Friday, May 16, 2014

What a Viking Discovery in Canada Tells Us About Americans -- and Illegal Immigration

After 50 years fruitless years of finding nothing since the first discovery that the Vikings from Norway discovered America 500 years before Columbus, researchers have just found a second Viking outpost in the Americas with a startling twist.  

It turns out the Vikings weren't like the stereotype from the Kirk Douglas Movie "The Vikings" - raping and pillaging the English coast for beer and booty. That kind of activity is best left to politicians.

It turns out that they were the first traders to link the old world Europe with new world America -- traveling thousands of miles of cold sea in open boats. They didn't show up to kill and conquer America, but to farm and trade with it. Frankly, I'm amazed they survived sailing in those conditions without a cabin, toilet and a chef onboard.

Cleverly, the Vikings took iron and wood from Norway to trade for pelts from the American natives in the Arctic. Then they took that loot to England to trade with the rich Nobles who prized the fur. They used sticks to count the trades. Maybe that is when they discovered beer and pillaging.

My family immigrated from Stavanger Norway (a port city) around 1880. They settled in the Midwest (Iowa, Minnesota etc).  Now I know I come from a long line of independent global adventurers who broke down barriers between continents (as America must now do to thrive in this new global economy.) They survived harsh conditions and thrived with far less opportunities than we have today.

I had no idea I would accidentally follow in those footsteps when i went from milking cows on an Iowa farm to negotiating with the "natives" globally, flying Mach 2 on the Concorde before losing it all, then getting it back. ("Better Times Ahead April Fool"). Vikings were farming Greenland--a LONG way from motherland Norway -- in the 14th century! I wonder if they hated milking cows as much as I did.

It is also more proof that we Americans can't be too picky who we say can't come in. Vikings just traded with the natives, for mutual benefit. They didn't try to conquer them. After Columbus' arrival, it was a complete takeover of the American natives.

In other words, we are all illegal immigrants. Our fore-bearers bumped out the natives across the continent. So how can we be hypocritical about blocking entry to other people from other countries who come here with the same desire for a fresh start? How is their illegal entry any different from our own entry and conquest of all native peoples in America "back in the day"?

There should be a path to citizenship and legal status for these people as part of a comprehensive immigration reform bill. Such a solution is long overdue and vital for our continued future success because these people do the jobs ordinary Americans won't touch.  They don't take CEO jobs paying $20 million up. Their kids were brought here as infants are innocent and deserve citizenship and an education to contribute to our future.

Food for thought.

OK, I don't think Vikings REALLY wore horns, but they did know how to have FUN and party now and then (reference Kirk Douglas.) That's a Nordic tradition we should adopt --more fun and fewer politicians passing gas...!

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