Thursday, August 3, 2017

Immigration and the cacophony of perceptions about it

The latest installment in the national "conversation" about immigration is the Miller-Acosta dustup:

Yesterday, Jim Acosta of CNN . . . outraged at the new immigration proposal Trump announced yesterday, . . . took on the White House’s Stephen Miller and got his head handed to him, largely because Acosta was long on liberal moral arrogance and very short on the facts.
Acosta essentially made two points: One was that the proposed legislation that Miller was defending did not square with the poem by Emma Lazarus (“give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”). Miller pointed out that, great as the poem is, it is not part of the Constitution. 
John Steele Gordon at Commentary, being excerpted here, makes mincemeat of Acosta's second point:
Acosta’s other point was that the legislation would require immigrants to know English before they could get a green card. He apparently didn’t know that current law requires the very same thing. He could have looked it up in a few seconds on Wikipedia, but, as Jim Vlasto said, political reporters tend to be lazy. Acosta then said that that requirement would mean that only immigrants from Britain and Australia could get in. Perhaps he’s never heard of Canada, where practically all its 35 million citizens, including French Canadians, can speak English.
While Mandarin Chinese has the most native speakers, with around 900 million, English is third with about 371 million. But Mandarin is spoken almost entirely in Northern China. English is either the official or an official language in no fewer than 52 different countries around the world. The sun may have set on the British Empire, but the sun never sets on the English language.
English is, by far, the dominant second language in the world. No fewer than 611 million speak it as a second tongue. In polyglot India, the parliament debates in English because it’s every Indian’s second language. Commercial aviation has only one language, used throughout the world, and that language is English. The English language is the overwhelmingly dominant language of science. Most scientific journals now come out, at least at first, in English, even that of France’s leading scientific institute, the Institut Pasteur. Major scientific conferences are always held in English.
In Europe, English is, again by a very wide margin, the most studied foreign language. 73 percent of primary students in European schools are studying English. Fully 90 percent of European secondary students are studying English. 
But back to the first point, Jen Kuznicki makes an important point: While the Statue of Liberty itself
was conceived and designed by a French artist whose point was to celebrate the United States, through the north's victory in the Civil War, having finally lived up to its founding vision, that human freedom is a nonnegotiable given. The base, built by Americans, is where the immigration slant came in, as well as a very goofy notion about property rights, which is at odds with the sentiment behind the statue:

When the poem by Emma Lazarus became part of the statue, it was over a decade after her death, and right smack dab in the middle of the Progressive Era. Lazarus herself was a Georgist, which means she did not believe in private land ownership, that land should be only rented, because it creates inequality, and that all land and natural resources belong to everyone. That is completely antithetical to the founding of this nation. So, naturally, open borders policy being a progressive cause, and Jim Acosta, a progressive, believes that the statue is a symbol telling the world to send everyone they don’t want to the United States. 
The exchange between Miller and Acosta is a great discussion piece. It shows a couple of things. For instance, if you haven’t read much history, you can see how progressivism and Americanism have been at odds for over a century. You can see how liberals tow their line though it has nothing to do with actual history, and then they claim there must be some revisionism, when it is their Mickey Mouse version of history that is revisionist.
Just to further show how biased the media is, and how they try to make their version of the “facts” something that will stay with their readers, note the last paragraph of the TIME magazine article I referenced earlier. 
“As Esther Schor, who wrote a biography on the author, said in 2011, ‘Emma Lazarus was the first American to make any sense of this statue.'”
Is it hard to understand that a Statue of Liberty might be erected when the nation finally freed numerous slaves after a bloody Civil War? The poem introduces confusion about the statue, not sense.
Acosta, of course, is just the latest embodiment of the feelings-first approach to immigration policy. The big challenge this type always puts forth is, "Are we not a nation of immigrants?" Of course, and that precedes the arrival of any Europeans. Those here for the centuries prior to that did a lot of roaming (and conquering and enslaving, it's worth noting) and in fact originally came from elsewhere.

But a distinctly American character had taken shape by the 1770s, and it has informed the nation's development until quite recently. It manifests itself on several levels: a system of government, perception of the place of law in society, the primacy of private property, Emma Lazarus notwithstanding, strong nongovernmental civic bonds, a Judea-Christian understanding of how this realm was created, and a sense that when a person's ingenuity is wedded to opportunity, an unprecedented pace of material advancement occurs. Oh, yes, also the English language.

Clearly, no one who is not so silly as to be dismissal-worthy believes there is anything racist about stemming the tide of illegal entry into the United States. The question is not someone's ethnicity or race. It's a rule-of-law issue.

But legal immigration also needs to be addressed from time to time, as it is with this new proposal, and as it was with the pause in immigration from the 1920s to the 1960s.

Immigration may or may not be a front-burner issue. Speaking of silly, Ann Coulter made herself look like an utter fool with her statement that she'd be fine with Trump performing abortions in the White House if he stopped immigration.

Still, there's no denying that it's a key element in the effort to shore up a distinctly American nation identity.

Education is an other key element in that, and it would be advisable for sloppy and sentimental television journalists to avail themselves of some, not only so they don't get disemboweled before a roomful of video cameras, but so they can be of some use in the ongoing American project.


  1. Nice to see you reference the ongoing American project which is what it is and not post-America. I chatted with an Asian gal helping her parents run their restaurant. She is a freshman in high school. Her native language is some form of Chinese, she speaks English and is taking Spanish in high school. That's the ongoing American project, and kids like her are just smarter than the average English speaking kid. Welcome to our shores, you go girl!

  2. Turn her on to some Madison, Hamilton, Locke, Burke, Bastiat and Buckley.
    That will complete her orientation.

  3. She is probably more interested in that Amellican dolla, stand up & holla!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. They create the best hot & sour soup in town, a welcome break from what I deserve today at the Golden Arches across the way.

  6. Boomer leaders and legislators are just showing their fat asses. Polyglot is good, it's in. If we're not part of the future, life has a way of shoving us out of the way.

    Most people appear to agree. If you want to pick up a date, perhaps try asking them out in another language. The vast majority of Americans — 72% — find people who speak multiple languages more attractive than those who speak just one, according to a study from dating app Happn and language-learning app Duolingo that surveyed more than 700 people.

    Lovelorn language lovers may be hard pressed to find partners, however: only 25% of Americans speak a language other than English, according to a 2013 survey from YouGov. In comparison, more than half of people in the European Union speak more than one language, and 38% speak English.

  7. America the exceptional! West is Best! Just tired old jingoism? 1,36 Billion Chinese could give a crap.