April 7, 2013

Letters to the editor: Immigration dialogue must be civil

Who are "we" the people?

Statue of Liberty
click image to enlarge

The Statue of Liberty has come to represent the promise of a better life for the nation’s immigrants. “For more than 500 years, people have been immigrating to this part of the world. The flow has never and will never stop,” a reader says.

2009 File Photo/The Associated Press

The first Americans are people whose ancestors have been in this part of the globe since before recorded history. I've got to confess that I don't know how far back these people can tell their history.

Then came Europeans, et al. First the Scandinavians and then Columbus and all who followed. At first "we" came mostly from Europe, then Africa, Asia and everywhere.

For more than 500 years, people have been immigrating to this part of the world. The flow has never and will never stop. And some of the flow also goes out all over the world, too.

My family has welcomed immigrant blood over and over again. I remember my Irish grandfather's accent and my English coal-miner forebears – some of whom proceeded on to Australia – and my great-uncle, the butcher from Germany who made the best bologna in New Jersey.

Our family can bless someone for a sneeze in five languages besides English: German, Greek, Spanish, Korean, Italian, all spoken by one relative or another. And there is at least one branch of the family that goes back to the Francis Cook family of the Mayflower settlers. What is your family's story?

The industrialists and the railroad builders, et al., of the 19th and 20th centuries loved having all the low-cost employees, skilled, unskilled – same as various industries do now.

So, why did "we" develop immigration laws? Why did unions take hold? Where did the concepts of workers' rights and human rights come from? What is "justice for all"?

Why are so many of us struggling now? This is a broad discussion "we" all are part of.

How do "we" move forward from here? Think about it. Talk about it. Please do so with civility and respect for all the people of the "we" around you.

Priscilla J. Jenkins


Critic offers no good reason to disdain Byrnes' Irish Pub

I just read the review by Nancy Heiser of Byrnes' Irish Pub in Brunswick ("Dine out Maine: Byrnes' Irish Pub suffers from nondescript food, so-so service," March 31) and find her review to be completely contrary to my experience. I can only conclude she doesn't know what makes for a local Irish pub.

She writes about "the single boxy space" and "nondescript tables."

What did she expect? Matchy-matchy decor? No self-respecting pub would have that.

Rather, they would (and do) have a collection of assorted tables, chairs and wall hangings that frequently have been given to the Byrnes family by their (faithful) patrons.

Was she seriously suggesting that the beer should have been tinted green? Is she that clueless and disrespectful of good beer?

My husband frequently orders the meatloaf or shepherd's pie – and enjoys it. My favorite is Karl's Irish Pastrami Burger or Brian Boru Reuben, or appetizers Cashemole, Irish Nachos or the artichoke dip – all generous enough to be a light supper.

(By promoting other restaurants in this review, is she being paid to advertise for them?)

I was amused that Ms. Heiser complained that the fishcakes' "filling had a strong, fishy flavor." Hmmmm … and what is it that she was expecting?

Her second visit apparently went better, but it sounded like it pained her to say anything positive about the place. Her good review is rather grudgingly given, and for every positive, there was an accompanying negative.

It's hard to believe that everything is as terrible at Byrnes' as reported. They would hardly have survived – really thrived – these past years if that were so. They wouldn't have a houseful of happy patrons every weekend and Tuesdays for Trivia Night.

(Continued on page 2)

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