Vivamus molestie gravida turpis
“While the world changes,
the cross stands firm.”
- St. Bruno
This week the Democrats in the Senate are threatening to shut down the U.S. government. Why? To zero out funding for President Trump’s border wall. Clearly this issue is make-or-break for them. But it is for the president too: It was the central plank in his platform. The one thing that most set Trump apart from other Republicans was his sincere alarm at the chaos that reigns at U.S. borders. And indeed, at every step in the immigration process, which we could best describe simply as “lawless.”
Immigration is one of the most divisive issues in American politics. That seems natural to us. Elites have made multiculturalism into our nation’s post-Christian civic religion. They keep beating it into our heads with threats, shame campaigns and manipulative messaging. These elites want us to believe that mass, low-skill immigration is a force of nature. Like sunspots, it’s something none of us can influence. In fact, the massive changes wrought in America by immigration after 1965 were the fruit of political choices. Some of them were reckless and short-sighted. Others were deliberate and destructive. We still can make choices about where immigration takes us in the future. There is nothing inevitable about it.
Elites have made multiculturalism into our nation’s post-Christian civic religion.
Step back for a moment from the saccharine, pre-fab stories about foreign-born “Dreamers.” Bracket the moralizing of opinion manufacturers whose lifestyles aren’t affected. Scoff at those who judge public policy by its impact on cheap exotic restaurants and low-priced nannies. Let’s look at what immigration is really about.
Immigration is about people. And culture. It’s about the kind of country our ancestors helped to build. And what kind of country we will leave to our descendants. Aren’t those legitimate issues for debate in a democracy?
Indeed, they lie at the very heart of politics. Man is a political animal. By that Aristotle meant that we normally live in community. The most basic unit is the family: man-woman-children. That primordial truth is itself under savage, sustained attack today. But that’s another article.
Families have to educate their children, which usually means a school. They don’t live on isolated rural estates guarded by moats. That means a neighborhood. They get services from the government and contribute to it in taxes. That means politics.
So any political change that radically affects the schools your kids attend, the neighborhood you live in, and the impact that government has on your life, is fair game for debate. As conservatives have lavishly documented, immigration has massive impacts on all those things.
Let’s say you’re just making your way through life while minding your business. You’re still obliged to face the effects of mass, low-skill immigration.
Look beyond tending your garden. Most of us take some pride in our country, and want it to thrive. We treasure its founding principles, and pray for its success. We want to see ordered liberty survive for future generations, for our own children’s sake, but also because it adds meaning to each of our lives. We identify with our country, honor its flag, tear up at its national anthem, and enlist to fight in its wars.
If someone told you that America was going to collapse, wouldn’t that break your heart? Even if it wouldn’t happen until after you’re dead?
Think of it this way: If someone told you that America was going to collapse into something like Syria or Venezuela, wouldn’t that break your heart? Even if you were promised that it wouldn’t happen until after you’re dead?
I bet that it would. You would feel that something great had perished. Something in which you had played a part. Which shaped your life and blessed you. Which your ancestors honored and you’d hoped your kids would inherit.
If you had a tree on your land that was 240 years old, wouldn’t you feel bad about cutting it down for use in a paper mill? Or letting it die of root rot? We feel the same way about our country. In fact, we feel much more deeply, because a country is the product of the greatest thing on God’s earth: Human souls, working together, striving to live in common in ordered liberty, the only condition worthy of God-given human dignity. That’s the shining vision our founders left us.
To carry this vision on, we need to be good citizens. Any argument about immigration must hinge on what that means. To wit:
Surely these are among the most central questions that citizens of a democracy must think about. Yet the taboo on talking about immigration demands that we pretend such issues don’t matter. We are expected to pretend that human beings are not just equal in the eyes of God (which is true), but interchangeable, like auto parts.
We are told that every religious belief, political habit, ideology, or cultural practice is functionally equivalent. Above all, we must not judge them, must not express a preference for (say) tolerant-minded, hard-working Christians over angry, militant, sharia-minded Muslims. Or Latin Americans whose whole life experience has been shaped by a corrupt government in bed with narco-terrorists.
We are expected to pretend that human beings are not just equal in the eyes of God (which is true), but interchangeable, like auto parts.
If anything, multiculturalism demands that we bend over backwards to screen out all that we might naturally find unsettling about another culture. We must scourge ourselves, our nation and our ancestors for the flaws we might find in them. This ideology pretends that the American creed of equal rights for every citizen demands that we extend the privilege of citizenship promiscuously to all. We must never, never think about the impact that they might have, in large enough numbers, on our nation and its liberties. On our own civic liberties. On our tax rates and our neighborhoods, our elections and our kids’ schools. We’re forbidden by this strange diktat to consider most of the important questions of politics.
Maybe we don’t listen to the multiculturalists, but instead to the economists. To those who won’t look beyond the narrow terms of their specialty, the only questions immigration poses are of aggregate supply and demand. More immigrants mean more consumers and producers, which is a good thing because it boosts our aggregate numbers. Every new arrival in America is an interchangeable production-and-consumption unit who will pay into our Social Security system, and boost our national growth. How can you have too much of a good thing? By this logic, The Economist magazine has argued for decades that Europe must solve the problem of its aging population — not by boosting birth rates, which might interfere with sexual freedom — but by opening its doors to massive influx from the Middle East. What could go wrong?
In the face of the moral abuse that immigration advocates constantly throw at conservatives, it’s worth remembering how dehumanizing both those worldviews are.
Multiculturalism dehumanizes people from non-Western cultures by refusing to hold them to the same standards as Westerners. So while white males can be shunned and shamed for refusing to pretend that a castrated man is really a “woman,” Arab men get a free pass for subjecting their daughters to female genital mutilation. It’s as if Western elites had decided to adopt the Third World from a rescue shelter, and treat its immigrants forever as exotic, charming, but sometimes mischievous pets.
Economism degrades people by treating their culture, morals, creeds, and customs as unimportant. Yet those things make up the vast bulk of what it means to be human. Our willingness to work and eagerness to consume are only a small part of what makes us human. We are more than strong backs and hungry mouths. Yet that is how narrow, economic-minded types insist on seeing us.
Those of us who worry about immigration’s impact are in fact much more holistic. We see the whole person, his habits, virtues, and deepest beliefs as of the utmost importance. We honestly face the impact that un- or anti-American cultural practices can have on our fragile country, when multiplied in the millions. We respect foreign people enough to take them seriously as people just like us. And sometimes that means we have to tell them “No.”
We won’t act like the left and give all comers a pat on the head and a raft of government programs. We won’t act like the pro-business, open-borders “right” and reduce human beings to interchangeable integers. It’s not just false. It’s immoral.
Vivamus molestie gravida turpis