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  • Originally published 08/15/2013

    Why Was Enoch Powell Condemned as a Racist and Not Charles de Gaulle?

    Credit: Wiki Commons/HNN staff.The French and British empires historically had different premises, with the former (in the Roman tradition) focused more on culture and the latter more on race, hierarchy, and family. This difference took many forms: one finds meals of bifteck-frites in tiny towns in the former French colony of Niger but little English food even in the cities of neighboring Nigeria. Léopold Senghor of Senegal became a significant French poet and cultural figure whereas Rabindranath Tagore of Bengal could never transcend his Indian origins.Likewise, French and British politicians responded to the initial post-World War II immigration of non-Western peoples to their countries in characteristically different ways. Charles de Gaulle, arguably the most important leader of France since Napoleon, focused on culture while Enoch Powell, a rising star in the United Kingdom, emphasized race. Here are their speeches on the topic, starting with de Gaulle (1890-1970), who spoke on March 5, 1959:

  • Originally published 07/24/2013

    Stephen R. Kelly: How French Canadian Immigration Helped Build America

    Stephen R. Kelly is a retired American diplomat and the associate director of the Center for Canadian Studies at Duke University.DURHAM, N.C. — WATCHING the free-for-all in Washington over immigration reform, it’s easy to conclude that an airtight border has always been our national goal.The trouble with this narrative, as I discovered when serving as the American consul general in Quebec City in the late 1990s, is that it flies in the face of our own history.

  • Originally published 06/06/2013

    Alixa Naff, scholar and historian of the Arab-American experience, dies at 93

    McLEAN, Va. — Alixa Naff, an early and pioneering historian who documented the lives of the first wave of Arab-American immigrants a century ago, has died after a brief illness. She was 93.Naff died Saturday at her home in Mitchellville, Md., according to two of her friends who were with her that day.Naff, who immigrated from what is now Lebanon when she was a toddler, is perhaps best known for a collection of oral histories and artifacts that she donated to the Smithsonian and which is still available for scholarly research at the National Museum of American History.“Through her research, Alixa Naff greatly contributed to the understanding of the early Arab immigrant experience in the United States from 1880 through the 1950s,” the Smithsonian said in a statement Wednesday....

  • Originally published 05/15/2013

    German dialect in Texas is one of a kind

    The first German settlers arrived in Texas over 150 years ago and successfully passed on their native language throughout the generations - until now.German was the main language used in schools, churches and businesses around the hill country between Austin and San Antonio. But two world wars and the resulting drop in the standing of German meant that the fifth and sixth generation of immigrants did not pass it on to their children....Hans Boas, a linguistic and German professor at the University of Texas, has made it his mission to record as many speakers of German in the Lone Star State as he can before the last generation of Texas Germans passes away.Mr Boas has recorded 800 hours of interviews with over 400 German descendants in Texas and archived them at the Texas German Dialect Project. He says the dialect, created from various regional German origins and a mix of English, is one of a kind....

  • Originally published 04/21/2013

    Don't Let the Boston Bombing Roll Back the Rights of Immigrants

    ¡Ya Es Hora! March & Rally for Immigration Reform. Via Flickr.The big immigration debate is finally happening. The grand bargain, if there is one after the hysteria over the arrest of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, will likely include a path to citizenship for “illegal” immigrants and tightened border security. What will remain unchanged in whatever deal is struck between Democrats and Republicans is the idea that citizenship as the prerequisite for rights. Citizenship, as political scientist Hannah Arendt wrote in 1951 in The Origins of Totalitarianism, is the “right to have rights.”

  • Originally published 02/15/2013

    Bengali Harlem: Author documents a lost history of immigration in America

    In the next few weeks, Fatima Shaik, an African-American, Christian woman, will travel “home” from New York to Kolkata, India. It will be a journey steeped in a history that has remained unknown until the publication last month of a revelatory book by Vivek Bald. And it will be a journey of contemplation as Shaik, 60, meets for the first time ancestors with whom she has little in common. “I want to go back because I want to find some sort of closure for my family, said Shaik, an author and scholar of the Afro-Creole experience.

  • Originally published 01/31/2013

    Mae M. Ngai: Reforming Immigration for Good

    Mae M. Ngai, a professor of history and Asian-American studies at Columbia, is the author of “Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America.”IN Las Vegas yesterday, President Obama made it clear that an overhaul of America’s immigration laws was his top domestic priority. He expressed cautious support for a bipartisan plan by eight senators that would create a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants in exchange for tougher border enforcement, employment checks and temporary work visas for farmworkers and highly skilled engineers and scientists.Many critical details are still missing, but the general framework is notable for its familiarity. Variations on all of these measures have been tried before, with mixed results. Legalization of the undocumented is humane and practical, but the proposals for controlling future immigration are almost certain to fail.

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