Rascist Dad
November 1, 2006 8:37 AM   Subscribe

My dad is rascist and anti-immigration. I am constantly getting into arguments with him about this, but I find that since I understand racial diversity and robust immigration as taken-for-granted good, I don't understand him and I have few counter-arguments. Please help me argue with my dad!

We are Canadian, and the most recent subject of argument is the Canadian government's expansion of the immigration limits (we are letting more people in). He is not politically aligned with any one group, he waffles between Lib. and Cons. This last election he voted for Harper (to punish the Liberals) but has since changed his mind.

My dad's main arguments are that immigrants take all the good jobs (to which I reply "no, they take all the jobs that the rest of us don't want").

He also feels that we shouldn't be letting people in who enjoy blowing each other up, and by this he means Arabs and Indians. ("If they liked blowing people up, why would they want to leave and come to Canada, then?")

He thinks that we don't have room for more people, and that the government doesn't do a good enough job taking care of the ones we have.

He does, however, believe that the government takes much too much care of Native people.

There is much, much more, but I think this will suffice. How do I respond to those? Help me, at the very least, give him something to think about.
posted by arcticwoman to Human Relations (50 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Introduce him to some really wonderful Indian or Arab friends?
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 8:43 AM on November 1, 2006

You may not be able to win this one. My grandmother immigrated to her current country of residence decades ago. She is upset that there are so many immigrants coming into her country. Go figure.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:45 AM on November 1, 2006

I dont know about Canada, but in the UK in this case you'd probably go on about his favourite Indian restaurant or suchlike. As I understand the US, you'd probably mention keeping labour costs down, for instance the raggedy Mexican guy who mows his lawn for a glass of Orange juice or something like that...
posted by criticalbill at 8:46 AM on November 1, 2006

Your dad sounds exactly like my Dad. Except for the delightfully ironic fact that my Dad is an immigrant. He seems to think they should have shut the gates immediately behind him.

This is not a winnable argument. I've been having it for years, and even objective, rational arguments don't help. You could try, though, the fact that until they get permanent residence and then citizenship they pay full taxes, etc, but aren't entitled to full benefits. The big one is health care, but that comes with permanent residence, so they really only work for a year or two without receiving that.

You could try an argument that social programs like Canada Pension need an ever increasing working population to fund them, and our birthrate doesn't provide that. That didn't work with my Dad, though, and he's collecting Canada pension.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:55 AM on November 1, 2006

Trying to argue politics with a parent is something of a fool's errand, since a parent is always at least in part going to think of you as a child. Any arguments you make, then, however logically rigorous, will be heard through a filter of "he's just a kid, he'll never understand."

Just a guess here: perhaps your father is (as many older people are) confused and frightened by change. When he looks at increased immigration, he sees the world he knows disappearing, to be replaced with something strange and perhaps dangerous. The "taking our jobs" and "blowing each other up" arguments may well be rationalizations of an essentially irrational emotion, i.e., fear.

My suggestion is to try to change the subject to a more comfortable one and to try to make the most of the time you spend with your father.
posted by La Cieca at 8:57 AM on November 1, 2006

indians havent really been blowing themselves up. some sikh dudes blew up that airplane about 10 years ago, so there is that, but the khalistan stuff has really calmed down a lot. so if he's going to be racist, at least he should get it straight :)

a good reason for immigration is economics. in order to have a sustainably growing economy, you need more people. take a look at japan - they will never allow immigration and its hurting them, since their 'organic' population growth is now negative.

canada doesnt have room for more people?! its huge! and when global warming really kicks in, so much more of canada is going to be habitable!
posted by joeblough at 9:00 AM on November 1, 2006

There is no way to win this argument. Ever.
posted by spicynuts at 9:03 AM on November 1, 2006

As an aside: my dad is only 50. Although, you are right, no matter what age he is, I am still his kid.
posted by arcticwoman at 9:05 AM on November 1, 2006

I think there's an old saying about wrestling with a pig...

However, two things that work for me:

Does he believe in a free market? A free market relies on three things: free movement of goods, money and labour. If you don't have the third, the money and jobs gravitate to where the labour is cheapest (Not Canada).

An economy isn't a zero-sum game. The more people in the economy, the bigger the economy gets. Everyone wins. That is to say, a bunch of new people in town means more opportunities to sell goods and services. (The recent wave of Polish immigration into the UK is a good example of this).

