Welcome back to Lady Things. A couple of months ago I wrote about Portland's own brand of anti-California sentiment as a kind of xenophobia and nativism. I saw quite a number of reactions, some of which were even nice, and because I think discussions are more productive when they're actually, you know, discussions, I thought I'd address some examples of the more common responses to the original piece.
1. "I'm not xenophobic, I just think we need to limit the number of people who move here."
These kinds of responses elicit a lot of emotions in me, but mostly it just leaves me with a huge pile of questions. Like, how on earth would this be enforced? I mean, I have an idea but it doesn't leave me with a great feeling.
Would it be a statewide limit? A county limit? A municipal thing? Will we need to create a new internal immigration type of entity? Or allocate law enforcement resources to finding people who don't have permission to live in the area in question? Because um, I have some news for you; we already do that to immigrants and other longtime residents, and it can be pretty devastating. Replicating some kind of immigration system for people moving here from somewhere else in the United States sounds…alarming, to say the least.
2. "One time a car with California plates blew exhaust on me in the Fred Meyer parking lot and the driver drove away laughing, eating an avocado and using a Cascadia flag as a napkin while playing 'California Sun' at full blast."
These are what I like to call the convenient anecdote arguments, or as they're more commonly known, argument by anecdote.
I first became familiar with these during 2014, after Obama signed the farm bill, which cut $8 billion from food stamp programs. Those who were against food stamps often had a very convenient anecdote of someone who was in front of them in line at the grocery store buying alcohol, steak, top hats, monocles and other kinds of decadent stuff with their EBT cards. Thanks to this harrowing experience, which wouldn't have even happened to them if they had just minded their own damn business, these people now believe those on food stamps don't actually need them and that living on public assistance is so lucrative there's no motivation to get jobs. They have proof because they saw it with their own eyes.
I read a lot of these with regards to cars with California plates shouting things at people or performing rude or dangerous traffic maneuvers, something I see plenty of cars with Oregon plates do. All it takes for a bad California driver to become a bad Oregon driver is a trip to the DMV and you'd never know the difference. Is a traffic infraction somehow worse or more dangerous if the car has a license plate from California? I can't imagine myself thinking "Thank God they have Oregon plates and not California ones" as a car comes within inches of running me over.
Now I'm not saying that these stories about rude drivers aren't true, it's just that they're very…convenient.
3. "I just don't want Californians coming in and changing the culture, being snooty and telling us how to do stuff."
And when you talk about Californians changing the culture, what culture do you think they're trying to impose? Because California is a huge state, both in population and geography, and more racially diverse compared to Oregon.
If someone does or says something rude to me, I don't care where they're from, I just want them to stop being an asshole. I also don't think any area geographic area produces an inordinate amount of jerks. If you find yourself somehow completely surrounded by loudmouths who want to tell you how to live your life, at that point it doesn't sound like a California problem, it sounds like you need to get some better friends.
4. "Californians are driving up housing prices."
Now this response is rooted in some very serious problems, and I think there's a lot of approaches to making sure that there's enough affordable housing for everyone. Somehow prohibiting Californians from buying homes or renting apartments doesn't feel like one of them, and honestly there would be plenty of people from other states in line right behind them. Once again I have questions as to how a city would go about imposing limits on people moving from California. What if someone is originally from Texas and moved to California? What if their parents brought them to California as a child? How many levels of separation would one need from California in order to qualify? How long would one need to atone for their sin of living in California before they're granted entry to our state and can partake in its bounties?
Just some things to think about, folks. Thanks for stopping in.