Magazine article The American Conservative

Hail Cesar

Magazine article The American Conservative

Hail Cesar

Article excerpt

Perhaps we are less racially sensitive in Britain than you are in the United States. Most people here, at any rate, would not have been as concerned as Sarah Palin was by Harry Reid's remarks about "Negro dialect." Most people here would have thought that Senator Reid was just being charmingly old-fashioned.

Britons tend to focus on immigrants rather than on racial minorities, no matter how dark-skinned (or light-skinned) those minorities are. There is a feeling on the street now that there are too many Poles and Romanians in London. In Piccadilly Circus on Christmas Eve, I came across four young men wrapped in sleeping bags and blankets. One was awake and rolling a cigarette. I assumed the men were Scottish drunkards and asked the smoker where they were from. "Poland," he said. He was ingratiatingly contrite about the state he was in. I gave him a small amount of money and, like a neurotic nun, asked him whether he'd be going to Mass on Christmas Day. "Oh, yes," he said, and grinned.

But without immigration, where would we be? Many of the most distinguished Englishmen and women have been immigrants: William the Conqueror, William of Orange, George I, Joseph Conrad, Henry James, T.S. Eliot, Lady Randolph Churchill, Lady Astor, the Duke of Edinburgh, Conrad Black, Mary Reid. What is true of England is even truer of the United States. The roll of honor is thunder in our ears: Alexander Hamilton, Andrew Carnegie, George Shearing, Bob Hope, Oscar Peterson, Henry Kissinger, Cary Grant, Lucky Luciano, Captain James T. Kirk.

Perhaps the greatest immigrant in recent years, however, is Cesar Millan, the Mexican-American dog trainer who has taken the world by storm with his TV show. Not only is he a good advertisement for immigration--he is a good advertisement for illegal immigration. He slipped across the border 20 years ago, and while still undocumented set up the Pacific Point Canine Academy. In 2000, he regularized his status and, in 2004, launched "The Dog Whisperer" on the National Geographic Channel, subsequently winning two Emmys. Last year, he became a U.S. citizen. Good for Cesar; good for the United States.

And good for all of us. There is something about this cocky, strutting, brave Mexican that is instantly appealing. But has he got anything to teach me? …

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