(In passing, I've always been amused by one of the first scenes in Romper Stomper - a bunch of Australian skinheads telling an Indian(?) to go back to her own country. There's a touch of that here).
posted by Leon at 9:05 AM on November 1, 2006 [2 favorites]

Racism is irrational. Arguments are rational.

Combatting one with the other is a losing proposition.

You will probably outlive your dad, and hopefully, pass on your non-racism to your children or the people you interact with. Eventually, ignorant viewpoints will lose out, one hopes.

Meantime, I'd make sure to call him out on it each time he is racist. Refuse to accept it from him. Find something he cherishes and actively denigrate it without reason, as an illustration. Don't allow his racism to be free of consequence. Introduce him as a racist in polite company. Make it cost and perhaps it will decline in frequency.

Be prepared to pay a cost for your viewpoints, too.

Good luck.
posted by FauxScot at 9:09 AM on November 1, 2006

all Americans are immigrants except native Americans.
posted by randomizer at 9:13 AM on November 1, 2006

The ImmigrationProf Blog is USA-centric, but the arguments may help in your discussions with your dad. Good luck.

In conversations with my own relatives, I have had some luck by countering with positive examples. Yeah, in their head they're pitting one stereotypical belief against another, but it is a foot in the door. The strong work ethic of the Mexican landscapers and the deliciousness of Vietnamese food are now frequently lauded by my folks. (I also point out how tiring all of those Polish jokes were to us.)

My other strategy has been to counter stereotypes with the novel concept of real people. When another relative lectured me on how all those Mexicans don't want to speak English, blah blah blah, I countered that this wasn't my experience, providing specific examples of actual people that I personally know. (My neighborhood is home to a growing Mexican population, so between being friendly with the folks who run local businesses and chatting with the moms taking their kids to school on the bus, I've got plenty of examples.) When I ask the relative about their experiences...huh...they're not personally acquainted with any Latino immigrants? Where do they get their info? Oh, some talk radio show. Well, do THOSE people know any Mexican people? Don't know? Huh.
posted by desuetude at 9:14 AM on November 1, 2006 [1 favorite]

randomizer: they are, too. They didn't evolve in NA.
posted by Leon at 9:15 AM on November 1, 2006

I have this argument with my parents too. I am a Canadian living and working in the United States. My parents are supportive of my job and my move, and are pro-immigration for me personally. Also, my husband and in-laws immigrated to Canada from Australia just over thirty years ago, and they have a cordial relationship with all parties and are supportive of my marriage. However, ask my parents if more people should be moving to Canada, and they freak out.

You could try asking your dad if he thinks it would be ok for you to move to another country to take a job. If he thinks that's ok, why is it not ok for other people to do so? I have not got a good answer to this question from my parents yet. I have also asked why it was ok for the in-laws to come, and for them to have health care and all that, but why it is not ok for other people to do the same? Again, no real reason.

My parents also argue that the foreigners are taking all the good jobs. I asked them how, precisely, one is supposed to build an organization that is the best in the world without hiring the best people in the world for the job (as Canada does not have the sole supply of smart and talented people). They say, yeah but Canadians need jobs. This is not a rational counter-argument. I have since given up on trying to argue immigration policy with my parents, as it is just too depressing.
posted by crazycanuck at 9:20 AM on November 1, 2006

Well aside from the fact that you're not going to win this argument, this is what I would say:

"Immigrants take all the good jobs."

Response: In any economy, you want the smartest people working in their respective positions. This increases efficiency and allows for maximum productivity- this is what drives innovation.

Innovation has a trickle down effect. It allows you to do what you do more productively and also provides the opportunity to create new employment.

"They don't even speak the language."

English is an incredibly complex language and really hard to learn. Immigrants just know enough to get by. Castigating them and isolating them because they don't know English doesn't make the problem any better.

We're in the global economy and have a global society. No one is entitled to anything- and we should be thankful for this, because it challenges us and pushes us to be our best. After all, what's more important than "being all that we can be"!
posted by unexpected at 9:25 AM on November 1, 2006

I imagine just driving through a reserve would quickly erase any notions he has that Canada takes, "much too much care of Native people".
posted by stinkycheese at 9:27 AM on November 1, 2006 [1 favorite]

You may want to ask him how people who apparently love to blow themselves up are still smart and skilled enough to take his good job from him. Does he really believe he's less talented than his theoretical suicidal competition, even though they have no existing social network to rely on for job recommendations?
posted by anildash at 9:32 AM on November 1, 2006

Many of my relatives are stuck in this kind of mind set, and it drives me crazy to listen to them when the subject(s) comes up.
Those times are possibly the only good reason to be a smoker. At least then I have an excuse to walk outside and get away from the conversation.

