One Of Those Grateful Refugees – Pacific News Service's Andrew Lam

And the winner for the 2002 "Most Nauseating Immigration Enthusiast Op-Ed" is…Andrew Lam whose impossible-to-read-without-hurling-garbage "Letter to a Vietnamese cousin: Should you come to America?" appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, December 22.

Let's stand in unison to give Lam a rousing round of huzzahs for soaring above a very competitive field with his entry. To leave in the dust the other drivel that passes for immigration comment is no small feat.

Maybe the problem is that, according to Lam's biography, his real love is writing fiction. His Chronicle column had plenty of it.

Idiotic immigration-enthusiast commentary crested throughout 2002. At the end of each week, I would say, "Well, that Wall Street Journal editorial will be tough to top for illogical reasoning, misinformation and bias." But, without fail, another piece came along the very next week to take over first place.

As much fault as there is to find with Lam's editorials, his true agenda (which you will soon learn) is even more distasteful. 

To begin, a little background on Lam: as the child of a lieutenant general in the South Vietnamese army Lam, then 11, was among the first refugees to come to America. The Lam family went from Vietnam to Guam to Camp Pendleton to Northern California.

No refugee or re-education camps for the Lams.

If the Lams were like most other Southeast Asian families I know, upon arrival in the U.S. it immediately received the full spectrum of comprehensive and costly social services.

Lam's childhood in America consisted of, in his words, "Disneyland, Tahoe, and my father's first American car."

Eventually, Lam was able to parlay his K-12 education (no doubt receiving special language instruction along the way) into a 4-year ride at the California taxpayer subsidized University of California at Berkeley where he studied biochemistry.

As you are reading this, you may be observing that Lam was a lucky young man who made the most of the opportunities America afforded him.  And you may also think that a modicum of gratitude is in order. No need to grovel, but a "Thank You America" would not be amiss.

Here, instead, is what Lam warns his cousin "D" about America: immigrants are "scapegoats," immigrants can "lose jobs" for not being citizens or "if he speaks his opinion, [an immigrant] can very well be fired."

Lam also says

"I know many Muslims are now afraid to pray at their own mosque for fear of FBI surveillance. I've seen feeble old South Asian women whose hands trembled at the airport when they give their green cards to immigration officers, fearing of sudden arrest and deportation."

Then we have the "minor infractions" category. According to Lam, to be deported for failing to comply with the terms of your visa (like reporting address changes) is "cruel and unusual punishment" especially if you are "an Iranian or Syrian refugee fleeing from a vindictive regime."

The funny thing is that, if I were fleeing the horror that Lam implies, I would consider satisfying the terms of my visa of paramount importance and not in the least inconvenient.

So Lam offers up the same old stuff. We all know that no immigrant/illegal alien has been fired for "speaking his opinion," that the Muslims in the U.S. aren't afraid of anything and that feeble (and not so feeble) old (and young) people of all races and creeds are uncomfortable with current airport check-in requirements.

More importantly, we know that the immigrant Lam has prospered in the U.S. beyond his wildest imagination. Lam is currently an associate editor at the Pacific News Service, a regular commentator on N.P.R. and producing a P.B.S. film about Vietnam.

Under no circumstances would he consider returning to Vietnam permanently.

But here follows the truly interesting part of our story about Lam. A friend and VDARE.COM reader sent me a copy of a Letter to the Editor he submitted to the Chronicle objecting to Lam's editorial:

To the Editor:

RE: "Letter to a Vietnamese cousin: Should you come to America?" by Andrew Lam ", Dec 22, 2002.

Poor, poor Mr. Lam. He is so disheartened about life here in America for immigrants. He hesitates at having his Cousin D. join him and the millions of others who have fled Vietnam... At the same time he laments that unless his cousin join the yearly floodtide of 1.3 million immigrants, America will not be "reborn" or "renewed".

First a question for Mr. Lam. Could the prosperity you found here have anything to do with the efforts of the 250 million Americans who are not immigrants?

And a suggestion for Mr. Lam. Please urge your cousin to remain at home. With 34 million people and growing by half a million each year because of immigration California is full. Have him take that mythic energy that immigrants possess and channel it into "renewing" Vietnam.

The Chronicle chose not to publish my friend's perfectly reasonable letter but instead forwarded it to Lam. And here is Lam's amazing e-mail reply (copy on file):

>thanks for the note. I am here in vietnam
>to faciliate my cousin's arrival to the US.
>In fact, he's bringing three children and
>hopefully many more will be born in the US.
>It's really great to see so many asian faces
>in california. I hope by the time it's 50 million,
>you will half of it will be asian with
> energy to spare.

>Andrew [send him e-mail]

Why do the elite hold a stone-cold racist like Lam in such high esteem? Why should Lam's voice be broadcast over N.P.R? Why did KQED profile Lam in 1996? Was Lam really worthy of the Society of Professional Journalist's Outstanding Young Journalist award in 1993?  Why would any newspaper print his opinions? Why should P.B.S. fund Lam's documentary about Vietnam?

The simple but sad answer: since Lam is an immigrant, his views are more valued than yours and mine - no matter what contributions to the country we may have made.

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.