Dozens of ranchers opened feedlots across the High Plains. The Irsik family, another feedlot operator near Garden City, built the first processor that turned corn into cattle feed. Today, there is feed yard space for a million head of cattle within a sixty-mile radius of Garden City.

Poets would find potent symbols of America's vanished frontier in these yards, with their acres of penned and tagged cattle that once roamed the range. The cowboy was now as penned in as the cattle. He rode from yard to yard, culling the sick head.

Still, the feed yard changed the American diet. The price of beef dropped. On rangeland, cattle exercised as they grazed, making their meat lean and tough, so not much of the animal was usable for anything other than hamburger or pot roasts. America's hamburger tradition was due to the fact much of the range-fed cattle was appetizing only when it was ground up with some of the animal's fat. But in feed yards, cattle didn't move much, so their meat was fattier and thus more tender and better tasting. Demand for beef rose. This added protein to the U.S. diet. Cattle producers could now harvest more profitable specialty cuts—brisket, chuck, inside skirt, flatiron, and flank steaks—from all over the animal.

Brookover's idea was to keep in Kansas what was raised in Kansas. Up to that point, Kansas and a lot of rural America resembled the Third World: its commodities—cattle and corn, in this case—were shipped away to be transformed into more profitable products elsewhere. The feed yard transformed Kansas corn into a more profitable product—cattle. Thus a bit more of the wealth that these rural communities produced remained in the area.

By the 1970s, southwest Kansas was a cattle center unlike anything early settlers could have dreamed. Yet it was only a hint of what was coming.

The man who completed the transformation of southwest Kansas— and changed America in the process—was a tall, jowly fellow with a slow Iowa drawl named Andy Anderson.

Anderson cofounded a company known as Iowa Beef Packers—later IBP. Anderson had intense energy and creativity where building things was concerned. He'd been a butcher, then a meat wholesaler in Los Angeles. Anderson had no schooling in engineering but would become an expert, and endless tinkerer, in the science of meat-packing and refrigeration. He built the meat-packing plant of the future.

Meat-packing began in the big cities, near large populations of workers, many of whom were Eastern European immigrants. Legions of well-paid union butchers in Chicago, Omaha, and Kansas City slaughtered the cattle that came in on trains from the High Plains. Anderson and IBP moved the meat industry to the small town in the American heartland where the cattle were raised. Anderson retired from IBP in 1970 and died in 1990 at the age of seventy-one. But by then, he and IBP had reinvented the way meat was slaughtered and sold. They'd also ended butcher unions and brought millions of Mexican immigrants to the heartland.

In 1960, Anderson and his partner, Currier Holman, used a U.S. Small Business Administration loan to form IBP in the town of Denison, Iowa. Anderson applied assembly-line principles to the disassembly of cattle. In this factory, the jobs of slaughtering, cutting, vacuum wrapping, and boxing the meat for shipping were mechanized and consolidated under one roof. His factories broke down these tasks until anyone could do them. A production line would send a cow carcass on a hook through the plant. A worker would make one cut, then the carcass moved to the next worker, who made another cut, and so on, until the skeleton remained. The cuts were then sealed in plastic and boxed for shipment.
This passage merely serves as background to a long and fascinating story about how Latino-dominated soccer displaced Anglo-dominated football as the top sport in Garden City High School, Kansas, in 2003.

12 November 2007

Woolsey Hall, Memorial Walls, and Stacked Pencils

When she submitted her design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., Maya Lin was still an undergraduate at Yale, where she was no doubt partially inspired by the names on the walls of Woolsey Hall, which houses the university auditorium and the university cafeteria, and on whose interior walls one can find the names of Yale alumni killed in many wars, revolutionary (Nathan Hale), civil, and foreign. In November 1922, Yale dedicated its War Memorial, adding 225 names of Yale alumni killed in World War I.