Good luck with changing peoples minds about issues like this. It rarely, if ever, happens.
posted by ducktape at 9:37 AM on November 1, 2006

Thinking on that Polish example... has he got any problems with immigration from the US? UK? Australia? Ireland? If not, then you've got one step closer to what he's really saying, which isn't "I don't like immigration", but rather "I don't like brown people". Not particularly palatable for you, but at least you're then noth arguing about the same thing.
posted by Leon at 9:40 AM on November 1, 2006

I assume they are competing for the same jobs as the locals for the same money? Surely the fact that they get the jobs directly contradicts them 'taking the jobs' then? (Unless there's some AA type thing I'm not aware of).
posted by gadha at 9:41 AM on November 1, 2006

Except for the delightfully ironic fact that my Dad is an immigrant. He seems to think they should have shut the gates immediately behind him.

In my experience, this is a very common sentiment among immigrants. In their perception, they worked hard to get in and become successful in the new country, while newer immigrants are getting more free rides. In the cases where old immigrants have negative feelings about their homeland, they also resent large numbers of their compatriots moving to their new country and establishing cultural islands of their homeland instead of adopting local values -- the old immigrants feel that they moved to escape their homeland, not have it follow them.

Often, this comes across as an irrational, completely anti-immigration stance. You can try and establish that what they really oppose is: (a) new immigrants who fail to get jobs and (b) new immigrants who fail to integrate culturally, rather than all immigration per se. However, you will probably not be able to convince them that they should also be accepting of cases (a) and (b), and I have to agree with them on this point.
posted by Krrrlson at 9:48 AM on November 1, 2006

I am sure there are statistics that demonstrate the benefits of immigration to a country's economy. (Probably good ones that demonstrate the opposite too.) Combat irrational thought with statistics, numbers,and FACTS that he will not be prepared to refute other than with generalizations. He will not tell you he has changed his mind, but you will win the argument and he will know in his head that you are right.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:55 AM on November 1, 2006

I agree with those who say this is not a winnable argument, given your parent-child relationship.

One thought, though: In one of my counseling courses, we were just talking about how to keep the client from speaking in generalities. "My husband's always putting me down" is not something that can be broken down and worked through. The therapist can then ask, "OK. What's a specific example of what you're talking about? When exactly did this take place? What time of day? What did he do? What exactly did he say? What exactly did you do? How did the interaction make you feel? Have you thought about how that particular interaction might be affecting your current relationship?" etc etc etc. The goal is to get the person focused on one specific example and stay focused on that one incident, rather than simply making blanket statements that are pretty much impossible to contradict or reinterpret.

That technique may not get you through an entire conversation/argument with your dad, but it might be a way of opening it up a little bit. Not that you need to be aggressive or challenging; just think of it as trying to (as others have suggested) find out what's actually underlying his fears as well as (as desuetude said) make him begin to realize that he's most likely making broad statements based on little evidence.

I guess I'm really saying, Let him talk. Try not arguing with him for a while but just trying to figure out exactly where he's coming from. If nothing else, you'll gather information to make your eventual counter-arguments more convincing.
posted by occhiblu at 10:05 AM on November 1, 2006

I resort to mocking laughter and incredulous, patronizing remarks as a response to my relatives' racism. Making them feel like ignorant hillbilles and constantly reminding them that most of the free world rejects their beliefs as laughable may not seem like a rational debating tool, but it certainly pulls the wind from their sails a bit. I literally refuse to indulge them in a "conversation" about any of it.

Dad: "Indians steal and leech off the government and are dirty! I'd kill your sister if she ever dated one."

Me: "Wow, dad, I had no idea you were still such a crazy old coot. I bet mom's real sorry she let you out of that time-capsule she dug up from the 1700's. And speaking of dirty, is that barbeque sauce on your shirt?"

Then I change the subject. When my dad comes to visit, deliberately choose activities and restaurants that prove to him how the world really works for most of us, and believe it or not, he has at least become way more polite and restrained in his opinions.
posted by hermitosis at 10:05 AM on November 1, 2006

This argument is bound to make you more miserable than him. However, you could always direct him to stories like this or forums like britishexpats.com or settlement.org which show the enormous difficulty such a large number of immigrants have finding jobs here, despite the purported need for their skills.
posted by jamesonandwater at 10:13 AM on November 1, 2006

One of the first things you might consider doing is establishing facts. For instance, is he really "anti-immigration"? (That means he doesn't want any immigration at all.)

