The Democrats Paint Borders, Citizenship and Nationhood as Un-American. Are They?
Liberals seem worried. People like Michael Lind and Andrew Sullivan. By what? By the left’s radical immigration stance. No Democrat would have embraced it five years ago. But the left seems to back virtually open borders. Writing in New York Magazine, Sullivan warns that Democrats’ rhetoric
is very hard to distinguish, certainly for most swing voters, from a belief in open borders. In fact, the Democrats increasingly seem to suggest that any kind of distinction between citizens and noncitizens is somehow racist. You could see this at the last convention, when an entire evening was dedicated to Latinos, illegal and legal, as if the rule of law were largely irrelevant.
Sullivan points to Dylan Matthews in Vox as another example of the “emerging liberal consensus:”
Personally, I think any center-left party worth its salt has to be deeply committed to egalitarianism, not just for people born in the U.S. but for everyone. … It means treating people born outside the U.S. as equals. … And it means a strong presumption in favor of open immigration.
And a friend of his, Zack Beauchamp: “What if I told you that immigration restrictionism is and always has been racist?” Sullivan then remarks:
Borders themselves are racist? Seriously?
The entire concept of a nation whose citizens solely determine its future … is now deemed by many left-liberals to be a function of bigotry. This is the kind of madness that could keep them from power indefinitely.
Was America Founded Un-American?
Remember when (ahem) journalist Jim Acosta confronted White House spokesman Stephen Miller? Acosta raised his hand to ask a question at a press conference. But instead, Acosta cited a poem. The one by Emma Lazarus about the Statue of Liberty. He treated it like one of America’s founding documents. A kind of super-Constitution.
Walter Williams writes:
What goes unappreciated is just why America’s leftists’ movement attacks the Founders. … If the leftists can convince the nation that men such as Washington, Jefferson, and James Madison were good-for-nothing, slave-owning racists, then their ideas can be more easily trashed.
And of course, replaced. With what? The up-to-date agenda of Progressives. People with no respect for history, but a gnawing hunger for power. More and more the left wants to pretend that the U.S. really began in 1965. You know, with Ted Kennedy’s disastrous re-write of our immigration laws.
What did our actual Founders have to say on immigration? Not the star of Baywatch: Chappaquiddick. We mean the ones who risked hanging for treason by King George in 1776. The answer might surprise you. It ought to chasten Democrats.
Franklin Was Cautious
Benjamin Franklin worried about “droves” of German migrants. In a 1751 book he asked:
Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our Language or Customs any more than they can acquire our Complexion?
In a letter two years later, Franklin took a balanced stance. “I say I am not against the Admission of Germans in general, for they have their Virtues, their industry and frugality is exemplary.” He continued: “They are excellent husbandmen and contribute greatly to the improvement of a Country.”
Notice the standards he used. Not whether these newcomers had some inherent “right” to relocate to America. He didn’t torture himself over some “phobia” toward Germans. No, he pondered whether they contributed to the country. That is the only test we should apply.
Madison Put America First
Both the father of our country and the father of our Constitution shared a balanced view of immigration. So Michelle Malkin noted. She chided Barack Obama for usurping that Constitution. How? By imposing the DREAM Act via executive order. George Washington and James Madison welcomed those who could help the country. And only them. People who would became part of its culture and political institutions.
She pointed out:
James Madison was glad to have the “worthy part of mankind to come and settle amongst us, and throw their fortunes in common lot with ours.” However, “Not merely to swell the catalogue of people. No, sir, it is to increase the wealth and strength of the community; and those who acquire the rights of citizenship, without adding to the strength or wealth of the community are not the people we are in want of.”
This would exclude the immigrant who could not or would not “incorporate himself into our society.”
It wasn’t just Madison, though, according to Malkin:
George Washington, in a letter to John Adams, similarly emphasized that immigrants should be absorbed into American life so that, “by an intermixture with our people, they, or their descendants, get assimilated to our customs, measures, laws: in a word soon become one people.”
The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respected Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.
Hamilton Stood with Mike Pence
One early immigrant qualified. He become a Founding Father. And America’s first treasurer. He got his face on the $10 bill. And he ended up with his own smash Broadway musical.
That’s right, Alexander Hamilton.
The cast of the Broadway musical that bears his name made a point of embarrassing Vice President-Elect Mike Pence. Why? In part because of candidate Trump’s immigration stance. But Hamilton himself was cautious about its proper scale. Here’s what he wrote in 1802:
The safety of a republic depends essentially on the energy of a common national sentiment; on a uniformity of principles and habits; on the exemption of the citizens from foreign bias and prejudice; and on that love of country which will almost invariably be found to be closely connected with birth, education, and family.
Hamilton further warned:
[T]he United States have already felt the evils of incorporating a large number of foreigners into their national mass. … It has served very much to divide the community and to distract our councils. It has been often likely to compromise the interests of our own country in favor of another.
He also wrote of the injury that would come to society through a “discordant” mixture of “foreign propensities” that “must … change and corrupt the national spirit.”
Somehow, that didn’t make it into the musical. With an attitude like that, would Hamilton be welcome at Hamilton?
This column is adapted from the authors’ upcoming book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration.