Tuesday, June 9, 2009

San Salvador on University Boulevard

Catching up on my back issues of National Review I came across this Happy Warrior column by Mark Steyn (subscription required) in which he stumbled across a New York Times article titled Struggling to Rise in the Suburbs Where Failing Means Fitting In. The Times article chronicles immigrant issues in Langley Park, a DC suburb not far from where I grew up in PG County.

The Times article describes Langley Park as:

Now nearly two-thirds Latino and foreign-born, it has the aesthetics of suburban sprawl and the aura of Central America. Laundromats double as money-transfer stores. Jobless men drink and sleep in the sun. There is no city government, few community leaders, and little community.

To which Steyn writes:

Langley Park is a good example of where tiptoeing around on multiculti eggshells leads: There is literally no language in which what’s happening in suburban Maryland can be politely discussed, not if an ambitious politician of either party wishes to remain viable. To exhibit an interest in immigration is to risk being marked down as, if not a “racist,” at least a “nativist.” And “immigration” isn’t really what it is, not really: After all, in traditional immigration patterns the immigrant assimilates to his new land, not the new land to the immigrant. Yet in this case the aura of Maryland dissolves like a mirage when faced with “the aura of Central America.”

Steyn is right, because one of the few “community leaders” in Langley Park, Delegate Victor Ramirez, has made an art form out of labeling anyone who dares accurately describe the problems in Langley Park as hateful and racist.

There is no language to have an honest discussion about Langley Park, because for Ramirez and his ilk in the Maryland Democratic Party, hate and racism have no meaning other than as a epithet to browbeat people and ideas they disagree with.


Vivian Louise said...

It is distressing how far political correctness bends over to accomodate stupidity and criminality. In Langly Park, that is exactly what's happening.

Chester Peake said...

Don't people like Ramirez understand that their race-baiting antics can actually foster racism? To sit in a hearing involving any related immigration issue, and hear him, it makes one's normally calm blood boil!

You constantly have to remind yourself that he doesn't speak for all hispanics, and that some are just as concerned over these issues as the rest of us. Unfortunately, too many people buy his baloney anyway and elect him.

Duke hoops fan said...

Could it be that Ramirez or his pal Vallarion have never driven through the intersection of University Boulevard and New Hampshire Avenue? I guess all of those guys hopping into the back of contractor's trucks are really just carpooling to their naturalization classes.

Mark Newgent said...


Ramirez's office is on Univ. Blvd right in Langley Park.

Bruce Godfrey said...

Mark, your piece might be stronger if you actually quoted the comments from Ramirez that, in your view, make discussion of the problems in Langley Park impossible.

I am very familiar with Langley Park; I lived in the condos on Metzerott and New Hampshire before they went condo and attended school briefly there. For most of the past year, I passed through the intersection of New Hampshire and University very routinely from my apartment at Fort Totten.

My only complaint about the neighborhood, as against many others in Prince George's County, is that the traffic snarl through the area is obscene. This is not the result of horrible, nasty Salvadorans or their culturally attributes. It's not even the fault of the pupusas with curtido (am a fan of the pupusas, the curtido less so.)

It's in part from the fact that a dense suburban development was encouraged by both PG and Montgomery Counties and the City of Takoma Park, all with a motivation to shift part of the externalities of that development onto another jurisdiction. It's from the fact that the jurisdictional border makes law enforcement trickier, harder to coordinate. Neither SAO in PG or Montgomery has had its eyes on difficult problems for a while; both offices have been occupied by stone-steppers for most of the past 15 years.

I hope that the Purple Line will help the neighborhood get rid of the buses. During some parts of morning rushhour there are nearly 60 buses an hour leaving Langley Park/Long Branch for Silver Spring if you count all of the relevant Ride-Ons and the J-series. There are more people boarding buses within 1 block of the NHAve/Univ Blvd intersection daily than board trains at many Metro stations.