Or, is it just the levels of immigration that he's opposed to or the types of immigration? For instance, is he opposed to illegal immigration, but not reasonable amounts of the legal variety? Does one of his root objections boil down to Canada not screening immigrants as thoroughly as they could for terrorism ties for instance?

Perhaps you need to do a bit of research as well into the arguments for some of the positions he seems to hold. I note, for instance, that you're linking racism with opposition to robust immigration, when they should be treated as different subjects. (Of course, playing the "race card" is one of the ways that those who support massive immigration are able to achieve their ends: many people are cowed by such McCarthy-esque tactics.) While your opinions on all of the issues mentioned are portrayed by you and everyone else above as a "taken-for-granted good", that's not necessarily true.
posted by LonewackoDotCom at 10:33 AM on November 1, 2006

My suggestion is to try to change the subject to a more comfortable one and to try to make the most of the time you spend with your father.

Seconded. You can't win the argument, all you can do is annoy both yourself and your dad. Unless that's what you have in mind, just accept him the way he is. If nothing else, you're laying up karma points for the day when your own kid starts giving you the fisheye and telling you you're wrong and evil for some reason that's incomprehensible and/or ridiculous to you.

Not saying you should go out of your way to accommodate him, mind you—by all means say what you think when the issue comes up, and in general act the way you feel right about acting. I'm just saying when he responds with some line about "damn immigrants" or "lazy Indians," roll your eyes and change the subject. Trying to change his mind is not going to work. I had a much-loved uncle who was this way, and I know how it goes. (The funny thing was that he got along fine with the black neighbor and the Mexican down the street; it was "the colored" and "the Mexicans" as abstractions he couldn't stand. And frankly, over the years I've come to find that far preferable to people who spout a good liberal line but in practice avoid The Other.)
posted by languagehat at 10:40 AM on November 1, 2006

Get him a t-shirt I've seen on many reservations: a group of Native Americans standing defiantly together with guns and the slogan "Fighting lllegal Immigration Since 1620."
posted by fourcheesemac at 10:56 AM on November 1, 2006 [2 favorites]

If someone can find me that Illegal Immigration t-shirt, I will pay handsomely for it.
posted by electroboy at 11:39 AM on November 1, 2006

all Americans are immigrants except native Americans.

Don't stop there. "Native Americans" crossed a land bridge over Alaska (or maybe island-hopped) to get to where they are. But at least they recognized that "ownership" of land was a fabrication.

Is it possible to go to philosophical basics with your father? If you can get him to realize the largely arbitrary nature of geographic borders (imaginary lines), ethnicities (genetic anthropology), and class (money is not legitimacy) -- he'll ease off the immigration question and realize that it's impossible to argue with you!

That'll teach 'im.
posted by cowbellemoo at 11:39 AM on November 1, 2006

Everytime I get into an arguement with my dad over politics (my dad being a strict republican), it always ends with "you'll see when you grow up". There is no way to end... your parents will always think you're young and foolish.
posted by triolus at 11:57 AM on November 1, 2006

everyone is a foreigner almost everywhere.

I never realized how strange it is to be treated worse just because you are not local until I started living abroad.
posted by krautland at 11:57 AM on November 1, 2006

In the interest of family harmony you should probably avoid this subject. On really contentious issues like this I find that making your point by asking questions tends to reduce tensions.
posted by caddis at 12:02 PM on November 1, 2006

You could try an argument that social programs like Canada Pension need an ever increasing working population to fund them, and our birthrate doesn't provide that. That didn't work with my Dad, though, and he's collecting Canada pension.

Medicare too. If that doesn't convince him, then he's not going to be convinced, and it's a pointless argument.
posted by teg at 12:05 PM on November 1, 2006

there are too many to read here, so i apologize if this has been said but CANADA HAS TONS OF SPACE.
posted by fumbducker at 12:49 PM on November 1, 2006

If he brings it up as a conversation-starter comment, just ignore it. Pretend he didn't say it. He's probably saying things in front of you because he knows it will provoke you, and he wants to have a bit of a battle because he sees that you tend to feel you can't win this argument. Some parents (and not necessarily yours, this is just a suggestion) feel a bit insecure about how successful and educated their offspring have become, and they feel the need to win an argument every now and then, just to feel like they aren't becoming irrelevant to you. If you think this might be what's going on, then you need to find a way to channel this negative reaction into something positive. Is there some skill or interest he has that you might be interested in learning about? This will let him feel like a bit of a useful parent again, and avoid conflict.

