Victor Davis Hanson offered his social commentary on immigration at a free speech presentation Thursday at the Vista Grande Cafe.
Students, faculty and community members attended the event to listen to Hanson, an author and syndicated columnist for the San Luis Obispo Tribune most recently noted for his book, “Mexifornia: A State of Becoming.”
Described as “part history, part analysis and part memoir,” the book explains Hanson’s views on immigration and experiences growing up in Selma, Calif., a town with a primarily Hispanic population.
“Seventy-six percent of Americans want to close and secure the border,” Hanson said. “This is a class issue. We say we want secure borders but we use the services of illegal aliens to clean our pools and mow our lawns. We’re not liberals like we think we are.”
Hanson explained that although the United States is a successful multi-racial society, 20 million people have come here illegally, many lacking knowledge of the native language and a high school diploma, confining them to an entry-level job for the duration of their careers.
“The problem is not with immigration, it’s with minimum wage,” he said. “The government wants people to do cheap, good labor and service labor, and these people work for many years breaking their back to make ends meet while they are juxtaposed to people who are affluent. We have to change our attitude about the issue and realize that people who cut your lawn are just like you, and if you don’t want to pay them, marry them or let your kids go to school with them, then we have a problem.”
Hanson illustrated the point that Hispanic illegal immigrants have issues with pride, honor and fear since they “romanticize their mother country” even after they’ve rejected their old culture and moved to the United States to adopt a new one.
“Hispanics are fleeing a third world political, economical and social system because the U.S. offers a better system. Mexico will be forced to change since people can compare their standard of living to what we have here with the Internet and technology,” he said.
Heather Biscoe of Arroyo Grande attended the event and described Hanson as the “most dynamic speaker” she had heard in a long time because of his education and experience with the topic of immigration.
“I always thought of myself as a liberal, but then I think, well my skin’s white and I’ve lived in an area where people look like me so I didn’t have to think about (illegal immigration),” Biscoe said. “I float through life and find things that make me happy and wasn’t faced with the issues since we live in a pretty homogeneous community. We need to start on a path of opening our minds and forming an opinion.”
Hanson’s speech was one from a series of Provocative Perspectives sponsored by the department of Student Affairs that brings speakers throughout the year to talk to the public and discuss issues with race and social changes in society.
“The goal of any serious conversation is to learn from someone and find common ground,” said Cornel Morton, vice president for Student Affairs. “That’s the point of Provocative Perspectives ” to jumpstart conversations about important and controversial issues.”