As the debate over the Gang of Eight’s amnesty bill reaches a critical mass, citizens of the United States of America should ask themselves the following question: What does it mean to be an American? Or, as Samuel Huntington put it back in 2004: Who are we?
Many citizens across this country are opposed to amnesty and don’t want the Gang of Eight bill passed by Congress and signed into law. One can’t help but wonder, however, if this opposition to amnesty is consistent with their understanding of what it means to be an American. Indeed, once the common understandings of Americanism are put under the microscope, it becomes evident that the Gang of Eight is carrying out Americanism to its logical conclusion.
America the Frat Club
Whereas Sam Francis once wrote that “every real nation is a ‘people of a common blood’ and ‘descended from the same ancestors,’” Matthew Spalding of the Heritage Foundation described the American nation like so:
Every nation derives meaning and purpose from some unifying quality—an ethnic character, a common religion, a shared history. The United States is different.
America is an exceptional nation, but not because of what it has achieved or accomplished. America is exceptional because, unlike any other nation, it is dedicated to the principles of human liberty, grounded on the truths that all men are created equal and endowed with equal rights. These permanent truths are “applicable to all men and all times,” as Abraham Lincoln once said.
In other words, the United States is founded upon a creed. That creed is “liberty and equality.” Strikingly, 2/3 of this “unique and exceptional” creed is derived from the French national motto, thus rendering any special attachment it has to the United States non-existent.
But even if this creed was unique to America, it would still reduce American citizenship to the equivalent of joining a frat club. And in this particular frat club, as long as you pledge allegiance to its “sacred” ideals, than not only are you free to join, but no one in the club has any right to stop you from joining. Don’t believe me? Ask Ronald Reagan:
“[I]n my mind…if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.”
Say what you will about the 20 million something illegals in this country, but they all had the will and the heart to get here. In fact, 150 million people around the world want to immigrate to the United States. If America was founded upon the concept of liberty, than who are we to deny freedom to the oppressed peoples of nations like Mexico? Why should liberty be reserved for the native-born if we truly believe that liberty is a universal principle?
And if America was founded upon the concept of equality, than why should we stand for an unequal condition in which some of us, by accident of birth – the ovarian lottery, as Warren Buffet called it – have the privilege of living in the land of freedom, whereas others live in oppressive poverty in Mexico?
If America is dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, than do we really have the moral right to say “no” to any soul that has the will and the heart to immigrate here? We can make all the arguments we want about “national sovereignty” or “the consent of the governed,” but those arguments contradict the fact that the United States is a “nation of immigrants” that “beckons not only the downtrodden and the persecuted indeed, all those ‘yearning to breathe free,’ but also those who seek opportunity and a better future for themselves and their posterity.”
Bottom line: If an American is defined as any individual dedicated to the frat club principles of liberty and equality, than opposition to amnesty is the immoral denial of this “God-given natural right.”
America as a hotel
This is a fancy way of saying that America is a nation of immigrants. For if anyone anywhere in the world can become an American as long as he is dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, than America is not a house reserved for a specific tribe. It is a hotel with rooms for all tribes. In this hotel, everyone is free to move from one room to the other, and no one has the right to deny a room to another. That would be racist, you see.
The hotel vision of America fits neatly into the cultural mosaic/salad bowl concept. Each room is to be respected for its uniqueness and distinction, and no room is worth less than another. As long as everyone in those rooms is dedicated to liberty and equality, than they have the God-given natural right to stay in the hotel.
How then can amnesty be opposed? Some people have lived in those hotel rooms their entire lives. Those rooms are their homes! What immoral scoundrels we’d be to deny them their own homes! Do we honestly believe that just because we were born on this land that we have the “right” to deny liberty to those who were born somewhere else? This land isn’t ours anyway. We stole it from the Indians. We thus have a moral obligation to share it with everyone who swears by liberty and equality.
America as a trading post
The idea of America as a trading post is derived from the American Dream, a concept so centrally important in the minds of American citizens that it takes on a mystic quality. According to the American Dream, “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.”
The opportunity spoken of here is, of course, economic opportunity. As Gary McNamara of Red Eye Radio, a popular midnight conservative talk show, said a week ago on April 24: “All I care about is individuals being able to acquire wealth and experience freedom.” Such are the sentiments of most conservatives and virtually all libertarians. Liberals also believe in the American Dream, but whereas they believe in shared prosperity, conservatives and libertarians believe in individual prosperity. In either case, the emphasis on economic prosperity remains central.
But let’s get back to the definition of the American Dream: “Life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone.” Who’s “everyone?” Ostensibly it’s American citizens only, but if that’s the case than America is an exclusive club with the right to deny membership to those who swear by its universal principles of liberty and equality, and who want to make a better living for themselves and their families. How immoral is that?
Besides, amnesty has massive economic benefits that no one who believes in the American Dream can seriously oppose. When immigrants benefit, natives benefit too. Liberty is applicable to everyone and benefits everyone. To deny liberty to 20 million illegals not only hurts those illegals, it hurts you as a native-born American as well.
Thus it is that America is not an exclusive land for an extremely limited number of people. It is a trading post where everyone benefits together. It’s a place where everyone can stay and do business. In this trading post, your moral worth as an individual is measured in terms of how many Xboxes you own, how big your house is, and how fancy your car is. Nothing else matters.
If you find yourself in the working class, than you’re a lazy failure and/or a racist malcontent who blames “those people” for everything. You need to pick yourself up with your own bootstraps and stop bitching about change, which is inevitable anyway. You were born into privilege and should count your blessings.
Marco Rubio, Chuck Schumer and the rest of the Gang are merely expanding liberty and economic opportunity to those who are denied it. Like you, they see America as a frat club, a hotel, and a trading post. Like you, they believe in liberty and equality for all. Like you, they detest the very notion of America as a blood-and-soil state. Who’s stupid enough to believe in a “re-constituted, mongrelized, tribe of Europe” anyway?.
They are not traitors, or opportunists, or schemers, or anything of the sort. They are champions of Americanism as agreed to by everyone across the political spectrum. You may disagree with Rubio and Schumer on which policies are best. Indeed, Rubio is widely considered a Tea Party conservative whereas Schumer is a veteran star of liberalism. But if you believe America is based on liberty and equality, than you can’t logically or morally oppose the Gang of Eight.
In order to oppose amnesty and the Gang of Eight without being a moral hypocrite or logically contradicting yourself, you must take an entirely different view of what it means to be an American: “To define the nation as a people of a common blood is to establish a boundary, a border that keeps some people in and some people out. That, indeed, is its whole purpose.”
If you violently oppose the concept of a blood-and-soil nation, then sobeit. That’s your choice. But be prepared to deal with the inevitable consequences of a creedal nation dedicated to the fanatical proposition that all men are created equal. Opposition to amnesty is opposition to liberty and equality for people who aren’t like you. That’s what Rubio thinks. That’s what Schumer thinks. That’s what Barack Obama thinks. That’s what all Democrats and most Republicans think.
What is the American nation? Who are we? The American nation is everyone who swears by liberty and equality, and we are the economic individuals who compose it. Nothing more. Nothing less.