If he directly tries to confront you in an argument about immigration or racism, then I suggest trying to shut him down immediately with something like "I'm tired of that argument Dad, I think your views are very unpleasant and racist and I'd rather not think of you that way. So lets not discuss that any more". He might be hurt, but hurt enough to not bring it up again.
posted by Joh at 12:53 PM on November 1, 2006

You "understand racial diversity and robust immigration as taken-for-granted good," which is to say, you take your position without needing any sort of logic, reasoning, or evidence. Why is it so important to logically prove to someone else, something that you yourself accept without needing justification?

You probably believe what you do because you feel more comfortable with a worldview in which the things that you believe are true, and your father probably feels the same way.
posted by bingo at 1:02 PM on November 1, 2006

I would approach it as a conversation rather than an automatic argument. Instead of trying to counter his points and "win", try listening calmly and asking him why he feels that way, or what he thinks supports his view. Ask questions that really are designed to find out where he's coming from - if your views are different, then calmly say okay, I see what you're saying, but what about [what you think]? Use the same tone you would use if you were discussing something totally non-controversial, some other situation where you were interested in exchanging ideas with your dad.

In the end, you may just need to agree to disagree, and if/when he says something you don't agree with you may just have to accept that people have different views that sometimes all of the rational talk in the world won't change.
posted by KAS at 1:25 PM on November 1, 2006

You have my sympathies; my in-laws and some of my family members share these views (or the Australian equivalent). I think that whether it's an unwinnable argument or not depends on the relationship you have with your dad - whether you're able to debate other matters with him and whether he listens to and respects your opinion. I know that my dad is always willing to listen and be swayed by other people's persuasive arguments, and particularly mine because he thinks I'm brainier than he is. He likes to have "intellectual discussions" with me.

On the other hand, my in-laws are unlikely to be swayed by anything. The few times I dared to speak up when my MIL declared that most of the unhappy asylum seekers in detention camps here are likely to be "terrorists", I got a blank look, a firm statement that they are terrorists because the paper says so, and an immediate change of subject. They don't want to hear alternative views, don't really talk about any topic on anything but a very superficial level, and our relationship isn't really firm enough for me to feel confident arguing with her. So in that case, I bite my tongue for the sake of family harmony. It really depends on how likely it is that talking about it will do any good, whether you can raise a persuasive argument or not.
posted by andraste at 2:09 PM on November 1, 2006

You "understand racial diversity and robust immigration as taken-for-granted good," which is to say, you take your position without needing any sort of logic, reasoning, or evidence. Why is it so important to logically prove to someone else, something that you yourself accept without needing justification?

This is actually a good question. Most of us have deeply held views that we defend with rationalizations of varying depth, depending on our smarts and level of education, but that we aren't really interested in changing, no matter what the other person says. Your dad isn't going to convince you of his views and you aren't going to convince him of yours. Why not leave it at that? He's not doing any harm, other than annoying you. (I'm presuming he's not actually going out and bashing foreigners or anything.)
posted by languagehat at 2:20 PM on November 1, 2006

"You do not reason a man out of something he was not reasoned into." -- Jonathan Swift
posted by jason's_planet at 2:23 PM on November 1, 2006

Do you seriously think you can say something that will make your father go "Gosh sonny, you're right! I've been wrong all this time!"?

Arguing with bigots and idiots is a pointless and profligate exercise.
posted by oxford blue at 2:25 PM on November 1, 2006

You could always suggest that if your father feels that Canada is too crowded, imagine how the Native Canadians feel, and that maybe he should just go back wherever it is his ancesters are from.

Sorry, that's a snarky one, but as a Canadian, all of us who aren't indigenous originally came from somewhere else, so we really don't have the right to complain about more people coming. It's not a matter of the benefits of immigration (of which there are many, notably keeping our whole social security and health care system afloat, because current Canadians aren't having enough babies). But we (long time Canadians) seriously don't have the moral right to complain about any recent immigrants, considering that we were the worst immigrants imaginable.
posted by jb at 2:36 PM on November 1, 2006

Actually - the pension argument is probably best. Immigrants are working age, and work. Their taxes are going to (or already are) paying for your father's pension. With the projected age structure of Canada (based on low birth rates and longer life expectency), we all need MORE immigrants to keep our economy and social welfare/security system functioning.
posted by jb at 2:39 PM on November 1, 2006

