As the outraged reactions and mass scurrying to safe spaces prove, President Trump can do a lot through federal executive action to restore border security. He will likely try to use his electoral mandate to move legislation that rationalizes immigration generally and has promised that in so doing he will insist on policy revisions that put the best interests of our people, economy, values and institutions at the center of any reforms.
A big beautiful wall with a big, beautiful gate and rational immigration/naturalization policy will do a lot to help reconcile anxious Americans to what has been in the last four decades the largest wave of immigration since the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries—and certainly the most culturally problematic– but it won’t do everything. Trump can’t do everything. Americans across the country need to step up.
The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board has missed the mark:
Perhaps if Mr. Trump can prove that government is competent enough to reduce illegal entries, passions will ebb and Congress might be able to pass a better immigration policy that lets market forces meet labor needs with a guest-worker program. Or so we can hope.
Regardless of what the US Chamber of Commerce and Republican hierarchy claim to believe, Americans’ continued disquiet on the subject of immigration is not confined to competition for “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs,” or even to fear of crime. An array of deep anxieties identified in polls and given voice in righteous jeremiads like Ann Coulter’s Adios, America are existent and widespread.
Americans have heard the warnings of Orianna Fallaci and Jean Raspail, distasteful as they are to the Tribunes of liberal orthodoxy. Without the Baroque flourishes of Fallaci and Raspail, good old New Deal Liberal Arthur Schlesinger Jr. identified the emerging problem as far back as 1991. Roger Kimball notes in a timely appraisal one hopes will introduce a new audience to Schlesinger’s work:
Mr. Schlesinger warns that ‘A cult of ethnicity has arisen both among non-Anglo whites and among nonwhite minorities to denounce the idea of a melting pot, to challenge the concept of `one people,’ and to protect, promote, and perpetuate separate ethnic and racial communities.’
Worse, this challenge has become downright destructive malevolence directed at the American past, including artifacts of what the cognoscenti call “the built environment.” The Vandals Fallaci described fouling the Piazza of Santa Croce are in our face now– tearing down monuments financed by the pennies of a devastated Reconstruction-Era South, and proscribing crosses in soldiers’ cemeteries. Nations are sustained by more than “market forces,” and “passions” sometimes matter.
Let President Trump handle what he does best while, one hopes, his Administration back — and occasionally even offer a little encouragement to — all those other Americans who now must do their part. This includes school boards and textbook adoption agencies, the local media who still retain some bond to their audience, cultural voices intimidated into silence by a tyrannical orthodoxy, the churches, and synagogues, the teachers.
It is up to these, supported by the rest of us, to stop subjecting kids to the K-12 curricular claptrap designed to slip their moorings and cast them adrift on a sea of multiculturalism/diversity. At least two generations of teachers and students have been subject to the multiculturalism dogma that has migrated from the school to the society. Its triumph is central to the disquiet Americans feel at the prospect of accepting more immigrants.
This generation of Americans, like those at the turn of the twentieth century, will give newcomers a chance if they can have some reasonable expectation that the federal government has gotten it right in letting them in and that they will be held to societal and cultural norms that the majority of Americans still respect. Americans have to believe that by admitting immigrants, they are not at the same time acquiescing in the destruction of a valued inheritance, of traditional American forms of life and thought, through a process mediated by government authorities with a heavy thumb on the other side of the balance. It must be one or the other: either institutionalized, all-pervasive multiculti-diversity will be permitted to continue sapping Americans’ natural goodwill toward the newcomers, or a palpable reaffirmation of the value of our past, our historically-shared beliefs, our civil society and our institutions creates conditions for that goodwill to thrive once again.
These early months of the year are especially propitious for rousing ourselves to the task of restoration. We are awash right now in the lies and calumnies of our annual carnival of national guilt and self-flagellation that extends from the by-now ritual betrayal of the message of Martin Luther King, Jr. in January, through the cliché of February’s transformation through victimhood of Black Americans’ history into a soul-killing caricature—the epic dignity and endurance, the grit and faith and striving that characterized so much of that history notwithstanding.
It is not a given that the goofy post-adolescent communications major at the local network affiliate must forevermore interview Ms. Hyphenated-Name and her students about the glories of the local high school’s Global Citizenship class, shot against the backdrop of a Cesar Chavez poster. But until things change, the US Chamber of Commerce and Silicon Valley are just going to have to wait on that labor market thing.