The names on Woolsey Hall include military ranks, dates of death, and place of death, if known. The vast majority of Yalies served as officers, as befitted their elite status during most of Yale's history. (Nowadays our elites are too good to serve in the military.) But a minority of Yalies in each war served in the enlisted ranks. When the Far Outliers attended a baccalaureate service at Woolsey Hall last May, I found a few of those names of Yalies who apparently dropped out and enlisted before they graduated, for whatever reason. Here are just two, one killed in Vietnam, one in Korea.
  • Donald Porter Ferguson, class of 1969, CPL, U.S. Army, killed on 13 January 1968 in Bienhoa, Vietnam. (One of my classmates learning Romanian at Army Language School in 1969–70 graduated from Yale in 1968.)
  • Harold Ackerman Storms Jr., class of 1953 (or 1952), PFC, Infantry, killed 10 July 1953 on Christmas Hill in Korea. (The armistice was signed on 27 July 1953.)
However, the Ivy League veteran I would most like to honor on this Veterans Day is Marshall R. Pihl (1933–1995), Harvard class of 1960, who learned Korean courtesy of the Army Language School and used his G.I. Bill funding to become a renowned scholar of Korean literature, especially the "performed literature" he described in his dissertation, later published as The Korean Singer of Tales (Harvard U. Press). Here's the obituary posted to a Korean studies listserv in July 1995.
MARSHALL R. PIHL, renowned translator and leading scholar in the field of Korean literature, died at his home over the weekend of July 8. He was 61.

Since early spring his health had been deteriorating, at first gradually and then more and more rapidly. Nevertheless he diligently kept his appointments and continued his research. At least outwardly, he remained optimistic about recovery until the end.

After graduating from Harvard College in 1960, where he majored in Far Eastern languages, Marshall became the first Fulbright student grantee in Korea, receiving an M.A. in Korean language and literature from Seoul National University in 1965. He was the first Westerner to earn a graduate degree from a Korean university. He then entered the doctoral program at Harvard University, receiving his Ph.D. in 1974.

During another Fulbright year in Korea in 1970-71, Marshall was named the winner of the first annual Modern Korean Literature Translation Award, sponsored by the Korea Times. His first collection of translations, Listening to Korea, was published by Praeger in 1973. Later he produced The Good People: Korean Stories by Oh Young-su, published by Heinemann in 1985, and coedited (with Bruce and Ju-Chan Fulton) Land of Exile: Contemporary Korean Fiction, published by M. E. Sharpe/UNESCO in 1993. He also published many articles and translations in periodicals such as Korea Journal and Korean Studies and in collections such as Peter Lee's Anthology of Korean Literature (1981) and Flowers of Fire (1986). But he was most proud of the beautifully produced work that originated as his dissertation, The Korean Singer of Tales, published by Harvard University's Council on East Asian Studies in 1994.

Because he was a pioneer in a then-tiny field, Marshall was unable to secure a full-time academic position and was forced to combine teaching with administrative duties until he joined the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures at the University of Hawaii in 1989. Although he was an exceptionally capable administrator, serving as associate director and then director of the Harvard University Summer School from 1977 to 1987, he was thrilled to be able to devote full-time to teaching and research in Hawaii.

His contributions were well recognized at UH, where he received tenure in 1992 and a promotion to full professor in 1995. His administrative skills were also highly valued by his colleagues on the executive committee of the Center for Korean Studies.

Marshall was not just a fine scholar, but also a dedicated teacher and an unfailingly generous, optimistic, and energetic mentor for junior colleagues everywhere. He attracted a growing number of graduate students into Korean literature, and always gave higher priority to their academic advancement than to his own projects. Even in the two months before his death he chaired one dissertation defense, two thesis defenses, and served as outside member on several more.

He had planned to devote his upcoming sabbatical to finishing several of his own projects, including translating and condensing Cho Dongil's comprehensive history of Korean literature and coediting several textbooks in a series on Korean literature organized by the International Korean Literature Association, which he helped establish in 1992.


Marshall was an extraordinarily powerful person. I never spoke with him without feeling infused with some of his energy and obvious love of life. —Jonathan Petty, University of California, Berkeley

Not only was he a fine scholar who brought an incredible amount to the field, but he was also simply an extraordinary human being—kind, helpful, and generous to those around him and blessed with a terrific sense of humor. His passing leaves not only a large vacuum in the field but a huge void in the hearts of those who knew him. —Stephen Epstein, Victoria University, Wellington
Marshall used to say that at the end of each duty day in Korea, regular soldiers might stack arms, but his fellow translator/interpreters would stack pencils. His ashes are interred in Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.
Marshall R. Pihl grave marker