He thinks that we don't have room for more people

What, in a country with something like 1/10 the population of the U.S., yet more land?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:45 PM on November 1, 2006

(noting from your profile that you live in Lethbridge and making the assumption that your father may be close by and is at least somewhat familiar with Lethbridge and its surroundings)

I think a fantastic and pertinent example for southern Albertans is the Lakeside meat packing plant at Brooks (a newly minted city!). It's also an example that most southern Albertans can relate to (if they love Alberta beef, that is). This plant--in the middle of rural Canada--employs roughly 2400 people, processes approximately 40% of Canada's beef, and employs a large number of recent immigrants (as slaughterhouses tend to). As unemployment in Alberta is very low, the company simply cannot find a sufficient number of 'Canadians' willing to do the job.

Brooks has benefitted tremendously from this population increase due to immigration: they've become a city, built a new aquatic centre, built new schools, have a branch community college campus, etc. There's community pride: the city has won Communities in Bloom for four years running. The city's population is also younger than the provincial average, meaning that it's one small town that isn't going to die out anytime soon and the median annual household income is higher than the provincial average, too. Without trying to idealise working in a slaughterhouse, immigration to Brooks fucking Alberta has brought some semblance of prosperity to what would otherwise be a depressed area and people are making better lives for themselves and their families at no cost to 'Canada' or 'Canadians' as a whole.
posted by lumiere at 2:51 PM on November 1, 2006 [2 favorites]

My favorite complaint about immigrants is about how they "take all the good jobs" and "live off the dole", at the same time! It takes immigrant talent to work out how to do that.

Frankly, the amount a prejudice immigrants face everywhere in Canada - not just visible minorities, but anyone who has a strong accent or is learning the language - is disgusting. People complain that they don't speak English perfectly, but they at least speak two languages to some degree, while most anglo-Canadians only speak one. If they can take "all the best jobs" despite the rampant prejudice, that just shows how much harder working they are then the rest of us - they've already made the huge step to go to another country and to another culture. It preselects for people with a lot more gumption than the average Canadian.

(On the job-descrimination: I actually read an article some years ago about how immigrants did better in Canada on average than in the US in the 1960s, but by the 80s were doing the same as immigrants in the US/or worse. And that was because Canadians were less likely to be university educated (only about 15-20% of us, compared to 25-30% of Americans - I think I remember that right), while immigrants tended to have more education. But once more Canadians had more education, they were preferred over immigrants.)
posted by jb at 2:54 PM on November 1, 2006

Why? Why? Why is it so important to argue with him about it? You'll probably never change him, but that doesn't mean you can't love your dad and agree about 98% of things.
posted by JamesMessick at 7:32 PM on November 1, 2006

I don't understand him--

I'd suggest starting by trying to understand his point of view, both (a) because, well, he's your father and (b) because it's easier to argue against a position that you understand.

I don't think being conservative--in the sense of valuing tradition, the way Canadian society is today, and not wanting to see it change too rapidly--is such an undefensible position. The Conservatism FAQ expresses this pretty well.

I'd suggest pointing out that with an annual immigration rate of less than 1%, Canada is in no danger of being swamped either by immigrants or by visible minorities. As of 2001, immigrants made up less than 20% of the population; visible minorities were even lower, at less than 15%. Reference.

My own experience is that assimilation works pretty well in Canada. I live in Vancouver, with one of the highest proportions of visible minorities in the country, but so far I have yet to meet anyone born here who didn't speak perfect English. And of course immigrants and visible minorities work, pay taxes, and buy stuff (thereby creating more jobs), just like everyone else.

So it seems to me that Canada isn't changing as rapidly as you might think by reading immigration-related stories in the paper.

A web page on costs and benefits of immigration that I wrote up close to 10 years ago.
posted by russilwvong at 10:36 PM on November 1, 2006

The best I think you can manage, in a situation like this, is gentle irony, of the type, "So, can you explain why it would be better if white people took all the good jobs you wished you could have had?" and "Is it that you believe that white people never hurt white people? Let's turn on the news." Perhaps arm yourself with some strong but not-too-confrontational talking points, and return to them as often as your father returns to his central talking points. Until not too long ago I was married into a family with "the only good immigrant is a dead immigrant" views, and I generally countered with simple statements such as, "You know, I would rather welcome the best of another culture than support the self-entitlement of the worst of mine." As others have mentioned, you will probably never win this argument, but why not aim for an amicable draw?
posted by planetthoughtful at 11:49 PM on November 1, 2006

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