The [Groucho] Marxian Vision of Immigration Reform…

Groucho to Chico Marx, in Monkey Business

When Chico is driving
Groucho crazy with his fractured English (for
text of scene click
), Groucho snaps in an aside,
"There`s my argument! Restrict
immigration!" (To play clip, click

This is a joke that `s even
funnier when you realize that in real life they
were brothers, both born in America, the sons of
"Frenchy" Marx, who had emigrated from
Alsace after the Franco-Prussian war.

So where Chico did learned
to speak Italian dialect (to play clip, click
)? Reverse assimilation – he developed
it as a survival skill in the streets of New
York, to blend in if he accidentally encountered
a gang of Italian
boys who would beat
him up
for not being part of their ethnic

"While the Marx family 
had assimilated to the larger American
culture, Chico was assimilating (for camouflage
purposes) to the immigrant culture of Hell`s

March 03, 2001