10 November 2007

Baby Boomer Buddhism Going Bust

Friday's Opinion Journal carried a column by Clark Strand, contributing editor to Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, on the declining numbers of American Buddhists.
A colleague recently took me to task for consulting Jews and Christians on how to keep American Buddhism alive. He didn't agree with either premise--that Jews and Christians could offer advice to Buddhists, or that Buddhism was in any danger of decline. But he was wrong on both counts. American Buddhism, which swelled its ranks to accommodate the spiritual enthusiasms of baby boomers in the late 20th century, is now aging. One estimate puts the average age of Buddhist converts (about a third of the American Buddhist population) at upwards of 50. This means that the religion is almost certain to see its numbers reduced over the next generation as boomer Buddhists begin to die off without having passed their faith along to their children. And Jewish and Christian models offer the most logical solution for reversing that decline.

The basic problem is that non-Asian converts tend not to regard what they practice as a religion. From the beginning, Buddhism has been seen in its American incarnation not as an alternative religion, but as an alternative to religion. American converts have long held Buddhism apart from what they see as the inherent messiness of Western religious discourse on such issues as faith and belief, and from the violence that has so often accompanied it....

In the contemporary discourse on religion, it is striking how often Buddhism is privileged over Judaism, Christianity or Islam as a scientifically based or inherently peaceful version of religion. Note that the Dalai Lama (rather than the pope) was asked to provide the inaugural address at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in 2005, even though, like Catholicism, Tibetan Buddhism includes beliefs (think reincarnation) that are anathema to medical science. Likewise, though Japanese Buddhists melted their temple bells to make bombs during World War II, the idea of Buddhism as a peace-loving religion persists as an enduring fantasy in Western people's minds. And yet, such fantasies are instructive nonetheless.

Though some of my more devout Buddhist associates may balk at the idea, these days I have increasingly come to see Buddhism in America as an elaborate thought experiment being conducted by society at large--from the serious practitioner who meditates twice daily to the person who remarks in passing, "Well, if I had to be something, I guess I'd be a Buddhist." The object of that experiment is not to import some "authentic" version of Buddhism from Asia, as some believe, but to imagine a new model for religion altogether--one that is nondogmatic, practice-based and peaceful.
This certainly rings true with me. I flirted with Japanese Buddhism after abandoning the Christianity of my youth, but never became a serious practitioner as did some of my friends, including other missionary kids.

08 November 2007

Garton Ash on 9 November 1923, 1938, 1989

Reporting from Berlin in today's Guardian, Timothy Garton Ash looks back on several momentous events in Germany that happened on 9 November.
For an older generation of central Europeans, November 9 meant the Kristallnacht, the "night of broken glass" in 1938, when Nazi thugs left the streets of this city strewn with the smashed glass of Jewish shopkeepers' windows. For those still older, it recalled Hitler's attempted putsch on November 8-9 1923. Each November 9 supplants the last....

Earlier this week, I spent an afternoon with a long-time East German friend showing my younger son, who was three years old in 1989, the places where the wall used to be. There's not much left: a few stretches of old concrete and raked sand (once the "death strip" where would-be escapers from the former East Germany were shot), grainy museum photos, a stark and rusty memorial. The ruins of Persepolis are more vivid. For those of us who were there, the experience - both the taste of our friends' long imprisonment and the magical moment of liberation - is unforgettable, life-transforming; but to explain it to someone who was not there requires a novelist's effort of evocation....

This remoteness is not merely a function of age or physical distance. Over dinner, I asked my old friend's eldest son, who as a 21-year-old escaped through the perforated iron curtain from Hungary to Austria in the summer of 1989, and is now a priest in west Berlin, what his parishioners would make of it if this Sunday he preached a sermon based on his experience. Not much, he said. The west Berlin congregation would probably think: there he goes again, bothering us with his eastern reminiscences. Like the bored family when dad starts retelling for the umpteenth time his veteran's tales of Vietnam or the second world war....

So why has this epochal event, considered by many historians to mark the end of the "short 20th century" (1914-1991), faded so rapidly from lived experience? Perhaps because, unlike, say, the 4th of July, it did not start a big new thing that is still with us (for instance, the United States). It was more a great ending than a great beginning.
The Guardian comment thread seems to have attracted a fair number of irreconcilables still angry at the how things turned out.

