« Book Review: The Austrian Case for the Free Market Process | Main | Wisdom and Time »

April 02, 2008

Comments

James

"Nations and peoples do have their own special qualities"

And yet the open borders which you crave means the elimination of nations and peoples. No more Ireland, no more Irish.

Nathan Smith

"And yet the open borders which you crave means the elimination of nations and peoples. No more Ireland, no more Irish."

No, it doesn't, as you would know perfectly well if you read the book. Patrick was not Irish; he came to Ireland and converted them to Christianity; and Ireland did not cease to be Irish. Millions of immigrants have come to America and made America not less, but if anything *more* American, since they self-select for American-type qualities and admiration for America, and since, once here, they adapt to America. It's our failure to foster an intelligent patriotism that leads to the prevalence of such stupid versions of it that people think there is some inconsistency between loving your country and welcoming foreigners into it. In fact, just as a fan of a movie encourages his friends to see it, any real patriot takes pride and pleasure in immigration. Anyone who says he's a patriot and complains about immigration is a faker.

Nato

"In fact, just as a fan of a movie encourages his friends to see it, any real patriot takes pride and pleasure in immigration."

Exactly how I feel about it. Well said.

James

"Millions of immigrants have come to America and made America not less, but if anything *more* American"

Incoherent nonsense. How does filling the country with non-Americans make it *more* American? And how would millions of immigrants moving to Ireland make it MORE Irish? Stop emoting and start thinking.


"..they self-select for American-type qualities and admiration for America"

No, they self-selected to come to a country with a better standard of living than the ones they left. Pardon me if I don't bow down in admiration of them for that.


"once here, they adapt to America"


Have you actually *met* any immigrants? Strictly speaking, they are not immigrants anyway - they are settlers, creating facts on the ground.

"any real patriot takes pride and pleasure in immigration."


Sure, that ranks right up there with "dissent is the highest form of patriotism"!

"people think there is some inconsistency between loving your country and welcoming foreigners into it"


Clearly the stupid people need to be re-educated in one of America's fine re-educational camps, aka colleges.

Nathan Smith

"Incoherent nonsense. How does filling the country with non-Americans make it *more* American? And how would millions of immigrants moving to Ireland make it MORE Irish? Stop emoting and start thinking."

Well, it depends on whether you are a patriot or a tribalist. If "American" is defined as birth within specified boundaries or of American parentage, then no, immigrants can't make America more American. But if America is defined by an ethos, by certain narratives and values and virtues, then foreigners may adopt that ethos. At one place, Thomas Cahill comments that the Norman invaders in Ireland the 12th century became "more Irish than the Irish." By this he means that their love of poetry and bards, cheerful frankness and sociability and other Irish traits, were successfully emulated by the Irish. From the very beginning to the present day immigrants have generally exhibited distinctively American traits of love of liberty, optimism and ambition and embrace of opportunity, hard work, and faith and family, often more so than native-born Americans, and this continues to be true today. It was no accident that the time when America deviated most from its traditions, the 1930-65 period, was precisely the time when we restricted the borders, and since the immigration reforms of the 1960s opened the country up somewhat (not enough), there has been what historian Paul Johnson calls a "recovery of freedom."

It seems that James is unable to conceive of a nation being something higher than a mere accidental grouping of individuals by some legal or racial criterion. If one has any kind of higher conception of a nation it is obvious that America might become more American by an influx of foreign characterized by distinctively American virtues, or, more subtly but more precisely, who comprised an element in an enduring cultural ecology-- the "melting pot"-- which would be disrupted and impoverished if they were absent, or reduced and regulated. But I guess they don't teach you about the Statue of Liberty in school these days. People aren't taught to love and take pride in America; they don't know how and barely know what that would mean. So some people lapse into cruder notions of what it is to be an American.

A simple parallel might help to illustrate. Can an influx of outsiders make Washington, D.C., or Hollywood, or New York, or Boston more typical of itself? Of course! Washington is what it is-- a rather bureaucratic-bourgeois, policy-wonkish, political-gossipy place-- because it attracts political and policy types from all over the country. Hollywood is what it is because it attracts glamorous entertainment types from all over the country. New York is what it is because it attracts financial types from all over the country. Boston attracts students and scholars from all over the country. These places couldn't breed enough of the types of people that make them the places they are, because children aren't always like their parents; there would be "mean reversion." If you were to restrict internal migration in the United States, these urban areas would no doubt become more distinctive in some ways, but in crucial ways they would actually become less distinctive, more like one another. It is by a dynamic something like this that immigrants make America more American, at least in the sense of the word that a patriot means by it.

Nato

Another beautiful, well-said comment, Nathan.

Incidentally, I've worked with and become friends with a number of immigrants, and they are some of the most American people I've ever met, even if they're not citizens - there almost seems to be an inverse relationship. They don't have the sense of entitlement and the conviction that everything is always already wrong. They're suffused with hope, and faith in their own power to make good on that hope. What could possibly be more American?

Joyless Moralist

I guess this is rather behind the times, but... I also thought that was a well-articulated comment, Nathan. I also think it's true, at least to a substantial degree. Of course, it isn't a foregone conclusion that things will work out that way -- one can *imagine* scenarios in which people with profoundly anti-American values wanted to immigrate here because of the superior standard of living. Say, a significant influx of Islamists who were hoping, once they'd achieved a critical mass, to push to turn the country into an Islamic caliphate. In Europe, worries of that sort are not totally ridiculous anymore. For our country, though, I'm not too concerned about that, and my experience with immigrants supports what you say -- they often seem to embody our country's finest characteristics even better than those who are American-born. At the same time we, by showing ourselves ready to welcome and learn from these newcomers, ourselves more fully manifest that American spirit.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

Only use a payday cash advance as a last resort.

Categories

Blog powered by Typepad