Thanks for the conversation.
I’m not familiar with those discussions happening in Texas, so I won’t comment on that. In general, I think we know far too little history.
My comment about life being impossible for some immigrants came out of my concern about rising levels of hate crimes, particularly against people perceived as Muslim by their attackers.
I largely agree with your description of regional culture, and mourn its loss in some ways — I fervently wish I hadn’t lost my own Southern accent, for instance, but I am intensely interested in fighting against both the stereotyping of white Southerners like me as “ignorant, backwards racists” and the continued existence of racism throughout the country in terms of both personal bias and structural inequalities.
I also agree with you that there is, or was, a shared culture of “Americaness” that doesn’t require homogeneity. I think that when nativist tendencies take hold, people tend to use the wrong markers to judge who’s being “American enough.” To me, nativism is more dangerous than high levels of immigration, because it erodes exactly those values — individual effort, community involvement, tolerance, optimism — that make us American.
Again, thanks for engaging on this.