07 November 2007

A Velvet Painting Maquiladora in Juárez

From Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream: True Tales of Mexican Migration, by Sam Quinones (U. New Mexico Press, 2007), pp. 128-130:
[Doyle] Harden and [Leon] Korol—a Georgia country boy and a blunt Chicago Jew—would become fast friends, business partners, and would transform the marketing of velvet painting in America.

"He changed my life in the velvets," Harden said of Korol, who died in 2004 at the age of seventy-seven.

Harden had been sending a semi truck a week back to his Georgia warehouse. But Korol believed velvet had national potential. He was the first customer to buy an entire truckload of Harden velvets from Juarez. Within a month, he had ordered five trucks of paintings delivered to Chicago. He kept this up for years. Velvet paintings filled the cavernous warehouse at the Leon Korol Company in Chicago, exuding a smell of oil paint and fabric that years later Korol's sons still remembered....

It was to meet this demand that, in 1972, Korol fronted the money with which Harden built a block-long velvet-painting factory on a Juárez vacant lot belonging to a Mexican customs commandant. The factory soon hummed with three shifts a day.

Harden's velvet-painting factory is legendary among Juárez old-timers. It was really a cluster of about two dozen studios of different sizes—each with a master painter and team of assistants. Harden provided the materials and paid dollars for everything the master and his crew could churn out.

Harden tested the painters to see who could paint the best trees, or waterfalls, or clouds. Then he set up production lines. Each studio had a wooden shelf along which the artists would slide the paintings. One man would paint the clouds, slide the canvas to the next fellow, who'd paint the sun. The third guy would paint the mountains and slide it to the guy who'd paint the stream. And so it went until the painting was finished. A crew of framers cut the velvet, stapled it to frames, and fed blank canvases into the maw of it all.

An assembly line for handmade art, the factory was one of the first maquiladoras in a town now dominated by them. Each studio was designed so no painter used more than one color and thus avoided wasting time by switching or cleaning his brushes.

Each day, after reviewing sales orders, the master painters chose the subjects to be painted: a landscape, an eagle, a wolf, an Aztec warrior, a pachuco by his car. An assistant forged the master's name on each painting. As soon as it was done, the artwork was in a truck and on its way to some far-off part of the United States, sometimes arriving still wet.

Two big rigs would leave Harden's factory for the United States every day. Urged on by Leon Korol, who bought from no one else, Harden reached awesome heights in velvet production. A dozen or more competitors followed his lead into mass production. A man named Molina had a studio of twenty or more of Juárez's best artists to whom he paid cash every day; it was accessible off a downtown back street with security guards vetting each person who wanted to enter. But no one equaled Harden's volume.
In typical Quinones fashion, this chapter is a collection of interrelated stories about unusual people:
  • Edgar Leeteg (1904–1953), the weird kid from East St. Louis, Illinois, who moved with his mother to Tahiti, where he became the father of modern velvet painting

  • Aloha Barney Davis, who marketed Leeteg's work in Hawai‘i, from which it spread to San Diego, then to Tijuana and other towns along the U.S.–Mexican border.

  • Chuy Morán, the hardscrabble artist who became the king of Juárez velvet painters and, for a time, a very wealthy man.

  • A.M. Shawar and other Palestinian emigrés in Edmonton, Alberta, who sold velvet paintings all over the Great White North, even flying them into isolated villages in the Canadian outback.

  • Hundreds of Scientology students in Florida who paid for their schooling by hawking velvet paintings during "velvet's last hurrah" during the 1980s.

06 November 2007

How Zacatecans Became Risk-takers

From Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream: True Tales of Mexican Migration, by Sam Quinones (U. New Mexico Press, 2007), pp. 42-45:
On a map, Zacatecas looks like an amoeba in the middle of Mexico. Its lines curve in and out of territories with the logic of a modern art painting. On the ground, the state is vast and beautifully rugged. In parts, mesquite trees pock forbidding deserts of beige dust. Elsewhere, the-desolation gives way to dirt the color of cayenne pepper. But whatever its color, the land of Zacatecas never could hold people to it.

The Zacatecan upper classes owned large tracts of land, much of which they'd inherited, but were averse to investing in anything more than their houses.

"There are very few classic entrepreneurs in Zacatecas, in the strict sense of people who, with their own resources, create jobs," said Rodolfo Garcia, a professor of immigration and development studies at the University of Zacatecas. "In Mexico, the capitalist class has mostly grown due to the support and money of the government. The capitalist class in Zacatecas, more than in any other state, has grown up on public money."

The extraction and export of raw materials began in the late 1800s, when mining ruled Zacatecas. The minerals from Zacatecas went elsewhere to be processed into something of greater value. When the mines gave out, they were replaced by ranching and agriculture but not by a new attitude toward risk. Zacatecas, the Mexican state that produces more beans and chiles than any other, still has few companies that process those products into, say, canned beans and canned chiles. Almost everything produced in Zacatecas leaves for places where it is transformed into something of greater profit.

This includes its people. Nothing has left Zacatecas like its people. Emigration to the United States began in the late 1800s, declined in the 1930s, then picked up a momentum in the 1940s that it hasn't lost. No Mexican state has a greater percentage of its people in the United States than craggy, red Zacatecas.

The folks who left were the state's real risk-takers. They risked their own capital—their lives—on the promise of a better return than Zacatecas offered. For most of them, the bet paid off. In time in the United States, they opened businesses, bought houses, and sent their kids to school....

Strangely, immigrants' daring and risk-taking indirectly stymied what the state needed most—which was a daring, risk-taking state of mind. Instead of using immigrant dollars to jump-start an industrial economy, Zacatecas simply limped along, addicted to the dollar injections. Immigrants became the state's primary foreign investors and job creators. They hired local folks to build lavish homes in the villages they'd left as paupers.

Then came the Mexican presidential election of 1988. The ruling PRI faced real competition for the first time in its history. Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas—a PRI apostate who had left the party—formed a movement that would become the left-wing Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Sinaloan businessman Manuel Clouthier rejuvenated the National Action Party (PAN) by swiveling it away from right-wing social morality and toward the issues of corruption and efficient government services.

Cárdenas and Clouthier were the first Mexican presidential candidates to visit the United States and avidly court immigrants. The PRI and its candidate, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, beat back their challenge through massive vote fraud. But the 1988 election showed the PRI that immigrants up north were a dangerously uncoopted source of dissent. Salinas set up an office of Attention to Mexicans Abroad.

Zacatecas Gov. Genaro Borrego tried another idea. Every dollar immigrants put up for public works projects in their villages, he announced, the government would match. It started as "1 for 1" and quickly expanded to "2 for 1"—with money from the state and federal governments. Immigrants could stretch their dollars, and Zacatecan villages could get the schools, wells, and clinics they needed.

For decades, the PRI had used budgets to buy off union leaders, businessmen, academics, and neighborhood groups. Zacatecas's "2 for 1" was the party's first try at buying off immigrants in the United States, and it grew largely from the PRI's 1988 election scare. Zacatecan immigrants were urged to form village clubs and raise money for projects back home.

But the PRI miscalculated. These immigrants were no longer the humble campesinos who went hat-in-hand to mayors across Mexico. They'd done well in the United States, and felt confident in their abilities. They blamed the PRI for having to leave their villages. They weren't about to let the party push them around up in the United States, too.

The clubs they formed were not docile. On the contrary, as the party pushed, immigrants pushed back. They insisted on a say in how their money was spent. The PRI was adamantly secular, but when some clubs insisted that the money they put up be used to renovate village churches, the government relented.

Because of "2 for 1," Zacatecans became the best-organized Mexican immigrants in the United States. By the time Andres Bermudez ran for mayor of Jerez, there were some 240 of these clubs in the United States. No other Mexican state had even half that number. They invested millions of dollars in public works. Their money built the necessities for their people back home that the government hadn't provided. In time, immigrants nurtured a righteous sense of their economic importance to Zacatecas.

Yet they religiously avoided politics. Mexican politics had been the exclusive domain of lawyers, teachers, merchants. Every ranchero seemed to know some fool who'd gone into politics and lost everything, been jailed or killed, or gotten rich and turned on his friends. So while Zacatecan immigrant prosperity created a vast ranchero constituency in the United States with money, organization, and talent, it was oblivious to its own political potential. That's how things remained until the late 1990s, when a lot began to change back home.